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In re Conway

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit

December 21, 2015

In re: Chelsea Ann Conway, Debtor;
v.
National Collegiate Trust; First Marblehead Corp., Inc., Defendants - Appellees Chelsea Ann Conway, Plaintiff - Appellant

Submitted December 10, 2015

Appeal from United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

Chelsea Ann Conway, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Saint Louis, MO.

For National Collegiate Trust, First Marblehead Corp., Inc., Defendants - Appellees: Melinda J. Maune, MARTIN & LEIGH, Chesterfield, MO.

Before KRESSEL, SALADINO and SHODEEN, Bankruptcy Judges.

OPINION

Page 856

SALADINO, Bankruptcy Judge.

Chelsea Conway appeals the decision of the bankruptcy court[1] finding some, but not all, of her student loan obligations to National Collegiate Trust (" NCT" ) to be nondischargeable. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

This appeal follows an earlier appeal of the bankruptcy court's order excepting all of Ms. Conway's student loan debts to NCT from discharge. We reversed that decision, and remanded it to the bankruptcy court " to determine whether Ms. Conway's present disposable income, if any, over the course of an entire year is sufficient to service any of the individual loan payments due to NCT." [2] After reviewing Ms. Conway's income and expenses for the period of November 2013 through October 2014, the bankruptcy court held that Ms. Conway's monthly disposable income was $170.30, with which she could make payments on four of the student loans without undue hardship. The remaining 11 loans were dischargeable. Ms. Conway subsequently asked the bankruptcy court to

Page 857

make additional findings and amend its judgment in light of increased expenses and decreased income after the time period reviewed by the court, but that request was denied.

Ms. Conway now appeals the bankruptcy court's order denying the motion to make additional findings and amend the judgment, alleging four errors in the determination of her ability to repay any of the student loans: (1) a loss of income due to being laid off from one of her jobs after the cut-off date set by the bankruptcy court but before the court's findings were issued; (2) an increase in the monthly payment due on her federal student loans; (3) an increase in her monthly health insurance expenses; and (4) the court's reduction of her monthly miscellaneous expenses. Ms. Conway asserts that she now has negative monthly disposable income and is unable to make any payments to NCT on her student loans, so they all should be dischargeable.

Standard of Review

A bankruptcy court's denial of a motion for new trial, or to alter or amend a judgment, is reviewed with deference and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion. Suggs v. Regency Fin'l Corp. (In re Suggs), 377 B.R. 198, 203 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2007); Guy v. Danzig ( In re Danzig), 233 B.R. 85, 93 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 1999). The bankruptcy court abuses its discretion when it fails to apply the proper legal standard or bases its order on findings of fact that are clearly erroneous. Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors v. Farmland ...


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