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Arbitration award and judgment contain no information other than the amount owed. Can this amount be discharged in bankruptcy?

San Diego, CA |
Filed under: Bankruptcy

An arbitration award resulted in a judgment in superior court. The judgment and award contain no more than the amount owed. There is no information on either of these about the "willfull and malicious" component that I predict I would face in an Adversary Proceeding. There is, however, a transcript of the proceeding and a "report" of the arbitrator entitled Final Award. The court saw none of this. The court saw only the amount owed, and of course the Judgment was written by the opposing party and rubber stamped by the judge. Is the so called final award or portions of the transcript inadmissible for hearsay???? I am worried that they might be used against me in my BK.

Attorney Answers 3


You are rightfully concerned with this situation. The Bankruptcy court, and the plaintiff in any adversary complaint to determine dischargeability, would look beyond the mere wording of the final judgment and will look at the basis for the award. They will look at the original complaint brought against you that the award relates to. If the complaint was for damages for malicious or intentional injury to person or property, then it would be easy to connect the dots and show that the resulting award was for those claimed injuries. In that situation the award would not be dischargeable.

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If the arbitration award did not mention the bases for the damages, then it will not be "res judicata" meaning the issue will be re-litigated in BK court IF the plaintiff files it's AP in time.

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I would not give a free consult on something like this, but maybe you can find someone that will.

In either case, get all your paperwork to your bankruptcy counsel (counsel is mandatory), to take a look at the documents.

For example, we don't even know the underlying causes of action that the judgment is based on and that can play a big role in how things play out.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here. Please visit my web site: for more information about my services.

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