What Homeowners Must Know About Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

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What is Mediation?
Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which an impartial person, a mediator, helps parties negotiatea mutually acceptable settlement. Mediation is non-binding, guided negotiations. Mediators do notdecide matters; rather they rely on the ability of the parties to reach a voluntary agreement without coercion.

What is the Mediator’s Role?
Mediators are non-judgmental, who listen to the parties and assist and guide the parties toward their own solution by helping them delineate and focus on the important issues and understand each other’s interests. Mediators may suggest creative and innovative solutions for the parties to consider. Mediators have no authority to impose an outcome or decide the outcome of a foreclosure action.Mediators are not permitted to give you legal or financial advice. Mediators’ focus settlement discussions, relaymessages, clarifications, questions, proposals and offers and counteroffers back and forth between theparties.

Who are the Mediators?
Mediators participating in the foreclosure mediation program are screened to ensure they have foreclosuremediation training in addition to basic mediation training.

Why Foreclosure Mediation?
Mortgage lenders do not generally want to own houses (especially in th
e current environment). Lenders are willing to talk with homeowner-borrowers aboutreasonable, practical solutions to bring aboutmortgage delinquency resolutions.

How Does Foreclosure Mediation Work?
Upon receipt of this Request for Foreclosure Mediation and Financial Worksheet by the Office ofForeclosure, the material will be distributed to court staff in the local courthouse and to the lender’s attorney. Local court staff will assign a mediator to your case and set a date for the mediation when the lender and homeowner-borrower must appear. Note. A request for mediation does not stay or otherwise delay the foreclosure action.

What Happens at a Foreclosure Mediation Session?
At the mediation session, you will meet with the mediator, the lender’s attorney and a representative of the lender (this person may appear by phone). The mediator will explain his or her role and will organize discussions about what arrangements you and the lender can agree upon that will allow you to keep your home. Commonly, mediators hold private caucuseswith each party to (1) focuses each party on thecrucial factors necessary for a successful resolution and (2) help each party analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their positions. If the mediation is successful, a foreclosure mediation settlement memorandum will be prepared by the mediator and signed by all parties.

What Are Some Possible Outcomes?
There are a number of possible solutions that you and the lender can explore. The solution will depend upon what you can afford (based on what your income and expenses are), what other resources you have, what type of loan you have, the amount you owe in arrearage and other factors that will be discussed during the mediation. Each lender has a slightly different loss mitigation program. However, every lender will require that you exhibit a reasonable ability to repay the modified monthly mortgage loan payment. If you cannot show ability to pay, then your lender has no incentive to do a workout. The following are some possible solutions:

Reinstatement: Your lender agrees that all amounts required to bring your loan current can be paid (including late fees, attorney fees, taxes, insurance, et cetera) and once these amounts are paid, the foreclosure will be dismissed and you will be back on your regular payment plan.

Repayment Plan: An agreement to resume making your regular monthly payments, plus a portion of the past due payments each month until you are caught up (i.e., the lender raises the monthly payment for a set period of time until the arrears amount is caught up).

Forbearance Agreement: Forbearance agreements are plans that allow borrowers to repay a loan delinquency over time. Regular monthly payments are made according to your loan agreement, and an additional monthly payment is made each month that is applied to the delinquent amount.
Once the delinquent amount is paid in full, the normal payment amount resumes. It fully reinstates the loan. A forbearance plan may include one or more of the following features: (a) suspension or reduction of payments for a period sufficient to allow the borrower to recover from the cause of default; (b) a period during which the borrower is only required to make his/her regular monthly mortgage payment before beginning to repay the arrearage; (c) a repayment period of at least six months and (d) allow reasonable foreclosure costs and late fees accrued prior to the execution of the forbearance agreement to be included as part of the repayment schedule. However, they frequently may only be collected after the loan has been reinstated through payment of all principal, interest and escrow advances.

Extension Agreement: This is an agreement in which you pay a portion of the amount of your delinquency, and the remaining portion of the delinquent amount is added on the end of your loan.

Loan Modification: An agreement that permanently changes one or more terms of your mortgage. For example, (1) extend amortization (i.e., extending the number of years you have to repay the loan, such as, converting a 30-year loan to a 40-year loan), (2) converting a sub-prime 2-, 3- 5-, 7-year ARM loan into a fixed rate loan, (3) reducing the mortgage interest rate, (4) adding missed payments to the existing loan balance.

Loan Guarantee Partial Claim: If your mortgage is insured, your lender might help you with a one-time interest-free loan from your mortgage guarantor to bring your account current. You may be allowed to wait several years before repaying this loan.

Time to Refinance: Provided you have a reasonable prospect of arranging to refinance the loan, your lender may agree to some period during which it will not schedule a sheriff’s sale.

HOPE for Homeowners Program is a program for borrowers at risk of default and foreclosure and provides new, 30-year, fixed rate mortgages that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Refinancing without the benefit of a government program may be impractical for most homeowners. In today’s falling market, home values are often less than the amount of the original loan and refinancing lenders generally will loan no more than 70-80% of the value of the home.

Reverse Mortgage: Reverse mortgages, or home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) loans, are commonly used to help senior citizens tap into their home equity for retirement. As a foreclosure prevention device, you generally need to be age 62 or older and have adequate accumulated home equity.

Principal Reduction: Loan principal is reduced.
This may be possible if you have a negative amortization loan (you are paying less than is necessary to full amortize (payoff) the loan during the loan’s term) and the lender is willing to reduce principal to the original loan amount. A principal reduction program may be agreed upon in exchange for a shared appreciation mortgage (SAM). A SAM is a fixed rate, fixed term loan. In exchange for a lower interest rate, you agree to give up a portion of the home’s future value — the difference between what it is worth now and what it will be worth in the future.

Principal Forbearance: Forbearance of the repayment of part of the principal interest-free. The actual principal amount due and payable at maturity of the loan (or sale of the property) is the original unmodified principal amount, less any and all periodic principal payments that you make until maturity or sale. The loan payments only partially, not fully, amortize the loan. Contrast with Principal Reduction.

Mortgage Loan Assumption: Most mortgage loans include a “due on transfer” provision. If this provision is waived by the lender, it allows a qualified individual or entity to assume the loan’s payment obligations. This is often used to facilitate the sale of the property to a third party. The original lender may or may not release you from personal liability on the note if the individual or entity assuming the loan’s payment obligation defaults.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure: With a deed in lieu of foreclosure, you voluntarily execute a deed conveying your property to the lender in exchange for the lender canceling, in full or partial satisfaction, the debt owed on the loan. The lender often will agree to forgive any deficiency (the amount of the loan that isn’t covered by the sale proceeds) that remains after the house is sold. The lender will also agree not to initiate foreclosure proceedings or to terminate any initiatedforeclosure action.

Short sale: A sale for less than what you owe on the mortgage loan. Lenders may allow a home to be sold at a loss (consequently, the term short sale), because a short sale is nonetheless preferable to foreclosure. Foreclosure exposes lenders to potential substantial loss for litigation costs, carrying costs, including real estate taxes and insurance, and low forced sale bids or low resale prices. A short sale may be beneficial when a lender agrees to relieve you of liability for any deficiency (waive suing for a deficiency).

Voluntary Surrender/ Cash for Keys: Lenders may offer homeowners money to leave the home voluntarily without a post-foreclosure judgment eviction, if the house is in relatively good condition and undamaged.

What Happens If a Settlement Is Not Reached?
If mediation is unsuccessful, the foreclosure action will continue, ultimately leading to a sheriff’s sale, unless of course, YOU COMMENCE LITIGATION OR BANKRUPCTY IMMEDIATELY!

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

Wrongful Mortgage Foreclosure Monetary Awards – Case in Review

CASE IN REVIEW 1:

Jury awards $5.4 million to couple after finding fraud in foreclosure case

Houston Chronicle  |  December 9, 2015   Jury awards couple $5.4 million in foreclosure case against Wells Fargo and its mortgage servicer.  David and Mary Ellen Wolf were several payments behind on their home mortgage and knew that foreclosure loomed.  They were puzzled, though, when a foreclosure notice came early in 2011 from Wells Fargo because they hadn’t done business with that bank. Click Here to Read More

CASE IN REVIEW 2:

NY Federal judge slams Wells Fargo for forged mortgage docs

Judge Robert Drain has a message for Wells Fargo: “Forged” foreclosure documents don’t cut it in New York’s federal courts. Click Here to Read More

 

 

How Florida Homeowners Counsels Can Effectively Use Stay of Proceedings to Delay Monetary Restitution Judgments after Foreclosure Pending Appeal or Wrongful Foreclosure

What are your options should a money judgment be entered against your client? Aside from payment, there is appeal. But how do you stop the execution of the judgment during the appeal? What are your options if the order is one not solely for the payment of money, or is not a final order? A stay is a tool that the court uses to manage litigation and protect the rights of parties during appeals. This article discusses the use of stays in Florida’s state court system.

Stays Involving Appellate Review

Stays are commonly sought by the losing party either to maintain the status quo during interlocutory appeals or to suspend the execution of money judgments. To determine your options after an order or final judgment has been entered against your client, start with Fla. R. App. P. 9.310. This rule controls all proceedings in the Supreme Court and the district courts of appeal, and all proceedings in which the circuit courts exercise their appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the county courts, “notwithstanding any conflicting rules of procedure.”1

First, you will see Rule 9.310 applies only to orders that are appealed. Stays of orders that are not appealable are not controlled by this rule. Second, this rule divides the universe of appealable orders into those that are judgments solely for the payment of money and all others. The rule opens with the following prescription applicable to all those other orders: “A party seeking to stay a final or non-final order pending review shall file a motion in the lower tribunal, which shall have continuing jurisdiction, in its discretion, to grant, modify, or deny such relief. A stay pending review may be conditioned on the posting of a good and sufficient bond, other conditions, or both.”

Let’s take apart this dense language and examine its pieces.

First, the trial court, the “lower tribunal,” has the power to stay its own orders.2 That makes sense. Florida’s constitution creates the right to appeal orders of various kinds in art. V, §4(b)(1). The party’s right to appeal an order would be empty if orders and judgments could not be stayed pending review.

With limited exception, the decision to grant, modify, deny, or craft the conditions of a stay is a discretionary act entrusted to the trial court, but the discretion is not unfettered. No matter whether the judgment is one for the payment of money, declaratory, or injunctive relief, the lower tribunal cannot require an appellant to file a supersedeas bond as a precondition of the appeal.3 The right to appeal is guaranteed by the state constitution and may not be abridged by a trial court. Rule 9.310(f) gives the appellate court the power to review a trial court’s stay order when an appeal has been commenced. This, too, makes sense. The subject matter of the appellate court’s jurisdiction could be mooted if the parties’ legal positions were inexorably altered by the execution of the judgment before the appeal was concluded.

A wide range of orders is subject to appellate review, and all those orders are subject to Rule 9.310. This includes final orders, the appealable nonfinal orders listed in Fla. R. App. P. 9.130, and orders reviewable by way of petition for writ of certiorari, prohibition, or mandamus.

Final orders end the trial court’s labor in an action, and they come in many forms. They may be money judgments, declaratory judgments, or decrees. They can all be stayed. Nonfinal orders that may be immediately appealed, and, therefore, that may be stayed by the operation of Rule 9.310, include orders that concern

• Venue;

• Injunctions;

• The determination of the jurisdiction of the person;

• The determination of the right to immediate possession of property, including orders pertaining to writs of replevin, garnishment, or attachment;

• The determination of the right to immediate monetary relief or child custody in family law matters;

• The determination of the entitlement of a party to arbitration, or to an appraisal under an insurance policy;

• Workers’ compensation immunity;

• The certification of a class;

• Immunity in a civil rights claim arising under federal law;

• Whether a governmental entity has taken action that has inordinately burdened real property;

• The appointment of a receiver.

A stay during the appeal of a nonfinal order may be necessary because “[i]n the absence of a stay, the trial court may proceed with all matters, including trial or final hearing,” provided that no final order may be entered until the appellate proceedings are concluded, pursuant to Rule 9.130(f). Finally, Rule 9.310 empowers the trial court to stay its nonfinal orders that are immediately reviewable by way of a petition for writ of certiorari, prohibition, or mandamus. If the circumstances of your case warrant the filing of such a petition, then they likely would justify the entry of a stay of the challenged order pending appellate review.

Asking the Trial Court for a Stay Pending Appellate Review
If your client’s situation requires a stay of the order while the appellate court reviews it, then you need to fashion a motion for stay and file it with the trial court. The trial court’s order or judgment is not stayed by the mere filing of a notice of appeal or petition for writ of certiorari,4 and, except for money judgments, a stay pending appeal is a matter entrusted to the trial court’s discretion.5 The trial court has the continuing jurisdiction to grant your stay, to lift it, or to modify it. The trial court may impose conditions, and it may alter those conditions in its discretion for the duration of the appellate proceedings.6

There are limits to the trial court’s discretion. The trial court cannot require, as a condition of the stay, the payment of the judgment holder’s attorneys’ fees.7 Only when fees are otherwise recoverable by contract or statute may the trial court condition a stay on the payment of attorneys’ fees in the event the appellant fails to prevail on appeal.

When to Move for a Stay — Timing Is Important

Rule 9.310(a) requires you to file a motion, and the language implies the motion be in writing. In practice, however, strict compliance with the rule may be unworkable. The trial court may issue an order granting relief to your opponent within a time frame shorter than would accommodate the filing and setting of a motion to stay. If you find yourself at a hearing and the judge rules against your client, and you conclude the ruling would cause substantial, irreparable injury to your client, then move ore tenus for a stay. Be sure to get a ruling on the record. Promptly get a written order.

Better yet, be prepared. If you know the hearing may result in an order that your client would appeal, file a conditional motion for stay. Notice it for hearing. Bring alternative proposed orders granting and denying your motion for stay. Head to court and argue for the best outcome, but be prepared to deal with the worst. If the trial court grants immediate relief against your client, then argue your motion for stay then and there. If the trial court denies your motion to stay, make sure you get the ruling on the record and a written order from the court. This will perfect your right to apply to the appellate court for a stay.

Remember, the rule provides for a stay only if you seek appellate review of the order. If you obtain a stay order, but you do not ultimately pursue an appellate remedy, then the authority supporting the stay provided by Rule 9.310 would end. Your opponent would have a very good argument to dissolve the stay that you have obtained because the court’s authority to do so, under this rule, ended on the last day you had to file your notice of appeal or your petition. An order from the lower tribunal staying the effect of its judgment or order is a nullity unless a notice of appeal or petition is actually filed.8

What Justifies Stay of Order Pending Appellate Review

The trial court’s wide discretion in crafting a stay is an invitation to be creative in your request for a stay. The remedy you request must suit your client’s needs, of course. The trial court anticipates that you will suggest a stay that does so. But it will more readily grant your request if the conditions in your proposed stay do no harm to your opponent and do not unduly delay the proceedings. Reasonable conditions may include that you file your notice of appeal or petition promptly, perhaps faster than permitted by the appellate rules; that other aspects of the litigation proceed unabated; or that you protect property, documents, or evidence in your possession from spoliation.

To obtain a stay from the appellate court, you should demonstrate that your client will likely prevail on appeal, and your client will suffer some substantial injury if the order is not stayed.

The appellate court applies this standard when deciding whether to issue a stay order.9 Following this outline makes for a strong argument in the trial court as well. The checklist for your motion to stay should include:

• Informing the trial court that it is empowered by Rule 9.310 to stay the order it has just entered;

• Notice to the court that you intend to file a notice of appeal or petition and the date you intend to file;

• A summary of the legal and factual grounds for the appeal;

• A discussion of the harm that will befall your client should the stay not be granted;

• Evidentiary support in the form of affidavits from your client attesting to any facts justifying the stay;

• A discussion of the effect of the stay on the progress of the case and specific proposals to keep other parts of the case moving forward;

• A demonstration that the stay will not harm your opponent.

A stay motion with these elements would be compelling. The affidavit can be used to authenticate papers, letters, emails, or other documents that you submit in support of your motion. Documents that are unauthenticated are generally not admissible, and the court may find they have no evidentiary weight.10

Finally, move for relief promptly and get a ruling as soon as possible. Although there is no time frame for making a motion to stay set within Rule 9.310, time does matter, and earlier is better than later. Waiting for weeks to ask for a stay undercuts your argument that the order imposes a substantial burden or injury on your client.

If Trial Court Denies Request for a Stay, Ask the Appellate Court

Rule 9.310 gives the trial court the power to issue or deny stays, but it also gives the appellate court the power to review those rulings. You must apply to the trial court first, though.11 If the lower tribunal refuses to grant the motion to stay, then review is sought in the appellate action by motion.12 The appellate court will review the lower tribunal’s order for an abuse of discretion.13 The trial court is presumed to know the case well, and the question to stay usually involves a mixture of fact and legal questions that the trial court is well-suited to decide.

Your appellate motion for stay should be filed as soon as possible, preferably as soon as your appellate case is commenced. To determine what should be included in your motion to the appellate court, consider what would convince the appellate judges that your client deserves a stay. First, they will need to see your trial court motion and the order denying it. They will need a succinct statement of the facts that apprises them of the nature of the appellate case and a discussion of the course of proceedings. They will need to know the legal question that you will ask them to resolve. To warrant issuance of a stay, for the purpose of preserving the status quo during the appellate proceeding, the movant must demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits and the likelihood that harm would result if the stay were not granted.14

You will need to provide the appellate court an appendix of documents from the trial court file that includes the order on appeal, the pertinent hearing transcripts, and the moving and opposition papers related to the stay order. Include a progress docket report from the trial court. Take care to bind the documents with tabs or, better yet, number the pages. Mind the specific court’s requirements for submissions of appendices. You’ll find each district court’s requirements set out on their websites. If you have a question, call the clerk’s office at the appellate court.

Watch your timing. An appellate court cannot consider a motion if no appellate case has yet been commenced. Therefore, the notice of appeal or the filing of the petition must coincide with or precede your filing of the appellate motion to stay. Only once the appellate court establishes its own case are you free to file your motion. Filing a motion in the appellate court does not automatically suspend any order of the trial court, so be aware of your time limitations. If the motion is time-sensitive, say so in the motion, and inform the appellate court of the deadline by which you must act.

When Does the Stay End?

If the order is a final judgment, your stay will remain in effect until the conclusion of all appellate proceedings. Appellate proceedings typically conclude when the appellate court issues its mandate. The appellate clerk issues the mandate 15 days after the court issues its decision or “as may be directed by the [appellate] court.”15 So, if you intend to try an appeal to the Supreme Court, then you must consider whether to ask the appellate court to withhold issuance of its mandate until the Supreme Court either rejects your jurisdictional papers, or takes jurisdiction of the case and completes its review.16 Alternatively, you may ask the trial court to issue a new stay pending completion of Supreme Court proceedings.

Stays Not Involving Appellate Review

A trial court is invested with the power to stay the effect of any of its interlocutory orders, even if they are not appealable.17 But that power is not established by Rule 9.310. Rather, it is part of its inherent power to manage the case. The trial court may grant or deny a stay, and it can craft unique conditions for the stay and modify them as a case management tool. Whether it does so, and what conditions it imposes, is a matter for its broad discretion.18 If your client is on the receiving end of such a stay and objects to it, you may seek appellate review of that stay. But the jurisdiction of the appellate court to do so is not established by Rule 9.310(f), and review is not by motion. Instead, the appellate court reviews the trial court’s stay order by means of a petition for writ of certiorari. By demonstrating to the appellate court that the trial court’s stay has substantially curtailed some important right of your client, you can establish the appellate court’s jurisdiction to review the order. You’ll need to show the order departs from the essential requirements of law (meaning the order lacks a legal or factual basis), and you’ll need to show the stay causes a serious, irreparable injury to your client, one that cannot be remedied on appeal from the final judgment.19

What to Do with a Judgment Solely for Payment of Money

Trial courts have the power to stay execution of money judgments on a showing of “good cause” pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.550(a). This is a discretionary decision, of course. But an automatic stay of a money judgment can be obtained under Fla. R. App. P. 9.310(b). This appellate rule requires the filing of a “good and sufficient bond” issued by a surety company authorized to do so in Florida. Rule 9.310(b) sets the amount of the bond as the principal amount of the judgment, plus two years of interest calculated at the statutory rate.20 Filing the bond dispenses with the need for filing a motion or obtaining a court order.21

Pursuant to Rule 9.310(b)(2), the state, or a public officer in their official capacity, or a board, commission, or other public body seeking review, is entitled to a stay without bond in most circumstances. The right is not absolute, but if you represent a government entity or official, you must keep this valuable right in mind.

