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Nose-bite victim fights attacker’s attempts to discharge $110,000 judgment in bankruptcy

Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?”

 

A New York bankruptcy judge is faced with the unenviable task of deciding whether biting someone’s nose is a “willful and malicious” act.

Nose upclose Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney North Carolina Debt LawyerThe case began in July 2000 when a man named Sultan Soliman attacked a man on an elevator. The man had already obtained an order of protection against Soliman. During the attack, another man—Lev Vyshedsky—entered the elevator. Soliman, “clearly the aggressor,” according to a decision published last Thursday by Judge Martin Glenn, then bit Soliman on the nose.

Soliman later pled guilty to two counts of third-degree assault and was sentenced to probation and community service. Vyshedsky sued Soliman for damages. That lawsuit ended with a default judgment of $110,000 against Soliman. Default judgments are typically entered when one party fails to show up for trial. Soliman alleged that his lawyer failed to inform him of the trial date.

After the judgment was entered against him, Soliman sought Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Vyshedsky urged the bankruptcy court not to discharge the $110,000 judgment in Soliman’s bankruptcy, pointing to a provision in the bankruptcy code that precludes the discharge of debts that were the result of “willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity.”

Judge Glenn said whether Soliman’s guilty plea in the criminal assault case proved willful and malicious conduct on Soliman’s part was a “close call.” Vyshedsky argued that since Soliman pled guilty, he shouldn’t even be allowed to contest Vyshedsky’s claim regarding the nose-biting incident. Judge Glenn wrote that the interplay between the criminal, civil and bankruptcy cases involving Soliman complicated Vyshedsky’s so-called “estoppel” argument. In the end, Judge Glenn wrote that he would need to take more evidence to consider whether Soliman’s actions constituted “deliberate and intentional injury” to Vyshedsky or whether Soliman had merely committed “deliberate or intentional acts” that led to Vyshedsky’s injury.

The distinction may be a fine one—splitting nose hairs—but Judge Glenn said he plans to schedule further hearings in the matter to determine the meaning of Soliman’s conduct under the Bankruptcy Code. If Judge Glenn rules in Vyshedsky’s favor, then Soliman will be on the hook for the $110,000 judgment, despite his bankruptcy.

It is hoped that any hearings in the bankruptcy case don’t stir up old animosities. As of 2012, both Soliman and Vyshedsky still resided in the same apartment building in upper Manhattan. Soliman’s legal case has been taken up by a high-powered legal team from law firm Perkins Coie. The team, led by New York office head Schulyer Carroll, is handling Soliman’s case pro bono, meaning Soliman does not have to pay the lawyers any fees for their work.

If you find yourself needing the services of a Charlotte, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with the best advice for your particular situation.

 

 

About the Author

Bryan 1Bryan Stone is a Partner with Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on all aspects of bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Mr. Stone attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a BBA in Banking and Finance, and Wake Forest University School of Law, where he obtained his law degree.

Following law school, Mr. Stone relocated to Charlotte, where he currently serves as Chair of “Bravo!” – a young professionals organization associated with Opera Carolina – and founded the University of Georgia Alumni Association of Charlotte.

In his spare time, Mr. Stone enjoys perfecting his barbeque skills for the annual “Q-City BBQ Championship” and playing softball in the Mecklenburg County Bar softball league.

 

 

Sources:

http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2014/09/08/a-bite-a-bankruptcy-a-100000-bill/

http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions/235954_41_opinion.pdf

 

 

Image Credit:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Neus1.jpg

 

 

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