By Rosemary K. Otzman
On Thursday, Nov. 7, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas J. Tucker signed an order “Granting Relief from the Automatic Stay and Waiving the Provision of FRBP4001 (a)(3)” in the matter of Thomas A. White’s house.
White, the disbarred attorney who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy to fend off his many creditors, lives in a house at 41305 Savage Road in Van Buren Township.
The judge’s order means White’s house has been taken out of the automatic stay on creditors ordered by the bankruptcy proceedings and the usual provision that the judge’s order takes effect after 10 days is waived.
Now the owners of the house, Robert and Gloria Coppock, can move forward immediately under applicable state procedures to get the money White owes them for unpaid land contract payments or to get their property back.
Judge Tucker’s order said the approximate market value of the property is $260,000 and the current debt owing is about $306,688, which includes unpaid property taxes and the Coppocks’ attorney fee and costs for filing the motion.
Any surplus on the sale of this property shall be distributed under state procedures and any deficiency in the sale shall be treated as an unsecured debt, the order said.
The Coppocks’ bankruptcy attorney Walter H. Czeizler of Livonia said the judge signed the order on Nov. 7 and now that the order is entered, the issue goes back to the Coppocks’ regular attorney Steven Robinson of Romulus.
Czeizler said the Coppocks now will choose whether to seek a forfeiture or a foreclosure on the property.
He explained in simple terms that a forfeiture would be filed at 34th District Court. He said it is a “pay and stay” option that gives White a chance to catch up on what he owes and stay in the house with reinstated monthly payments.
If White doesn’t pay what he owes, the district court judge can turn the property over to the Coppocks, he said.
The procedure starts with a pre-suit notice explaining how the land contract was broken, giving White 15 days to respond. Then there is a hearing at district court before a judge or jury. If the Coppocks prevail, an order is then given that allows no less than 90 days for White to leave the property.
Czeizler said the foreclosure option is filed in Circuit Court and the whole balance of the contract is due. If it isn’t paid, the house is sold at a sheriff’s sale.
Robert Coppock said on Monday that he and his wife have chosen the forfeiture option because it takes less time to complete. He said the foreclosure option could take years.
In a related matter, White was scheduled to appear in 34th District court on Nov. 13 for a preliminary exam on five felony charges concerning money taken from Leland and Judith Jordan of Belleville.
By Rosemary K. Otzman