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In re Long

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

December 12, 2016

In re: BOBBY DALE LONG, Debtor. LYLE R. NELSON, Chapter 7 Trustee, Appellant,
v.
BOBBY DALE LONG, Appellee.

         PUBLISH

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA (D.C. No. 5:15-CV-01197-F)

          Lyle R. Nelson, Attorney, Elisabeth D. Brown, Attorney, and Wyatt D. Swinford, Attorney, of Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellant.

          J. David Ezzell, Attorney, and Ben Ezzell, Attorney, of Ezzell & Shepherd, PLLC, Enid, Oklahoma, for Appellee.

          Before BRISCOE, EBEL and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judge

          BRISCOE, Circuit Judge.

          The debtor in this Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, Bobby Long, claimed an exemption in $60, 000 worth of life insurance proceeds that he received as a beneficiary shortly prior to filing his bankruptcy petition. The Trustee objected to the claimed exemption, but the bankruptcy court overruled the objection and sustained Long's claimed exemption. The Trustee appealed to the district court, which affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision. The Trustee now appeals to this court. Exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(d)(1), we affirm.[1]

         I

         Donna Long, the wife of debtor Bobby Dale Long (Long), held a life insurance policy (the Policy) in the amount of $60, 000. Long was the named beneficiary under the Policy. Donna Long died on July 22, 2014. On October 8, 2014, Long received the proceeds of the Policy in the form of a $60, 000 check. Long cashed the check on December 11, 2014, depositing $56, 500 of the funds into his savings account and $1, 500 into his personal checking account, and retaining $2, 000 in cash.

         On November 4, 2014-after he received the life insurance check, but before he cashed it-Long filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Long subsequently filed an amended Schedule C claiming an exemption in and to the $60, 000 he received as beneficiary under the life insurance policy.

         On May 19, 2015, the Trustee filed an objection to Long's amended schedule, arguing that Long was not entitled to an exemption in the life insurance proceeds. In response, Long argued that "the life insurance policy payout . . . [was] exempt pursuant to 36 Okla. Stat. §3631.1(A) [sic]." Jt. App. at 44. The Trustee argued in reply that section 3631.1(A) does not exempt insurance policy proceeds that have already been paid out to a beneficiary.

         On October 8, 2015, the bankruptcy court issued a written order sustaining Long's claimed exemption. The Trustee filed a timely notice of appeal, electing to have the appeal heard by the district court. On February 16, 2016, the district court issued a written order affirming the bankruptcy court's ruling.

         The Trustee now ...


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