FIRST of all, I am not the lawyer in question although I am able to speak fluent Thai and Russian after 3 bottles of beer and the last judge I bit on the leg for denying my motion to avoid 2nd trust deed had it coming to him anyway; having said that, student loans, generally speaking, are not easily discharged in bankruptcy. An adversary complaint must be filed by debtor to determine if the student loans are dischargeable. The 3-prong test of in Re Bruenner must be satisfied to discharge these debts. However, some debtors are indeed able to discharge their student loans.
In Re Ablavsky, the Chapter 7 debtor graduated from law school in May 2009, and passed the Massachusetts bar in June 2010. However, debtor was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in May 2012. He was a lawyer for all of two years. Thereafter, he filed for bankruptcy in October of the same year. He filed an adversary complaint asking the court to discharge his student loans of $82,893.57.
Debtor narrates his tale of woe to the court thusly: In 1997, at the age of 18 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a fear of leaving home, entering shops, and crowded places. He was prescribed lithium (used in batteries for electric cars). In 2000, he began receiving Social Security disability benefits. Although he graduated from law school, the court noted that his academic career had some notable incidents. “He was suspended from Brandeis University after making a bomb threat to a political opponent after he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts during a manic episode. He was arrested and spent almost nine months at the State Hospital. It was determined that he was not criminally responsible for his behavior, although the debtor intimated that his conduct resulted in a criminal conviction,” the court said. In May 2008, the debtor’s doctors advised him to stop taking lithium because it was damaging his kidneys. Without Lithium, his kidneys were normal but his brain was unstable. It was either dialysis or sane, or healthy kidneys but insane. Since he was still sane, to avoid a life on dialysis, he chose to be insane with healthy kidneys. “Good choice!” the judge said.
In May 2009, debtor graduated from law school with a class rank of 183 out of 182. He passed the bar on his 2nd attempt. The judge said that passing on his 2nd attempt was irrelevant because “I myself passed the bar on my 49th attempt, and I don’t consider myself insane, although my wife left me on my 47th attempt stating on the divorce papers that I was crazy as a loon.” A few months after being becoming a lawyer, debtor stole a court file and had it destroyed so it would be unavailable for use in a murder trial in which his client was a defendant. This action resulted in his license being indefinitely suspended. He told the court that he was certain his license would never be restored, and that the rules of professional conduct prohibit attorneys from hiring disciplined attorneys as paralegals. At the time of the trial, debtor received social security disability of $991 monthly, as well as food stamps. Child support of $254 was deducted from his disability pay. His rent was $400 and he paid $65 for monthly probation fees. He did not own a car, and had no non-exempt assets. He was as poor as the proverbial church mouse.
The court found that given his mental illness and criminal record, debtor had not been able to find permanent or part-time employment. The court said that debtor had shown that he is currently unemployable at any more than a menial job and that he lacks meaningful employment for the foreseeable future. He lacks social skills and as, Dr. Psycho testified, he can sometimes cause people concern as to his dangerousness when he is manic. Therefore, his student loans are discharged.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” – John 8:32.
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Lawrence Bautista Yang specializes in bankruptcy, business, real estate and civil litigation and has successfully represented more than five thousand clients in California. Please call Angie, Barbara or Jess at (626) 284-1142 for an appointment at 1000 S Fremont Ave Bldg A-1 Suite 1125 Unit 58 Alhambra, CA 91803.