A “good and sufficient bond” is one that is issued by an insurer authorized by the Office of Insurance Regulation to do so in Florida. A bond is commonly obtained through a commercial insurance broker. Brokers can be useful intermediaries to guide you through this process. The Office of Insurance Regulation maintains a website listing the scores of sureties authorized to conduct such business in Florida.22 Beware that unless you represent a substantial, established corporation, surety companies generally require posting 100 percent collateral in the form of an irrevocable letter of credit or a cash deposit.

A proper bond will contain the following elements: It will identify the surety, the principal, and the judgment holder, who is the obligee. The face of the bond will recite the surety’s undertaking to be bound to the court for the amount of the judgment, plus the two years of statutory interest up to the amount of the bond. The usual condition stated by the surety on the face of the bond is that if the judgment is satisfied or reversed on appeal, then the bond becomes void. The bond will be signed by both the principal and the surety.

The original bond is filed with the trial court under a notice of filing bond prepared by the lawyer. It is upon the filing of the bond that the automatic stay takes effect. If execution proceedings have already commenced, the filing of the bond does not act to undo the orders or negate the motions already filed or adjudicated. The filing of the bond at that late point only stays further execution.23

This procedure secures the judgment holder’s ability to collect its principal and interest, and it preserves the judgment creditor’s right to appeal. Beware that an automatic stay under this rule may, under certain conditions, be dissolved.24 In general, though, the discretion of the court to modify the terms of a bond is extremely limited. The lower tribunal may not increase or decrease the amount of the bond as set out in the rule or otherwise prejudice the creditor’s realistic chances of recovery at the conclusion of the appeal.25 When the appellate proceedings are concluded and the judgment is paid or reversed, be sure to obtain a written order from the trial court declaring that the bond is void, and the surety’s obligation is released.

Conclusion

The effective litigator will know how to use stays to the client’s advantage. Stays can be used to limit the effect of an order or stop the execution of a judgment. Trial courts have wide discretion in whether to grant or deny a stay and what conditions to put on a stay. Your client needs you to know how to obtain stays from the trial and appellate courts when their judgment day comes.

1 Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.130.

2 Holman v. Ford Motor Co., 239 So. 2d 40, 43 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1970) (“It seems well settled that interlocutory judgments or orders made during the progress of a case are always under the control of the court until final disposition of the suit, and they may be modified or rescinded upon sufficient grounds at any time before final judgment.”).

3 Fitzgerald v. Addison, 287 So. 2d 151 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1973).

4 Thames v. Melvin, 370 So. 2d 439 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1979).

5 Eicoff v. Denson, 896 So. 2d 795, 799 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 2005) (affirming decision of trial court to deny motion to stay a judgment that restrained homeowner from violating restrictive deeds pending appeal).

6 Fla. R. App. P. 9.310(a).

7 City of Coral Gables v. Geary, 398 So. 2d 479 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1981).

8 State v. Budina, 879 So. 2d 16 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 2004).

9 Perez v. Perez, 769 So. 2d 389 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1999).

10 Fla. Stat. §90.901 (“Authentication or identification of evidence is required as a condition precedent to its admissibility.”).

11 Mitchell v. Leon County School Board, 591 So. 2d 1032 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1991).

12 So. Fla. Apartment Ass’n v. Dansyear, 347 So. 2d 710 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1977).

13 Fla. R. App. P. 9.310(a). The lower tribunal has “continuing jurisdiction, in its discretion, to grant, modify, or deny such relief.”

14 Perez v. Perez, 769 So. 2d 389 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1999).

15 Fla. R. App. P. 9.340(a).

16 Fla. R. App. P. 9.310(e).

17 Holman v. Ford Motor Co., 239 So. 2d 40, 43 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1970) (“It seems well settled that interlocutory judgments or orders made during the progress of a case are always under the control of the court until final disposition of the suit, and they may be modified or rescinded upon sufficient grounds at any time before final judgment.”).

18 REWJB Gas Invs. v. Land O’ Sun Realty, Ltd., 643 So. 2d 1107, 1108 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1994) (granting stay of eviction proceedings pending determination of declaratory judgment action on terms of lease).

19 Verlingo v. Telsey, 801 So. 2d 1009, 1010 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 2001).

20 Fla. Stat. §55.03; Florida Department of Financial Services, Statutory Interest Rates, http://www.myfloridacfo.com/aadir/interest.htm (statutory rate of interest).

21 Wintter & Cummings v. Len-Hal Realty, Inc., 679 So. 2d 1224 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1996) (entry of court order is not necessary for bond to become effective as supersedeas bond); Fla. Coast Bank of Pompano Beach v. Mayes, 433 So. 2d 1033 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1983), petition for review dismissed, 453 So. 2d 43 (rule applies when the only relief granted is for payment of money).

22 Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, Company Directory, http://www.floir.com/companysearch (search the list of authorized lines of business for sureties).

23 Freedom Insurors, Inc. v. M.D. Moody & Sons, Inc., 869 So. 2d 1283 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 2004).

24 Mitchell v. State, 911 So. 2d 1211 (Fla. 2005).

25Platt v. Russek, 921 So. 2d 5 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 2004); see also PS Capital, LLC v. Palm Springs Townhomes, LLC, 9 So. 3d 643 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 2009) (bond must be in the amount set forth in the rule).

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

What Maryland Homeowners Needs to Know About Withdrawal Of The Reference Of Bankruptcy Matters From The United States Bankruptcy Court To The United States District Court In Maryland

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This post is intended to be a useful guide to the procedures and practice involved in withdrawal of the reference of bankruptcy matters from the United States Bankruptcy Court to the United States District Court in Maryland. It is, however, not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject and should not be used as a substitute for Pro se Homeowners or attorneys doing their own research and reviewing carefully all applicable statutes, rules and case law.

                                                Background
Congress vested all original jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases in the United States District Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1334(a). Congress further provided that the District Court could refer all cases in bankruptcy and any and all proceedings arising under, in, or related to cases in bankruptcy, to the Bankruptcy Court. 28 U.S.C. § 157(a). The United States District Court for the District of Maryland has referred all cases under the Bankruptcy Code and all proceedings arising under the Bankruptcy Code or arising in or related to cases under the Bankruptcy Code to the United States Bankruptcy Court. Rule 402, Rules of the United States District Court (Maryland) (hereinafter referred to as “District Court Local Rule”). Accordingly, until and unless the reference of jurisdiction to the Bankruptcy Court is withdrawn by an Order of the District Court, all jurisdiction over bankruptcy
matters resides with the Bankruptcy Court.

Statutory and Rule Provisions With
Respect to Withdrawal of Reference

28 U.S.C. § 157(d) provides as follows:

(d) The district court may withdraw, in whole or in part, any case or proceeding referred under this section, on its own motion or on timely motion of any party, for cause shown.
The district court shall, on timely motion of a party, so withdraw a proceeding if the court determines that resolution of the proceeding requires consideration of both title 11 and other laws of the United States regulating organizations or activities affecting interstate commerce.

As set forth in § 157(d), the District Court has the authority to
withdraw the entire bankruptcy case, or any part thereof, or any proceeding in the bankruptcy case or part thereof. The District Court can exercise its authority to withdraw cases or proceedings on its own motion or on timely motion of any party, for cause shown. This authority is sometimes referred to as discretionary withdrawal of the reference.

28 U.S.C. § 157(d) also provides for what is often called mandatory
withdrawal of the reference. Pursuant to the second sentence of § 157(d), the District Court shall, on timely motion of a party, withdraw a proceeding if the court determines that resolution of the proceeding requires consideration of both the Bankruptcy Code and other federal laws regulating organizations or activities affecting interstate commerce. Note that the mandatory withdrawal of reference is only applicable to proceedings in the bankruptcy case and only on timely motion of a party, not on the District Court’s own motion.

Bankruptcy Rule 5011 (“Withdrawal and Abstention from Hearing a
Proceeding”) provides in pertinent part as follows:

(a) Withdrawal. A motion for withdrawal of a case or proceeding shall be heard by a district judge.

(c) Effect of Filing of Motion for Withdrawal or Abstention.
The filing of a motion for withdrawal of a case or proceeding or for abstention pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1334(c) shall not stay the administration of the case or any proceeding therein before the bankruptcy judge except that the bankruptcy judge may stay, on such terms and conditions as are proper, proceedings pending disposition of the motion. A motion for a stay ordinarily shall be presented first to the bankruptcy judge. A motion for a stay or relief from a stay filed in the district court shall state why it has not been presented to or obtained from the bankruptcy judge. Relief granted by the district judge shall be on such terms and conditions as the judge deems proper.

District Court Local Rule 405 (“Rules of procedure for withdrawal of reference”) provides as follows:

1. General rule. When a case or proceeding has been referred by this Court to the Bankruptcy Court, all documents and pleadings in or related to such case or proceeding shall be filed with the Clerk in the Bankruptcy Court.

2. Withdrawal of reference of bankruptcy case or proceeding.

a. Filing of motion for withdrawal of reference with bankruptcy clerk. A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(d) and Bankruptcy Rule 5011 to withdraw the reference of any bankruptcy case, contested matter or adversary proceeding referred to the Bankruptcy Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(a) and Local Rule 402 shall be filed with the Clerk in the Bankruptcy Court. If the motion requests withdrawal of only a portion of the case, a contested matter, or a portion of an adversary proceeding, the motion shall be accompanied by the filing of a designation of the documents and pleadings filed in the case or proceeding to which the motion relates.

b. Withdrawal of reference of bankruptcy cases. A motion to withdraw the reference of a case to the Bankruptcy Court must be timely filed, and in any event, before the case is closed.

c. Withdrawal of reference of adversary proceeding or contested matter. A motion to withdraw an adversary proceeding or a contested matter in a case which has been referred to the Bankruptcy Court must be filed by the earlier of eleven (11) days before the date scheduled for the first hearing on the merits; and

i. in the case of an adversary proceeding, within twenty (20) days after the last pleading is permitted to be filed pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 7012; or
ii. in the case of a contested matter, within twenty

(20) days after the last responsive pleading or memorandum in opposition is permitted to be filed pursuant to Local Bankruptcy Rule 9013-1(b)(3).

3. Filing of pleadings after reference withdrawn.

a. If the reference of an entire case has been withdrawn from the Bankruptcy Court to the District Court, all pleadings and documents in or related to such case shall be thereafter filed with the Clerk in the District Court.

b. Where the reference of only a portion of an entire case has been withdrawn, pleadings and documents with respect to the case (including any parts thereof that have been withdrawn or transferred) shall continue to be filed with the Clerk in the Bankruptcy Court. Any pleadings and documents which relate to any parts of the case which have been withdrawn or transferred to the District Court shall also be filed with the Clerk of the District Court. The Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court
shall keep a separate docket sheet of those pleadings and documents filed in the portion of the case that has been transferred to the District Court.

c. Upon withdrawal or transfer of any complaint to the District Court, the plaintiff may forward to the defendant a notice and request to waive service of summons or the Clerk shall issue a District Court summons pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. 4(d) unless either of the aforementioned has already occurred pursuant to the Bankruptcy Rules.

d. This subsection (d) governs personal injury tort and wrongful death claims which must be tried in the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(5). Except for the procedures contained within this subsection, personal injury tort and wrongful death proceedings shall be filed with the Clerk in the Bankruptcy Court. However, beneath the bankruptcy number, the pleading or other document shall designate the pleading or document as a “SECTION 157(b)(5) MATTER.” When filing a complaint a completed District Court civil cover sheet (A.O. Form JS-44c) should be submitted beneath the Bankruptcy Court cover sheet required by Local Bankruptcy Rule 7003-1. No summons shall be issued until the proceeding
is transferred to the District Court. Upon filing the complaint, the Clerk in the Bankruptcy Court shall immediately transfer the proceeding to the District Court and plaintiff may send to the defendant(s) a notice and request to waive service of summons pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d) or the Clerk of the District Court shall issue a summons.

4. Motions concerning venue in bankruptcy cases and proceedings. All motions concerning venue in cases arising under Title 11 or arising in or related to cases under Title 11 shall be determined by the Bankruptcy Court, except in those cases to be tried in the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(5).

See also Local Bankruptcy Rule 5011-2, which provides in pertinent part as
follows:

A motion for withdrawal of reference is governed by Local Rule 405.2 of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Filing of Pleadings Before Withdrawal of Reference

In accordance with District Court Local Rules 402 and 405.1, all papers and pleadings in, or related to a bankruptcy case or proceeding, shall be filed with the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. Until an Order is entered by the District Court removing the reference from the Bankruptcy Court for all or part of a matter, the Clerk of the District Court will not accept the filing of any pleadings or papers in any bankruptcy-related matter. Unless the party filing a paper or pleading in the Bankruptcy Court is exempt from electronic filing,1 all papers and pleadings should be filed in the Bankruptcy Court electronically through the CM/ECF system.

Filing of a Motion to Withdraw Reference

A party on timely motion or the District Court upon its own motion may withdraw, in whole or in part, any case or proceeding pending in the Bankruptcy Court for cause shown. The party’s motion to withdraw the reference must be filed in the Bankruptcy Court. If the motion requests withdrawal of only a portion of the case, contested matter or adversary proceeding, the motion shall be accompanied by the filing of a designation of the documents and pleadings filed in the case or proceeding to which the motion relates. After the filing of a response or the expiration of the response time period, if no response is filed, the Bankruptcy Clerk shall transmit the motion to the District Clerk’s office. The transmittal shall include copies of the motion and any response thereto and the transmittal form for a motion for withdrawal of reference. As set forth in Bankruptcy Rule 5011(a), the motion for withdrawal of reference will be decided by the District Court.

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1 Parties who are representing themselves (pro se), other than those who are members of the Bar of the Bankruptcy Court, are exempt from the electronic filing requirements and should file their papers and pleadings with the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court in paper format.

Unless and until the motion for withdrawal of reference is granted by Order of the District Court, the only matter over which the District Court will exercise jurisdiction is the motion for withdrawal of reference. Until the reference is actually withdrawn, the original referral of jurisdiction (District Court Local Rule 402) remains in place. Accordingly, while the motion for withdrawal of reference is pending, pleadings and papers in or related to the bankruptcy case shall continue to be filed with the Bankruptcy Court. After the motion to withdraw reference has been transmitted to the District Clerk, the Bankruptcy Clerk shall send copies of any additional filings concerning the motion to withdraw reference to the District Clerk. Until the reference is withdrawn, the Bankruptcy Court shall continue to handle all matters in the bankruptcy case including adversary proceedings and contested matters in such case.

Timeliness of Motion to Withdraw Reference

As set forth in 28 U.S.C. §157(d) and District Court Local Rule 405.2.b, a party’s motion to withdraw the reference must be timely filed. With respect to motions to withdraw the reference of the bankruptcy case itself, the District Court Local Rule further provides that the motion must be filed before the case is closed. With respect to motions to withdraw the reference of adversary proceedings or contested matters, District Court Local Rule 405.2.c provides that such motion must be filed by the earlier of eleven (11) days before the date scheduled for the first hearing on the merits and, in the case of an adversary proceeding, within twenty (20) days after the last pleading is permitted to be filed pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 7012, or, in the case of a contested matter, within twenty (20) days after the last responsive pleading or memorandum in opposition is permitted to be filed pursuant to Local Bankruptcy Rule 9013-1(b)(3).

Mandatory and Discretionary Withdrawal of Reference

As noted above, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(d), the authority for a District Court to withdraw the reference is divided into two parts, mandatory withdrawal of the reference (“if the court determines that resolution of the proceeding requires consideration of both title 11 [the Bankruptcy Code] and other laws of the United States regulating organizations or activities affecting interstate commerce”) and discretionary withdrawal of the reference (“for cause shown”).

With respect to mandatory withdrawal of the reference, the statutory language appears to be quite broad. Nevertheless, it has been observed that “[t]he great weight of the case law interpreting § 157(d) holds that this seemingly broad language concerning mandatory withdrawal should be narrowly read. . . . The fact that resolution of the matters in question calls merely for consideration or application of both bankruptcy law and other federal laws is plainly insufficient, in that mandatory withdrawal should only be made where substantial and material consideration of non-bankruptcy statutes is necessary in the case.” In re Merryweather Importers, Inc., 179 B.R. 61, 62 (D. Md. 1995). Thus, mandatory withdrawal has been denied in cases involving “straightforward application of federal statutes to a particular set of facts. . . . By contrast, cases involving federal questions that are complex or are of first impression must be withdrawn from reference.” Id. at 62.

With respect to discretionary withdrawal of the reference (sometimes called permissive withdrawal), the statutory test is “for cause shown.” Cases have recognized that the District Court has broad discretion in deciding whether the reference should be withdrawn for cause shown. See In re Millennium Studios, Inc., 286 B.R. 300, 303 (D. Md. 2002). Among the factors to be considered by the court are whether the matter at issue between the parties is “core” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2) and “the uniformity of bankruptcy administration, forum shopping and confusion of fora, conservation of creditor and debtor resources, expediency of the bankruptcy proceeding, and the fact that only equitable issues are posed, not requiring a jury trial but falling within the traditional equitable powers of the bankruptcy judge as chancellor.” In re Millennium Studios, Inc., 286 B.R. at 303; In re EquiMed, Inc., 259 B.R. 269, 273 (D. Md. 2001); In re Merryweather Importers, Inc., 179 B.R. at 63. Additional factors identified also include whether withdrawal “would promote judicial economy and the economic use of the parties’ resources.” In re EquiMed, Inc., 254 B.R. 347, 351 (D. Md. 2000). Finally, it has been stated that it is the movant’s burden to show cause for discretionary withdrawal of the reference. See In re Millennium Studios, Inc., 286 B.R. at 303-304.

Procedure in the Event that Entire Matter is Withdrawn

If the District Court grants the motion for withdrawal of reference, it shall enter an order providing for the same. A copy of said order shall immediately be transmitted to the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. If the reference of jurisdiction for the entire bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding is withdrawn by the District Court’s Order, all pleadings and papers in or related to such case or adversary proceeding shall thereafter be filed exclusively with the Clerk of the District Court. District Court Local Rule 405.3.a.

Procedure in the Event that Part of a Matter is Withdrawn

If the Order of the District Court withdraws the reference for less than the entire case or less than an entire adversary proceeding (for example, resolution of a contested matter), all pleadings and papers with respect to that bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding (specifically including those pleadings relating to the withdrawn matter) must continue to be filed with the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. In addition, counsel shall electronically file copies of all pleadings and documents relating to any parts of the case which have been withdrawn with the Clerk of the District Court through the CM/ECF system.2 Local District Court Rule 405.3.b.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims

Any personal injury or wrongful death claim filed in a bankruptcy case, or related to a bankruptcy case, shall be filed in the Bankruptcy Court. Local District Court Rule 405.3.d. The pleading shall contain a designation: “SECTION 157(b)(5) MATTER” and, if such pleading is a complaint, shall be accompanied by both a Bankruptcy Cover Sheet and a District Court Civil Cover Sheet. After docketing the initial pleading, the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court shall forthwith transmit the matter to the Clerk of the District Court including a copy of the pleading, the District Court Civil Cover Sheet and a transmittal form. The Clerk of the District Court shall issue any necessary summons and the matter shall thereafter proceed in the District Court.

Final Orders of the District Court

If the District Court denies the motion to withdraw the reference, the Clerk of the District Court shall docket such order and forthwith transmit a copy of the docketed order to the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court, after which the District Court file shall be closed. The Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court shall docket the order upon receipt from the Clerk of the District Court in the bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding in which the motion was filed.

With respect to a matter where reference has been withdrawn by the District Court, at such time as the District Court by final order decides such matter, the Clerk of the District Court shall docket the order of the District Court and forthwith transmit a copy of the docketed order to the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. The Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court shall docket the order in the case or adversary proceeding in which the motion to withdraw reference was filed.

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2 The District Court also requires counsel to submit a paper courtesy copy of any document which, including attachments, is fifteen pages or longer.

Jury Adversary Proceedings That Must be
Tried by the District Court

With respect to jury trials, 28 U.S.C. § 157(e) provides as follows:

(e) if the right to a jury trial applies in a proceeding that may be heard under this section by a bankruptcy judge, the bankruptcy judge may conduct the jury trial if specially designated to exercise such jurisdiction by the district court and with the express consent of all the parties.

In addition, 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (Jury trials) provides as follows:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, this chapter and title 11 do not affect any right to trial by jury that an individual has under applicable nonbankruptcy law with regard to a personal injury or wrongful death tort claim.

(b) The district court may order the issues arising under section 303 of title 11 to be tried without a jury.

A discussion of the circumstances in which a right to a jury trial exists in a
particular adversary proceeding or other matter is beyond the scope of this
Memorandum.

With respect to the procedure applicable to jury trials, Bankruptcy Rule 9015(b) provides as follows:

(b) Consent to Have Trial Conducted by Bankruptcy Judge. If the right to a jury trial applies, a timely demand has been filed pursuant to Rule 38(b) F.R.Civ. P., and the bankruptcy judge has been specially designated to conduct the jury trial, the parties may consent to have a jury trial conducted by a bankruptcy judge under 28 U.S.C. § 157(e) by jointly or separately filing a statement of consent within any applicable time limits specified by local rule.

