Bitman O’Brien & Morat PLLC announce their achievement of victory stemming from a trial held on April 11, 2022. The matter emanated from a $450,000.00 judgment issued from a Michigan state court in favor of Vista Money LLC and Vineet Katail against Kurt Stevenson for business defamation, defamation, tortious interference, and invasion of privacy.
Mr. Stevenson filed for bankruptcy protection in the federal Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division). Vista Money and Katial filed an adversary proceeding against him arguing that the $450,000.00 Michigan judgment should remain a valid debt because Mr. Stevenson’s underlying conduct was “willful and malicious.” If the conduct was “willful and malicious” the debt would be excepted from discharge and would remain due and owing.
Ultimately, the Bankruptcy Judge ruled in Mr. Stevenson’s favor, found that his actions were not “willful” nor “malicious” and discharged the entire $450,000.00 judgment debt.
Mr. Stevenson testified as to his belief to third parties that Vista Money and Katial had stolen his $40,000, that they had scammed him, and thus, that Katial was a criminal. The Court found that Mr. Stevenson “honestly believed these statements were true when he made them (and he still believes them to be true) …” Because of this, the Court held that Vista Money and Mr. Katial failed to meet their burden of showing that Mr. Stevenson’s intended purpose was to injure them.
In the April 26, 2022 ruling, the Court found that “[Mr. Stevenson’s] frustration towards OPS and Vista Money is understandable. Making matters worse, for more than two years, [Mr. Stevenson] could not get a response from Vista Money or Katial regarding the services Vista Money promised to provide under the Marketer Agreement or arrange a refund of his $40,000.”
The Court held that “Viewing the facts from [Mr. Stevenson’s] perspective, it is understandable that he felt that he was scammed and that his money was stolen.” The Court concluded that Mr. Stevenson did not act willfully nor maliciously and held that Vista Money and Mr. Katial failed in their efforts to except the judgment from bankruptcy discharge.
“This was a great win for Kurt and I am happy for him that he can live the rest of his life without the enormous burden of this questionable debt.” says Ronnie Bitman of Bitman O’Brien & Morat PLLC, managing partner and lead counsel for Mr. Stevenson.
A copy of the Order Finding Debtor’s Michigan State Court Judgment Debt to Plaintiffs is Dischargeable can be downloaded here.