In re Sinclair

870 F.2d 1340 (7th Cir. 1989)



Legislative history may show the meaning of the texts--may show, indeed, that a text "plain" at first reading has a strikingly different meaning--but may not be used to show an "intent" at variance with the meaning of the text. Legislative history is only admissible to solve doubt and not to create it.


Debtors, who had a family farm, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in 1985, and tried to convert their petition to the new Chapter 12 under the new Bankruptcy  Act of 1986.The district court certified a question on whether this was permitted. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment of the bankruptcy court and the district court, holding that those bankruptcy cases filed before the effective date of the new act were not entitled to convert from Chapter 11 to Chapter 12.


Does legislative history indicate that Chapter 11 cases pending on the date the law went into force may be converted to Chapter 12 cases?




The court held that, despite conflicting legislative history, the plain meaning of the statute controlled, i.e. Chapter 11 cases pending on the date the law went into force could not be converted to Chapter 12 cases. Further, the court stated that debtors' alternative request to dismiss their Chapter 11 case, and file a Chapter 12 case that would be administered as if it had been commenced in 1985, was conversion by another name, and also not permitted.

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