Bankruptcy Court Dismisses Case for Lack of Credit Counseling Despite Incarceration

⁠In re Donaldson, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Case No. 23-10684)⁠

On May 11, 2023, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio issued an order denying a request for waiver of the credit counseling requirement notwithstanding the excuse of incarceration.

The order denies Ora Joseph Donaldson Jr.’s petition for a waiver of a mandatory credit counseling requirement, which results in the dismissal of his bankruptcy case. Donaldson had sought relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code and had initiated the case on April 13, 2023. However, he had not included a certificate of credit counseling with his petition. As a justification for this lack, Donaldson had presented three alternative reasons for not having undergone the required prepetition credit counseling briefing.

Donaldson had first argued that his physical disability, which was in fact incarceration, exempted him from the credit counseling briefing. He had also contended that due to exigent circumstances, he was eligible for a temporary waiver of the credit counseling requirement. Lastly, he had stated that he had satisfied the requirement by completing a financial education course, which he claimed was equivalent to the credit counseling briefing.

Despite these assertions, the opinion dismisses all three grounds put forth by Donaldson. It states that incarceration does not qualify as a disability within the meaning of § 109(h)(4) and thus, cannot be used as an exemption. The opinion also finds that Donaldson’s claim of exigent circumstances lacks sufficient supporting evidence. Lastly, the opinion expresses that it cannot ascertain if the personal finance courses Donaldson had completed meet the specifications of § 109(h).

As a result of these findings, the court denied Donaldson’s motion and dismisses his bankruptcy case.

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