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Litigation Costs Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

A federal bankruptcy court in Idaho held that the PLRA's modification to the bankruptcy code, 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(7), which exempts from chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge any debt involving filing fees and litigation costs, applies to non prisoners as well as prisoners. The court rejected the argument in this non prison case that § 523(a)(7) applies only to prisoners. "If Congress preferred a restricted approach, it could have limited the operation of the exception to fees imposed by a court against a prisoner. It failed to do so and while it may have constructed a tiger pit to trap a mouse, only congress can properly remedy the error." See: In Re Hough, 228 B.R. 264 (D ID 1998).

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Related legal case

In Re Hough

In sum, Congress can amend the statute if the approach it has taken is too severe for the problem sought to be addressed.FN2 The Court will not, nor should it, judicially legislate what some may see as a solution in the interim.
FN2. In fact, legislation to narrow the scope of this exception to discharge was included in bankruptcy reform legislation which passed the Senate. See S.1301, Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1997, Section 414, ¶ 5 (proposal to strike "by a court" and replace with the insertion of "on a prisoner by any court").

Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted by separate order.