Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Kemp

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit

August 24, 2018

In re: Erin R. Kemp, also known as Erin R. Guinn, also known as Erin R. Griffin Debtor
v.
United States Department of Education Defendant-Appellee Erin R. Kemp Plaintiff- Appellant

          Submitted: August 2, 2018

          Appeal from United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Fayetteville

          Before SALADINO, Chief Judge, NAIL and SHODEEN, Bankruptcy Judges.

          SALADINO, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The Appellant, Erin R. Kemp, appeals the order of the bankruptcy court[1]denying her request for discharge of her student loan obligations to the United States Department of Education ("DOE") under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8). We have jurisdiction over this appeal. See 28 U.S.C. § 158(b). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         ISSUE

         The ultimate issue on appeal is whether the bankruptcy court properly held that Appellant failed to meet her burden of proving an undue hardship under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8). Appellant argues that the bankruptcy court did not apply the correct legal standards in its totality-of-the-circumstances analysis. Specifically, she believes the bankruptcy court improperly gave "dispositive effect" to her eligibility for a zero payment income-based repayment program offered by the DOE. Appellant also believes the bankruptcy court improperly applied an analysis of ability to make payments on the loan as directed by Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Jesperson (In re Jesperson), 571 F.3d 775 (8th Cir. 2009). Finally, Appellant believes the bankruptcy court made clearly erroneous factual findings regarding her present income and expenses.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Whether excepting a debtor's student loan debt from discharge would impose an undue hardship is a conclusion of law that we review de novo. Walker v. Sallie Mae Servicing Corp. (In re Walker), 650 F.3d 1227, 1230 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Long v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp. (In re Long), 322 F.3d 549, 553 (8th Cir. 2003)). "Subsidiary findings of fact on which the legal conclusion is based are reviewed for clear error." Jesperson, 571 F.3d at 779 (citing Reynolds v. Penn. Higher Educ. Assistance Agency (In re Reynolds), 425 F.3d 526, 531 (8th Cir. 2005)). "We will not upset the bankruptcy court's findings of fact unless, after reviewing the entire record, we are left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made." Nielsen v. ACS, Inc. (In re Nielsen), 473 B.R. 755, 758 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2012), aff'd, 502 Fed.Appx. 634 (8th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted).

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In February 2016, Appellant filed a petition under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the Western District of Arkansas. On May 3, 2017, she filed the adversary proceeding that is the subject of this appeal, seeking a determination that her student loans owed to the DOE were dischargeable in her bankruptcy case.

         At the time of trial, Appellant was a 36-year-old single mother to a 13-year-old daughter. She began working part-time for Arvest Bank in 1998 at a starting wage of approximately $10.00 per hour. While working for Arvest, Appellant began attending college, but withdrew after two semesters and began working full-time at Arvest. In 2007, while still working full-time at Arvest, she began taking online courses through Ashford University to obtain a college degree and enhance her ability to be promoted within Arvest. Her education at Ashford was financed with the student loan that is the subject of this case. In 2010, she obtained a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in sociology.

         The Appellant worked at Arvest Bank for 17 years and received numerous promotions and pay raises. She began as a teller, was promoted to an administrative assistant, then a credit manager, an assistant branch manager, and finally a branch manager. As branch manager, her salary was $45, 000.00 per year, plus periodic bonuses. She also had health insurance and a retirement plan, which included contributions from Arvest.

         While employed at Arvest, Appellant was able to remain current on her student loan payments of $350.00 per month. However, she began having difficulty paying her student loan when she resigned from her job at Arvest in June 2015, eight months prior to filing her bankruptcy case. Appellant testified that she resigned her job at Arvest because the working environment had become too stressful, resulting in anxiety and depression for which she takes medication. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.