Local Bankruptcy Rule 9015-1 provides as follows:

A statement of consent to have a jury trial conducted by a bankruptcy judge under 28 U.S.C. § 157(e) must be filed before the conclusion of the initial pretrial conference.

With respect to the procedure for requesting a jury trial in a
bankruptcy proceeding, Local District Court Rule 406 (Jury trial) provides as follows:

1. Demand. In any bankruptcy proceeding any party may demand a trial by jury of any issue triable of right by jury by (1) serving upon the other parties a demand therefor in writing at any time after the commencement of the action and not later than ten days after the service of the last pleading directed to such issue, and (2) filing the demand as required by Bankruptcy Rule 9015. Such demand may be indorsed upon a pleading of the party. If the adversary proceeding is one that has been removed from another court, any demand previously made under the rules of that court shall constitute a demand for trial by jury under this rule.

2. Specification of issues. In the demand a party may specify the issues which the party wishes so tried; otherwise the party shall be deemed to have demanded trial by jury for all the issues so triable. If the party has demanded trial by jury for only some of the issues, any other party within ten days after service of the demand or such lesser time as the Court may order, may serve a demand for trial by jury of any other or all of the issues of fact in the action.

3. Waiver. The failure of a party to serve and file a demand as required by this rule constitutes a waiver by the party of trial by jury. A demand for trial by jury made as herein provided may not be withdrawn without the consent of the parties.

4. Consent to jury trial before the United States Bankruptcy Judge. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 157(e), with the consent of the parties, a District Judge may designate a Bankruptcy Judge to conduct a jury trial.

A. No Motion to Withdraw Filed.

When an adversary proceeding is filed in which a party rightfully claims a right to trial by jury and the bankruptcy judge is not designated, or the parties have not consented to have the jury trial conducted by the Bankruptcy Judge, unless the complaint is accompanied by a motion to withdraw the reference, all jurisdiction over the adversary proceeding remains with the Bankruptcy Court until the reference is later withdrawn.

Accordingly, all pleadings must continue to be filed with the Clerk of the
Bankruptcy Court and all matters to be resolved within the adversary
proceeding, short of trial, remain before the Bankruptcy Judge. Included in
such matters to be resolved by the Bankruptcy Court, are disputes between
the parties as to the right to trial by jury.

B. Motion to Withdraw Reference Filed, but Denied at Outset of
Adversary Proceeding.

If the complaint or answer is accompanied by a timely filed motion to
withdraw reference under District Court Local Rule 405.2.c, the procedures
discussed above shall be followed for the disposition of the motion to
withdraw reference. An early motion to withdraw the reference may be
denied without prejudice to refiling the motion when the case is trial ready.
See In re Stansbury Poplar Place, Inc., 13 F.3d 122 (4th Cir. 1993); Furniture Rentors of America v. NYNex Information Resources Co., 162 B.R. 728 (D. Md. 1994). If the motion for withdrawal of the reference is denied at an early stage in the adversary proceeding and therefore the adversary
proceeding remains for pre-trial purposes with the Bankruptcy Court, all
jurisdiction over the adversary proceeding remains with the Bankruptcy
Court until a motion is granted withdrawing the reference of the adversary
proceeding.

C. Pre-Trial Phase.

The pre-trial phase of the adversary proceeding shall encompass the
period of time allowed for discovery and the filing of and decision on all
dispositive motions. At the time that discovery has been completed, any
dispositive motions ruled upon, and the adversary proceeding is otherwise
ready to be scheduled for trial, the pre-trial phase of the adversary
proceeding is completed.

D. Withdrawal of Reference for Trial

If the reference has not been withdrawn by Order of the District Court
prior to the completion of the pre-trial phase of the adversary proceeding, at the end of the pre-trial phase of the adversary proceeding the Bankruptcy Court shall issue a summary report and recommendation to the District Court, recommending that the reference be withdrawn so that the trial by jury may go forward in the District Court. This report and recommendation shall be docketed in the adversary proceeding by the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court and a copy transmitted to the Clerk of the District Court for action by the District Court upon the report and recommendation. If the District Court agrees that the reference should be withdrawn at that time, the District Court will enter an Order withdrawing the reference and transmit a copy of the Order to the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court. Upon entry of an Order withdrawing the reference, all jurisdiction over the adversary proceeding shall be in the District Court and the Bankruptcy Court shall have no further authority to act in the adversary proceeding. All pleadings thereafter shall be filed with the Clerk of the District Court.

                                             Miscellaneous

The transmission of a motion for withdrawal of the reference should not be delayed by the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court pending the issuance of any report and recommendation by the Bankruptcy Court. Where it deems it appropriate, the Bankruptcy Court may provide such a report and recommendation to the District Court, or the District Court may request such a report and recommendation from the Bankruptcy Court, for any motion for withdrawal of the reference.

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How Homeowners Can Effectively Use Automatic Stay Provisions of the Bankruptcy Code

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I. Introduction.

A. Scope.

1. Section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Code”) contains a broad
statutory stay of litigation and lien enforcement, effective automatically on the commencement of a bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) (“. . . a petition [commencing a case] . . . operates as a stay, applicable to all entities . . .”.).

2. Purpose – Time to Reorganize. This automatic stay gives a trustee or
chapter 11 debtor-in-possession1 a breathing spell from creditors by stopping all collection efforts, harassment, and all foreclosure actions, allowing a debtor to attempt a reorganization plan. See, e.g., In re Siciliano, 13 F.3d 748, 750 (3d Cir. 1994) (“[t]he purpose of the automatic stay provision is to afford the debtor a ‘breathing spell’ by halting the collection process. It enables the debtor to attempt a repayment or reorganization plan with an aim toward satisfying existing debt.”);
Maritime Electric Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.2d 1194, 1204 (3d Cir. 1991) (“automatic stay allows debtor breathing spell from creditors and stops collection efforts”); In re Peregrine Systems, Inc., 314 B.R. 31, 44 (Bankr. D. Del. 2004) aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 2005 WL 2401955 (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2005) (automatic stay is a “fundamental protection provided to a debtor for the purpose of stopping all creditor collection efforts and harassment of the debtor and to provide … a fresh start.”); Shaw v. Ehrlich, 294 B.R. 260, 267 (W.D. Va. 2003), aff’d, 99 Fed. Appx. 466 (4th Cir. 2004) (“stay protects debtors, as well as creditors, by providing debtors a breathing spell from collection efforts”).

3. Policy Rationale – Debtor Asset Protection. Behind the stay is a clear
policy rationale: “to grant complete, immediate, albeit temporary relief to the debtor from creditors, and also to prevent dissipation of the debtor’s assets before orderly distribution to creditors can be effected.” S.E.C. v. Brennan, 230 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Penn Terra Ltd. v. Department of Envtl. Resources, 733 F.2d 267, 271 (3d Cir. 1984)). See also Reliant Energy Services, Inc. v. Enron Canada Corp., 349 F.3d 816, 825 (5th Cir. 2003) (“purposes of the bankruptcy stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362 ‘are to protect the debtor’s assets, provide temporary relief from creditors, and further equity of distribution among the creditors by forestalling a race to the courthouse.'”) (quoting GATX Aircraft Corp. v. M/V Courtney Leigh, 768 F.2d 711, 716 (5th Cir. 1985)); Mann v. Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., 316 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2003) (“automatic stay provision is designed to forfend against the disorderly, piecemeal dismemberment of the debtor’s estate outside the bankruptcy proceedings”).

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1 Code § 1107(a) gives a chapter 11 debtor-in-possession the “rights,” “duties” and “powers” of a trustee.
See NLRB v. Bildisco & Bildisco, 465 U.S. 513, 517 n. 2 (1984). See also Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9001(10) (“‘Trustee’ includes a debtor in possession in a Chapter 11 case.”).

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4. Procedural Safeguards for Secured Creditors. The Code still imposes
procedural safeguards for the benefit of the secured creditor (e.g., “adequate protection” against erosion of collateral value; time limits on stay modification requests; limits on counterclaims against secured lender seeking stay modification). As shown below, it attempts to reconcile the rights of the secured creditor with the needs of the debtor and its unsecured creditors. See United Savings Assn. of Texas v. Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd. (In re Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd.), 484 U.S. 365, 376 (1988) (“ . . . lack of any realistic prospect of effective reorganization will require” modification of stay of lien enforcement”).

II. The Automatic Stay.

A. When Effective.

1. The stay is automatic upon filing of the petition commencing a case under Code chapters 7 (liquidation), 9 (municipal debt adjustment), 11 (reorganization),13 (individual debt adjustment), or chapter 15 (cross-border cases) with respect to foreign main proceedings. See e.g. Eskanos & Adler, P.C. v. Leetien, 309 F.3d 1210, 1214 (9th Cir. 2002) (“the automatic stay requires an immediate freeze of the status quo by precluding and nullifying post-petition actions”); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 527 (2d Cir. 1994) (“[a]utomatic stay is effective immediately upon filing of bankruptcy petition”) (citing Shimer v. Fugazy (In re Fugazy Express, Inc., 982 F.2d 769, 776 (2d Cir. 1992));

2. The stay acts as a specific and definite court order to restrain creditors
from continuing the judicial process or collection efforts against debtor. See e.g. In re San Angelo Pro Hockey Club, Inc., 292 B.R. 118 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 2003) (automatic stay is self-executing injunction, constituting an order issuing from bankruptcy court); In re Bottone, 226 B.R. 290, 297 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1998) (“as long as the Chapter 13 case is pending . . . the automatic stay … restrains postpetition creditors from taking action against property of the estate”) (quoting In re Woodall, 81 B.R. 17, 18 (Bankr. E.D. Ark. 1987)).

3. Unless modified by the court, the stay is effective for the duration of a
bankruptcy case, and generally cannot be waived by the debtor. Maritime Elec. Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.2d 1194 (3d Cir. 1991) (held, because automatic stay serves interests of both debtors and creditors, it may not be waived and its scope may not be limited by debtor); In re Atrium High Point Ltd. Partnership, 189 B.R. 599 (Bankr. M.D.N.C. 1995) (before enforcing a debtor’s prepetition waiver of automatic stay bankruptcy court must look at circumstancesunder which prepetition waiver arose); but see In re Excelsior Henderson Motorcycle Mfg. Co., Inc., 273 B.R. 920 (Bankr. S.D. Fla. 2002) (court enforced prepetition agreement under which chapter 11 debtor waived automatic stay).

B. Jurisdictional Basis of Injunctive Power.

1. The district court has “exclusive jurisdiction of all of the property,
wherever located, of the debtor as of the commencement of [the] case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1334(d). A bankruptcy court is a “unit of the district court.” 28 U.S.C. § 151. Section 362 implements this jurisdiction and is supplemented by § 105(a), which authorizes a court to “issue any order, process, or judgment that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of the Code.

2. The broad jurisdictional base of Section 362 confirms the court’s inherent power to protect property within its jurisdiction and to prevent any divestiture of that jurisdiction. Isaacs v. Hobbs Tie & Timber Co., 51 S. Ct. 270, 282 (1931) (held, jurisdiction of bankruptcy court respecting property of debtor’s estate having attached, actions brought in other courts could not affect it). See In re Mohawk Greenfield Motel Corp., 239 B.R. 15 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1999) (“the automatic stay protects the bankruptcy court’s exclusive jurisdiction over the debtor and its property”) (citing In re Soares, 107 F.3d 969, 975 (1st Cir. Mass. 1997)).

3. Section 362(a) stays, among other things:

a. a secured creditor from collecting accounts receivable of debtor.
Matter of Pernie Bailey Drilling Co., Inc., 993 F.2d 67 (5th Cir. 1993)
(account receivables were property of the estate; court must lift stay for
creditors to gain access to receivables);

b. a creditor’s dissolution of a debtor corporation. 11 U.S.C.
§ 362(a)(3); Hillis Motors, Inc. v. Hawaii Automobile Dealers’ Assoc.,
997 F.2d 581 (9th Cir. 1993) (held, dissolution proceeding constituted
exercise of control over debtor’s property);

c. foreclosure proceedings in other courts instituted against debtor’s
property prior to commencement of bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C.
§ 362(a)(1); see In re Vierkant, 240 B.R. 317, 322 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 1999)
(citing Kalb v. Feuerstein, 308 U.S. 433 (1940); In re Soares, 107 F.3d
969 (1st Cir. 1997)) (post-petition state court default order signed by judge
two weeks after bankruptcy filing violated automatic stay);

d. a landlord’s proceeding to recover possession of leased premises.
11 U.S.C. § 363(a)(5); 48th St. Steakhouse, Inc. v. Rockefeller Group, Inc.
(In re 48th St. Steakhouse, Inc.), 835 F.2d 427 (2d Cir. 1987) (serving
notice of termination on assignee of restaurant lease rather than on debtor, which still had interest in the property, violated automatic stay); and

e. an IRS sale of property seized prior to commencement of case.
11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(8); United States v. Whiting Pools, Inc., 462 U.S. 198
(1983) (IRS may also be compelled to turn over levied property under
Code § 542).

f. arbitration proceedings that not only concern claims asserted
against the debtor, but also concern the debtor’s claims against a third
party. ACandS, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., 425 F.3d 252
(3d Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 2291 (2006). (although arbitration
was commenced by debtor, continuation of arbitration proceedings
violated automatic stay because, unlike trial, it is impossible in arbitration
to definitely classify arguments presented (i.e., claims and counterclaims);
arbitration award, which effectively terminated debtor’s insurance
coverage, is invalid because it diminishes estate property); In re Edwin
Epstein Jr. Operating Co., Inc., 314 B.R. 591 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2004)
(held, automatic stay applied, not only to prevent non-debtor party to
arbitration proceedings from asserting claims against debtor for tortious
interference and slander of title, but also to prevent arbitrators from
hearing debtor’s claims to replace this non-debtor party as operator of oil
and gas wells based on debtor’s asserted ownership interests therein).

III. Scope and Duration of Stay.

A. Scope of Section 362.

1. Property of Estate. The bankruptcy court’s injunctive power is ordinarily
limited to protecting property belonging to a debtor. Property of the estate is defined in Code § 541(a)(1) (“. . . all legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as of the commencement of the case.”). See In re Lankford, 305 B.R. 297, 301 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa 2004) (“All recognizable interests of the debtors or the estate are afforded the protection of § 362(a)…This includes a mere possessory interest in real property without any accompanying legal interest.”). See also In re Moffett, 356 F.3d 518 (4th Cir. 2004) (held, chapter 13 debtor’s statutory right of redemption was sufficient interest in automobile that was repossessed prepetition to be included in estate property). But see In re Jasper, 325 B.R. 50, 55 (Bankr. D. Me. 2005) (credit union’s policy of revoking membership benefits of members who caused credit union a loss does not violate automatic stay); In re Santangelo, 325 B.R. 874 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. March 22, 2005) (district court did not violate automatic stay by approving class action
settlement for claims against mortgage lender; rather, court gave prospective class members, including debtor choice of remaining class members or opting out of class); In re Medex Regional Laboratories, LLC, 314 B.R. 716 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. 2004) (proceeds of debtor’s directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies were not property of estate and were not protected by automatic stay, even though policies also provided coverage to debtor for indemnification claims, because the debtor had not provided any indemnification to non-debtor insiders and such indemnification claims were merely hypothetical). Compare In re Arter &
Hadden, L.L.P., 335 B.R. 666 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2005) (proceeds of debtor’s
directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies are property of estate because policies also provided coverage to debtor and there was no reason why direct suit against debtor is either practically or procedurally untenable).

a. Property Outside the Scope. The stay is not applicable to actions
against property that is neither the debtor’s nor the estate’s. Rodger v.
County of Munroe (In re Rodgers), 333 F.3d 64 (2d Cir. 2003) (debtor’s
mere possession of title to real property is not sufficient to find property to
be property of estate or to bar delivery of deed to purchaser by operation
of stay); Chugach Timber Corp. v. Northern Stevedoring & Handling
Corp. (In re Chugach Forest Prods., Inc.), 23 F.3d 241 (9th Cir. 1994)
(court refused to extend stay to boat that was not property of debtor’s
estate but on which assets of debtor had been transferred) (11 U.S.C.
§ 541(b)); In re Howell, 311 B.R. 173, 179 (Bankr. D. N.J. 2004)
(automatic stay does not preclude estranged spouse from seeking equitable distribution of non-estate property such as exempt property, postpetition earnings, property excluded from the estate, property abandoned by the trustee or debtor surplus); NLRB v. McDermott, 300 B.R. 40 (D. Col. 2003) (automatic stay did not protect property of debtor’s wife’s). Examples of property outside the stay’s scope are:

(i) Foreclosure. If a lender completes foreclosure before the bankruptcy filing, neither the debtor nor the estate has any interest in the property and the automatic stay does not apply. In re Theoclis, 213 B.R. 880 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1997) (held, foreclosure sale had terminated debtor’s interest in property.); In re Williams, 247 B.R. 449 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. 2000) (when foreclosure sale of debtor’s residence became final prior to commencement of chapter 13 case, residence did not become property of estate and was not protected by automatic stay);

(ii) Abandonment. Abandonment terminates the stay as to abandoned property. In re Holly’s, Inc., 140 B.R. 643 (Bankr. W.D. Mich. 1992) (once abandonment of debtor’s property is effectuated, or foreclosure of real and personal property is completed, taxing entity is entitled to enforce its
statutory in rem rights against property.). But see In re Thompson-Mendez, 321 B.R. 814, 819 (Bankr. D. Md. 2005) (trustee’s deemed rejection of debtor’s residential lease by failure to timely assume it did constitute
abandonment such that lease was no longer protected by automatic stay).

2. Entities Affected by the Stay. Section 362(a) applies “to all entities,”
including any “person, estate, trust, governmental unit.” 11 U.S.C. § 101(15). This broad definition of “entity” eliminates the need to define who is a “creditor,” “secured creditor” or other person affected by the stay.

B. Duration of the Stay. Unless the court orders otherwise (i.e., unless creditor gets automatic stay modified), the stay “continues until such property is no longer property of the estate.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(1). The stay of all other acts continues until case is closed or dismissed, or, if debtor is an individual, until debtor is granted or denied a discharge. 11 U.S.C. §§ 362(c)(2)(A), (B) and (C). See also In re Allen, 300 F.3d 1055, 1059 (9th Cir. 2002) (automatic stay “prohibits action against the bankruptcy estate only until the bankruptcy court confirms a plan reorganizing the debtor’s property”); Middle Tennessee News Co., Inc. v. Charnel of Cincinnati, Inc., 250 F.3d 1077 (7th Cir. 2001) (automatic stay remains in effect until bankruptcy court disposes of case or grants relief from stay); In re Spirtos, 221 F.3d 1079, 1081 (9th Cir. 2000) (“So long as there are assets in the estate, then, the stay remains in effect”); Eastern Refractories Co. Inc. v. Forty Eight Insulations Inc., 157 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. 1998) (order “terminating” automatic stay operates from date of order’s entry); Lomagno v. Salomon Brothers Realty Corp., 320 B.R. 473, 481 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2005), aff’d, 429 F.3d 16 (1st Cir. 2005) (automatic stay not retroactively imposed when dismissal order set aside on due process grounds); In re Peregrine Systems, Inc., 314 B.R. 31, 44 (Bankr. D. Del. 2004), aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 2005 WL 2401955 (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2005) (automatic stay “continues until the bankruptcy case is closed, dismissed, or discharge is granted or denied, or until the bankruptcy court grants some relief from the stay.”) (citing Maritime Elec. Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.3d 1194, 1206 (3d Cir. 1991)); U.S. v. White, 466 F.3d 1241 (11th Cir. 2006) (debtor discharged and automatic stay terminates on date of confirmation of debtor’s reorganization plan even when plan contains a later effective date). If a case is filed by or against a debtor who is an individual and a case of the debtor was pending within the preceding one year period but was dismissed, the automatic stay “with respect to any action taken with respect to a debt or property securing such debt or with respect to any lease shall terminate with respect to the debtor on the 30th day after the filing of the later case.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3)(A). See Jumpp v. Chase Home Finance, LLC (In re Jumpp), 356 B.R. 789 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2006) (interpreting § 362(c)(3)(A) automatic stay terminates only in regard to debtor; stay continues, though, in regard to property of estate).

  • As of October 17, 2005, automatic stay terminates 60 days after a request for relief from stay unless final decision on request is rendered by court within the 60-day period or period is extended by agreement or by court for specific period of time found necessary for good cause.2

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2 The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was enacted on April 20, 2005, and many of its provisions became effective on October 17, 2005.

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IV. Acts Stayed. Section 362(a) is broad in scope, but specifically lists eight categories that are subject to its injunctive power.

