Debtor’s Claim Against Johnson & Johnson for Defective Transvaginal Mesh Claim Not “Sufficiently Rooted” in her Pre-bankruptcy past to be brought into the Estate
The former chapter 7 trustee has filed a motion asking the Court to reopen the instant case, which was closed approximately seven years ago, so he can administer a previously undisclosed personal injury claim recovery, based on a defective medical device, in the estimated amount of $45,000. The trustee argues all the essential elements of the Debtor’s causes of action leading to the recovery existed prior to the date she filed her bankruptcy case, the claim was fully accrued as of the petition date, and her recovery is thus property of the bankruptcy estate. The Debtor opposes the trustee’s motion. She argues, first, she had no knowledge of any defect in the device, and hence no interest in the personal injury recovery at the time she filed her chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and, second, the damages, pain, and suffering that gave rise to her monetary award occurred after she filed her bankruptcy case. In sum, the Debtor insists neither the trustee nor her creditors are entitled to the funds she received through her personal injury claim and consequently, no purpose that would be served by reopening the case.
The legal issue presented in this contested matter is whether the Debtor had a sufficient interest in the defective medical device lawsuit on the date she filed this chapter 7 case to render it an asset of the bankruptcy estate and justify reopening this case.