April 22, 2016
All riding lawn mowers are not lawn tractors. It’s a distinction that’s frequently overlooked, but it is very important in consumer bankruptcy cases.
“Whether a riding mower is a lawn tractor could ultimately determine whether the debtor may keep it free and clear after the bankruptcy case has ended, or if the creditor may repossess it post-bankruptcy,” Judge Jason D. N Woodward stated in In re Evans, 2016 WL 1238853 (Bankr. N.D. Miss. Mar. 29, 2016).
That’s because the Bankruptcy Code specifically states that debtors may not avoid liens against lawn tractors. Really, it does.
So what’s the difference?
The primary purpose of a lawn mower is to cut grass. A riding lawn mower is a lawn mower with a seat.
A lawn tractor is type of tractor, which means it can do more than just cut grass. It can haul, plow, and power other accessories.
Judge Woodward found that the debtor’s lawn mower — a Murray Select rear-engine riding lawn mower — was nothing more than a glorified push mower. As such it was an “appliance,” which is a machine designed to perform a specific household task.
Appliances are “household goods.”
Debtors may avoid liens in household goods.