Bankruptcy Law

Would-be lawyer won't have $260K in student loans erased; SCOTUS refuses to hear appeal


SCOTUS

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The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal by a would-be lawyer who has been seeking to discharge more than $260,000 in business and law school debt in bankruptcy.

Mark Tetzlaff, 57, graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law, but has repeatedly failed the bar exam. He said in papers filed in his Chapter 7 case that he could not repay due to alcoholism, depression and a criminal record that have blocked him from getting employment, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

He lives in Wisconsin with his mother, who supports the household with her Social Security payments. He filed the bankruptcy case in that state in 2012.

The refusal of SCOTUS to hear the case leaves in place an arguable circuit split between federal appeals courts concerning the proper standard to be applied to determine whether the requisite “undue hardship” exists when a debtor seeks to discharge student loans.

For federal courts overseeing Tetzlaff’s bankruptcy case, including the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Court of Appeals, his failure to make loan payments over an extended period appears to have played a significant role in determining that he does not qualify to have these student loans erased, according to Above the Law and the WSJ article.

However, if a more lenient test used by the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had been applied to Tetzlaff’s case, the result might have been different, his appeal contended.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Florida Coastal law grad asking for discharge of $260K in federal student loans seeks SCOTUS review”

Huffington Post: “Will Mark Tetzlaff Be Our Student Loan Hero?”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Obama takes steps to allow more student loans to be discharged during bankruptcy”


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