New Bankruptcy Opinion: IN RE FELICIANO GONZALEZ CONSTRUCTION, INC. – Bankr. Court, D. Puerto Rico, 2014

IN RE: FELICIANO GONZALEZ CONSTRUCTION, INC., Chapter 11, Debtor.

Case No. 14-04931 (ESL).

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Puerto Rico.

June 19, 2014.

OPINION AND ORDER

ENRIQUE S. LAMOUTTE, Bankruptcy Judge.

This case is before the court upon the Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments filed by the Debtor (Docket No. 2) and the Objection thereto filed by creditor Reliable Financial Services, Inc. (Docket No. 4).

The Debtor is a Puerto Rico corporation dedicated to construction and claims to be a small business debtor as defined in 11 U.S.C. § 101(51D). See Docket No. 1.

“An individual commencing a voluntary case or a joint case under title 11 may pay such fee in installments.” 28 U.S.C. § 1930(a) (emphasis added).

Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1006(b)(1) provides as follows:

Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments. A voluntary petition by an individual shall be accepted for filing if accompanied by the debtor’s signed application, prepared as prescribed by the appropriate Official Form, stating that the debtor is unable to pay the filing fee except in installments. (Emphasis added.)

Similarly, LBR 9006-1(a) governs the installment payments as follows:

General Requirement. Any voluntary individual debtor desiring to pay the filing fee in installments must file an application with the clerk conforming to the Official Form B-3A, “Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments.” Debtor must pay $50.00 at the time of the filing of the petition. The balance of the total fee must be paid in no more than 3 equal installments, payable every 30 days thereafter until paid in full. (Emphasis added.)

Section 109(a) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that “only a person that resides or has a domicile, a place of business or property in the United States, or a municipality, may be a debtor under this title”. 11 U.S.C. § 109(a). For bankruptcy purposes, the term “person” includes individuals, partnerships and corporations. See 11 U.S.C. § 101(41). The definition for “corporation” includes associations, partnership associations, joint-stock companies, unincorporated companies or associations and business trusts, but does not include limited partnerships. See 11 U.S.C. § 101(9). The term “individual” is not defined in the Bankruptcy Code. See In re Prairie T. Ry., 125 B.R. 217, 221 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1991) (“Nowhere are the terms `individual debtor’ or `debtor is not an individual’ defined”). Thus, an “individual debtor” is distinguished from other artificial entities created by law. Hence, “[i]t is virtually universally held … that [`individual debtors’ refer] only to natural persons (human beings) who seek relief as debtors, not artificial persons like corporations, partnerships and other such entities.” In re Prairie T. Ry., 125 B.R. at 221 .

In view of the foregoing, the court concludes that “individual debtor” refers to a natural person (human being) for bankruptcy eligibility purposes under Section 109, Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1006(b)(1) and LBR 9006-1(a). Therefore, the Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments (Docket No. 2) is hereby denied as the Debtor is a corporation, not an individual. The Debtor is hereby ordered to pay the complete Chapter 11 fee within 14 days. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of the case.

SO ORDERED.

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