(6th Cir. B.A.P. Jan. 17, 2017)
The Sixth Circuit B.A.P. reverses the bankruptcy court’s order denying the debtors’ motion to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy petition filed against them by a single creditor. The debtors argued that 11 U.S.C. § 303(b)(1) required a minimum of three petitioning creditors to institute an involuntary bankruptcy against them, because they had twelve or more creditors. The petitioning creditor argued that the debtors should be equitably estopped from asserting they had twelve creditors because in prepetition post-judgment discovery, they stated that they had only ten other creditors. The B.A.P. holds that, while the 303(b)(1) requirement is not jurisdictional, the bankruptcy court erred as a matter of law in applying equitable estoppel because the creditor failed to establish sufficient detriment as a result of the misrepresentation in the post-judgment discovery. Opinion below.
Attorneys for Debtors: Lefkovitz & Lefkovitz, Steven L. Lefkovitz
Attorneys for Appellee: Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, Gene L. Humphreys