HOLLOWAY, Chief Judge.
After examining the briefs and the appellate record, this three-judge panel has determined unanimously that oral argument would not be of material assistance in the determination of this appeal. See Fed.R.App.P. 34(a); Tenth Circuit R. 10(e). The cause is therefore ordered submitted without oral argument.
Debtors, Wayne and Dorothy Reid, filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy on November 2, 1981, seeking to exempt certain paintings from attachment for payment of debts under Okla.Stat. tit. 31, § 1(A)(3) and (7) (Supp.1980).
First commenced this action in the bankruptcy court on November 24, 1981, claiming that the paintings were not exempt and that debtors could not avoid security interest liens on the property under 11 U.S.C. § 522(f).
Debtors, Wayne and Dorothy Reid, operated a family business known as International
Debtors received six of the paintings on June 10, 1980, and the remaining nine in November 1980.
In the bankruptcy proceedings, debtors claimed that the paintings were exempt from attachment by First and Community under the Oklahoma exemption statute and that the liens could be avoided pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f). As a preliminary matter, the bankruptcy court assumed, without deciding, that the paintings fell within the category of personal property described in Okla.Stat. tit. 31, § 1(A)(3) or (7), and found that the creditors' security interests were nonpossessory, non-purchase money liens subject to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) avoidance provisions. III R. 77-78.
The court went on to find that the paintings were not exempt and the liens were not avoidable because, under all the circumstances, the paintings were not held primarily for personal, family or household use. The court instead found that, although the paintings were located in debtors' home, their "most important use ... [was] pledging them commercially for commercial loans." III R. 80. The court based this conclusion on initial findings that the paintings were received by debtors as payment on a series of commercial transactions; the paintings were pledged as collateral for business loans soon after debtors received them and placed them in their home; and debtors themselves indicated in their list of assets that the paintings were a "unique collection" by not incorporating them into their general description of furniture, fixtures and accessories. III R. 79.
The district court affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision, holding that the classification of the paintings was a question of fact and that the bankruptcy court's findings on this issue were not clearly erroneous. I R. 89. This appeal followed.
The sole issue to be decided on appeal is whether the bankruptcy court erred in finding the paintings were not exempt
As a court of appeals, we are bound by Bankruptcy Rule 8013 (formerly Bankruptcy Rule 810) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a) to accept the findings of the bankruptcy judge unless they are clearly erroneous. Leaseamerica Corp. v. Eckel, 710 F.2d 1470, 1474 (10th Cir.1983); Farmers Co-Operative Ass'n of Talmadge, Kansas v. Strunk, 671 F.2d 391, 395 (10th Cir.1982); In re White House Decorating Co., 607 F.2d 907, 910 (10th Cir.1979). The district court itself properly used the clearly erroneous standard for reviewing the findings of fact of the bankruptcy judge,
Contrary to debtors' claims, sufficient evidence was introduced in the bankruptcy hearing to support the court's initial findings of fact that the paintings were received "as payment upon a series of commercial transactions ... conducted by ... one of the [Reids'] business entities" and that the paintings were pledged commercially for business loans. See III R. 79. Wayne Reid testified on numerous occasions that the loan proceeds were used for
In addition, the following evidence in the record supports the court's finding that the paintings were received by debtors as a business entity: testimony that the Reids owned and operated the IMS company and that IMS had 25 employees, some of whom were not members of the Reid family (III R. 31-32, 42-43, 45-46); testimony that debtors received the paintings from Hargis as payment of debts owed for IMS printing and mailing services (III R. 17, 25); testimony that "credit" was given to Hargis' company accounts in the amount of $125,000 for the paintings (III R. 26-27, 47); and Dorothy Reid's testimony that debtors were seeking to discharge in bankruptcy some of the costs incurred by their businesses "in producing this $125,000 worth of work" (III R. 47).
In finding that "the most important use [of the paintings was] pledging them commercially for commercial loans," the bankruptcy court was not required to adopt the characterization of the goods given in the security agreements. See, In re Currie, 34 B.R. 745, 747-48 (D.C.D.Kan.1983) (evidence establishing that collateral was actually used as "tools of trade" controlled over the security agreement classification of collateral as consumer goods held for family, personal or household purposes); In re Noggle, 30 B.R. 303, 305 (Bkrtcy.E.D.Mich.1983) ("classification of property in a security agreement is not dispositive of questions dealing with whether the property may be claimed as exempt or whether a lien on such property may be avoided").
