Fun Bankruptcy Case


MERRITT S. DEITZ, Jr., Bankruptcy Judge.


Is a bus a bus, or is it a car?


Reluctantly we conclude that it is a car.


petitioner, Theodore Roosevelt Johnson, Sr., has claimed as exempt his
1969 Dodge bus. The bus has a seating capacity of 60 passengers. Upon
it are occasionally transported members of Johnson’s church


The trustee vehemently objects. He points to the state exemption statute, KRS 427.010,
which in pertinent part permits the exemption of “one motor vehicle and
its necessary accessories, including one spare tire, not exceeding
$2,500 in value…”


The trustee patiently explains that the legislature intended the term “motor vehicle” to be synonymous with “automobile”.


in 1980, the statute excluded earlier statutory limits upon the uses to
which a motor vehicle might be put, so we must cast altogether aside
the trustee’s concern with the voluminous seating capacity of the
behemoth. The record is silent on the size of the petitioner’s family
and their transportation needs.


a Moped a motor vehicle? What would the licensing arm of the state
Department of Transportation say to the contention that a bus is not a
motor vehicle? What would Gertrude Stein have to say about what a motor
vehicle is?


Such rhetorical questions having been considered, we are bold to say that a bus is a motor vehicle.


our dialectic, during this era of motorized evolution, we are inclined
to regard the “bus” and the “automobile” as species of the genus,
“motor vehicle”.


Bankruptcy Court is answerable to an appellate forum of literal bent.
That is good, for it gives us guidance and certainty in ascribing to
the legislature the ability to express its intent in clear, simple,
precise English.


As this
trustee will recall, District Judge Thomas Ballantine, in reviewing a
decision of this court, recently held that a statutory 15-day
limitation upon the recording of chattel mortgages imposed a recording
limitation not of indeterminate length, as was contended, but a
limitation of 15 days.


by that clarity of perception, we find with conviction that a motor
vehicle is a motor vehicle, and not necessarily an automobile. We
expressly reserve, until it is properly presented, any consideration of
the reverse proposition that an automobile is neither a bus nor a motor


Abundantly confident
that this opinion will find its way alongside Marbury v. Madison and
McCulloch v. Maryland in the lasting library of legal logic, it is


ORDERED that Theodore
Roosevelt Johnson, Sr. is entitled to the claimed exemption, and the
trustee shall comport his activities accordingly in administration of
the estate.

Bkrtcy.Ky., 1981.
In re Johnson
14 B.R. 14

There was another case about whether a tractor-lawnmower could be classified as ‘household furniture”.  But the judge doesn’t have as much fun with it as the above judge did.  Check it out.  169 B.R. 732


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