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In re Carol Todd/09-32262
Todd v. Access Group, Inc. et al./10-00091

Debtor, a sixty-three year old woman suffering from an autism spectrum disorder (Autism) and various physical ailments, filed a complaint pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(8) to have her student loans included within her discharge. Debtor argued that she was unable to obtain gainful employment due to her Autism and other permanent shortcomings and that to have her student loan debt excepted from her discharge would be an undue hardship. Three of her student loan creditors, who were collectively owed nearly $340,000, objected. The Court applied the Brunner test to determine the dischargeability of the student loans and found that, 1) Debtor’s monthly finances would not allow her to sustain a minimal standard of living if she was forced to re-pay her student loans; 2) Debtor’s Autism and other ailments amounted to sufficient additional circumstances to establish a certainty of hopelessness as regards the Debtor’s ability to ever obtain regular employment sufficient to re-pay her student loan debts; and 3) Debtor had acted in good faith in attempting to obtain employment and steady income to repay her loans but Autism and other circumstances beyond her control prevented her from realizing the same. Finding that all requirements of the Brunner test had been met, the Court discharged all of the student loans.

Robert A. Gordon