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Garrett v. Chase Home Finance

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 5, 2018




         I. BACKGROUND

         Pending before the court is one of several recent appeals filed by pro se appellant Lundes Garrett seeking to challenge and re-litigate various Orders issued by the bankruptcy court arising out of his four underlying bankruptcy cases, two Chapter 7 cases and two Chapter 13 cases.[1] Appellant's instant appeal was filed on April 27, 2017, and involves one of his closed Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, namely, case number 5:11-bk-1800, M.D.Pa. (Doc. 1).

         After a hearing was conducted in appellant's bankruptcy case number 5:11-bk-1800, in which testimony was taken and exhibits were submitted, the bankruptcy court issued a final Order on May 17, 2011 granting appellee Chase Home Finance LLC's (“Chase”) April 1, 2011 motion for relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. §362. (Doc. 5, Doc. 8). In the instant appeal, appellant is appealing the bankruptcy court's Order dated April 18, 2017 which denied his March 21, 2017 motion to vacate, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), that court's Order of May 17, 2011.

         Appellant is essentially now trying to challenge a bankruptcy court Order initially issued almost six years ago in a case that has been closed for three years. In fact, the Chapter 7 trustee entered his report of no distribution of assets on August 4, 2011, and the trustee certified that appellant's bankruptcy case had been fully administered. Subsequently, appellant and his joint debtor wife, June Garrett, who is not a party herein, received their Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge on October 20, 2011. Appellant's stated bankruptcy case was closed after being fully administered on April 18, 2014 when the bankruptcy court entered the final decree.

         Along with his instant appeal, appellant filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis indicating that he has no income, $400 in the bank, and two older vehicles. (Doc. 2).

         On May 10, 2017, appellant filed his designation of the items to be included in the record on appeal and an amended designation on May 23, 2017. (Doc. 4).

         On June 1, 2017, appellant filed his statement of the issues to be presented on appeal as directed by the court. (Doc. 4). After being granted an extension of time, appellant filed his brief in support of his appeal on August 29, 2017. (Doc. 13). Chase filed its brief on September 28, 2017. (Doc. 16). Chase also filed a motion to supplement the record and a designation of additional items to be included in the record with an Appendix on September 28, 2017, (Doc. 17, Doc. 18, Doc. 19), and the court granted the motion on October 27, 2017. (Doc. 21). Appellant's appeal is now ripe for disposition.

         Based on the foregoing, the court will AFFIRM the bankruptcy court's Order dated April 18, 2017, and DENY appellant's appeal. (Doc. 1).


         This court has appellate jurisdiction over the bankruptcy court's April 18, 2017 Order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §158(a)(1) (The district court has “jurisdiction to hear appeals from final judgments, orders, and decrees” of a bankruptcy court). See In re Michael, 699 F.3d 305, 308 n.2 (3d Cir. 2012) (“[A] district court sits as an appellate court to review a bankruptcy court.”).

         The court in Forever Green Athletic Fields, Inc. v. Dawson, 514 B.R. 768, 778 (E.D.Pa. 2014), discussed the legal standard regarding appeals of bankruptcy court orders and stated:

Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8013 provides that a reviewing court “may affirm, modify, or reverse a bankruptcy judge's judgment, order, or decree or remand with instructions for further proceedings.” Fed. R. Bankr.P. 8013. In our review, we are governed by traditional standards of appellate review and accordingly review a bankruptcy court's legal determinations de novo, independent of that court and without deference to its analysis and conclusions of law. See American Flint Glass Workers Union v. Anchor Resolution Corp., 197 F.3d 76, 80 (3d Cir. 1999); see also Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8013. We review its factual findings, whether based on oral or documentary evidence, for clear error, and its exercise of discretion for abuse thereof. In re Trans World Airlines, Inc., 145 F.3d 124, 130-31 (3d Cir. 1998). Mixed questions of fact and law must be broken down and reviewed under the applicable standard. See In re Montgomery Ward Holding Corp., 326 F.3d 383, 387 (3d Cir. 2003). We review a bankruptcy court's dismissal of a bankruptcy case as a bad faith filing for abuse of discretion. In re SGL Carbon Corp., 200 F.3d 154, 159 (3d Cir. 1999).

         Additionally, “[a] factual finding is clearly erroneous if the district court is firmly convinced, based on all of the evidence, that the bankruptcy court made a mistake.” Id. (citation omitted). The district court ...

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