In the case of In re: Rodnok the United States Bankruptcy Court at Richmond, Virginia, sustained a creditor's objection to the debtors' second modified Chapter 13 plan based upon the valuation of collateral.
In Rodnok the creditor, who had a Ford Aerostar van as collateral, filed a proof of claim stating the value as $13,075, which the debtors had not objected to. The debtors argued that the value of the van was already decided in the approved first modified plan to be $9,300, and that a redetermination was barred by the doctrine or res judicata. The creditor argued that the Court was not bound by the value determined in the first modified plan when it was determining approval of the second modified plan.
The Court stated that in determining whether a secured creditor should be bound to the value of its collateral as provided for in a confirmed Chapter 13 plan, the Court had to look at Bankruptcy Code §506 (a). This code section states that a claim is a secured claim to the extent of the value of the creditor's collateral and is unsecured as to the extent that the debt owed to the creditor exceeds the value of the collateral. Value of the collateral can be determined in any hearing concerning the disposition or use of the collateral or the confirmation of a plan affecting the secured creditor's interest. Bankruptcy Rule 3012 requires that notice of the hearing be given to the holder of the secured claim before a court may determine the value of that creditor's collateral.
In Rodnok the Court determined that the creditor was not provided the appropriate notice that the debtors were going to modify their secured claim, and therefore the creditor cannot be bound by the value assigned in the debtors' first modified plan, which was book value.
The Court found that the value of the van was $12,000. The creditor based its determination that the van had a value of $13,075 on the N.A.D.A. As evidenced by the certificate of title, the van came with numerous extras, adding to the overall value of the vehicle. The debtors claimed a deduction for excessive mileage, but the Court noted that at the first meeting of the creditors the debtors stated that the van had only 25,000 miles on it. Overall, the Court found that the value of the van more closely resembled that proposed by the creditor. Accordingly, the Court sustained the creditor's objection to the debtors' second modified plan.
The lesson of Rodnok, as it is in so many cases, is that creditors should retain the serves of counsel who has extensive experience in creditor representation.