ROBERT D. MARTIN, Chief Judge.
This controversy has been submitted to the court on stipulated facts and since no material facts are in dispute is ripe for summary judgment. The debtor, Robert W. Ford, filed in chapter 11 on February 18, 1983. Both before and after filing he operated a towing service under annual contracts with the City of Madison, awarded each December for the following calendar year. The debtor billed and was paid by the city of Madison each month for the previous month's work.
On April 1, 1981, the debtor entered into a general business security agreement with the defendant Independence Bank of Madison ("the bank") which granted a security interest in inter alia the debtor's contract rights "now owned or hereafter acquired. . . ." The debtor also granted the bank a security interest in various of the debtor's tow trucks by a separate agreement. Both security agreements were duly perfected.
On April 20, 1984, this court confirmed the debtor's modified chapter 11 plan. The parties have stipulated that under the plan the debtor would have continued to pay secured creditors pursuant to their contractual arrangements. The case was converted to chapter 7 on October 19, 1984.
The plaintiff, trustee in the chapter 7 case, seeks to recover a total of $9,310.00 of alleged towing contract proceeds paid by the debtor to the bank during 1984. Of this amount $2,284.00 was paid by the debtor prior to confirmation of the debtor's chapter 11 plan and $7,026.00 was paid after confirmation.
The trustee argues that pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 552, the filing of the debtor's bankruptcy in 1983 operated to abrogate the bank's security interest in the 1984 contract with the city of Madison and the payments to the bank constituted an unauthorized transfer of contract proceeds which were property of the estate. The bank argues that the contract proceeds were not property of the estate and that in any event the payments were pursuant to the debtor's confirmed plan of reorganization.
Section 549(a) generally allows the trustee to avoid unauthorized post-petition transfers of property of the estate.
The bank, however, urges that pursuant to section 348(a) of the Code the conversion of the debtor's case from chapter 11 to chapter 7 relates back to the original date of filing, and that for all purposes not specifically excluded in section 348(b) and (c) the debtor's case must be treated as though it were a chapter 7 case actually filed at the time of the original filing. The bank thus reasons that the debtor's earnings under his 1984 contract never became property of the bankruptcy estate pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 541 and that the transfer of a portion of those earnings to the bank is not avoidable under section 549.
It is first necessary to consider the effect of the conversion of the debtor's case. 11 U.S.C. § 348(a) provides:
Subject to the exceptions contained in the other subsections, a chapter 7 case which has been converted from a case under another chapter is considered to have been commenced on the date of the original petition. In Re Langholf, 37 B.R. 414 (Bankr. N.D.Ill.1984). This does not mean, however, that all actions taken in the case prior to conversion become nullities. The express intent of Bankruptcy Rule 1019 which implements section 348 is to preserve any action taken in the case prior to conversion.
At least with repsect to chapter 13 conversions there is a split of authority as to the effect of the conversion upon wages or other property acquired by the chapter 13 debtor during the period after the commencement of the chapter 13 case but prior to its conversion to chapter 7. Some cases, following what was perceived to be the literal language of section 348(a), have held that wages and other property acquired by the debtor post-petition but pre-conversion are not property of the chapter 7 estate after conversion. See In Re Bullock, 41 B.R. 637 (Bankr.E.D.Pa.1984); In Re Hannan, 24 B.R. 691 (Bankr.E.D.N.Y.1982). See also In Re Dennis, 31 B.R. 128 (Bankr. M.D.Ga.1983); In Re Selner, 18 B.R. 420 (Bankr.S.D.Fla.1982). However, as was aptly pointed out in In Re Tracy, 28 B.R. 189 (Bankr.D.Me.1983), section 348 does not state that upon conversion a case is to be treated in all respects as if it had originally been filed under the chapter to which it has been converted. In that case the court found it appropriate to treat wages which the debtor had received after the filing of his chapter 13 petition but prior to conversion to chapter 7 as property of the chapter 7 estate. The court found that this treatment was consistent with the treatment
The status of pre-conversion property in chapter 13 cases was treated in more detail by the court in In Re Wanderlich, 36 B.R. 710 (Bankr.W.D.N.Y.1984). In Wanderlich the court observed that by its terms section 348(a) does not purport to in any way alter or modify the provisions or applicability of sections 541 and 1306 of the Code which define the property of the chapter 13 estate. The court correctly observed that section 1306 specifically deals with the status of post-petition, pre-conversion wages in chapter 13 cases. The court found that such wages clearly become property of the chapter 7 estate upon conversion of the case. In comparing chapter 13 conversions to chapter 11 conversions the court noted that chapter 11 has no equivalent to section 1306 because in the vast majority of cases post-petition, preconversion property is generated from existing property of the chapter 11 estate and is thus included in the post-conversion chapter 7 estate pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(7).
The reasoning of Wanderlich and Tracy is directly applicable to this case. It would be anomalous to conclude that property acquired by the chapter 11 estate after the commencement of the case reverts unconditionally to the debtor upon conversion to chapter 7 while post-petition, pre-conversion debts are treated as though they arose prior to the original chapter 11 filing.
After the confirmation of the debtor's plan the estate property revested in the debtor under the terms of the confirmed plan. Section (f)(3) of the debtor's plan provided:
11 U.S.C. § 1141(b) provides:
This court has previously held that in the absence of any contrary provisions in a plan title to property revests in the debtor along with normal ownership rights. In Re Wood, 12 B.C.D. 1196, 47 B.R. 774 (Bankr.W.D.Wis.1985). See also U.S. v. Redmond, 36 B.R. 932 (D.Kan.1984). In this case there are no contrary provisions in the plan of reorganization. The property of the estate revested in the debtor subject only to outstanding liens. Section 549(a) expressly applies only to property of the estate. Since all of the debtor's property revested it is clear that the trustee may not avoid any transfers which occured after confirmation of the debtor's plan.
The operation of section 348(a) of the Code does not result in the retroactive divestment of post-petition property acquired by the estate upon conversion to chapter 7. Nor does the fact that a case is converted to chapter 7 following the failure of a confirmed plan result in the nullification of all actions by the parties or orders
The payments made prior to the confirmation of the debtor's plan present a more difficult problem since those payments were made from property of the estate and may be avoided by the trustee if not authorized under the Code or by the court. 11 U.S.C. § 549(a)(2)(B). Section 1108 of the Code provides "[u]nless the court, on request of a party in interest and after notice and a hearing, orders otherwise, the trustee may operate the debtor's business." 11 U.S.C. § 1108. Section 1107 provides in relevant part "a debtor in possession shall have all the rights . . . and powers . . . of a trustee serving in a case under this chapter."
The bank has alleged, and the trustee has not disputed, that only so much of the contract proceeds as was needed to make the loan payments relating to the debtor's tow trucks was disbursed to the bank. The use of funds by the debtor to keep current on his secured debt was, in the absence of any proof to the contrary, a proper exercise of the power to operate the business under section 1108. The debtor's pre-confirmation truck payments were thus authorized under the Code and may not be avoided under section 549.
Even though the bank lost its security interest in the debtor's after-acquired contract rights pursuant to section 552(a) of the Code, the payments to the bank were properly made. Those prior to confirmation were authorized under section 1108 and those made after confirmation of the plan were not made from property of the estate and thus are not within the terms of section 549.
Upon the foregoing which constitute my findings of fact and conclusions of law the complaint of the plaintiff trustee must be dismissed. It may be so ordered.
11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1), (7).