Billie Stone v. Mary Viegelahn

Case Type:
Consumer
Case Status:
Affirmed
Citation:
No. 19-51047 (5th Circuit, Jun 17,2020) Not Published
Tag(s):
Ruling:
The Court DISMISSED the appeal for lack of jurisdiction over the orders denying Stone’s emergency motion to set aside foreclosure sale and the order denying the imposition of stay and AFFIRMED the district court’s decision.
Procedural context:
Debtor-Appellant Billie Odell Stone, appearing pro se, filed a petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The bankruptcy court dismissed Stone’s third successive Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. On appeal, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s decision. Stone urges us to find that his third Chapter 13 petition was merely a “re- filing” improperly dismissed sua sponte, and he seeks reversal of the bankruptcy court’s order denying his Motion for Imposition of Stay and Emergency Motion to Vacate Foreclosure. On September 24, 2018, the bankruptcy court scheduled the hearing on Stone’s Motion for Imposition of Stay and Motion to Vacate Foreclosure. Stone conceded that the current case was his third case and that he filed a total of three cases within the past one year period. The bankruptcy court concluded that when the foreclosure sale was conducted on September 4, there was no violation of the stay because Stone was a petitioner in two bankruptcy cases within the year prior to filing this case and therefore section 362(C)(4)(A)(i) applies to deny automatic imposition of the § 362 stay. The bankruptcy court properly granted the motion to dismiss, based on bad faith of the filing, as clearly demonstrated by the record. See 11 U.S.C. § 1112(b); see In re Little Creek Development Co., 779 F.2d 1068, 1072 (5th Cir. 1986) (noting that the good faith requirement “prevents abuse of the bankruptcy process by debtors whose overriding motive is to delay creditors without benefiting them in any way” and “protects the jurisdictional integrity of the bankruptcy courts”). Moreover, Stone’s bad faith conduct is also “just cause” for dismissal as it is “tantamount to a ruling that the individual does not qualify as a debtor under chapter 13.” See Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. 365, 373 (2007) (noting that the bankruptcy laws were enacted to protect members of the class of “‘honest but unfortunate debtor[s]’”); see also 11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(3) (a plan must be “proposed in good faith and not by any means forbidden by law” to be confirmed) and 11 U.S.C. § 105 (authorizing bankruptcy courts to “issue any order, process, or judgment that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of this title”). Stone also seeks review of the bankruptcy court’s order denying the emergency motion to set aside foreclosure sale and the order denying the imposition of stay. However, as the district court properly noted, “[Stone] did not appeal the orders within 14 days of the ruling. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002. Thus, the [district court] lacks jurisdiction to hear an appeal from those orders.” See 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). Accordingly, we similarly lack jurisdiction to review these claims. See In re Berman, 737 F.3d 997 (5th Cir. 2013) (“When the district court lacks jurisdiction over an appeal from a bankruptcy court, this Court lacks jurisdiction as well.” (internal citation omitted)). Finally, Stone filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Rehearing/En Banc Review pursuant to the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. The district court liberally construed this motion as one for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal. A motion filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 “calls into question the correctness of a judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 478 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002). However, a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 “is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of the judgment.” Id. at 479; (5th Cir.1989) (noting that Rule 59(e) “serve[s] the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence”).
Facts:
On April 19, 2018, Appellant filed his first Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, which was dismissed on May 10, 2018 for failure to file a plan and schedule of assets and liabilities pursuant to the rules. On June 29, 2018, Appellant filed his second Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, which after notice and hearing on a motion filed by the creditor was dismissed without prejudice on August 3, 2018. On August 31, 2018, Appellant filed his third Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and disclosed his interest in three parcels of real property in San Antonio, Texas. On September 7, 2018, Stone filed a motion for imposition of stay maintaining that a foreclosure of his real property took place three days prior by Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union. Stone contended that the foreclosure was in violation of an automatic stay which he claimed took effect upon filing the instant petition. On September 24, 2018, the bankruptcy court scheduled the hearing on Stone’s Motion for Imposition of Stay and Motion to Vacate Foreclosure. Stone conceded that the current case was his third case and that he filed a total of three cases within the past one year period. The bankruptcy court concluded that when the foreclosure sale was conducted on September 4, there was no violation of the stay because Stone was a petitioner in two bankruptcy cases within the year prior to filing this case and therefore section 362(C)(4)(A)(i) applies to deny automatic imposition of the § 362 stay.
Judge(s):
KING, GRAVES, and WILLETT

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