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: In Re: D. Erik Von Kiel v. United States Trustee

February 6, 2013

: IN RE: D. ERIK VON KIEL,
D. ERIK VON KIEL,
APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES TRUSTEE, APPELLEE.



BANKRUPTCY NO. 10-21364

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe,j.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Debtor-Appellant, D. Erik von Kiel, appeals pro se from the Bankruptcy Court's order dated January 5, 2012. For the following reasons, and having considered fully the briefs and the record on appeal, and having determined that oral argument is not necessary in this case,*fn1 the Court will affirm the order of the Bankruptcy Court.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 6, 2010, Debtor filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code*fn2 in the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.*fn3 On October 13, 2010, the United States Trustee timely filed a complaint, objecting to discharge on three independent statutory grounds: "[Debtor], with intent to hinder, delay or defraud, concealed property and made pre- and/or post-petition transfers thereof"*fn4

(Count 1); "[Debtor] failed to keep or preserve recorded information from which his financial condition or business transactions might be ascertained"*fn5 (Count 2); and "[Debtor] knowingly and fraudulently, in or in connection with this case, made a false oath or account"*fn6 (Count 3). The Bankruptcy Court tried the matter on July 29 and August 8, 2011.*fn7 A finding in the Trustee's favor on any individual count would have provided a basis for denying the Debtor's discharge. On January 5, 2012, the Bankruptcy Court entered judgment denying Debtor's discharge on each of the three grounds.*fn8 This appeal followed.

II. JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT

Bankruptcy courts have jurisdiction to hear and determine all core proceedings under Title 11 of the United States Code.*fn9 An adversary proceeding seeking denial of a debtor's discharge pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727 is a core proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(J); therefore, the Bankruptcy Court had jurisdiction under this section to consider the United States Trustee's objection to Debtor's discharge.
By Opinion and Order dated January 5, 2012, the Bankruptcy Court entered final judgment denying Debtor's discharge.*fn10 On January 23, 2012, after the time for filing a notice of appeal ran, Debtor filed a notice of appeal together with a motion for an extension of time to file the appeal.*fn11 The Bankruptcy Court denied the motion for an extension on February 13, 2012.*fn12

Debtor thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration and on March 20, 2012, after a hearing, the Bankruptcy Court granted the motion to reconsider and extended the time to file an appeal.*fn13

Debtor's appeal to this Court is therefore timely, and this Court has jurisdiction to review the Bankruptcy Court's decision pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a).*fn14

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A district court reviewing the decision of a bankruptcy court on appeal reviews the bankruptcy court's "legal determinations de novo, its factual findings for clear error, and its exercise of discretion for abuse thereof."*fn15 A "bankruptcy court's ultimate determination [to deny discharge under § 727] should be affirmed absent an abuse of discretion."*fn16 "A bankruptcy court abuses its discretion when its ruling is founded on an error of law or a misapplication of law to the facts."*fn17

A district court's review of a bankruptcy appeal is limited to the record before the bankruptcy court.*fn18 Debtor, who did not introduce any exhibits at trial, attempts to introduce in this appeal pleadings and other documents that were not before the Bankruptcy Court. The Court does not consider these documents in reaching its ...


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