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In re Singletary

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 22, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF HILDA DIANE SINGLETARY,
v.
PNC BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

          STENGEL J.

          MEMORANDUM

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case is an appeal from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, which I will grant.

         Several years ago, the Appellant, Hilda Singletary, filed adversary claims against the Appellee, PNC Bank National Association, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed some of Appellant's claims. Appellant commenced this appeal on May 3, 2016, challenging the Bankruptcy Court's dismissal of those claims.

         Appellant has been represented by counsel throughout the entirety of this appeal. This appeal was initiated by Quarleen Singletary (Appellant's mother) as next of friend on behalf of Appellant. Quarleen Singletary passed away on May 15, 2016.

         Per the Clerk of Court's Notice dated June 2, 2016, Appellant was ordered to file its opening brief no later than July 5, 2016. (Doc. No. 3). The day Appellant's brief was due to be filed, Appellant filed a Motion to Place the Appeal in Suspense. (Doc. No. 4). Appellant's Motion to Place the Appeal in Suspense sought a 90-day extension “pending the appointment of a personal representative for [Appellant]” in light of Quarleen Singletary's death. (Id.) The Motion also claimed Appellant was “incompetent as the result of numerous mental and emotional disabilities.” (Id. at 1).[1]

         On July 7, 2016, I granted Appellant's Motion to Place the Appeal in Suspense. I ordered counsel for Appellant to “inform the court of the status of designation of a representative for Hilda Singletary on or before Tuesday, October 4, 2016.” (Doc. No. 5) (emphasis in original). Counsel for Appellant failed to comply with this Order. Counsel for Appellant did not inform the court of the status of designation of a representative for Hilda Singletary on or before October 4, 2016. Indeed, counsel for Appellant has not done so to this day.

         Two weeks after Appellant was required to inform the court of Appellant's status, Appellee filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal for failure to prosecute. Counsel for Appellant never filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss. Nor did counsel for Appellant file any motion for extension of time to file a response. On November 18, 2016, I held a telephone conference with counsel concerning the Motion to Dismiss.

         During the telephone conference, I allowed counsel the opportunity to file supplemental briefing on the pending Motion to Dismiss. On December 9, 2016, Appellee filed a brief in further support of its Motion to Dismiss. Counsel for Appellant never filed a brief.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         In the exercise of discretion, district courts may dismiss bankruptcy appeals for failure to prosecute or otherwise follows procedures. E.g., In re Equivest St. Thomas, Inc., 537 F. App'x 124 (3d Cir. 2013); In re Buccolo, 308 F. App'x 574 (3d Cir. 2009). In assessing whether dismissal for failure to prosecute is proper, district courts consider several factors. Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir. 1984). These factors are: (1) the extent of the party's personal responsibility; (2) the prejudice to the adversary caused by the failure to meet scheduling orders and respond to discovery; (3) a history of dilatoriness; (4) whether the conduct of the party or attorney was willful or in bad faith; (5) the effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal; and (6) the meritoriousness of the claim or defense. Id.

         “[N]ot all of the Poulis factors need be satisfied in order to dismiss a complaint.” Mindek v. Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir.1992). “Instead, the decision must be made in the context of the district court's extended contact with the litigant.” Id.

         III. ...


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