Requirements for Non-Dischargeability under 11 U.S.C. Section 523(a)(6)
Willful & Malicious Injury Standard in Bankruptcy Courts in the Ninth Circuit – In re Ormsby, 591 F.3d 1199, 1206 (9th Cir.)
A bankruptcy adversary attorney can help you understand that the Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit have explained the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code exception to dischargeability “for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity.” 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).
“The Supreme Court in Kawaauhau v. Geiger (In re Geiger), 523 U.S. 57, 118 S.Ct. 974, 140 L.Ed.2d 90 (1998), made clear that for section 523(a)(6) to apply, the actor must intend the consequences of the act, not simply the act itself. Id. at 60, 118 S.Ct. 974. Both willfulness and maliciousness must be proven to block discharge under section 523(a)(6).” In re Ormsby, 591 F.3d 1199, 1206 (9th Cir. 2010).
1) Willful Injury Requirement is Met Only When the Debtor has a Subjective Motive to Inflict Injury or Belief that Injury is Substantially Certain to Result from Conduct
On the first factor: “In this Circuit, “‘§ 523(a)(6)’s willful injury requirement is met only when the debtor has a subjective motive to inflict injury or when the debtor believes that injury is substantially certain to result from his own conduct.’ Carrillo v. Su (In re Su), 290 F.3d 1140, 1142 (9th Cir.2002). The Debtor is charged with the knowledge of the natural consequences of his actions. Cablevision Sys. Corp. v. Cohen (In re Cohen), 121 B.R. 267, 271 (Bankr.E.D.N.Y.1990); see Su, 290 F.3d at 1146 (‘In addition to what a debtor may admit to knowing, the bankruptcy court may consider circumstantial evidence that tends to establish what the debtor must have actually known when taking the injury-producing action.’).” In re Ormsby, 591 F.3d 1199, 1206 (9th Cir. 2010).
2) A Malicious Injury Involves a Wrongful Act, Done Intentionally, Which Necessarily Causes Injury, and is Done Without Just Cause or Excuse
On the second factor: “’A malicious injury involves (1) a wrongful act, (2) done intentionally, (3) which necessarily causes injury, and (4) is done without just cause or excuse.’ Petralia v. Jercich (In re Jercich), 238 F.3d 1202, 1209 (9th Cir.2001) (internal citations omitted). Malice may be inferred based on the nature of the wrongful act. See Transamerica Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Littleton (In re Littleton), 942 F.2d 551, 554(9th Cir.1991). To infer malice, however, it must first be established that the conversion was willful. See Thiara, 285 B.R. at 434.” In re Ormsby, 591 F.3d 1199, 1207 (9th Cir. 2010).
Contact an Experienced Non-Dischargeability Attorney in California
Numerous courts have further interpreted these requirements within the Ninth Circuit and beyond, meaning it can be very complicated for those without experience in nondischargeability litigation in Bankruptcy Court. If you have been sued, contact a skilled bankruptcy attorney in California.