Man Can't Challenge Discharge of Brother's ALF Debt under Filial Responsibility Law

A bankruptcy court rules that a man does not have standing to prevent the discharge of his brother's debt owed to their mother's assisted living facility under the state's filial responsibility law. In re: Skinner (Bankr. E. D. Pa., No. 13-13318-MDC, Oct. 8, 2014).

Dorothy Skinner lived in an assisted living facility until she was evicted for non-payment. The facility sued Ms. Skinner's sons, Thomas and William, under Pennsylvania's filial responsibility law. The court entered a default judgment against Thomas for $32,224.56. Thomas filed for bankruptcy and sought to discharge the debt.

William filed a claim in the bankruptcy court, arguing that Thomas's debt is non-dischargeable because it resulted from fraud and embezzlement. William argued that Thomas used their mother's assets for his personal expenses, so if William is liable to the assisted living facility, he is entitled to be reimbursed by Thomas.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, dismisses the claim, holding that William does not have standing because he is not a creditor of the debtor. According to the court, even if Thomas's actions injured Mrs. Skinner, that conduct was directed at Mrs. Skinner and her property, not at William. The court rules that William "may not invoke a cause of action that belongs to his [m]other to remedy the [Thomas's] liability for the Support Claim."

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