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Haynes v. Stephenson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

January 26, 2015

Albert D. Haynes, Appellant,
v.
William K. Stephenson, Jr., Trustee.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

PAIGE J. GOSSETT, Magistrate Judge.

This bankruptcy appeal is before the court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) DSC. The Appellant Debtor, Albert D. Haynes, who is selfrepresented, appeals an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina dismissing Haynes's Chapter 13 action with prejudice and barring Haynes from refiling under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code for one year. (Appellant Br. at 2, ECF No. 18 at 2.) This court has jurisdiction to hear this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158, which grants district courts jurisdiction to hear appeals from "final judgments, orders, and decrees" of bankruptcy judges. 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court concludes that the bankruptcy court's order should be affirmed and Haynes's appeal dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Haynes has filed three petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code. The first action was filed under Chapter 7 on November 2, 2012. See Haynes v. Anderson, C/A No. 12-6884-jw (Bankr. D.S.C. Nov. 2, 2012). Following a hearing, the bankruptcy court dismissed Haynes's first bankruptcy case upon motion of the Trustee, finding that the Trustee "presented evidence that the debtor has failed to file accurate and complete bankruptcy schedules and statements" and that Haynes's delay impaired the Trustee's "determination of whether assets exist which may be liquidated for the benefit of creditors." Id. at ECF No. 59. Haynes filed a motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing his case and further requested that his case be converted to one under Chapter 13. Id. at 62. The bankruptcy court denied Haynes's motion, stating in part that his schedules reflected a negative monthly income, "indicating an inability to fund a plan, " and "the inaccurate and incomplete bankruptcy schedules and statements would have to be amended in a chapter 13 case as well, and the debtor had failed to make any amendments despite several opportunities to do so." Id. at ECF No. 70. Haynes did not appeal the court's orders in his first bankruptcy action.

Haynes filed a second bankruptcy action under Chapter 13 on May 2, 2013. See Haynes v. Stephenson, C/A No. 13-2610-jw (Bankr. D.S.C. May 2, 2013). The Trustee filed a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice for a period of one year based in part on Haynes's failure to file complete and accurate schedules. Id. at 30. Haynes filed a motion to voluntarily withdraw from Chapter 13, seeking dismissal of the action without prejudice, id. at ECF No. 39, which the court granted. Id. at ECF No. 43.

Haynes filed his third bankruptcy case under Chapter 13 on October 4, 2013. See Haynes v. Stephenson, C/A No. 13-5901-jw (Bankr. D.S.C. Oct. 4, 2013). The record reflects that Haynes did not file a certificate of credit counseling with the petition and the bankruptcy court notified Haynes that his case could be dismissed unless he cured this deficiency. Id. at ECF Nos. 1, 7. Haynes filed a certificate stating that he received credit counseling one day after he filed the petition. Id. at ECF No. 11. The Trustee requested dismissal of the case for Haynes's failure to certify that credit counseling had been completed within 180 days prior to filing and further cited Haynes's "repetitive filings and failure to comply with Local Rules" as reason to dismiss the case with prejudice for one year. Id. at ECF No. 16. On October 24, 2013, the bankruptcy court dismissed the case with prejudice for one year for failure to comply with the credit counseling requirement of 11 U.S.C. § 109(h), unless Haynes filed an objection within fourteen days. Id. at 20. Haynes retained counsel and filed an objection to the dismissal.[1] Id. at ECF No. 24. After a hearing on Haynes's objection, the bankruptcy court dismissed the case with prejudice and barred Haynes from refiling under any bankruptcy chapter of the Bankruptcy Code for one year. Id. at ECF Nos. 26, 28. Haynes appealed, presenting the following issue:

1. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion in granting Amended Order Dismissing Case with Prejudice, based on Section 349(a) of the Bankruptcy Code which authorized the Bankruptcy Court to dismiss a case with prejudice to bar future filings upon a finding of cause.
a. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or abuse of discretion by dismissing Appellant's Case With Prejudice based solely upon the Chapter 13 Trustee's Request for Dismissal with Prejudice, filed on October 21, 2013. By order entered October 24, 2013 ("Dismissal Order").
b. Whether the Bankruptcy court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion in basing final Dismissal With Prejudice solely on the Trustee's Request.
c. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion in finding that the Appellant failed to file complete and accurate documents in his bankruptcy cases... until after the dismissal of this case.
[d]. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion in relying upon contested facts in awarding substantial contribution claim.
[e]. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion in considering and relying upon facts outside of a stipulated record without affording the objector the opportunity to engage in discovery relating to the facts that were not part of the stipulated record. [Citing Haynes's first two bankruptcy actions]
[f]. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or abuse of discretion by granting the Appellant 14 days, until November 7, 2013, to object to the dismissal to be with prejudice; then dismissed the case even though the Appellant's case C/A No. 13-02610 was withdrawn by Appellant, in good faith.
[g]. Whether the Bankruptcy Court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion by granting Order Dismissing case With Prejudice, even after Appellant followed the Court's recommendations to hire ...

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