It was also proper for the bankruptcy court to find that, even though the paintings were located in debtors' home, they were primarily used for business rather than personal, family or household purposes. Cf. 3 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 522.12, at 522-50.1 (1984) ("[p]resumably, those goods which are primarily for occupational use ... do not fall within the [personal, family or household use] exemption, even though there may also be a secondary personal use"); Security Building & Loan Ass'n v. Ward, 174 Okl. 238, 50 P.2d 651, 656 (1935) (even though goods may have characteristics of "household furniture," courts have held "with practical unanimity that furniture devoted to commercial purposes does not fall within the exemption statute"); In re Jones, 5 B.R. 655, 657-58 (Bkrtcy.M.D.N.C.1980) (in holding that a tractor and mower were exempt "household goods," the court relied on the fact that the goods were never used for any commercial venture and that no evidence was presented showing the debtor purchased the goods with the intent to use them for other than household purposes).
Here, the bankruptcy court could find that the paintings were intended for other than household purposes because they were received by debtors as payment on a debt owed to IMS, and were thus held by debtors for the business rather than for their own personal use. The court could also find that the goods were primarily used for business rather than personal, family or household purposes because (1) debtors received the paintings as payment on a business debt and pledged them as collateral for business loans within a period of six days for the first installment and a period of a few months for the second installment; and (2) debtors stated that they would sell some of these paintings to pay off a business loan. When viewed in conjunction with the fact that the bankruptcy court could properly find the paintings to be a "unique collection,"
We believe that we are acting consistently with the purposes of the Oklahoma exemption statute and 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) in holding that the bankruptcy court did not err in its ruling. "The purposes of the exemption statute are to prevent improvident debtors from becoming subjects of charity by preserving to them sufficient definitely classified property that they may maintain a home for themselves, and to prevent inconsiderate creditors from depriving them of the necessities of life." Security Building & Loan Ass'n v. Ward, 50 P.2d at 657; see also In re Fisher, 11 B.R. 666, 668 (Bkrtcy.W.D.Okla.1981). But, "this is not to say that ... all items of personal property that a debtor uses in his home may be ... exempted. Each case will be evaluated on its merits with regard to its own particular facts and circumstances to prevent abuses by either creditors or debtors." In re Fisher, 11 B.R. at 669. This case does not involve "inconsiderate creditors" depriving debtors of the necessities of life, nor was it improper for the bankruptcy court to find that the paintings were not primarily used for maintenance of debtors' home.
For these reasons, the judgment of the district court affirming the bankruptcy court's findings concerning the exemption and lien avoidance status of the paintings is
The pertinent portion of the Oklahoma exemption statute provides as follows:
See Okla.Stat. tit. 31, § 1 (Supp.1980). This version of the exemption statute, which became effective on June 25, 1980, is applicable here because the debtors' petition in bankruptcy was filed in November 1981. See 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(2)(A); In re Maricle, 25 B.R. 36, 38-39 (Bkrtcy.N.D.Tex.1982) ("[n]ormally the date upon which the bankruptcy petition is filed is the relevant date for determination of exemption issues").
Classification as "household furniture" or "portraits and pictures" does not mean that the paintings are automatically exempt. See Security Building & Loan Ass'n v. Ward, 174 Okl. 238, 50 P.2d 651, 656 (1935) ("it was manifestly not contemplated by the statute that any and all furniture ... should, by virtue of its character as household furniture, be considered exempt"). Although under Oklahoma law "exemption laws ... should be liberally construed to comport with their beneficient spirit of protecting the family home, a liberal construction cannot be the means of defeating a positive law or a rule established by judicial precedent." In re Estate of Wallace, 648 P.2d 828, 833-34 (Okla.1982). The legislatures here have expressly provided in both the exemption and lien avoidance statutes that the items which fall within the applicable exemption categories must be "held primarily for ... personal, family or household use." Cf. In re Estate of Wallace, 648 P.2d at 834 (occupation is an express condition in the Oklahoma homestead exemption statute required for the homestead to vest); In re Fisher, 11 B.R. 666, 667 (Bkrtcy.W.D.Okla.1981) (the Oklahoma legislature placed a qualification on the "household and kitchen furniture exemption" by requiring such furniture to be held primarily for the personal, family or household use of the debtor or his dependent). We therefore believe that the bankruptcy court did not err in relying on that qualification to find that the paintings were not exempt and the liens not avoidable, although the paintings may have been "household furniture" within the meaning of Okla.Stat. tit. 31, § 1(A)(3) and 11 U.S.C. § 522(f), or "portraits and pictures" within the meaning of Okla.Stat. tit. 31, § 1(A)(7).
