Monthly Archives: June 2017

Supreme Court Issues Decision on Debt Collectors

Debt collectors are known to use a variety of scare tactics to force individuals into paying a debt. A recent Supreme Court case, however, issued a decision on how to define the role of debt collectors. In the case of Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson, the Court held that a debt collector who files a claim that is barred by the statute of limitation will be considered to have engaged in deceptive, false, or misleading conduct and therefore will not be found to have violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Case in Question The case in question is Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson, which arose in 2014 after Aleida Johnson filed a civil lawsuit against Midland Funding LLC on the basis that Midland had violated applicable law when it filed a proof of claim in Johnson’s bankruptcy case for a credit card debt whose state statute of limitations had already expired. The district court held that Midland’s conduct did not violate the law, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this decision. The Supreme Court ultimately reversed the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and found that the creditor’s action was not deceptive, false, or misleading. The Supreme     Read More

Supreme Court Decides Bankruptcy Case

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits individuals who think that they are experiencing abusive debt collection practices to initiate legal actions against banks have bought defaulted loans from other lenders. The Supreme Court’s rule now states the FDCPA does not apply to a company unless that company is collecting debts. This landmark bankruptcy decision is also unique in that it is the first majority opinion written by recently elected Justice Neil Gorsuch. The Case at Hand The case of Henson v. Santander Consumer USA was heard by the Supreme Court concerns a group of debtors who defaulted on their auto loans and tried to initiate a legal action against a group of debtors who defaulted on their auto loans on the basis of predatory collection practices. The Supreme Court, however, found that because Santander owned and serviced the debt, Santander and other similar companies cannot be sued under the FDCPA. Regulations Under the FDCPA The FDCPA prohibits collection agencies from using abusive, deceptive, or unfair practices. These are several types of prohibited activities including: Harassing or using oppressive practices against debtors. Threatening that a lawsuit will be filed against a person when     Read More

Oklahoma Supreme Court Decides Portability Election Case

A “portability election” refers to the ability of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption for a deceased spouse and add this amount to the balance of the surviving spouse’s own exemption. In January of 2017, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided a case concerning a unique aspect about the amounts in portability elections. In the case of In re Estate of Vose, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s holding that required an estate administrator to make a portability election. While this case has the potential to provide some guidance on portability elections, individuals who are engaged in the probate process should not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable estate administration attorney. The Facts of the Vose Case In the case of Vose, a woman and her second husband signed prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. While these prenuptial agreements covered many terms, the agreements did not discuss portability elections. After the woman’s death, the woman’s child was appointed administrator of the woman’s estate. Although the child did not agree with it, an Oklahoma court ordered the portability election for the deceased woman be given to her section husband. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Decision     Read More

Oklahoma House Rules That Abortion Is Murder

The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed a resolution recently that declared abortion is a form of murder and that the state should use all the power in their authority to prevent abortion. While a resolution does not grant a state the same power as a law, this resolution serves as a reflection of Oklahoma’s House of Representative’s view of abortion. This resolution has been interpreted as a warning to the Oklahoma Supreme Court not to interfere with any legislation concerning abortion.   The Argument Presented by the Resolution   The resolution framed applicable constitutional law as prohibiting abortion. The Declaration of Independence, the resolution argues, grants individuals the unalienable right to life. The resolution also argues that the Constitution prevents states of denying equal protection under the law. The Supreme Court, the resolution claims, overstepped its authority by considering abortion as a federal issue rather than an issue to be decided by the state. While many people have argued that abortion is based on constitutional law, other individuals have argued that abortion is ultimately a family law issue. Abortion intimately impacts the boundaries of a family including affecting mothering, deciding how other children are impacted by the abortion, and     Read More

United States Supreme Court to Hear Bankruptcy Case

The Supreme Court of the United States is poised to hear a bankruptcy case in Merit Management Group LP v. FTI Consulting Inc. This case has the potential to resolve a current circuit split about a section in the Bankruptcy code that protects certain types of payments made to a financial institution. In accordance with this law, individuals are unable to avoid payments made in connection with a securities contract, settlement payments, or other payments that are made to commodity brokers, financial institutions, financial participants, forward contract merchants, or securities clearing agencies. The way in which this case is decided has the potential to clarify the parties that a person who declares bankruptcy is obligated to pay. History Leading up to the Case Prior to the Merit Management case, the Eleventh Circuit was the only circuit court to hold that a financial institution must be more than an intermediary for a person who declares bankruptcy to be forced to pay. Five other courts including the Second Circuit, the Third Circuit, the Sixth Circuit, the Eighth Circuit, and the Tenth Circuit have held that a person who declares bankruptcy must pay financial institutions that are intermediaries. The Merit Management case was     Read More

The Role of Gift and Estate Taxes in Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma does not place an estate or inheritance tax on amounts received by individuals. Even though Oklahoma does not require these taxes, however, some individuals in the state are still required to pay inheritance taxes by another state. In some cases, however, there are still taxes that can be placed on a person’s estate. Two of the best ways for a person to anticipate the taxes that might be placed on an inheritance are to understand some of the essential laws involving inheritance as well as to speak with an experienced probate attorney.   Federal and Other State Taxes on Estates   While many states do not place inheritance taxes on amounts, some of these states that due include Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The exact amount that these states will tax depends on several factors including the value of someone’s estate and the beneficiary’s relationship to the deceased person. In addition to state taxes, there is also a federal estate tax that might come into consideration if a significant amount of money is involved. The current amount that requires federal taxes is any inheritance equal to or greater than $5,490,000. As a result, if     Read More

New Type of Court in Oklahoma Proposed for Domestic Violence Cases

Final approval was recently given for the creation of a specialized court in the state of Oklahoma to exclusively handle domestic violence cases. The bill in question, House Bill 1121, grants district courts as well as some municipal courts in Oklahoma the power to establish a domestic violence program to increase the efficiency with which domestic violence cases are heard. The bill, however, must now be signed by Governor Mary Fallin.but would significantly change how domestic violence cases in Oklahoma are heard.   The Advantages Offered by this Legislation   There are some unique advantages to the creation of this new court system including the following:   Cases Heard by Only One Court. Courts could hear all issues related to one domestic violence case, which would greatly speed up these issues and allow courts to make much more informed decisions. As a result, a judge would have an intricate understanding of all relevant divorce orders, maintenance orders, and protective orders. Less Require Hearing. Individuals facing a domestic violence case would be required to attend fewer court hearings if these events are scheduled together. Having less required hearings would also make domestic violence cases much simpler for victims who are already     Read More

What Happens to Pets in Divorce

The National Pet Owners Survey reports that sixty-three percent of households in the United States own pets. Pets play an important role in the lives of many individuals in the state of Oklahoma. It is common for couples to argue about the ownership of a pet during the separation. In a divorce, however, the issue of who has ownership of pets can be particularly complicated. In many cases, former spouses must decide ownership of a pet because courts in Oklahoma will not grant visitation schedules for pets. As a result, for individuals who would like to retain rights to a pet after a divorce, it is a wise idea to retain the assistance of a skilled attorney.   Applicable Law Regarding Ownership of Pets While many couples view pets as family members, courts analyze ownership of pets using traditional property law. A court will determine when a pet was acquired and this time period will influence who owns the pet. If the pet was acquired before the marriage, courts often rule that the pet should remain with the original owner. If a pet was acquired during a marriage, the court will be more uncertain in its ruling. One fact that     Read More