- U.S. Supreme Court says debtors unaware of fraud cannot wipe out debts
- Case concerned sale of San Francisco home with undisclosed defects
Feb 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that individuals cannot use the bankruptcy process to wipe out debts incurred through fraud even in instances when they were not the ones who personally deceived their creditors.
The high court unanimously rejected Kate Bartenwerfer’s bid to use bankruptcy to eliminate debts stemming from a home sale in San Francisco on the grounds that she was unaware of fraudulent omissions her husband made in selling their house.
She had sought to discharge a debt owed to the buyer, Kieran Buckley, who had sued Kate and David Bartenwerfer for selling him their house while withholding information about major defects, like a leaky roof and defective windows.
But conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett said the bankruptcy code allows someone like Kate Bartenwerfer, who was unaware of the deceit, to still be held liable as the law “turns on how the money was obtained, not who committed fraud to obtain it.”
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She noted the bankruptcy code’s bar on debtors discharging debts for money “obtained