66 East Main Street, 3rd Floor Little Falls, NJ 07424

Debtor’s Actions Causing Motorcycle Accident Were Not Willful

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Background:

  • 3 acquaintances  went out on a motorcycle ride together.
  • One  rider collided into other rider.
  • Substantial damages were sustained and complaint was filed.
  • Judgment was won through a default judgment.
  • Defendant filed bankruptcy.
  • Injured party presented to the Court that it should not be discharged in bankruptcy for the following reasons:   Debtor purposely drove into his motorcycle, the State Court Order had language as to willful and malicious conduct and the driver did not have a motorcycle license or insurance.
  • Injured party stated the Debtor purposely veered into his lane to hit him.
  • Court case was conducted in Bankruptcy Court.  
  • The Debtor stated that he had 5 years’ experience riding motorcycles before the accident.   It was an accident and it was not willful or malicious in his conduct.

Court Ruling:

  • The State Court’s language about willful and malicious was unnecessary to the judgment because the complaint was based on negligence .  
  • In the hearing, the injured party failed to demonstrate willful and malicious acts.
  • There was contradicting testimony of all 3 riders.
  • Court ruled that nothing presented would lead one to believe that the Debtor purposely collided into another motorcycle.
  • Testimony presented by injured party that was most favorable to him was that the Debtor was negligent or reckless.
  • The fact that the Debtor had no license or insurance was not sufficient to prove intention to cause injury.
  • Debtor had substantial experience in riding.
  • Court ruled debt was dischargeable and could see no evidence that there was rage or willful intention that caused the accident.
  • Bad driving does not constitute willful and malicious behavior.