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Stranahan v. Shubert

September 13, 2004

HENRY STRANAHAN; H&W ASSOCIATES AND STRANAHAN CHARITABLE TRUST
v.
CHRISTINE C. SHUBERT, CHAPTER 7 TRUSTEE



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diamond J.

MEMORANDUM

This is an appeal from a Bankruptcy Court Order approving a settlement between Appellees Christine Shubert, Trustee for the Debtor, Pennsylvania Gear Corporation, and Fleet National Bank, a secured creditor of the Debtor. Henry Stranahan, acting on his own behalf and on behalf of two other creditors - - H&W Associates and the Stranahan Charitable Trust - - seeks to challenge that settlement. Fleet moves to dismiss, contending that as a pro se litigant, Henry Stranahan may not appeal either on his own behalf or on behalf of H&W Associates or the Stranahan Charitable Trust. I grant the motion and dismiss this appeal.

Background

On November 18, 2002, the Debtor filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The case was converted to one under Chapter 7 on December 30, 2002. The Bankruptcy Court appointed Christine Shubert as Trustee for the Debtor on December 31, 2002. Among the creditors were Fleet National Bank and H&W Associates. Henry Stranahan and William Stranahan (relationship unknown) are the two partners of H&W Associates.

In August 2003, the Trustee, attempting to satisfy Fleet, filed a motion seeking approval of a Stipulation and Agreed Order allowing the sale of some of Debtor's property. (Appellee's Ex. at A23.) H&W Associates and the Debtor's shareholders filed objections to the Stipulation. (Id. at A32 & A57.) Although Henry Stranahan was listed as a shareholder in these objections, a later filing confirms that Henry Stranahan is not a shareholder of the Debtor. (Appellee's Ex. at A109). The Debtor's only direct shareholders are William Stranahan and the Stranahan Family Limited Partnership. (Id.) Thus, only those entities (and not Henry Stranahan) objected to the First Stipulation.

After the Trustee and the objectors came to an agreement, the Trustee filed an Amended Stipulation between Trustee and Fleet to which no objections were filed. (Id. at A93.) On October 6, 2003, the Bankruptcy Court approved the Amended Stipulation.

Henry Stranahan subsequently pursued numerous motions, pro se, in the Bankruptcy Court, including a Motion to Amend the Amended Stipulation, which he purportedly filed on behalf of himself and the Stranahan Charitable Trust. (Id. at A102.) The Bankruptcy Court rejected the motion as untimely and meritless. (Certificate of Appeal at Ex. 2.)

Henry Stranahan, again acting pro se, now appeals to this Court, seeking to overturn the Bankruptcy Court's approval of the Amended Stipulation even though he did not timely object to that Stipulation when it was filed.

Fleet has moved to dismiss and is supported by the Trustee.

Discussion

A. Legal Standard

A court may dismiss a complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) only when it is certain that no relief could be granted under any set of facts the plaintiff could prove. Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept as true all well pleaded allegations, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Sec., Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). Although a court usually looks only to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments, it may also look beyond the complaint if the matters considered are a part of the public record as to which there can be no dispute. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Accordingly, a court may properly consider filings made in the course of the bankruptcy proceedings that are the subject of an appeal. Id.

B. Analysis

Fleet raises a single issue here: whether or not Henry Stranahan may pursue this ...


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