1. “Commencement or continuation . . . of a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding against the debtor . . . to recover on a prepetition claim against a debtor.”3 Code § 362(a)(l) (emphasis added):

a. Appeals: stay covers all proceedings originally brought against the
debtor, regardless of whether the debtor is appellant or appellee.4 Halmar
Robicon Group, Inc. v. Toshiba Int’l Corp., 127 Fed. Appx. 501, 503 (Fed.
Cir. 2005) (automatic stay only operates as against actions in which debtor
is in defensive posture); Nielson v. Price, 17 F.3d 1276, 1277 (10th Cir.
1994) (“[t]he 362(a)(1) stay applies to actions that are ‘against the debtor’
at their inception, regardless of the subsequent appellate posture of the
case”); Ellis v. Consolidated Diesel Elec. Corp., 894 F.2d 371, 373 (10th
Cir. 1990) (operation of stay should not depend upon whether district
court finds for or against the debtor). But see In re Mid-City Parking,
Inc., 322 B.R. 798 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2005) (debtor may unilaterally waive
protections of automatic stay by pursuing appeal without first obtaining
bankruptcy court order lifting stay; debtor could not be held liable for
damages to creditor-appellee arising from debtor’s alleged “willful stay
violation).

b. Administrative proceedings: See In re Krystal Cadillac Oldsmobile
GMC Truck, Inc., 142 F.3d 631 (3d Cir. 1998) (postpetition
determinations by Pennsylvania’s Board of Vehicle Manufacturers,
Dealers and Salespersons, ordering termination of franchise agreement
violated automatic stay); In re Best Payphones, Inc., 279 B.R. 92 (Bankr.
S.D.N.Y. 2002) (administrative law judge’s post-petition decision in
proceeding commenced pre-petition ‘but concluded after debtor’s chapter
11 filing’ was void and without effect because it violated automatic stay).
But see Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System v. MCorp
Financial, Inc., 502 U.S. 32 (1991) (Section 362(a) does not apply to
ongoing, nonfinal administrative/regulatory proceedings, and action of
Board of Governors was excepted from the stay under Section 362(b)(4)
of the Code (the “governmental unit” exception)).

c. Partnerships. Actions against partners and their property are not
protected in first instance by the filing of a partnership petition. Bankers
Trust (Delaware) v. 236 Beltway Inv., 865 F. Supp. 1186 (E.D. Va. 1994)
(automatic stay does not protect partnership debtor’s individual general
partners); O’Neill v. Boden-Wert Real Estate USA Funds I, Ltd., 599
So.2d 1045 (Fla. App. 2d Dist. 1992) (held, automatic stay did not stop action against general partner in partnership debtor or against general
partner’s general partner).

______________________________

3 “‘[C]laim against the debtor’ includes claim against property of the debtor.” 11 U.S.C. § 102(2).
4 Actions against non-debtors and against co-defendants are not stayed. See sub-section (e) infra.

d. Shareholders of corporate debtor. Bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction
over stock of corporate debtor that belongs to third party shareholders.
See e.g. In re Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc., 209 B.R. 832, 838 (D.
Del. 1997) (“automatic stay provisions of the Bankruptcy Code are not
implicated by the exercise of shareholders’ corporate governance rights.”).

e. Actions against surety, co-debtor, or guarantor are not stayed.5 See
e.g. Reliant Energy Services, Inc. v. Enron Canada Corp., 349 F.3d 816,
825 (5th Cir. 2003) (“[by its terms the automatic stay applies only to the
debtor, not to co-debtors under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11”); In re Third
Eighty-Ninth Associates, 138 B.R. 144 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) (suit against
guarantors of chapter 11 debtor was not a “back-door” attempt to acquire
assets of debtor); In re Rohnert Park Auto Parts, Inc., 113 B.R. 610
(B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1991) (automatic stay does not prevent creditors from
suing co-debtors).

f. Actions are not stayed against non-debtor co-defendants.6 See e.g.
Queenie, Ltd. v. Nygard Intl., 321 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) (debtor’s
filing of bankruptcy petition stayed his appeal and that of his wholly owned corporation7, but not that of co-defendants); 555 M Mfg., Inc. v.
Calvin Klein, Inc., 13 F. Supp. 2d 719 (N.D. Ill. 1998) (automatic stay
protection not available to debtor’s solvent co-defendant in breach of
contract case). But see Woodell v. Ormet Primary Aluminum Corp., 808
N.E.2d 402, 407 (Ohio Ct. App. 2004) (automatic stay applies to claims
against debtor’s employee co-defendants only to the extent that the causes of action against them arise from their status as employees of the debtor).

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5 In limited circumstances, courts have asserted their equitable powers under 11 U.S.C. § 105(a) to enjoin the continuation of litigation against non-debtors when the debtor’s trustee demonstrates that continuation of litigation against non-debtors imminently and irreparably threatens the debtor’s reorganization prospects. E.g. In re United Health Care Org., 210 B.R. 228, 233 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (staying action against non-debtor principals and officers of debtor when enforcement of judgment imminently and irreparably threatened non-debtors’ ability to fund debtor’s plan); North Star Contracting Corp. v. McSpeedon (In re North Star Contracting Corp.), 125 B.R. 368, 370-71 (S.D.N.Y.1991) (staying action against non-debtor president of debtor when, among other things, continuation of action would distract vital non-debtor and there was no distinct cause of action against him, but merely an action commenced solely to circumvent the stay).

6 Courts may stay actions against a non-debtor third-party defendant under “unusual circumstances” when “there is such identity between the debtor and third-party defendant that the debtor may be said to be the real party defendant and that a judgment against the third-party defendant will in effect be a judgment … against the debtor.” A.H. Robins Co. v. Piccinin, 788 F.2d 994, 999 (4th Cir. 1986). See also In re Nat’l Century Fin. Enter., 423 F.3d 567 (6th Cir. 2005) (commencement of civil action to recover accounts receivable held in collection account in debtor’s name violated automatic stay even though debtor was not named as defendant because action sought to recover estate property); Global Industrial Technologies, Inc. v. Ace Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. (In re Global Industrial
Technologies), 303 B.R. 753 (W.D. Pa. 2004), vacated in part, modified in part on other grounds, 2004 WL 555418 (Bankr. W.D.Pa. Mar. 19, 2004) (held, state court action brought by insurers for declaratory judgment regarding non-debtor’s rights in insurance policies it shared with debtor violated automatic stay even though debtor was not named as defendant in state court action because outcome of state action could affect debtor’s rights in shared insurance); Teachers Ins. & Annuity Assoc. of America v. Butler, 803 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1986) (referred to A.H. Robins decision as case with “unusual circumstances”). Compare In re Transervice Logistics, Inc., 304 B.R. 805 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 2004) (declining to extend automatic stay to non-debtor co-defendants because, unlike situation
in A.H. Robins, defendant-debtor only faced one suit, not thousands, and thus would not be barraged by discovery and litigation).

——————

g. Proceedings or claims arising post-petition are not subject to automatic
stay, although successful plaintiff must obtain relief from stay if it seeks to enforce judgment against estate.8 Bellini Imports, Ltd. v. Mason & Dixon Lines, Inc., 944 F.2d 199 (4th Cir. 1991) (automatic stay did not bar
institution of action arising out of alleged postpetition breach of contract);
Erickson v. Polk, 921 F.2d 200 (8th Cir. 1990) (lessor of farmland did not
violate automatic stay when it retook possession of property following
postpetition expiration of lease); In re Dominguez, 312 B.R. 499 (Bankr.
S.D.N.Y. 2004) (prepetition lapse of debtor-taxpayer’s redemption period
may constitute “cause” for lifting stay to allow tax authority to exercise its
rights in debtor’s real property; it did not relieve taxing authority’s
obligation to move first for modification of stay).

h. Automatic stay does not apply to post-petition defensive actions in a
prepetition lawsuit brought by a debtor. Stanwyck v. Beilinson, 104 Fed.
Appx. 616 (9th Cir. 2004).

2. Enforcement of prepetition judgment against debtor or its property (11
U.S.C. § 362(a)(2)). See generally Delpit v. Commissioner, 18 F.3d 768 (9th Cir. 1994) (held, appeal to enforce pre-petition judgment was subject to the automatic stay).

3. “[A]ny act” to obtain possession of debtor’s property, or to exercise
control over such property. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(3).

__________________________________

7 The court ignored its own precedent in coming to this bizarre result, but justified it by reasoning that adjudication of a claim against the wholly-owned corporation would have an “immediate adverse economic impact” on the debtor. But see Feldman v. Trustees of Beck Ind., Inc. (In re Beck Ind., Inc.), 725 F.2d 880 (2d Cir. 1973) (court cannot enjoin suit against solvent independent subsidiary of debtor merely because stock is held by debtor in reorganization); In re Unishops, Inc., 374 F.Supp. 424 (S.D.N.Y. 1974) (bankruptcy court lacks jurisdiction to grant
a stay of court proceedings against subsidiaries).

8 Judiciary Code, 28 U.S.C. § 959(a), provides relief to holders of postpetition claims against a debtor from having to obtain leave from bankruptcy court to pursue claims arising from “acts or transactions in carrying on business connected with [estate] property.” 28 U.S.C. § 959. Section 959’s exception to the automatic stay is limited to postpetition claims arising from operation of the debtor’s business, and does not include acts associated with liquidation or administration of the bankruptcy estate. See In re Crown Vantage, Inc., 421 F.3d 963, 971-72 (9th Cir. 2005) (postpetition claim against trustee arising from liquidation of estate not subject to § 959 because not related to business operation); Carter v. Rogers, 220 F.3d 1249, 1254 (11th Cir. 2000); In re DeLorean Motor Co., 991 F.2d 1236 (6th Cir. 1993) (malicious prosecution claims against trustee arising from avoidance actions are not based on acts arising from business operation and thus not subject to § 959).

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a. A credit union that accepts and retains postpetition deductions from
chapter 13 debtor’s salary violates automatic stay. See, e.g., Town of
Hempstead Employees Federal Credit Union v. Wicks, 215 B.R. 316
(E.D.N.Y. 1997) (credit union’s four-month-long administrative hold on
chapter 13 debtors’ savings accounts violated automatic stay).

b. Letters of Credit. See, e.g., In re Kmart Corp., 297 B.R. 525 (N.D. Ill.
2003) (letters of credit are not property of debtor’s estate subject to
automatic stay; beneficiary not prevented from drawing on letter of credit
when account party is in bankruptcy); In re A.J. Lane & Co., Inc., 115
B.R. 738 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1990) (held, payment by third party on letter of
credit not stayed because it did not involve a transfer of debtor’s assets).

c. Creditors’ actions against debtor to obtain property fraudulently
transferred by debtor prior to bankruptcy are barred by the automatic stay.
See, e.g. Constitution Bank v. Tubbs, 68 F.3d 685 (3d Cir. 1995) (bank’s
action against guarantors for fraudulent conduct triggered automatic stay
when each guarantor filed a bankruptcy petition during fraud action).

d. Mortgagees’ postpetition foreclosure against real property subject to
deed naming debtor’s spouse a sole owner violated automatic stay because, although debtor only had arguable interest in the property, the
determination should be made by bankruptcy court before mortgagees
foreclosed. In re Chesnut, 422 F.3d 298 (5th Cir. 2005).

e. Debtor’s Tax Benefits. Circuits apparently are split regarding whether
a debtor’s tax benefits (e.g., net operating losses) are property of the estate, thus subject to the automatic stay. See In re UAL Corp., 412 F.3d 775
(7th Cir. 2005) (finding bankruptcy court’s injunction restricting trading in
debtor’s securities to protect tax benefits to be “problematic on the merits,” and questioning court’s reliance on Bankruptcy Code §§ 105(a) and 362 as basis for trading procedures order). Compare In Prudential Lines, Inc., 928 F.2d 565 (2d Cir. 1991) (finding debtor’s tax benefits to be estate property, and that automatic stay thus enjoined debtor’s parent from taking worthless stock deduction on parent’s tax return).

4. Any act to create, perfect, or enforce any lien against debtor’s property
(but not the perfection of mechanic’s lien9 — §§ 362(b)(3) and 546(b) — or when perfection occurs within the 10-day period after the time of effective transfer of the property, under §§ 362(b)(3), and 547(e)(2)(A)). 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(4). See In re Fuller, 134 B.R. 945 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1992) (held, automatic stay prevents creation or perfection of lien, even by operation of law).

_________________________________________

9 The mechanic’s lienor will ordinarily be able to perfect its lien after bankruptcy for work performed prior to bankruptcy. See generally, In re Yobe Electric, Inc., 728 F.2d 207, 208 (3d Cir. 1984) (per curiam) (service of notice of intent to file mechanic’s lien did not violate stay since under state statute “perfection of mechanic’s lien ‘relates back’ to the installation of the first material”); In re Lionel Corp., 29 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 1994) (held, no automatic stay violation resulted from mechanics’ lienors’ post-petition serving notice of lien upon lessors and
chapter 11 debtor lessee, when New York law permitted perfection of filed mechanics’ lien after another entity had acquired rights to the property).

—————————–

a. Sections 362(b)(3) and 546(b)(1)(A), read together, set the
boundaries of this exception.

(i) Section 362(b)(3) subjects a creditor’s right to “perfect, or
to maintain or continue the perfection of, an interest in property” to
Section 546(b) of Code. 11 U.S.C. §362(b)(3).

(ii) In turn, Section 546(b) limits the trustee’s powers to avoid statutory liens by providing that they “are subject to any generally applicable law that permits perfection of an interest in property to be effective against an entity that acquires rights in such property before the date of perfection.” 11 U.S.C. §546(b)(1)(A) (emphasis added); see, e.g., In re AR Accessories Group, Inc., 345 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2003) (held, priming statute need not contain language expressly providing for retroactive perfection in order to trigger exception provided in 11 U.S.C. §546(b)(1)(A)); In re
Hayden, 308 B.R. 428 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2004) (held, towing operator did not violate automatic stay in refusing to surrender possession of debtor’s vehicle, which was towed prepetition, unless debtor first paid towing charges because towing operator was merely acting to maintain or continue possession of its lien, not to enforce it).

5. Any act to create, perfect, or enforce a lien against debtor’s property for
prepetition claims. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(5). See, e.g., In re Birney, 200 F.3d 225
227 (4th Cir. 1999) (Section 362(a)(5) prohibits “any act to create, perfect, or enforce against property of the debtor any lien to the extent that such lien secures a claim that arose before the commencement of the case under this title”).

6. “Any act to collect, assess, or recover a prepetition claim against the
debtor.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(6). Pertuso v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 233 F.3d 417,
423 (6th Cir. 2000) (a course of conduct violates § 362(a)(6) if it “(1) could
reasonably be expected to have a significant impact on the debtor’s determination as to whether to repay, and (2) is contrary to what a reasonable person would consider to be fair under the circumstances”) (quoting In re Briggs, 143 B.R. 438 453 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 1992)); see also In re Diamond, 346 F.3d 224, 227-28 (1st Cir. 2003) (settlement negotiations challenging Chapter 7 debtor’s discharge do not violate the automatic stay per se, but creditor’s threat to seek revocation of debtor’s real estate license during negotiations was coercive, thus dismissal of debtor’s complaint proper); In re Optel, Inc., 60 Fed.Appx. 390 (3d Cir. March 25,
2003) (sale agreement between creditor and debtor provided that debtor either pay $6 million lump sum payment or, if creditor requested, $10 million over time; held, automatic stay prohibited creditor from requesting the $10 million deferred payment, therefore creditor was only entitled to distribution on $6 million claim); In re Jamo, 283 F.3d 392, 399 (1st Cir. 2002) (“a creditor may engage in post petition negotiations pertaining to a bankruptcy-related reaffirmation agreement so long as the creditor does not engage in coercive or harassing tactics”).

7. Setoffs of any prepetition debt owing to the debtor. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(7).
See Newbery Corp. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., 95 F.3d 1392 (9th Cir. 1996)
(right of setoff is subject to automatic stay provisions of chapter 11); Citizens Bank of Maryland v. Strumpf, 516 U.S. 16 (1995) (temporary administrative freeze by bank not a stay violation or setoff; intent to settle accounts permanently is required for setoff within meaning of automatic stay provisions). Compare Jimenez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 335 B.R. 450 (Bankr. D. N.M. Dec. 21, 2005) (temporary administrative freeze by bank, without right of setoff, violated automatic stay); In re Calvin, 329 B.R. 589 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2005) (bank’s administrative freeze of debtor’s account violated automatic stay when bank was not creditor of debtor and thus had no right of setoff); In re Cullen, 329 BR. 52 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa 2005) (bank’s administrative freeze of account jointly held by debtor and debtor’s father violated automatic stay because freeze was intended to continue indefinitely until bankruptcy case was closed; bank did not have valid
right of setoff because funds in account were property of debtor’s father and mutuality requirement for setoff thus was lacking).

a. N.B.: The automatic stay, however, does not prevent a creditor
from exercising its right of recoupment.10 See, e.g., In re Slater Health
Center, Inc., 398 F.3d 98 (1st Cir. 2005) (right of recoupment entitled
government to recoup prepetition overpayments to debtor-health care
provider by reducing postpetition payments to debtor); In re Holyoke
Nursing Home, 372 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2004) (same); In re Anes, 195 F.3d
177 (3d Cir. 1999) (held, doctrine of recoupment did not apply so as to
permit pension plans to deduct loan payments from debtors’ postpetition
paychecks because the payments were not part of the same transaction); In
re Delicruz, 300 B.R. 669 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 2003) (“recoupment reduces
or extinguish[es] a debt arising from the same transaction, and is not
stayed by the bankruptcy”). But see York Linings Int’l, Inc. v. Harbison-
Walker Refractories Co., 839 N.E.2d 766 (Ind. App. 2005) (although
automatic stay does not bar creditor from exercising right of recoupment,
stay does prevent creditor from asserting counterclaim for recoupment in
litigation because such a counterclaim seeks affirmative relief).

_____________________________________

10 “Recoupment” has been defined as follows: “. . . so long as the creditor’s claim arises out of the identical transaction as the debtor’s, that claim may be offset against the debt owed to the debtor, without concern” for the Code’s setoff limitations. In re University Medical Center, 973 F.2d 1065, 1080 (3d Cir. 1992). Recoupment in bankruptcy has been narrowly construed by courts because it violates the basic bankruptcy principle of equal distribution. In re B & L Oil Co., 782 F.2d 155, 158 (10th Cir. 1986) (“[a] fundamental tenet of bankruptcy law is that . . . [once] a petition is filed, debts that arose before the petition may not be satisfied through post-petition transactions. This is seen in bankruptcy restrictions on setoffs [and recoupment].”); In re McMahon, 129 F.3d 93,
97 (2d Cir. 1997) (“in light of the Bankruptcy Code’s strong policy favoring equal treatment of creditors, recoupment . . . should be narrowly construed”).

———————-

8. Commencement or continuation of a proceeding before the United States Tax Court concerning the debtor. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(8). See, e.g., Halpern v. C.I., 96 T.C. 895 (U.S. Tax Ct. 1991) (held, automatic stay bars commencement or continuation of any proceeding in Tax Court, regardless of whether claim relates to prepetition or postpetition tax year deficiencies).

  • As of October 17, 2005, § 362(a)(8) is limited to proceedings
    concerning corporate debtor’s tax liability for taxable period the
    bankruptcy court may determine or, if debtor is individual, to tax
    for taxable period ending before date of order for relief.

9. Only affirmative acts are stayed. Section 362 applies only to affirmative
acts against the debtor or its estate.

a. The automatic stay does not affect, and the court may not exercise
its equitable powers to stay or toll, the automatic transfer of rights such as
that occurring by the expiration of a statutory period of redemption.
Canney v. Merchants Bank (In re Frazer), 284 F.3d 362 (2d Cir. 2002)
(did not stay mortgagee’s act of recording a certificate of non-redemption;
held, expiration of statutory period is not an “affirmative act” and
automatic stay did not apply).

b. Omissions and waivers are not stayed by the Code because they
are not affirmative acts. See e.g. Mann v. Chase Manhattan Mortg. Corp.,
316 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2003) (mortgagee’s failure to submit
preconfirmation request, pursuant to bankruptcy statute governing rights
of oversecured creditors, to have its postpetition attorney fees included in
its allowed secured claim was not sort of overt, affirmative act that
violates stay).

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

Why Homeowners Must Know these Important Points of Bankruptcy Appeal

Every appeal requires an appellate advocate to understand and follow
a series of rules. When an appeal is from a decision by a federal
bankruptcy court, there is yet another layer of rules and complexity
to consider. This article briefly identifies a dozen important points
about bankruptcy appeals.

