In re Orrison, 06-10144.

Decision Date02 May 2006
Docket NumberNo. 06-10144.,06-10144.
Citation343 B.R. 906
PartiesIn the Matter of Gary Wayne ORRISON, Judith Ann Orrison, Debtors.
CourtU.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Indiana

Sabrina J. Kitsos, Law Offices of Peter Francis Geraci, Fort Wayne, IN, for Debtors.

DECISION AND ORDER

ROBERT E. GRANT, Bankruptcy Judge.

The debtors filed a petition for relief under chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on February 15, 2006. The petition was not prepared on the official form (Official Form 1), but on a custom-designed form used by their counsel. Because this form did not correspond with the official form, the court issued an order requiring the debtors to file an amended petition using the official form. Instead of complying with the court's order, debtors' counsel filed a response contending that the debtors should not be required to do so, that counsel's form constituted an appropriate alteration of the official form, and was permitted by Rule 9009 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. That issue is before the court following a hearing held to consider the question.

To commence a bankruptcy case a petition is filed with the clerk of the bankruptcy court. 11 U.S.C. § 301; Fed. R. Bankr.P. Rule 1002(a), 9001(3). Prior to 1987, Rule 1002(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure required the petition to be filed on the official form. Although the reference to that requirement was removed when the rule was amended in 1987, that was "not intended to change the practice" because "Rule 9009 provides that the Official Forms `shall be observed and used' in cases and proceedings under the Code." Fed. R. Bankr.P. Rule 1002, Advisory Committee Note (1987), reprinted in Norton Bankruptcy Rules, 2005-06 ed. p. 7. Even though Rule 9009 states that the official forms "shall be observed and used" that commandment is immediately softened by the remainder of that sentence, which goes on to say that they shall be used "with alterations as may be appropriate." Fed. R. Bankr.P. Rule 9009. The rule then states that "[f]orms may be combined and their contents rearranged to permit economies in their use." Id.

Debtors' counsel focuses on the second sentence of Rule 9009 and argues that her office has done nothing more than modify the official form so that it can be used more efficiently.1 This has been accomplished by condensing the form from three pages down to two and rearranging its contents, while still providing all of the required information. Although counsel asserts that these changes allow the form to be used more efficiently, she never explains just how this is so or why her version of the form is preferable to that prescribed by the Judicial Conference. More importantly, whether a particular modification is appropriate or permits the form to be used more efficiently should be considered not just from the perspective of the one who is completing it but also from the perspective of those who will be using the completed form. Consequently, even if counsel's version of the official form may somehow allow her office to use it more efficiently, if those changes make it more difficult for others to use the completed form, the modifications are not permitted by Rule 9009. See, In re O'Dell, 251 B.R. 602, 616 (Bankr.N.D.Ala.2000); In re Mack, 132 B.R. 484, 485 (Bankr.M.D.Fla. 1991).

If no one ever read the petition or made use of the information it contained, whether or not it was prepared on the official form would not matter at all. But, that is not the case. Even if no one else looks at that document, it is reviewed by the clerk's office to make certain that it is complete. When filings were made in hard copy, information contained in the petition was compiled and used by the clerk's office "to make a rough estimate of the resources needed to handle the case, to monitor multiple and repeat filings, to assign cases to judges, and to provide certain statistical information the court is required by law to compile." Instructions for Completing Official Form 1, ¶ I. p. 1. Now that filings are made electronically, most of that information is provided by counsel during the electronic case filing process, rather than being manually extracted from the petition by the clerk's office after the case is filed. Nonetheless, the clerk's office still reviews the petition and compares the information it contains with that provided by counsel during the case filing process, to make certain that the data was input correctly and if not to make any changes needed to bring the docket and the data into line with the information contained in the petition, and to determine whether the petition satisfactorily reflects the debtor's eligibility for relief under title 11.

Information which cannot be found or can be found only with difficulty is less useful than information which is readily available. Consequently, the petition must not only provide all of the information required, it must do...

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6 cases
  • In re Rambo Imaging, L.L.P., Case No. 07-11190-FRM (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 11/8/2007), Case No. 07-11190-FRM.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Texas
    • 8 Noviembre 2007
    ... ... In In re Orrison, 343 B.R. 906, 909 (Bankr. N.D .Ind. 2006), the court examined an altered form of the voluntary petition, and warned against "[a]lterations that ... ...
  • In re Jenkins, Case No. 17-30753
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • 26 Septiembre 2017
    ... ... Id .; In re Orrison , 343 B.R. 906, 909 (Bankr. N.D. Ind. 2006); In re Mitchell , 255 B.R. 345, 363 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2000). As stated in Orrison : Although Rule 9009 ... ...
  • Santander Consumer USA Inc. v. Donnadio (In re Donnadio)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, Sixth Circuit
    • 25 Noviembre 2019
    ... ... Id. ; In re Orrison , 343 B.R. 906, 909 (Bankr. N.D. Ind. 2006) ; In re Mitchell , 255 B.R. 345, 363 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2000) ... Further, any modifications to the forms ... ...
  • Albright v. Maumee Valley Credit Union (In re Albright)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • 5 Agosto 2016
    ... ... Both parties discuss the decision in In re Orrison, 343 B.R. 906 (Bankr.N.D.Ind.2006) which involved an altered Petition form, which interfered with administrative efficiency and was required to be ... ...
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