In re Dresser, Bankruptcy No. 282-00079

Decision Date13 September 1983
Docket NumberBankruptcy No. 282-00079,Adv. No. 282-0341.
Citation33 BR 63
PartiesIn re Douglas A. DRESSER, Debtor. Douglas A. DRESSER, Plaintiff, v. UNIVERSITY OF MAINE, Maine National Bank, United Student Aid Funds, Inc., Maine Savings Bank, Northeast Bank of Lewiston and Auburn, Peter C. Fessenden, Esquire, Trustee, Defendants.
CourtU.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Maine

Murrough H. O'Brien, Portland, Me., for plaintiff.

Charles Miller, Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, Portland, Me., for Univ. of Maine, defendant.

John F. Dana, Portland, Me., for United Student Aid Funds, Inc., defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

FREDERICK A. JOHNSON, Bankruptcy Judge.

The debtor, Douglas Dresser, seeks a determination that his debts for government guaranteed educational loans are dischargeable. The court concludes that excepting these debts from discharge would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and, therefore, that the debts are dischargeable.

Between 1975 and 1981, the debtor attended the University of Southern Maine. During the course of his education, he borrowed approximately $24,000 in government guaranteed student loans, which are the subject of this dispute. Upon graduation, he received an undergraduate degree in vocational technical education and a graduate degree in science and adult education. In December of 1981, after an unsuccessful attempt to enter medical school, the debtor began working as a vocational counselor at a home for emotionally disturbed children.

Prior to and during his employment at the children's home the debtor began suffering from severe headaches and blurred vision. In May of 1982 he took a leave of absence from his job to seek medical help. He was hospitalized at a veterans hospital for six weeks during June and July of 1982. He was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from chronic and delayed posttraumatic stress disorder. According to the debtor's psychiatrist, who testified at the hearing, posttraumatic stress disorder is the "development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically traumatic event outside the range of usual human experience." The traumatic events that brought on the debtor's posttraumatic stress disorder occurred during his service in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 as a Navy corpsman assigned to a Marine Corps unit engaged in combat with the enemy. It is not unusual for symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder to occur for the first time many years after the traumatic event or events.

After his hospitalization the debtor was unable to go back to his job at the children's home because he could not obtain a doctor's certificate declaring him capable of performing his work. He was again hospitalized during January and February of 1983. Since his release he sees a local psychiatrist twice a week. He takes medication daily for depression, headaches, and to enable him to sleep at night. Both his psychiatrist and the doctors at the veterans hospital consider the debtor unemployable. The debtor's psychiatrist testified that the debtor's current symptoms could go on indefinitely, possibly for the remainder of his life. The psychiatrist also testified that it is possible that significant progress could be made in the next year.

The debtor's personal and financial picture is bleak. He is currently married, and his wife receives $12,000 per year in salary. The evidence indicates, however, that the marriage is troubled, and the debtor cannot rely on his wife's income. The debtor receives $220 per month from the Veterans Administration in compensation benefits for a 30% disability due to the...

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