1. The Time for Filing a Notice of Appeal in a Bankruptcy Appeal Is Generally Shorter Than in Other Appeals.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 158(c)(2) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Bankruptcy Rule”) 8002(a), a party seeking to appeal a decision by a bankruptcy court has 14 days to file its appeal.1 This is 16 days less than the 30 days a party generally is given under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (“F.R.A.P.”) to appeal from district court to a federal appellate court.2 As with F.R.A.P. 4(a)(5), the Bankruptcy Rules permit some leeway if an appellant misses its deadline. Under the Bankruptcy Rules, a bankruptcy court may allow an appellant who fails to timely file up to 20 additional days to file where that appellant can demonstrate “excusable neglect.”3 After 30 days, however, a bankruptcy appellant loses its right to appeal even if there is excusable neglect.4 Factors to be considered in determining whether there is excusable neglect include the danger of prejudice to the appellee; the length of delay and its impact on the judicial proceeding; the reason for the delay; whether the delay was in the movant’s control; and the movant’s good faith.5

2. An Appellant May Waive an Issue Not Raised at the Outset of its Bankruptcy Appeal.

Under Bankruptcy Rule 8006, within 14 days of filing its Notice of
Appeal, an appellant must file and serve a designation of the items to be
included in the record on appeal and a statement of issues to be presented
on appeal. If an appellant fails to include an issue in this Statement, the
issue is waived even if this had been raised and/or decided by the bankruptcy
court.6

3. Those Who Ignore Deadlines and Procedural Rules May Forfeit Their Appeal.

Bankruptcy Rule 8001(a) authorizes dismissal of a bankruptcy appeal when a party fails to take any required step other than filing its Notice of Appeal. Courts adjudicating bankruptcy appeals may dismiss appeals when a party fails to take a necessary step, such as filing its record designations, statement of issues or its brief.7
While the Bankruptcy Rules permit dismissal, however, certain circuits require the appellate court to weigh a series of factors before it dismisses a case in its entirety. For example, the Third Circuit requires the balancing of six factors before a case is dismissed. These are:
• The extent of the party’s personal responsibility;
• The prejudice to the adversary caused by the failure to meet scheduling
orders;

• A history of dilatoriness;
• Whether the conduct of the party or the attorney was willful or in bad
faith;
• The effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal, which entails an
analysis of alternative sanctions;
• The meritoriousness of the claim or defense.8

4. In Five Circuits, Bankruptcy Appeals May Be Heard in the First Instance by Two Different Types of Courts.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 158(c)(1), an appellant in an appeal from bankruptcy court may choose in the first instance to appeal either to a district court acting as an appellate court or, if the relevant circuit provides for one, to a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (“BAP”). Even if the appellant chooses a BAP, however, any other party to the appeal may, no later than 30 days after service of the notice of appeal, ask to have the appeal heard by the relevant district court. The First, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits each have a BAP. If an appeal is to a BAP, then the Bankruptcy
judge’s decision will be reviewed by fellow sitting bankruptcy judges.
Usually a BAP consists of three sitting bankruptcy judges in the circuit who are assembled for a particular day of argument. By their very nature, BAPs will consist of judges who have special expertise regarding bankruptcy issues, while district courts may not. The BAP may sit in different places in the circuit. For example, the Eighth Circuit BAP conducts hearing in Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, and other locations where its bankruptcy courts sit.

5. BAP Rules Vary by Circuit.

Just like the individual federal circuit courts of appeal, the various BAPs each have their own rules. These vary between each circuit. Any party in a BAP appeal, therefore should know the specifics and particularities of the specific BAP’s rules and should follow these.
Among these specialized rules, for example, are that, in the Eighth Circuit BAP, parties are limited to opening briefs of 6500 words.9 The Ninth Circuit BAP Rules provide that only those portions of transcripts included in the excerpts of the record will be considered in an appeal and that these must include excerpts necessary for the BAP to apply the required standard of review to a matter.10 The First Circuit BAP Rules generally limit argument to 15 minutes per side.11 The Tenth Circuit BAP requires that a brief include a statement of related cases—i.e., one that includes the same litigants and substantially the same fact pattern or legal issues – that are
pending in any other federal court.12 The Sixth Circuit BAP Rules provide
for a possible pre-argument conference and mediation.13

6. The Bankruptcy Rules Generally Govern Appeals to the District Court.

As noted in the prior section, BAPs have elaborate rules that govern all aspects of appeals before them. By the terms of the Bankruptcy Rules, these specific rules can supersede conflicting terms in the Bankruptcy Rules. However, when an appeal is to the district court, the Bankruptcy Rules generally apply in the absence of a local rule or district court rule specifically addressing bankruptcy appeals, which are much less common.
While not as comprehensive as the F.R.A.P., the Bankruptcy Rules have 20 provisions governing all aspects of appeals.14 These rules addresses appellate issues, including, among others, the filing and service of appellate papers;15 the filing and service of briefs and appendices;16 the form of briefs and their length;17 motions;18 oral argument;19 disposition of the appeal;20 costs;21 and rehearing,22 among others. (These rules also provide for the accelerated filing of district court appeals, as an appellant is to serve and file its brief within 15 days after entry of the appeal on the docket; the appellant is to serve its brief within 15 days after service of the appellant’s brief and the appellant is to serve its reply within 10 days after service of the appellee’s brief.)23 In the absence of rules to the contrary, opening briefs may be up to 50 pages and reply briefs up to 25 pages.
Under Bankruptcy Rule 8012, oral argument is to be generally allowed in all cases. In practice, however, oral argument is much less common before district courts. When an appeal is before district court, there is some question about whether its decision has precedential effect.24

7. Bankruptcy Appeals Often Include an Extra Tier of Review.

Generally, before an appeal reaches a federal circuit court of appeals, it is adjudicated by either a BAP or a district court. The findings of these first tier courts are not binding on the circuit court of appeals and, the appellate court owes no deference to the decisions by the BAP or district court.
Review by the circuit court of appeals is plenary.25 Nonetheless, some circuit courts have noted that the first tier of appeal acts as a helpful filter.26
An appellate court may reach issues brought up before but not decided by the district court or BAP.27

8. Direct Appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals Is Allowed in Limited Instances.

Pursuant to Section 1233 of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (“BAPCPA”), a circuit court of appeals has discretion to permit a direct appeal frombankruptcy court where there is uncertainty in the bankruptcy court, either due to the absence of a controlling legal decision or a conflicting decision on the issue and the issue is of great importance, or where the court finds it is patently obvious that the bankruptcy court’s decision either was correct or incorrect, such that the first tier of review in the district court or BAP is less efficient and helpful.28

9. At Each Tier of the Appeal, The Bankruptcy Court Is Given the Same Level of Deference and Same Form of Scrutiny.

Courts in bankruptcy appeals review issues of law de novo and findings of fact for clear error.29 Courts of appeal apply the same standard of review as do BAPs and district courts.30 Courts of appeal generally review issues of procedure under an abuse of discretion standard. These include motions to compromise or to lift a stay, for example.31

10. This Is a Greater Threat of Mootness in Bankruptcy Appeals Than in Other Federal Appeals.

A bankruptcy appeal may become constitutionally moot where events may occur that make it impossible for the appellate court to fashion effective relief.32 Thus, for example, if, while an appeal is pending, a plan is confirmed pursuant to which all assets are distributed, all creditors with allowed claims are paid in full, and the bankruptcy case is closed such that the debtor no longer exists, an appeal against that debtor is moot because there is no meaningful relief that may be granted.33 An appeal may also be considered “equitably moot” where a change in circumstances makes it inequitable for a court to consider the merits of an appeal.34
However, if there remains any possibility that an appeal may result in a tangible benefit to the appellant, it is not moot.35

11. Only Those Persons Aggrieved Have Standing to Bring a Bankruptcy Appeal.

Only those whose rights or interests are directly and adversely affected pecuniarily by an order of the bankruptcy court have standing to bring an appeal.36

12. Appellate Courts Take a Broader Notion of “Finality” in Bankruptcy Appeals Than in Other Appeals.

Because of the length of many bankruptcy proceedings and the waste of time and resources that may result if the court denied immediate appeals, federal courts of appeal apply a broader concept of “finality” when considering bankruptcy appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 than in considering non-bankruptcy appeals.37 Courts apply a number of factors in determining whether to assert appellate jurisdiction. These include:
1) the impact on the assets of the bankruptcy estate;
2) the necessity for further fact-finding on remand;
3) the preclusive effect of the court’s decision on the merits in further litigation,
and
4) the interest of judicial economy.38
Each of these issues, of course, could justify an article in itself. I hope
these provide some helpful thoughts and issues to consider when participating
in a bankruptcy appeal.

NOTE

1 Certain types of motions toll this time for filing until the last such motion
is disposed of. See Bankruptcy Rule 8002(b).
2 See F.R.A.P.4(a).
3 Bankruptcy Rule 8002(c)(2); Bankruptcy Rule 9006(b). Of course where
an appeal is from a district court to a federal circuit court on a bankruptcy
issue, F.R.A.P. 4’s 30-day rule applies.
4 See Shareholders v. Sound Radio, Inc., 109 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1997).
The law is unsettled as to whether bankruptcy appellate deadlines are “jurisdictional,”
such that objections to untimeliness may be waived if not promptly
made. See In re Fryer, 2007 WL 1667198 (3d Cir. June 11, 2007) (citing
Kontrick v. Ryan 540 U.S. 443 (2004), and Eberhart v United States, 546 U.S.
12 (2005)).
5 See Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P’Ship, 507 U.S. 380,
395 (1993).
6 See In re GGM, P.C., 165 F.3d 1026, 1032 (5th Cir. 1999). Of course, one
may not first raise new issues on appeal that were not presented before the
bankruptcy court. See In re Ginther Trusts, 238 F.3d 686, 689 & n.3. (5th Cir.
2001).
7 See, e.g., In re Lynch, 430 F.3d 600 (Cir. 2005); In re Braniff Airways, Inc.,
774 F.2d 1303, 1305 n.6 (5th Cir. 1985).

8 Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d. Cir. 1984).
See also In re Harris, 464 F.3d 263 (2d Cir. 2006) (failure to include required
transcript of oral argument did not warrant dismissal of appeal where lesser
sanctions were available); In re Beverly Mfg. Corp., 778 F.2d 666, 667 (11th
Cir. 1985) (“Dismissal typically occurs in cases showing consistently dilatory
conduct or the complete failure to take any steps other than the mere filing
of a notice of appeal.”).
9 8th Cir. BAP Rule 8010A.
10 9th Cir. BAP Rule 8006-1.
11 1st Cir. BAP Rule 8012-1.
12 10th Cir. BAP Rule 8010-1.
13 6th Cir. BAP Rule 8080-2.
14 Bankruptcy Rules 8001-8020.
15 Bankruptcy Rule 8008.
16 Bankruptcy Rule 8009.

17 Bankruptcy Rule 8010.
18 Bankruptcy Rule 8011.
19 Bankruptcy Rule 8012.
20 Bankruptcy Rule 8013.
21 Bankruptcy Rule 8014.
22 Bankruptcy Rule 8015.
23 Bankruptcy Rule 8009.
24 See In re Shattuck Cable Corp., 138 B.R. 557, 565 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1992).
25 See In re Best Prods. Co., 68 F.3d 26, 30 (2d Cir. 1995).
26 See Weber v. United States Trustee, 484 F.3d 154 (2d Cir. 2007) (“In many
cases involving unsettled areas of bankruptcy law, review by the district court
would be most helpful. Courts of appeal benefit immensely from reviewing
the efforts of the district court to resolve such questions”).
27 See Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir. 2004).
28 See Weber, 484 F.3d at 157 (citing BAPCPA § 1233, 28 U.S.C.
§ 158(d)(2)(a)(i)-(iii)).
29 See In re ABC-Naco, Inc., 483 F.3d 470, 472 (7th Cir. 2007).
30 See In re Senior Cottages of Am., 482 F.3d 997, 1000-1001 (8th Cir. 2002)
31 See In re Martin, 222 Fed. Appx. 360, 362 (5th Cir. 2007).
32 See In re Focus Media Inc., 378 F.3d 916, 922 (9th Cir. 2004).
33 See In re State Line Hotel, Inc., 2007 WL 1961935 (9th Cir. July 5, 2007);
see also Gardens of Cortez v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co., 585 F.2d 975,
978 (10th Cir. 1978) (dismissal of bankruptcy petition moots appeal to lift
stay).

34 See Ederel Sport v. Gotcha, Int’l, L.P., 311 B.R. 250, 254 (9th Cir. BAP
2004).
35 See In re Howard’s Express, Inc., 151 Fed. Appx. 46 (Oct. 5, 2005) (conversion
from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 did not moot appeal because liquidation
was not complete and preference actions remained to be tried, which
could generate assets to satisfy claims of appellants).
36 See In re PWS Holding Corp., 228 F.3d 224, 249 (3d Cir. 2000).
37 See In re Owens Corning, 419 F.3d 196, 203 (3d Cir. 2005).
38 Id.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

What Homeowners Must Know About Bankruptcy Appeals

When challenging Bankruptcy dismissals or Adversary proceeding on appeal, homeowners should bear the following in mind.
A district court may dismiss a bankruptcy appeal for any of a number of procedural reasons having nothing to do with the merits of the appeal.

Is the appeal timely?

Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a) requires that a notice of appeal be filed within
14 days of the bankruptcy court order or judgment at issue. A district court lacks
jurisdiction over an untimely appeal.

Shareholders v. Sound Radio, Inc., 109 F.3d 873, 878-79 (3d Cir. 1997).

Did the appellant refer to the order or judgment at issue in its notice of appeal?

A district court lacks jurisdiction over a bankruptcy court order or judgment that is not directly or indirectly referred to in the notice of appeal. In re Smith, WL 1716684 at *2 (3d Cir. June 22, 2006).

Is the bankruptcy court order final?

Under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a), a district court may hear appeals only from
final judgments, orders and decrees of a bankruptcy court. Although district courts liberally construe finality in bankruptcy appeals, an order in a bankruptcy case may be considered interlocutory, and hence, subject to dismissal, if the order does not implicate a discrete issue which in and of itself will determine the rights and liabilities of the parties concerned. Thus, for example, in In re Elsinore Shore Assocs., a district court lacked jurisdiction over an appeal from an order approving a disclosure statement. 82 B.R. 339, 341-42 (D.N.J. 1988). Moreover, the general antipathy toward piecemeal appeals still prevails in individual bankruptcy adversary proceedings. Thus, for example, in Natale
v. French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, Inc. (In re Natale), the
Third Circuit held that an order granting summary judgment regarding the priority of competing liens, but not deciding whether the debtor could avoid a particular lien, was not a final appealable order. 295 F.3d 375, 379-80 (3d Cir. 2002).

Does the appellant meet the standard for interlocutory review?

If the appellant seeks review of an interlocutory bankruptcy court order, a district court may grant leave to hear an appeal from the order only upon the satisfaction of three elements: (i) the appeal involves a controlling question of law; (ii) the question is one on which a substantial ground for difference of opinion exists; and (iii) an immediate appeal would materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation. Orr v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co. (In re Hollis), 2010 WL 336132 at **1-4 (D.N.J. Jan. 22, 2010).

Does the appellant have standing to appeal?

Only a party whose rights or interests are directly and adversely affected
in a pecuniary fashion by a bankruptcy court order may appeal from the order.
In re PWS Holding Corp., 228 F.3d 224, 248-49 (3d Cir. 2000).

Is the appeal constitutionally moot?

Generally, a bankruptcy appeal, like an appeal in civil litigation, is dismissed as moot when events during the pendency of the appeal prevent the appellate
court from granting any effective relief.
So, for instance, in In re Highway Truck Drivers & Helpers Local Union No. 107,
the Third Circuit held that an appeal relating to an order granting relief from the
automatic stay to permit a debtor to move for reconsideration of a decision entered by a state court was rendered moot by an intervening state court judgment relieving the debtor of its liability to the appellants. 888 F.2d 293, 297-99 (3d Cir. 1989).

Is the appeal equitably moot?

A bankruptcy appeal is equitably moot when, even if the district court has jurisdiction to grant relief, implementation of such relief would result in an inequitable outcome. The doctrine usually applies in appeals involving a confirmed Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. In Nordhoff Invs. Inc. v. Zenith Elecs. Corp., the Third Circuit found an appeal from an order confirming a Chapter 11 plan equitably moot on the following grounds: (i) the plan had required 18 months of negotiation among several parties and implicated hundreds of millions of dollars, restructured debt, assets, and management of a major corporation; (ii) the plan had successfully rejuvenated the corporation; (iii) the appellants had not offered evidence that the plan could be reversed without great difficulty and inequity; (iv) the appellants had failed to seek a stay of the order; (v) third parties had relied on the order; and (vi) reversal would be contrary to the public policy of encouraging successful reorganizations. 258 F.3d 180, 184-91 (3d Cir. 2001).

Is the appeal moot under section 363(m)?

According to Bankruptcy Code section 363(m), a sale or lease to a good-faith purchaser or lessee under section 363(b) or (c), once consummated, cannot be reversed or modified on appeal absent a stay. In Krebs Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc. v. Valley Motors, Inc., the Third Circuit dismissed as moot a buyer’s appeal from an order approving a debtor’s sale of franchises because the buyer had failed to obtain a stay of the sale pending appeal, the sale had closed, and the relief sought would have impacted the validity of the sale. 141 F.3d 490, 499-500 (3d Cir. 1998).

Is the appeal moot under section 364(e)?

Under Bankruptcy Code section 364(e), an order authorizing a trustee or debtor to obtain credit or incur debt from, or granting a priority or lien to, a good-faith lender, once implemented, cannot be reversed or modified on appeal absent a stay. In Resolution Trust Corp. v. Swedeland Dev. Group, Inc. (In re Swedeland Dev. Group, Inc.), the Third Circuit held that an appeal from a post-petition financing order was moot because the proceeds of the loan had been immediately distributed to the debtor in possession, the district court had denied a stay of the order and the debtor in possession had apparently expended the loan proceeds. 16 F.3d 552, 559-63 (3d Cir. 1994).

Did the appellant fail to timely file a designation of record and statement of issues?

Bankruptcy Rule 8006 requires an appellant to file and serve, within 14 days after filing the notice of appeal or the entry of an order granting leave to appeal, a designation of items to be included in the appellate record and a statement of issues on appeal. Local Bankruptcy Rule 8006-1 requires the clerk to file and serve a certification of any failure to comply with the requirement. Such failure constitutes cause for dismissal of the appeal. In re Mondelli, 2009 WL 3358465 at **2-3 (3d Cir. Oct. 20, 2009).

Did the appellant fail to obtain a copy of the bankruptcy court hearing transcript?

If an appellant has designated a bankruptcy court hearing transcript as part of the record, Bankruptcy Rule 8006 requires the appellant to immediately deliver to the reporter and file with the clerk a written request for the transcript and to pay its cost. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes cause for dismissal of the appeal. Orr v. Buccolo (In re Buccolo), 2009 WL 146528 at **1-2 (3d Cir. Jan. 22, 2009).

Did the appellant fail to designate any issues in its statement of issues?

An appellant waives its right to assert an issue on appeal if it fails to designate the issue in its statement of issues. Interface Group-Nevada, Inc. v. Trans World Airlines, Inc. (In re Trans World Airlines, Inc.), 145 F.3d 124, 132 (3d Cir. 1998).

Did the appellant fail to timely file its appellate brief?

Bankruptcy Rule 8009 requires an appellant to file its brief within 14 days after entry of the appeal on the docket. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes cause for dismissal of the appeal. Nyholm v. Israel (In re Nyholm), 2009 WL 114884 at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 12, 2009).

Did the appellant fail to raise its argument before the bankruptcy court?

A district court generally may not consider in a bankruptcy appeal an argument that was not raised before the bankruptcy court. Buncher Co. v. Off. Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of GenFarm Ltd. P’ship IV, 229 F.3d 245, 253 (3d Cir. 2000).

Did the appellant fail to make its argument in its appellate brief?

An appellant may waive its right to raise an argument before the district court if its fails to make the argument in its appellate brief. Interface Group-Nevada, Inc. v. Trans World Airlines, Inc. (In re Trans World Airlines, Inc.), 145 F.3d 124, 132-33 (3d Cir. 1998).

As a homeowner, once you follow these pointers, you’ll have a better chance of winning your Bankruptcy Appeal.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

What Homeowners Need to Know About Bankruptcy Automatic Stay

A. Scope.

1. Section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Code”) contains a broad
statutory stay of litigation and lien enforcement, effective automatically on the commencement of a bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) (“. . . a petition [commencing a case] . . . operates as a stay, applicable to all entities . . .”.)

