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Disciplinary Hearing Restitution Order Enforceable in Bankruptcy Proceeding

An Idaho federal Bankruptcy Court held that a prison disciplinary restitution order was enforceable and may be distributed from the proceeds of a lawsuit settlement.

While an Oregon prisoner, Marlin B. Pohlman was subjected to a misconduct charge for a property violation. The facts of that charge alleged that he gave false information to staff in October 2014 about how much Tylenol and Ibuprofen he had consumed in a 24-hour period. The levels he reported “resulted in a costly medical trip,” because his blood levels did not indicate he consumed as much medication as he represented.

He was found guilty at an administrative hearing and was subsequently assessed to pay restitution totaling $2,757.12 for the hospital visit.

Pohlman amended a pending civil rights action in an Oregon federal district court to include a claim regarding what he alleged were constitutional violations during the administrative hearing.

That suit was settled for $5,000 on September 20, 2016.

Oregon sought to recover the restitution amount from the disciplinary hearing from the lawsuit’s settlement, which had been placed in the estate of Pohlman’s pending bankruptcy action.

The Bankruptcy Court rejected Pohlman’s argument against distribution, finding that the settlement released the state from any claims regarding the restitution order and did not include the amount owed under it as part of the settlement. The court also found that distribution was not precluded under statutes requiring the state to pay or provide prisoners with medical care, for it was an order under statutes covering “Inmate Discipline.” As the restitution was based on Pohlman’s alleged misconduct, the law authorized recovery.

The court held distribution from the lawsuit’s proceeds was proper, and it ordered that distribution. See: In Re: Marlin Brandt Pohlman, Debtor, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, D. Idaho, Case No. 16-1332.

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Related legal case

In Re: Marlin Brandt Pohlman, Debtor