Congress has indicated in the 1984 Bankruptcy Amendments that the clearly erroneous standard is to apply in appeals from decisions of bankruptcy judges in "core proceedings arising under title 11." See Pub.L. No. 98-353, §§ 157(b) and 158(c), 1984 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News (98 Stat.) 340-41. As explained in In re Osborne, 42 B.R. 988, 993 (D.C.W.D.Wis.1984):
Here, the bankruptcy case was a "core proceeding" because it involved the determination of "exemptions from the property of the estate," defined as a "core proceeding" under § 157(b)(2)(B) of the 1984 Act. We are in accord with In re Osborne that it was constitutional under Northern Pipeline for Congress to provide review under the clearly erroneous standard; the Bankruptcy Amendments place greater limits on the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts and limit application of the clearly erroneous standard to a list of enumerated "core proceedings". Id. at 993-94. We also agree with the court's conclusion that it is appropriate to apply the clearly erroneous standard of the 1984 Act to cases pending on the date of the Act's enactment; the Act specifically provided that it would take effect on the date of enactment and readoption of the clearly erroneous standard does not affect the existing substantive rights of the parties, "but merely establishes the procedural framework for appeals." Id. at 993; see also Carlton v. Baww, Inc., 751 F.2d 781, 787 n. 6 (5th Cir.1985).
Even if the Bankruptcy Amendments had not been adopted, we believe this case is distinguishable from Reminc and Northern Pipeline because it falls within the core area of federal bankruptcy power. In Northern Pipeline, 458 U.S. at 71, 102 S.Ct. at 2871, the Court stated that "the restructuring of debtor-creditor relations, which is at the core of the federal bankruptcy power, must be distinguished from the adjudication of state-created private rights, such as the right to recover contract damages that is at issue in this case." See also John E. Burns Drilling Co. v. Central Bank of Denver, 739 F.2d 1489, 1493-94 (10th Cir.1984) (per curiam). "Significantly, the only case after Northern Pipeline which held the application of the clearly erroneous standard unconstitutional, [Reminc], did so in the non-core context of a breach of contract counterclaim and limited its holding to such traditional common law actions." In re Osborne, 42 B.R. at 994. Since application of the clearly erroneous standard has been "routinely upheld" in proceedings within the core area of federal bankruptcy power, we conclude that it is also appropriate to apply the standard in this core proceeding involving only "the restructuring of debtor-creditor relations." See In re Osborne, 42 B.R. at 994 n. 1.
Moreover, Northern Pipeline is not applicable here because the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision before the Court's prospective ruling. See Northern Pipeline, 458 U.S. at 88, 102 S.Ct. at 2880, 459 U.S. 813, 103 S.Ct. 199, 74 L.Ed.2d 160 (1982) (case to apply only prospectively after December 24, 1982). Application of the new jurisdictional rules is not appropriate where claims were "fully litigated by the bankruptcy judge and the district court and were pending appeal before the effective date of Northern Pipeline and Reminc." In re Twin Parks Ltd. Partnership, 720 F.2d 1374, 1377 (4th Cir.1983), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 104 S.Ct. 1602, 80 L.Ed.2d 132 (1984); see also Mitsubishi International Corp. v. Clark Pipe & Supply Co., 735 F.2d 160, 163 (5th Cir.1984) (the clearly erroneous standard of review applies where the district court has affirmed the bankruptcy judge's findings before Northern Pipeline was decided).