2. Purpose – Time to Reorganize. This automatic stay gives a trustee or
chapter 11 debtor-in-possession1 a breathing spell from creditors by stopping all collection efforts, harassment, and all foreclosure actions, allowing a debtor to attempt a reorganization plan. See, e.g., In re Siciliano, 13 F.3d 748, 750 (3d Cir. 1994) (“[t]he purpose of the automatic stay provision is to afford the debtor a ‘breathing spell’ by halting the collection process. It enables the debtor to attempt a repayment or reorganization plan with an aim toward satisfying existing debt.”);
Maritime Electric Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.2d 1194, 1204 (3d Cir. 1991) (“automatic stay allows debtor breathing spell from creditors and stops collection efforts”); In re Peregrine Systems, Inc., 314 B.R. 31, 44 (Bankr. D. Del. 2004) aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 2005 WL 2401955 (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2005) (automatic stay is a “fundamental protection provided to a debtor for the purpose of stopping all creditor collection efforts and harassment of the debtor and to provide … a fresh start.”); Shaw v. Ehrlich, 294 B.R. 260, 267 (W.D. Va. 2003), aff’d, 99 Fed. Appx. 466 (4th Cir. 2004) (“stay protects debtors, as well as creditors, by providing debtors a breathing spell from collection
efforts”).

3. Policy Rationale – Debtor Asset Protection. Behind the stay is a clear
policy rationale: “to grant complete, immediate, albeit temporary relief to the debtor from creditors, and also to prevent dissipation of the debtor’s assets before orderly distribution to creditors can be effected.” S.E.C. v. Brennan, 230 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Penn Terra Ltd. v. Department of Envtl. Resources, 733 F.2d 267, 271 (3d Cir. 1984)). See also Reliant Energy Services, Inc. v. Enron Canada Corp., 349 F.3d 816, 825 (5th Cir. 2003) (“purposes of the bankruptcy stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362 ‘are to protect the debtor’s assets, provide temporary relief from creditors, and further equity of distribution among the creditors by forestalling a race to the courthouse.'”) (quoting GATX Aircraft Corp. v. M/V Courtney Leigh, 768 F.2d 711, 716 (5th Cir. 1985)); Mann v. Chase
Manhattan Mortgage Corp., 316 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2003) (“automatic stay
provision is designed to forfend against the disorderly, piecemeal dismemberment of the debtor’s estate outside the bankruptcy proceedings”).

__________________________________

1 Code § 1107(a) gives a chapter 11 debtor-in-possession the “rights,” “duties” and “powers” of a trustee. See NLRB v. Bildisco & Bildisco, 465 U.S. 513, 517 n. 2 (1984). See also Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9001(10) (“‘Trustee’ includes a debtor in possession in a Chapter 11 case.”).

4. Procedural Safeguards for Secured Creditors. The Code still imposes
procedural safeguards for the benefit of the secured creditor (e.g., “adequate protection” against erosion of collateral value; time limits on stay modification requests; limits on counterclaims against secured lender seeking stay modification). As shown below, it attempts to reconcile the rights of the secured creditor with the needs of the debtor and its unsecured creditors. See United Savings Assn. of Texas v. Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd. (In re Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd.), 484 U.S. 365, 376 (1988) (“ . . . lack of any realistic prospect of effective reorganization will require” modification of stay of lien enforcement”).

II. The Automatic Stay.

A. When Effective.

1. The stay is automatic upon filing of the petition commencing a case under Code chapters 7 (liquidation), 9 (municipal debt adjustment), 11 (reorganization), 13 (individual debt adjustment), or chapter 15 (cross-border cases) with respect to foreign main proceedings. See e.g. Eskanos & Adler, P.C. v. Leetien, 309 F.3d 1210, 1214 (9th Cir. 2002) (“the automatic stay requires an immediate freeze of the status quo by precluding and nullifying post-petition actions”); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 527 (2d Cir. 1994) (“[a]utomatic stay is effective immediately upon filing of bankruptcy petition”) (citing Shimer v. Fugazy (In re Fugazy Express, Inc., 982 F.2d 769, 776 (2d Cir. 1992));

2. The stay acts as a specific and definite court order to restrain creditors
from continuing the judicial process or collection efforts against debtor. See e.g. In re San Angelo Pro Hockey Club, Inc., 292 B.R. 118 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 2003) (automatic stay is self-executing injunction, constituting an order issuing from bankruptcy court); In re Bottone, 226 B.R. 290, 297 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1998) (“as long as the Chapter 13 case is pending . . . the automatic stay … restrains postpetition creditors from taking action against property of the estate”) (quoting In re Woodall, 81 B.R. 17, 18 (Bankr. E.D. Ark. 1987)).

3. Unless modified by the court, the stay is effective for the duration of a
bankruptcy case, and generally cannot be waived by the debtor. Maritime Elec. Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.2d 1194 (3d Cir. 1991) (held, because automatic stay serves interests of both debtors and creditors, it may not be waived and its scope may not be limited by debtor); In re Atrium High Point Ltd. Partnership, 189 B.R. 599 (Bankr. M.D.N.C. 1995) (before enforcing a debtor’s prepetition waiver of automatic stay bankruptcy court must look at circumstances under which prepetition waiver arose); but see In re Excelsior Henderson Motorcycle Mfg. Co., Inc., 273 B.R. 920 (Bankr. S.D. Fla. 2002) (court enforced prepetition agreement under which chapter 11 debtor waived automatic stay).

B. Jurisdictional Basis of Injunctive Power.

1. The district court has “exclusive jurisdiction of all of the property,
wherever located, of the debtor as of the commencement of [the] case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1334(d). A bankruptcy court is a “unit of the district court.” 28 U.S.C. § 151. Section 362 implements this jurisdiction and is supplemented by § 105(a), which authorizes a court to “issue any order, process, or judgment that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of the Code.

2. The broad jurisdictional base of Section 362 confirms the court’s inherent
power to protect property within its jurisdiction and to prevent any divestiture of that jurisdiction. Isaacs v. Hobbs Tie & Timber Co., 51 S. Ct. 270, 282 (1931) (held, jurisdiction of bankruptcy court respecting property of debtor’s estate having attached, actions brought in other courts could not affect it). See In re Mohawk Greenfield Motel Corp., 239 B.R. 15 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1999) (“the automatic stay protects the bankruptcy court’s exclusive jurisdiction over the debtor and its property”) (citing In re Soares, 107 F.3d 969, 975 (1st Cir. Mass. 1997)).

3. Section 362(a) stays, among other things:

a. a secured creditor from collecting accounts receivable of debtor.
Matter of Pernie Bailey Drilling Co., Inc., 993 F.2d 67 (5th Cir. 1993)
(account receivables were property of the estate; court must lift stay for
creditors to gain access to receivables);

b. a creditor’s dissolution of a debtor corporation. 11 U.S.C.
§ 362(a)(3); Hillis Motors, Inc. v. Hawaii Automobile Dealers’ Assoc.,
997 F.2d 581 (9th Cir. 1993) (held, dissolution proceeding constituted
exercise of control over debtor’s property);

c. foreclosure proceedings in other courts instituted against debtor’s
property prior to commencement of bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C.
§ 362(a)(1); see In re Vierkant, 240 B.R. 317, 322 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 1999)
(citing Kalb v. Feuerstein, 308 U.S. 433 (1940); In re Soares, 107 F.3d
969 (1st Cir. 1997)) (post-petition state court default order signed by judge two weeks after bankruptcy filing violated automatic stay);

d. a landlord’s proceeding to recover possession of leased premises.
11 U.S.C. § 363(a)(5); 48th St. Steakhouse, Inc. v. Rockefeller Group, Inc.
(In re 48th St. Steakhouse, Inc.), 835 F.2d 427 (2d Cir. 1987) (serving
notice of termination on assignee of restaurant lease rather than on debtor, which still had interest in the property, violated automatic stay); and e. an IRS sale of property seized prior to commencement of case. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(8); United States v. Whiting Pools, Inc., 462 U.S. 198 (1983) (IRS may also be compelled to turn over levied property under Code § 542).

f. arbitration proceedings that not only concern claims asserted
against the debtor, but also concern the debtor’s claims against a third
party. ACandS, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., 425 F.3d 252
(3d Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 2291 (2006). (although arbitration
was commenced by debtor, continuation of arbitration proceedings
violated automatic stay because, unlike trial, it is impossible in arbitration
to definitely classify arguments presented (i.e., claims and counterclaims);
arbitration award, which effectively terminated debtor’s insurance
coverage, is invalid because it diminishes estate property); In re Edwin
Epstein Jr. Operating Co., Inc., 314 B.R. 591 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2004)
(held, automatic stay applied, not only to prevent non-debtor party to
arbitration proceedings from asserting claims against debtor for tortious
interference and slander of title, but also to prevent arbitrators from
hearing debtor’s claims to replace this non-debtor party as operator of oil
and gas wells based on debtor’s asserted ownership interests therein).

III. Scope and Duration of Stay.

A. Scope of Section 362.

1. Property of Estate. The bankruptcy court’s injunctive power is ordinarily
limited to protecting property belonging to a debtor. Property of the estate is defined in Code § 541(a)(1) (“. . . all legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as of the commencement of the case.”). See In re Lankford, 305 B.R. 297, 301 (Bankr. N.D. Iowa 2004) (“All recognizable interests of the debtors or the estate are afforded the protection of § 362(a)…This includes a mere possessory interest in real property without any accompanying legal interest.”).
See also In re Moffett, 356 F.3d 518 (4th Cir. 2004) (held, chapter 13 debtor’s statutory right of redemption was sufficient interest in automobile that was repossessed prepetition to be included in estate property). But see In re Jasper, 325 B.R. 50, 55 (Bankr. D. Me. 2005) (credit union’s policy of revoking membership benefits of members who caused credit union a loss does not violate automatic stay); In re Santangelo, 325 B.R. 874 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. March 22, 2005) (district court did not violate automatic stay by approving class action settlement for claims against mortgage lender; rather, court gave prospective class members, including debtor choice of remaining class members or opting out of class); In re Medex Regional Laboratories, LLC, 314 B.R. 716 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. 2004) (proceeds of debtor’s directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies were not property of estate and were not protected by automatic stay, even though policies also provided coverage to debtor for indemnification claims, because the debtor had not provided any indemnification to non-debtor insiders and such indemnification claims were merely hypothetical). Compare In re Arter & Hadden, L.L.P., 335 B.R. 666 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2005) (proceeds of debtor’s directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies are property of estate because policies also provided coverage to debtor and there was no reason why direct suit against debtor is either practically or procedurally untenable).

a. Property Outside the Scope. The stay is not applicable to actions
against property that is neither the debtor’s nor the estate’s. Rodger v.
County of Munroe (In re Rodgers), 333 F.3d 64 (2d Cir. 2003) (debtor’s
mere possession of title to real property is not sufficient to find property to
be property of estate or to bar delivery of deed to purchaser by operation
of stay); Chugach Timber Corp. v. Northern Stevedoring & Handling
Corp. (In re Chugach Forest Prods., Inc.), 23 F.3d 241 (9th Cir. 1994)
(court refused to extend stay to boat that was not property of debtor’s
estate but on which assets of debtor had been transferred) (11 U.S.C.
§ 541(b)); In re Howell, 311 B.R. 173, 179 (Bankr. D. N.J. 2004)
(automatic stay does not preclude estranged spouse from seeking equitable distribution of non-estate property such as exempt property, postpetition earnings, property excluded from the estate, property abandoned by the trustee or debtor surplus); NLRB v. McDermott, 300 B.R. 40 (D. Col. 2003) (automatic stay did not protect property of debtor’s wife’s). Examples of property outside the stay’s scope are:

(i) Foreclosure. If a lender completes foreclosure before the bankruptcy filing, neither the debtor nor the estate has any interest in the property and the automatic stay does not apply. In re Theoclis, 213 B.R. 880 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1997) (held, foreclosure sale had terminated debtor’s interest in property.); In re Williams, 247 B.R. 449 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. 2000) (when foreclosure sale of debtor’s residence became final prior to commencement of chapter 13 case, residence did not become property of estate and was not protected by automatic stay);

(ii) Abandonment. Abandonment terminates the stay as to abandoned property. In re Holly’s, Inc., 140 B.R. 643 (Bankr. W.D. Mich. 1992) (once abandonment of debtor’s property is effectuated, or foreclosure of real and personal property is completed, taxing entity is entitled to enforce its statutory in rem rights against property.). But see In re Thompson-Mendez, 321 B.R. 814, 819 (Bankr. D. Md. 2005) (trustee’s deemed rejection of debtor’s residential lease by failure to timely assume it did constitute abandonment such that lease was no longer protected by
automatic stay).

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2. Entities Affected by the Stay. Section 362(a) applies “to all entities,”
including any “person, estate, trust, governmental unit.” 11 U.S.C. § 101(15).

This broad definition of “entity” eliminates the need to define who is a “creditor,” “secured creditor” or other person affected by the stay.

B. Duration of the Stay. Unless the court orders otherwise (i.e., unless creditor gets automatic stay modified), the stay “continues until such property is no longer property of the estate.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(1). The stay of all other acts continues until case is closed or dismissed, or, if debtor is an individual, until debtor is granted or denied a discharge. 11 U.S.C. §§ 362(c)(2)(A), (B) and (C). See also In re Allen, 300 F.3d 1055, 1059 (9th Cir. 2002) (automatic stay “prohibits action against the bankruptcy estate only until the bankruptcy court confirms a plan reorganizing the debtor’s property”); Middle Tennessee News Co., Inc. v. Charnel of Cincinnati, Inc., 250 F.3d 1077 (7th Cir. 2001) (automatic stay remains in effect until bankruptcy court disposes of case or grants relief from stay); In re Spirtos, 221 F.3d 1079, 1081 (9th Cir. 2000) (“So long as there are assets in the estate, then, the stay remains in effect”); Eastern Refractories Co. Inc. v. Forty Eight Insulations Inc., 157 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. 1998) (order “terminating” automatic stay operates from date of order’s entry); Lomagno v. Salomon Brothers Realty Corp., 320 B.R. 473, 481 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2005), aff’d, 429 F.3d 16 (1st Cir. 2005) (automatic stay not retroactively imposed when dismissal order set aside on due process grounds); In re Peregrine Systems, Inc., 314 B.R. 31, 44 (Bankr. D. Del. 2004), aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 2005 WL 2401955 (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2005) (automatic stay “continues until the bankruptcy case is closed, dismissed, or discharge is granted or denied, or until the bankruptcy court grants some relief from the stay.”) (citing Maritime Elec. Co., Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 959 F.3d 1194, 1206 (3d Cir. 1991)); U.S. v. White, 466 F.3d 1241 (11th Cir. 2006) (debtor discharged and automatic stay terminates on date of confirmation of debtor’s reorganization plan even when plan contains a later effective date). If a case is filed by or against a debtor who is an individual and a case of the debtor was pending within the preceding one year period but was dismissed, the automatic stay “with respect to any action taken with respect to a debt or property
securing such debt or with respect to any lease shall terminate with respect to the debtor on the 30th day after the filing of the later case.”

11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3)(A). See Jumpp v. Chase Home Finance, LLC (In re Jumpp), 356 B.R. 789 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2006) (interpreting § 362(c)(3)(A) automatic stay terminates only in regard to debtor; stay continues, though, in regard to property of estate).

• As of October 17, 2005, automatic stay terminates 60 days after a request for relief from stay unless final decision on request is rendered by court within the 60-day period or period is extended by agreement or by court for specific period of time found necessary for good cause.2

2 The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was enacted on April 20, 2005, and many of its provisions became effective on October 17, 2005.

IV. Acts Stayed. Section 362(a) is broad in scope, but specifically lists eight categories that are subject to its injunctive power.

1. “Commencement or continuation . . . of a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding against the debtor . . . to recover on a prepetition claim against a debtor.”3 Code § 362(a)(l) (emphasis added):

a. Appeals: stay covers all proceedings originally brought against the
debtor, regardless of whether the debtor is appellant or appellee.4 Halmar
Robicon Group, Inc. v. Toshiba Int’l Corp., 127 Fed. Appx. 501, 503 (Fed.
Cir. 2005) (automatic stay only operates as against actions in which debtor
is in defensive posture); Nielson v. Price, 17 F.3d 1276, 1277 (10th Cir.
1994) (“[t]he 362(a)(1) stay applies to actions that are ‘against the debtor’ at their inception, regardless of the subsequent appellate posture of the case”); Ellis v. Consolidated Diesel Elec. Corp., 894 F.2d 371, 373 (10th Cir. 1990) (operation of stay should not depend upon whether district
court finds for or against the debtor). But see In re Mid-City Parking,
Inc., 322 B.R. 798 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2005) (debtor may unilaterally waive
protections of automatic stay by pursuing appeal without first obtaining
bankruptcy court order lifting stay; debtor could not be held liable for
damages to creditor-appellee arising from debtor’s alleged “willful stay
violation).

b. Administrative proceedings: See In re Krystal Cadillac Oldsmobile
GMC Truck, Inc., 142 F.3d 631 (3d Cir. 1998) (postpetition
determinations by Pennsylvania’s Board of Vehicle Manufacturers,
Dealers and Salespersons, ordering termination of franchise agreement
violated automatic stay); In re Best Payphones, Inc., 279 B.R. 92 (Bankr.
S.D.N.Y. 2002) (administrative law judge’s post-petition decision in
proceeding commenced pre-petition ‘but concluded after debtor’s chapter
11 filing’ was void and without effect because it violated automatic stay).
But see Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System v. MCorp
Financial, Inc., 502 U.S. 32 (1991) (Section 362(a) does not apply to
ongoing, nonfinal administrative/regulatory proceedings, and action of
Board of Governors was excepted from the stay under Section 362(b)(4)
of the Code (the “governmental unit” exception)).

c. Partnerships. Actions against partners and their property are not
protected in first instance by the filing of a partnership petition. Bankers
Trust (Delaware) v. 236 Beltway Inv., 865 F. Supp. 1186 (E.D. Va. 1994)
(automatic stay does not protect partnership debtor’s individual general
partners); O’Neill v. Boden-Wert Real Estate USA Funds I, Ltd., 599
So.2d 1045 (Fla. App. 2d Dist. 1992) (held, automatic stay did not stop action against general partner in partnership debtor or against general partner’s general partner).

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3 “‘[C]laim against the debtor’ includes claim against property of the debtor.” 11 U.S.C. § 102(2).
4 Actions against non-debtors and against co-defendants are not stayed. See sub-section (e) infra.

d. Shareholders of corporate debtor. Bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction
over stock of corporate debtor that belongs to third party shareholders.
See e.g. In re Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc., 209 B.R. 832, 838 (D.
Del. 1997) (“automatic stay provisions of the Bankruptcy Code are not
implicated by the exercise of shareholders’ corporate governance rights.”).

e. Actions against surety, co-debtor, or guarantor are not stayed.5 See
e.g. Reliant Energy Services, Inc. v. Enron Canada Corp., 349 F.3d 816,
825 (5th Cir. 2003) (“[by its terms the automatic stay applies only to the
debtor, not to co-debtors under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11”); In re Third
Eighty-Ninth Associates, 138 B.R. 144 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) (suit against
guarantors of chapter 11 debtor was not a “back-door” attempt to acquire
assets of debtor); In re Rohnert Park Auto Parts, Inc., 113 B.R. 610
(B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1991) (automatic stay does not prevent creditors from
suing co-debtors).

f. Actions are not stayed against non-debtor co-defendants.6 See e.g.
Queenie, Ltd. v. Nygard Intl., 321 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) (debtor’s
filing of bankruptcy petition stayed his appeal and that of his wholly owned corporation7, but not that of co-defendants); 555 M Mfg., Inc. v.
Calvin Klein, Inc., 13 F. Supp. 2d 719 (N.D. Ill. 1998) (automatic stay
protection not available to debtor’s solvent co-defendant in breach of
contract case). But see Woodell v. Ormet Primary Aluminum Corp., 808
N.E.2d 402, 407 (Ohio Ct. App. 2004) (automatic stay applies to claims
against debtor’s employee co-defendants only to the extent that the causes of action against them arise from their status as employees of the debtor).

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5 In limited circumstances, courts have asserted their equitable powers under 11 U.S.C. § 105(a) to enjoin the continuation of litigation against non-debtors when the debtor’s trustee demonstrates that continuation of litigation against non-debtors imminently and irreparably threatens the debtor’s reorganization prospects. E.g. In re United Health Care Org., 210 B.R. 228, 233 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (staying action against non-debtor principals and officers of debtor when enforcement of judgment imminently and irreparably threatened non-debtors’ ability to fund debtor’s plan); North Star Contracting Corp. v. McSpeedon (In re North Star Contracting Corp.), 125 B.R. 368, 370-71 (S.D.N.Y.1991) (staying action against non-debtor president of debtor when, among other things, continuation of action would distract vital non-debtor and there was no distinct cause of action against him, but merely an action commenced solely to circumvent the stay).

