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In re Decker

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

April 16, 2014

IN RE JOSEPH DECKER

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Before the court is Debtor Joseph Decker’s (hereinafter “debtor”) bankruptcy appeal. (Doc. 1). For the reasons that follow, the court will dismiss debtor’s appeal for failure to file a brief in violation of a court order.

Background

Debtor filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition under Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on December 17, 2013, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1-2, Bankruptcy Docket (hereinafter “Bankr. Docket”) at 1-4). Rather than pay the $281.00 filing fee, debtor filed an application to pay the filing fee in installments pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1006(b)(1). (Id. at 2).

On December 18, 2013, Bankruptcy Judge Robert N. Opel II denied debtor’s application to pay the filing fee in installments. (Id.) Judge Opel further ordered debtor to pay the full $281.00 filing fee on or before December 27, 2013. (Id.) Although debtor received Judge Opel’s December 18th Order, debtor failed to remit the filing fee. (Id.) Accordingly, on January 6, 2014, Judge Opel dismissed debtor’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy case without prejudice. (Id. at 3). Based on the dismissal of his bankruptcy case, debtor filed the instant appeal on February 4, 2014. (Id.)

Jurisdiction

We have jurisdiction over the instant bankruptcy appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), which provides that the district courts of the United States have jurisdiction to hear appeals from final judgments, orders and decrees of the bankruptcy courts.

Legal Standard

The district court reviews the bankruptcy court decisions of law de novo. In re O’Brien Envtl. Energy, Inc., 188 F.3d 116, 122 (3d Cir. 1999). The bankruptcy court’s findings of fact will only be set aside if clearly erroneous. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8013 (“Findings of fact, whether based on oral or documentary evidence, shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the bankruptcy court to judge the credibility of the witnesses.”); In re O’Brien, 188 F.3d at 122.

Discussion

In the instant case, the court addresses whether debtor’s appeal should be dismissed in light of his failure to file a brief in support of his appeal and failure to follow an order of court. Prior to dismissing the appeal for such a failure, however, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals requires the court to examine the following six (6) factors:

1. The extent of the party’s personal responsibility;
2. The prejudice to the adversary caused by ...

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