Oral argument: Nov. 3, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (July 21, 2008)
BANKRUPTCY, CHAPTER 7, SCHEDULE C, EXEMPTIONS, “IN KIND” EXEMPTION
In 2005, Nadejda Reilly filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. On the petition she listed her business property as an exemption, demonstrating her intent to retain the entire property by declaring the property’s exemption amount to be equal to her estimation of the asset’s value. The bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case, William Schwab, did not object to Reilly’s exemption but later determined the business property had a higher value than Reilly’s estimation and sought to sell the property to recoup the difference. Reilly argued that Schwab’s failure to object within the thirty-day statutory period rendered the property exempt. Schwab countered that Reilly’s exemption was limited to the specific amount claimed and did not serve to fully exempt the property from distribution. Schwab also argued that the objection deadline applied only to the type of property claimed as exempt, not to the value. The United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit disagreed, holding that Schwab was on notice that Reilly intended to fully exempt the property and failure to object in time rendered the property exempt. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will determine whether a debtor in a Chapter 7 proceeding successfully claimed a full exemption in an asset by declaring that the exemption value equals the asset’s value, and whether the thirty-day objection period applies.