6 Courts may stay actions against a non-debtor third-party defendant under “unusual circumstances” when “there is such identity between the debtor and third-party defendant that the debtor may be said to be the real party defendant and that a judgment against the third-party defendant will in effect be a judgment … against the debtor.” A.H. Robins Co. v. Piccinin, 788 F.2d 994, 999 (4th Cir. 1986). See also In re Nat’l Century Fin. Enter., 423 F.3d 567 (6th Cir. 2005) (commencement of civil action to recover accounts receivable held in collection account in debtor’s name violated automatic stay even though debtor was not named as defendant because action sought to recover estate property); Global Industrial Technologies, Inc. v. Ace Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. (In re Global Industrial
Technologies), 303 B.R. 753 (W.D. Pa. 2004), vacated in part, modified in part on other grounds, 2004 WL 555418 (Bankr. W.D.Pa. Mar. 19, 2004) (held, state court action brought by insurers for declaratory judgment regarding non-debtor’s rights in insurance policies it shared with debtor violated automatic stay even though debtor was not named as defendant in state court action because outcome of state action could affect debtor’s rights in shared insurance); Teachers Ins. & Annuity Assoc. of America v. Butler, 803 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1986) (referred to A.H. Robins decision as case with “unusual circumstances”). Compare In re Transervice Logistics, Inc., 304 B.R. 805 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 2004) (declining to extend automatic stay to non-debtor co-defendants because, unlike situation in A.H. Robins, defendant-debtor only faced one suit, not thousands, and thus would not be barraged by discovery and litigation).

g. Proceedings or claims arising post-petition are not subject to automatic stay, although successful plaintiff must obtain relief from stay if it seeks to enforce judgment against estate.8 Bellini Imports, Ltd. v. Mason & Dixon Lines, Inc., 944 F.2d 199 (4th Cir. 1991) (automatic stay did not bar institution of action arising out of alleged postpetition breach of contract); Erickson v. Polk, 921 F.2d 200 (8th Cir. 1990) (lessor of farmland did not violate automatic stay when it retook possession of property following postpetition expiration of lease); In re Dominguez, 312 B.R. 499 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2004) (prepetition lapse of debtor-taxpayer’s redemption period may constitute “cause” for lifting stay to allow tax authority to exercise its
rights in debtor’s real property; it did not relieve taxing authority’s obligation to move first for modification of stay).

h. Automatic stay does not apply to post-petition defensive actions in a
prepetition lawsuit brought by a debtor. Stanwyck v. Beilinson, 104 Fed.
Appx. 616 (9th Cir. 2004).

2. Enforcement of prepetition judgment against debtor or its property (11
U.S.C. § 362(a)(2)). See generally Delpit v. Commissioner, 18 F.3d 768 (9th Cir. 1994) (held, appeal to enforce pre-petition judgment was subject to the automatic stay).

3. “[A]ny act” to obtain possession of debtor’s property, or to exercise
control over such property. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(3).

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7 The court ignored its own precedent in coming to this bizarre result, but justified it by reasoning that adjudication of a claim against the wholly-owned corporation would have an “immediate adverse economic impact” on the debtor. But see Feldman v. Trustees of Beck Ind., Inc. (In re Beck Ind., Inc.), 725 F.2d 880 (2d Cir. 1973) (court cannot enjoin suit against solvent independent subsidiary of debtor merely because stock is held by debtor in reorganization); In re Unishops, Inc., 374 F.Supp. 424 (S.D.N.Y. 1974) (bankruptcy court lacks jurisdiction to grant a stay of court proceedings against subsidiaries).

8 Judiciary Code, 28 U.S.C. § 959(a), provides relief to holders of postpetition claims against a debtor from having to obtain leave from bankruptcy court to pursue claims arising from “acts or transactions in carrying on business connected with [estate] property.” 28 U.S.C. § 959. Section 959’s exception to the automatic stay is limited to postpetition claims arising from operation of the debtor’s business, and does not include acts associated with liquidation or administration of the bankruptcy estate. See In re Crown Vantage, Inc., 421 F.3d 963, 971-72 (9th Cir. 2005) (postpetition claim against trustee arising from liquidation of estate not subject to § 959 because not related to business operation); Carter v. Rogers, 220 F.3d 1249, 1254 (11th Cir. 2000); In re DeLorean Motor Co., 991 F.2d 1236 (6th Cir. 1993) (malicious prosecution claims against trustee arising from avoidance actions are not based on acts arising from business operation and thus not subject to § 959).

a. A credit union that accepts and retains postpetition deductions from
chapter 13 debtor’s salary violates automatic stay. See, e.g., Town of
Hempstead Employees Federal Credit Union v. Wicks, 215 B.R. 316
(E.D.N.Y. 1997) (credit union’s four-month-long administrative hold on
chapter 13 debtors’ savings accounts violated automatic stay).

b. Letters of Credit. See, e.g., In re Kmart Corp., 297 B.R. 525 (N.D. Ill.
2003) (letters of credit are not property of debtor’s estate subject to
automatic stay; beneficiary not prevented from drawing on letter of credit
when account party is in bankruptcy); In re A.J. Lane & Co., Inc., 115
B.R. 738 (Bankr. D. Mass. 1990) (held, payment by third party on letter of
credit not stayed because it did not involve a transfer of debtor’s assets).

c. Creditors’ actions against debtor to obtain property fraudulently
transferred by debtor prior to bankruptcy are barred by the automatic stay.
See, e.g. Constitution Bank v. Tubbs, 68 F.3d 685 (3d Cir. 1995) (bank’s
action against guarantors for fraudulent conduct triggered automatic stay
when each guarantor filed a bankruptcy petition during fraud action).

d. Mortgagees’ postpetition foreclosure against real property subject to
deed naming debtor’s spouse a sole owner violated automatic stay because, although debtor only had arguable interest in the property, the
determination should be made by bankruptcy court before mortgagees
foreclosed. In re Chesnut, 422 F.3d 298 (5th Cir. 2005).

e. Debtor’s Tax Benefits. Circuits apparently are split regarding whether
a debtor’s tax benefits (e.g., net operating losses) are property of the estate, thus subject to the automatic stay. See In re UAL Corp., 412 F.3d 775 (7th Cir. 2005) (finding bankruptcy court’s injunction restricting trading in debtor’s securities to protect tax benefits to be “problematic on the merits,” and questioning court’s reliance on Bankruptcy Code §§ 105(a) and 362 as basis for trading procedures order). Compare In Prudential Lines, Inc., 928 F.2d 565 (2d Cir. 1991) (finding debtor’s tax benefits to be estate property, and that automatic stay thus enjoined debtor’s parent from taking worthless stock deduction on parent’s tax return).

4. Any act to create, perfect, or enforce any lien against debtor’s property
(but not the perfection of mechanic’s lien9 — §§ 362(b)(3) and 546(b) — or when perfection occurs within the 10-day period after the time of effective transfer of the property, under §§ 362(b)(3), and 547(e)(2)(A)). 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(4).

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9 The mechanic’s lienor will ordinarily be able to perfect its lien after bankruptcy for work performed prior to bankruptcy. See generally, In re Yobe Electric, Inc., 728 F.2d 207, 208 (3d Cir. 1984) (per curiam) (service of notice of intent to file mechanic’s lien did not violate stay since under state statute “perfection of mechanic’s lien ‘relates back’ to the installation of the first material”); In re Lionel Corp., 29 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 1994) (held, no automatic stay violation resulted from mechanics’ lienors’ post-petition serving notice of lien upon lessors and chapter 11 debtor lessee, when New York law permitted perfection of filed mechanics’ lien after another entity had acquired rights to the property).

See In re Fuller, 134 B.R. 945 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1992) (held, automatic stay prevents creation or perfection of lien, even by operation of law).
a. Sections 362(b)(3) and 546(b)(1)(A), read together, set the
boundaries of this exception.

(i) Section 362(b)(3) subjects a creditor’s right to “perfect, or to maintain or continue the perfection of, an interest in property” to Section 546(b) of Code. 11 U.S.C. §362(b)(3).

(ii) In turn, Section 546(b) limits the trustee’s powers to avoid statutory liens by providing that they “are subject to any generally applicable law that permits perfection of an interest in property to be effective against an entity that acquires rights in such property before the date of perfection.” 11 U.S.C. §546(b)(1)(A) (emphasis added); see, e.g., In re AR Accessories Group, Inc., 345 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2003) (held, priming statute need not contain language expressly providing for retroactive perfection in order to trigger exception provided in 11 U.S.C. §546(b)(1)(A)); In re Hayden, 308 B.R. 428 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2004) (held, towing operator did not violate automatic stay in refusing to surrender possession of debtor’s vehicle, which was towed prepetition, unless debtor first paid towing charges because towing operator was merely acting to maintain or continue possession of its lien, not to enforce it).

5. Any act to create, perfect, or enforce a lien against debtor’s property for
prepetition claims. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(5). See, e.g., In re Birney, 200 F.3d 225 227 (4th Cir. 1999) (Section 362(a)(5) prohibits “any act to create, perfect, or enforce against property of the debtor any lien to the extent that such lien secures a claim that arose before the commencement of the case under this title”).

6. “Any act to collect, assess, or recover a prepetition claim against the
debtor.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(6). Pertuso v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 233 F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2000) (a course of conduct violates § 362(a)(6) if it “(1) could reasonably be expected to have a significant impact on the debtor’s determination as to whether to repay, and (2) is contrary to what a reasonable person would consider to be fair under the circumstances”) (quoting In re Briggs, 143 B.R. 438 453 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 1992)); see also In re Diamond, 346 F.3d 224, 227-28 (1st Cir. 2003) (settlement negotiations challenging Chapter 7 debtor’s discharge do not violate the automatic stay per se, but creditor’s threat to seek revocation of debtor’s real estate license during negotiations was coercive, thus dismissal of
debtor’s complaint proper); In re Optel, Inc., 60 Fed.Appx. 390 (3d Cir. March 25, 2003) (sale agreement between creditor and debtor provided that debtor either pay $6 million lump sum payment or, if creditor requested, $10 million over time; held, automatic stay prohibited creditor from requesting the $10 million deferred payment, therefore creditor was only entitled to distribution on $6 million claim); In re Jamo, 283 F.3d 392, 399 (1st Cir. 2002) (“a creditor may engage in post petition negotiations pertaining to a bankruptcy-related reaffirmation agreement so long as the creditor does not engage in coercive or harassing tactics”).

7. Setoffs of any prepetition debt owing to the debtor. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(7). See Newbery Corp. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., 95 F.3d 1392 (9th Cir. 1996) (right of setoff is subject to automatic stay provisions of chapter 11); Citizens Bank of Maryland v. Strumpf, 516 U.S. 16 (1995) (temporary administrative freeze by bank not a stay violation or setoff; intent to settle accounts permanently is required for setoff within meaning of automatic stay provisions). Compare Jimenez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 335 B.R. 450 (Bankr. D. N.M. Dec. 21, 2005) (temporary administrative freeze by bank, without right of setoff, violated automatic stay); In re Calvin, 329 B.R. 589 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2005) (bank’s administrative freeze of debtor’s account violated automatic stay when bank was not creditor of debtor and thus had no right of setoff); In re Cullen, 329 BR. 52
(Bankr. N.D. Iowa 2005) (bank’s administrative freeze of account jointly held by debtor and debtor’s father violated automatic stay because freeze was intended to continue indefinitely until bankruptcy case was closed; bank did not have valid right of setoff because funds in account were property of debtor’s father and mutuality requirement for setoff thus was lacking).

a. N.B.: The automatic stay, however, does not prevent a creditor
from exercising its right of recoupment.10 See, e.g., In re Slater Health
Center, Inc., 398 F.3d 98 (1st Cir. 2005) (right of recoupment entitled
government to recoup prepetition overpayments to debtor-health care
provider by reducing postpetition payments to debtor); In re Holyoke
Nursing Home, 372 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2004) (same); In re Anes, 195 F.3d
177 (3d Cir. 1999) (held, doctrine of recoupment did not apply so as to
permit pension plans to deduct loan payments from debtors’ postpetition
paychecks because the payments were not part of the same transaction); In re Delicruz, 300 B.R. 669 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 2003) (“recoupment reduces
or extinguish[es] a debt arising from the same transaction, and is not
stayed by the bankruptcy”). But see York Linings Int’l, Inc. v. Harbison-
Walker Refractories Co., 839 N.E.2d 766 (Ind. App. 2005) (although
automatic stay does not bar creditor from exercising right of recoupment,
stay does prevent creditor from asserting counterclaim for recoupment in
litigation because such a counterclaim seeks affirmative relief).

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10 “Recoupment” has been defined as follows: “. . . so long as the creditor’s claim arises out of the identical transaction as the debtor’s, that claim may be offset against the debt owed to the debtor, without concern” for the Code’s setoff limitations. In re University Medical Center, 973 F.2d 1065, 1080 (3d Cir. 1992). Recoupment in bankruptcy has been narrowly construed by courts because it violates the basic bankruptcy principle of equal distribution. In re B & L Oil Co., 782 F.2d 155, 158 (10th Cir. 1986) (“[a] fundamental tenet of bankruptcy law is that . . . [once] a petition is filed, debts that arose before the petition may not be satisfied through post-petition transactions. This is seen in bankruptcy restrictions on setoffs [and recoupment].”); In re McMahon, 129 F.3d 93, 97 (2d Cir. 1997) (“in light of the Bankruptcy Code’s strong policy favoring equal treatment of creditors, recoupment . . . should be narrowly construed”).

8. Commencement or continuation of a proceeding before the United States Tax Court concerning the debtor. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(8). See, e.g., Halpern v. C.I., 96 T.C. 895 (U.S. Tax Ct. 1991) (held, automatic stay bars commencement or continuation of any proceeding in Tax Court, regardless of whether claim relates to prepetition or postpetition tax year deficiencies).

• As of October 17, 2005, § 362(a)(8) is limited to proceedings
concerning corporate debtor’s tax liability for taxable period the
bankruptcy court may determine or, if debtor is individual, to tax
for taxable period ending before date of order for relief.

9. Only affirmative acts are stayed. Section 362 applies only to affirmative
acts against the debtor or its estate.

a. The automatic stay does not affect, and the court may not exercise
its equitable powers to stay or toll, the automatic transfer of rights such as
that occurring by the expiration of a statutory period of redemption.
Canney v. Merchants Bank (In re Frazer), 284 F.3d 362 (2d Cir. 2002)
(did not stay mortgagee’s act of recording a certificate of non-redemption;
held, expiration of statutory period is not an “affirmative act” and
automatic stay did not apply).

b. Omissions and waivers are not stayed by the Code because they
are not affirmative acts. See e.g. Mann v. Chase Manhattan Mortg. Corp.,
316 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2003) (mortgagee’s failure to submit
preconfirmation request, pursuant to bankruptcy statute governing rights
of oversecured creditors, to have its postpetition attorney fees included in
its allowed secured claim was not sort of overt, affirmative act that
violates stay).

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

Former ‘Foreclosure King’ Is Selling $32M Megamansion in Fort Lauderdale

Stern-frontDavid J. Stern, the Florida attorney who made millions during the mortgage crisis — and who was later disbarred after falsifying foreclosure documents at his law firm — is selling his megamansion in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for $32 million.

The 17,000-square-foot house sits on three lots on a private island. It has 500 feet of water frontage — ample space for yachts — and a few thousand square feet of outdoor terraces, according to listing agent Dennis Stevick of DND Associates.

“The outdoor entertaining opportunities are pretty much endless,” Stevick says.

Inside, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home is crammed with luxury. Much of the custom woodwork in the house is made from “wood pieced together by craftsmen from all over the world,” says Stevick.

The property also features a 12-seat home theater, five fireplaces, a gym, an executive office, an outdoor tennis court, a cabana, an infinity pool, and a six-car garage.

Stern had the home custom-built for him in 2007. At its peak in 2009, his law firm made over $260 million a year, earning him the ” Foreclosure King” moniker.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at http://www.fightforeclosure.net “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: http://www.fightforeclosure.net

How Homeowners Can Effectively Challenge TILA Disclosures and Violations

PURPOSE OF THE TRUTH-IN-LENDING ACT (TILA)

TILA seeks to assure meaningful disclosure of credit terms and conditions that the consumer will be informed with accurate costs and benefits of their credit transaction, allowing them to shop for the best credit terms available on the market. 15 U.S.C. § 1601(a).

STANDARD OF LAW

Since TILA specifically remedial in nature, its provisions must be strictly construed. A creditor must comply with TILA in all credit transactions and “misleading disclosure is as much a violation of TILA as a failure to disclose at all.” Smith v. Chapman, 614 F.2d 968, 977 (5th Cir. 1980). It is not sufficient to attempt to comply with the Act, but rather, creditors are required to strictly comply with all the requirements of the Act. There is no need to show that the consumer was misled or deceived by ambiguous credit terms in order to prevail. Noel v. Fleet Finance, Inc., 971 F. Supp. 1102 (E.D. Mich. 1997).

Congress did not intend for creditors to escape liability for merely technical violations, that even minor or technical violations impose liability upon the creditors. Huff v. Steward-Gwinn Furniture Co., 713 F.2d 67, 69 (4th Cir. 1983). See also, Washington v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 2006 W.L. 1980201 (N.D. Ill.).

SCOPE

TILA applies to most consumer credit transactions and was specifically enacted to ensure accurate and meaningful disclosure of the charges involved in a transaction, allowing consumers to make their own decisions about obtaining a loan.

A lawsuit for violation of TILA may be based upon a lenders failure to comply with disclosure requirements. U.S.C. §§ 1631-34. Most of TILA violations involve the creditor’s failure to charge the correct amount, failure to disclose all the material terms, or failure to provide necessary forms or documents required by the Act.
TILA does not apply to the following transactions:

1. Transactions that are made for business, commercial, or agricultural purposes. 15 U.S.C. § 1603(1); Reg. Z § 226.3(a)(1).

2. Extensions of Credit to Organizations as opposed to natural persons. U.S.C. § 1603(1); Reg. Z. § 2026.3(a)(2).

3. Credit over $25,000 Not Secured by Real Property or a Dwelling. U.S.C. § 1603(3); Reg. Z. § 226.3(b).

4. Student Loans. U.S.C. § 1603(7); Reg. Z. § 226.3(f).

5. Transactions under Public Utility Tariffs. U.S.C. § 1603(4); Reg. Z. § 226.3(c).

6. Securities or Commodities transactions that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. U.S.C. § 1603(2); Reg. Z. § 226.3(d).

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

When a violation of TILA occurs, the one-year limitations period applicable to actions for statutory and actual damages begins to run. U.S.C. § 1641(e).
A TILA violation may occur at the consummation of the transaction between a creditor and its consumer if the transaction is made without the required disclosures.

A creditor may also violate TILA by engaging in fraudulent, misleading, and deceptive practices that conceal the TILA violation occurring at the time of closing. Often consumers do not discover any violation until after they have paid excessive charges imposed by their creditors. Consumers who later learn of the creditor’s TILA violations can allege an equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. When the consumer has an extended right to rescind or pursue other statutory remedies because a violation occurs, the statute of limitations for all the damages the consumers seek extends to three years from the date the violation is revealed. McIntosh v. Irwin Union Bank & Trust Co., 215 F.R.D. 26, 30 (D. Mass. 2003).

TILA AND REGULATION Z

Congress delegated authority for the implementation of TILA to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB). The Board of Governors (the Board) of the FRB interpreted TILA and promulgated a detailed and comprehensive set of rules that sets out the Board’s interpretation known as Regulation Z. Regulation Z is an official set of rules and most pleadings alleging TILA violations also alleging violations of Regulation Z as well.

DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS AND VIOLATIONS

1. Form Of Disclosure

TILA requires specific disclosures before the closing of a credit transaction. Disclosures must be “clear and conspicuously, in writing, in a form that the consumer may keep.” § 1632(a); § 226.5(a)(1).

Disclosure statement is a written document that a creditor is required to provide the consumer prior to closing, which contains TILA required material terms# related to the costs of the credit transaction. In this statement, a creditor must disclose to the person who is obligated on a consumer credit transaction the information required under TILA.

The Act calls for disclosures to be made in a manner that is reasonably to understand by ordinary persons. Most courts agree that “sufficiency of TILA mandated disclosures is to be viewed from the standpoint of an ordinary consumer, not the perspective of a Federal Reserve Board member, federal judge, or English professor.” Smith v. Cash Store Mgmt., 195 F.3d 325, 328 (7th Cir. 1999). Edmondson v. Allen-Russell Ford, Inc., 577 F.2d 291, 296 (5th Cir. 1978) (“we must assess the adequacy of disclosure […] by the audience for which disclosure was intended).

     a. Required Disclosures Must be Clear and Conspicuous. 

U.S.C. § 1632(a). Courts usually look at the particular Disclosure Statement and its content to determine whether it was sufficiently clear and conspicuous.

