Smalis v. City of Pittsburgh School District, Case Nos. 16-4137 & 16-4261 (3d Cir. Mar. 27, 2017) (not precedential)

Case Type:
Case Status:
16-4137 & 16-4261 (3rd Circuit, Mar 27,2017) Not Published
Affirming the district court's order, which affirmed the bankruptcy court's orders, dismissing Appellant's adversary proceeding and holding that (a) Appellant lacked standing to bring lawsuit on behalf of the estate; and (b) the bankruptcy court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the lawsuit was not "related to" the bankruptcy case of Appellant's ex-wife.
Procedural context:
Appeal from the order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dated August 25, 2016, affirming the order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissing Appellant's adversary proceeding for lack of jurisdiction, reviewed de novo.
Ernest Smalis ("Appellant") filed a pro se adversary action in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against the City of Pittsburgh School District and others (collectively, "Appellees"), seeking to recoup certain real estate taxes paid on two commercial properties. According to Appellant, the properties had been over-assessed and Appellees had violated Appellant's federal due process rights by failing to provide him with annual property assessment notices for the properties while Appellant was in prison from 1999 to 2010. Appellant alleged that the lawsuit was related to a chapter 7 bankruptcy case that his ex-wife, Despina Smalis, had commenced in the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court found that Appellant’s lawsuit was not related to Ms. Smalis’ chapter 7 case because the bankruptcy estate had already been fully administered and neither Ms. Smalis nor the estate retained any interest in the properties subject to Appellant’s lawsuit. The bankruptcy court also found that the administration of the estate resulted in a surplus to Ms. Smalis after distributions were made to her creditors and thus, Appellant’s lawsuit would have no effect on the creditors of the estate. Further, the bankruptcy court found that Appellant was pursuing his claims for his own benefit and had no standing to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
McKee, Jordan, and Restrepo

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