Many Florida residents might be under the impression that the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and related state regulations are not subject to interpretation. However, a woman from another state recently appealed a decision made by the judge presiding over her Chapter 7 bankruptcy because she did not agree with the judge’s interpretation of state law. Recently, a U.S. District Court judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit agreed with her.
In 2003, the woman, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came to possess a rare religious text. She was cleaning out a storage room in a library and found a copy of the Book of Mormon that was one of the 5,000 originally printed and distributed by the founder of the church, Joseph Smith. The book is reportedly worth thousands of dollars, and the sale of it would have more than covered the woman’s debts.
The trustee wanted to sell it for that purpose, and the bankruptcy court judge agreed, although Illinois law protected the woman’s right to retain a religious text. However, it was the feeling of the court that the exclusion did not cover valuable books as long as the filer had others. The higher courts ruled that the law did not impose a monetary limit on the value of religious texts, so they decided that she could keep the book despite being in bankruptcy.
Florida residents who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy might find themselves in a position in which they have a piece of property that the trustee wants to sell to pay creditors that has a deeper significance than just its monetary value. At times, it is appropriate to appeal the decision of the bankruptcy court. If an individual is hesitant to file due to a similar concern, it would be beneficial to discuss the matter with an attorney.
Source: stltoday.com, “Illinois woman can keep rare Book of Mormon despite bankruptcy, court rules“, Robert Patrick, Feb. 4, 2016