1) Creditor violates TILA for failure to clearly and conspicuously disclose the requirements by disclosing required information in fine print. There was “nothing in the disclosure statement that would call a person’s attention to the relevant clause.” Violation found when disclosures were buried near the bottom of the form. Re Wright, 11 B.R. 590, 592 (S.D. Miss. 1981).

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1 Material terms are annual percentage rate, finance charge, method of determining the finance charge and the balance, amount financed, total of payments, the number and amount of payments, due dates or periods of payments scheduled to repay the indebtedness. U.S.C. § 1602(u); Reg. Z. § 226.23 n. 48.

2) TILA violation found where a financial company fails to disclose the cost of credit life and disability insurance in the disclosure statement, making the interest of the loan appear less than its actual cost. Woods v. Beneficial Finance Co. of Eugene, 395 F. Supp. 9, 12 (DC Or 1975).

3) Disclosures are not clear and conspicuous when the disclosure statement includes contradicting terms. Varner v. Century Finance Co. Inc., 738 F.2d 1143 (11th Cir. 1984) (disclosing two different dollar amounts under the same heading is confusing). See also Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D 612, 618 (E.D. Wis. 2007) (Disclosure found unclear where the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure Statement shows the APR is 4.047 percent and other disclosure that “strongly implie[s] that the cost of the loan expressed as a yearly rate” at 1.950 percent); Ralls v. Bank of N.Y., 230 B.R. 508, 516 (E.D. Pa. 1999) (where there is a contradiction between TILA disclosures and other information provided by the lender, the disclosures are unclear).

b. The terms “finance charge” and “annual percentage rate” (APR) shall be more conspicuous than any other terms.

U.S.C. § 1632(a). These terms can be disclosed more conspicuously by using a contrasting type size or boldness and/or placing borders around them. Commentary § 226.5(a)(2)-2.

1) Violate for printing the terms “finance charge” and annual percentage rate” in the same typeface as other material terms. Brown v. Payday Check Advance, Inc., 202 F.3d 987, 990 (7th Cir. Ill. 2000). See also, Herrera v. First Northern Sav. & Loan Asso’n, 805 F.2d 896, 898 (NM 1986) (TILA violated when the term “annual percentage rate” appeared on the disclosure statement in identical size, style, and boldness with over 30 other terms and phrases).

2) No violation where the term “annual percentage rate” appears in a bolded box and is highlighted by all capital and bolded letter.” Robinson v. First Franklin Financial Corp., 2006 WL 2540777 (E.D. Pa.).

c. TILA disclosures must be grouped together and segregated from all unrelated information. 

U.S.C. § 1632(a). Disclosures must be organized in the contrast so that each section of the disclosure statement is complete without any extra information that confuses the consumers. Reg. Z. § 226.5(b)(1).

1) A paragraph at the bottom of the contract referring to the “property described above” is ambiguous and does not comply with the requirement that disclosures be grouped together. Leathers v. Toyota-Volvo, 824 F. Supp. 155 (C.D. Ill. 1993). See also, In re Cook, 76 B.R. 661, 663 (C.D. Ill. 1987) (information in the disclosure statement referred back and forth violates TILA, because the required disclosures must be simplified and grouped in a single location and segregated from everything else).

2) Failure to disclose time of payment in the disclosure statement violates TILA because “the timing of payments […] must be grouped with the other required disclosure” such as number of payments and amount of payments. Jones v. Ameriquest Mort. Co., 2006 WL 273545 (N.D. Ill.). See Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D at 617 (the creditor listed the period of payments in a different place than the number and amount of payments violate TILA requires to group related information together).

d. Additional information.

Lenders can include additional information on the disclosure statement so long as the additional information relates to the required disclosures. U.S.C. § 1632(b).

1) Disclosure of an additional interest rate of 1.950 percent, which only applied to the first monthly payment, in the disclosure statement is violation, because it causes the loan to “appear more attractive than it actually was and serve no useful purpose.” Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D at 620.

2) Additional information setting out the Note Rate disclosed on the Disclosure Statement found “helpful and important to consumers.” Smith v. Anderson, 801 F.2d 661, 663 (Ct. App. Va. 1986).

e. The home equity brochure published by the Board or a suitable substitute shall be provided.

U.S.C. § 1637A(e). Creditors are required to provide the consumer with a brochure prepared by the FRB describing the home equity plans. If a creditor provides a substitute brochure, the brochure must be comparable to the Board’s brochure in substance and comprehensiveness. Reg. Z. § 226.5b(e)-1. When a third party has provided the consumer with a brochure, the creditor does not have to give the consumer a second copy of the brochure. Reg. Z. § 226.5b(e)-2.

2. Time of Disclosures:

“The disclosures and brochure required … shall be provided at the time an application is provided to the consumer.”

a. Creditor failed to provide the consumer disclosure statement at the consummation of the credit transaction violates TILA. Family Fed. Sav. & Loan v. Davis, 172 B.R. 437 (D.C. 1994); In re Schweizer, 354 B.R. 272, 281 (Id. 2006).

b. No Violation where the creditor presents to the consumer, prior to the consummation of the credit transaction, a contract with multiple copies and allows the consumer to keep one of the copies before signing the contract. Queen v. Lynch Jewelers, LLC, 55 P.3d 914, 916 (Kan. App. 2002).

3. Required Disclosures for Open-End Credit Plan

TILA requires the following information to be disclosed, to the extent applicable. U.S.C. § 1637(a).

a. Disclosure of the Finance Charge Accrual Date:

The conditions under which a finance charge may be imposed together with either the time period, if any in which the customer may pay without incurring additional finance charges or there is no free ride period. Reg. Z. § 226.6(a)(1).

b. Disclosure of the Periodic Rate, Range of Balances, and APR:

For each period, a creditor must disclose the periodic rate that will be used to compute the finance charge; the balances to which the rate is applied; the corresponding nominal annual percentage rate; if deferent rates apply to different types of transactions, they must be disclosed; and penalty rate and possible conditions that trigger the penalty rate. Reg. Z. § 226.6(a)(2).

c. Disclosure of the Periodic Rate, Range of Balances, and APR:

The method used to determine the balance on which the finance charged is imposed, and a complex method calls for a more detailed explanation. Reg. Z. § 226.6(a)(3).

d. Disclosure of the Finance Charge Amount:

The method used to determine the amount of finance charge, including any minimum or fixed amount. Reg. Z. § 226.6(a)(4).

e. Disclosure of Charges Other than Finance Charge:

Identification of other charges which may be imposed and their method of computation in accordance with the FRB regulations. Significant charges such as membership fees, late charges, default charges, charges for exceeding the credit limit of an account, fee for providing copies of documents, taxes imposed on the credit transaction, real estate charges, and other charges must be disclosed. Reg. Z. §§ 226.6(b), 226.4.

f. Disclosure of Security Interest:

If a security interest will be secured in connection with the transaction, the collateral must be identified, even if the property is not owed by the consumer. Reg. Z. § 26.2(a)(25).

g. Disclosure of Billing Error Right:

A statement as to billing error rights and the right to assert claims and defenses in a form prescribed by the FRB must be provided to the consumer at the consummation of a transaction. Reg. Z. § 226.2(a)(d).

4. Required Disclosures of Residential Mortgage Transactions

Most home mortgages are subject to the disclosure requirements of TILA. U.S.C. § 1638. The required disclosures must be provided to the homeowner prior to the consummation of a credit transaction. Homeowners have the right to rescind most credit transactions, including home equity loans and home improvement loans, in which the home is taken as collateral.

a. Disclosure of the Creditor:

The name of the creditor must be provided and the address and/or telephone number are not required but may be included. U.S.C. § 1602(f); Reg. Z. § 226.2(a)(17). Failure to disclose of the creditor’s identity properly entitles the consumer only actual damages, if any.

b. Amount Financed: 

This term must be used in disclosure statement, and a brief description of the amount financed must be provided. U.S.C. § 1638(a)(2)(A).

Failures to properly disclose the amount financed gives rise to statutory damages, attorney’s fees, and any actual damages. Reg. Z. § 1640(a)(3). Its violation may also extend the consumer’s right to rescind. U.S.C. § 1602(u); Reg. Z. § 226.23 n. 48.

c. Finance Charge:

The term “finance charge” must be used and A brief description must be provided. U.S.C. § 1638(a)(3); Reg. Z. § 226.18(d). It can be disclosed only as a total amount, and there is no requirement to itemize finance charge, and overstating finance charge does not violate TILA. Vandenbroeck v. Commonpoint Mortg. Co., 22 F.Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Mich. 1998).

In real estate closing charges, fees may be excluded from the finance charge are real property and title-related fees; document fees; closing agent, attorney fees; and notary, appraisal, and credit report fees. U.S.C. § 1605(e); Reg. Z. § 226.4(c)(7).

d. APR:

The term must be used and disclosure must be accurate. U.S.C. §1638(a)(4); Reg. Z. §§ 226.18(e). The APR is accurately disclosed when it is not more than 1/8 of 1 percentage point (.125%) above or below the actual APR. In variable-rate transactions, the description must inform the consumer that the interest rate is subject to change. A historical example illustrating the effects of interest rate changes implemented according to the loan program may be provided to the borrowers. U.S.C. § 1638(a)(14); Reg. Z. § 226.18(f).

Improper disclosure of the APR is a material violation of TILA that extends the consumer’s right to rescind. U.S.C. § 1602(u); Reg. Z. § 226.23 n 48. Statutory damage, attorney’s fee, and actual damage are also available. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(3).

e. Payment Schedule:

Payment schedule includes the number of payments, the amount of each payment, and the timing of payments scheduled to repay the obligation. U.S.C. § 1638(5)-(6); Reg. Z. § 226.18(g). Failure to disclose that payments were due monthly violates TILA. Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D. at 617.

Violation of these requirements entitles the consumer statutory damages, attorney’s fees, and actual damages. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(3) Improper disclosure is also a material violation for purposes of rescission. U.S.C. § 1602(u); U.S.C. § 1602(u); Reg. Z. § 226.23 n 48.

f. Total Sale Price in a Sale of Property:

The total of the cash price of the property or services, additional charges, and the finance charge must be disclosed. U.S.C. § 1638(a)(7). Reg. Z. § 226.18(j). Actual damages may be available for violation to disclose this factor. U.S.C. § 1640(a)

g. A statement regarding the taking of the security interest in the property:

The creditor must disclose whether it acquires a security interest in the property being purchased, or in other property, as part of the transaction.
Violate this requirement will give rise to statutory damages, attorney’s fees, and actual damages. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(3).

h. Late charges:

The dollar amount or the percentage charge may be imposed for late charge. U.S.C. § 1638(a)(10); Reg. Z. § 226.18(l). Actual damages may be available for failure to state the late charges. U.S.C. § 1640(a).

i. Any Rebate Available:

Any funds given to the consumer must be disclose whether it is in the form of cash, check, deposit in a savings or checking account. Reg. Z. § 226.18(r). Actual damages may be available for this violation. U.S.C. § 1640(a).

j. Disclosure of Reference to Additional Documents:

Information regarding nonpayment, default, and the right to accelerate the maturity of the debt. Prepayment rebates and penalties are not required to be disclosed to simplify the closing process. Instead, the creditor can provide appropriate documents that consumer could refer to. Reg. Z. § 226.17(a)(4). Actual damages may be available for failure to disclose this requirement. U.S.C. § 1640(a).

5. Required Disclosures for Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), which secured by the borrower’s principal dwelling with a maturity longer than one year, are required to be disclosed with additional information. To simplify disclosure requirements for variable rate loans, creditors may disclose any variable rate transaction applying the ARMs disclosure rule. However, the reverse is not allowed. Reg. Z. § 226.18(f); 52 Fed. Reg. 48665 (Dec. 24, 1987).

Failure to disclose properly and accurately the requirements of variable rate loans entitles the consumer statutory and actual damages and also rescission right. In re Fidler, 210 B.R. 411 (D. Mass. 1997).

a. Rate Cap Disclosure:

The maximum interest rate that may be imposed during the term of the obligation must be disclosed to the borrower. Reg. Z. § 226.30(a); Fed. Reg. 45611 (Dec. 1, 1987).

b. ARM brochure:

The Consumer Handbook on Adjustable Rate Mortgages, published by the Board and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, may be provided to the consumer to fulfill this requirement. Creditors can also provide a suitable consumer handbook that is comparable to the Board’s Consumer Handbook in substance and comprehensiveness. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(1).

c. Timing of Disclosures:

The required disclosures and the Consumer Handbook must be provided to the borrower when an application form is furnished or before the payment of a non-refundable fee is made, whichever earlier. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b). Where the borrower receives the application by mail or a third party agent, the required information must be placed in the mail or delivered within three business days. Reg. Z. § 226.19 (b), n. 45b.

d. Specific Disclosures Required for Variable Rate Loan:

Major aspects of the variable rate loan program, which the consumer is considering, must be specifically disclosed.

1) The Index: Identification of the index will be used to calculate the interest rate and a brief description of the method used in calculating the interest rate are required by the Regulation. § 226.19(b)(2)(ii).

2) Current Margin Value and Interest Rate:

A statement must be provided to the consumer suggesting the consumer ask for the current margin and interest rate. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(2)(iv).

3) Frequency of rate change and payment adjustment

Must be disclosed. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(2)(vi).

4) Negative Amortization:

A statement to inform the consumer the consequences of negative amortization. A creditor must disclose the rules relating to the option, including the effects of exercising the option such as the increase of interest rate will occur and the payment amount will increase. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(2)(vii); commentary § 226.19(2). Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D at 620 (no violation found where the creditor informs the borrowers what will occur when the interest rate increases).

5) Conversion Feature:

If the loan has a conversion feature, the amount of fees will be charge and the method of the fixed rate interest to be determined must be disclosed. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(2)(vii)-3.

e. Historical Example Disclosure:

Creditors have the option to disclose the maximum interest rate and payment amount for a $10,000 loan amount or the historical example of changes in the index being used. U.S.C. § 1638; Reg. Z. 226.9(b)(2)(viii). If the former method is used, a statement that the periodic payment may increase or decrease substantially. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b)(2)(viii)(B).

f. Subsequent Disclosures:

Disclosures concerning rate adjustments are required for all variable rate loans. Reg. Z. § 226.19(b). Notice of the adjusted payment amount, interest rate, index rate, and loan balance is required to disclose to the borrower in a timely manner. Reg. Z. § 226.20(c)(1)-(4).

If payment adjustment may accompany interest rate adjustment, creditors are required to send borrowers notice at least 25, but not more than 120, days prior to the due date of a payment at the new interest rate. Notice is required to be sent to borrowers whenever there is an adjustment in interest rate. Reg. Z. § 226.20(c).

If interest rate adjustments are made without a corresponding payment adjustment, the notice can be sent to the borrower once a year. Id.

Incorrect adjustment or used of index value or incorrect disclosing the new payment amount that does not comport with the contract terms violate TILA requirements, giving rise to statutory and actual damages. U.S.C. § 1640(a).

Statue of limitations for an affirmative violation is “one year from the date of the occurrence of the violation” that starts running when the erroneous notice is sent. U.S.C. § 1604(e).

6. Required Disclosure of Rescission Rights:

Rescission rights arise when the transaction is a consumer credit transaction, in which a non-purchase lien or security interest is placed on the consumer’s principal dwelling unit. TILA rescission remedies reflect Congress’ intent to keep homeowners from placing their homes in jeopardy without a reasonably clear understanding of the financial risks and benefits of the transaction.

a. Rescission right is vested in the owner of the property that is the subject of the security interest. Reg. Z. §§ 226.15(a)(1)(i), 226.15(b), 226.23(a)(1).

b. The security interest must be the principal residence of the owner of the interest. Reg. Z. § 226.2(a)(11).

c. Time of Delivery: The rescission notice may be given after consummation, though the rescission period does not begin to run until it is effectively delivered. Official Staff Commentary § 226.23(b)-4. It is not effectively delivered until it is given in a form the consumer can keep. Reg. Z. § 226.15(b). A written acknowledgement of receipt of rescission notice creates a rebuttable presumption of delivery. Cole v. Lovett, 672 F. Supp. 947 (S.D. Miss. 1987).

d. Providing Rescission Notice: Each person who has the right to rescind a credit transaction must be provided two copies of rescission notice and the required disclosures in a credit transaction. U.S.C. § 1635(a); Reg. Z. §§ 226.5(b), 226.15(b). Notice of the right to rescind is also required for non-purchase money mortgages. U.S.C. § 1635(a). Giving the TILA notice and another notice of rescission at the same time, which have different rescission dates, confuses an ordinary consumer, violating the “clear and conspicuous” disclosure requirement. Jones v. Ameriquest.

e. Time to Exercise Rescission Right: The consumers have until midnight of the third business day following the delivery of the rescission notice, the transaction, or the receiving of the Truth-In-Lending statement, whichever occurs last. See, Jones v. Ameriquest. Right to rescind can be exercised prior to the consummation of the loan. Community Mutual Sav. Bank v. Gillen, 655 N.Y.S.2d 271 (City Ct. 1997) (the consumer properly rescinds her loan at closing recovering fees paid to the creditor).

If the creditor fails to deliver the required notice of material disclosures, the consumer’s right to rescind is automatically extended from three business days to three years. Reg. Z. § 226.23(a)(3).

f. Assignee’s Liability: An assignee is liable for statutory damages for violations by failure to disclosure TILA requirements by its predecessors and its own violation if it fails to respond properly to a rescission notice. Palmer v. Champion Mortg., 465 F.3d 24, 27 (1st Cir. 2006) (“if a creditor does not respond to a rescission request within twenty days, the debtor may file suit in federal court to enforce the rescission right). See also U.S.C. § 1635(b).

g. Rescission Process: The consumer must send a written notice to the creditor to trigger the rescission process. When the notice of rescission has been mailed, the notice is considered given. Reg. Z. §§ 226.15(a)(2), 226.23(a)(2).
When the consumer rescinds, the security interest automatically becomes void. The consumer is relieved of any obligation to pay any finance charge or any other charge. U.S.C. § 1635(b); Reg. Z. §§ 226.15(d)(1), 226.23(d)(1). Rescission voids the mortgage and is a complete defense to foreclosure. Yslas v. K.K. Guenther Builders, Inc., 342 So.2d 859 (Fla.2d D.C.A. 1977). See Beach v. Great Western Bank, 670 So.2d 986 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1996).

The creditor has twenty days from receipt of the consumer’s rescission notice to return any money or property given to anyone and to take appropriate and necessary action to reflect the termination of the security interest. U.S.C. § 1635(b); Reg. Z. §§ 226.15(d)(2), 226.23(d)(2).

After the creditor has complied with the preceding mandate, the consumer tenders back to the creditor any money or property received. U.S.C. § 1635(b); Reg. Z. §§ 226.15(d)(3), 226.23(d)(3).

OTHER AVAILABLE REMEDIES

Only creditors are subject to the civil penalties of TILA. U.S.C. § 1640(a). Civil damages are appropriate when disclosure requirements have been violated, and liability is imposed despite the creditor’s alleged good faith and reasonableness. Ratner v. Chemical Bank N.Y. Trust Co., 329 F. Supp. 270 (S.D.N.Y. 1971).

1. Statutory Damages

Violations of the general requirements and rescission requirements give rise to statutory damage claims. U.S.C. § 1640(a). For open-end credit transactions, statutory damages are awarded in the amount twice of the amount of finance charge. If the action arises out of a credit transaction secured by a dwelling, the consumer is entitled to a minimum award of $200 but not more than $2,000. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(2)(A)(i-iii). Only one statutory recovery is allowed even there are multiple disclosure violations in a transaction. U.S.C. § 1640(g).

2. Attorney’s Fees

Consumers are awarded attorney’s fees in a successful action or when they are “determined to have a right of rescission under section 1635,” even if the consumer is not obligated to pay his or her attorney. U.S.C. § 1640(3); Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, 240 F.R.D. at 621 (“because […] plaintiffs have a right of rescission, they are entitled to attorneys’ fees”); Kessler v. Associates Financial Servs. Co. of HI, Inc., 639 F.2d 498, 499 (C.A. Hi. 1981) (attorney’s fees are awarded even the plaintiffs are represented without charge by legal services attorneys). Attorney’s fees include the cost of the action and “a reasonable attorney’s fee as determined by the court.” U.S.C. § 1640(3).

3. Actual Damages

A consumer is entitled for actual damages when a creditor fails to comply with the requirements imposed by TILA, in the amount equal to the sum of any actual damage sustained by the consumer as a result of the creditor’s violation. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(1).

Courts may require the consumer to show actual reliance upon the accuracy of the disclosures in order to claim actual damages. Perrone v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 232 F.3d 433, 435-439 (5th Cir. 2000); Peters v. Jim Lupient Oldsmobile Co., 220 F.3d 915, 917 (8th Cir. 2000) (detrimental reliance is established when the plaintiff shows that she read and understood the disclosures and that if the disclosures have been accurate, she would have sought and obtained a lower loan).

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