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In re Buchanan

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 9, 2013

In re DAVID J. BUCHANAN, Debtor.
TRUSTEE MICHAEL B. JOSEPH, Appellee. DAVID J. BUCHANAN, Appellant, Case No. 04-12419-JKF


At Wilmington this 9th day of December, 2013, having reviewed the appeal taken by pro se appellant David J. Buchanan and the papers submitted in connection therewith, the court issues its decision based on the following reasoning;

1. Background.

Appellant David J. Buchanan[1] filed a pro se voluntary petition under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code ("the bankruptcy action") on August 24, 2004 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. (B.D.[2]1) Appellee, Michael B. Joseph, Esquire, is the standing Chapter 13 trustee. On April 14, 2005, appellant's former spouse, Barbara H. Richards, [3] moved to dismiss the bankruptcy action. (B.D. 57) A hearing on the motion was conducted on November 21, 2006. (B.D. 167) On December 1, 2006, the bankruptcy court dismissed the case with prejudice and barred refiling for two years. (B.D. 174)

2. Appellant appealed the order and, on September 26, 2007, this court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the bankruptcy court's dismissal order. (In re Buchanan, 07-34-SLR (D.I. 34)) From October 2, 2007 through September 1, 2011, appellant filed pleadings and letters requesting either reconsideration of the dismissal order, reopening of the case for relief from judgment.[4] (B.D. 204, 206, 207, 209, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 224, 225, 226, 227) The bankruptcy court denied these attempts with five separate orders. (D.B. 205, 208, 211, 215, 220)

3. On September 1, 2011, the bankruptcy court entered an order denying appellant's motion to reopen his Chapter 13 case and permanently enjoined him from filing any other documents with the court in that case. (B.D. 228) In response, appellant filed additional motions requesting relief from the September 1, 2011 order. (B.D. 230, 231, 232, 233)

4. On November 4, 2011, the bankruptcy court entered an order: (1) striking the motions; (2) requiring the clerk of court to reject filings in the case; and (3) notifying appellant of impending sanctions for contempt if he continued to violate the court's order of September 1, 2011. (B.D. 235) On November 4, 2011, appellant filed his notice of appeal of the bankruptcy court's November 4, 2011 order and requested permission to proceed in forma pauperis. (B.D. 236) On December 5, 2011, the bankruptcy court issued an "order in the form of report and recommendation, " wherein the court certified that the appeal was frivolous at best and malicious at worse and recommended denial of the appeal. (B.D. 242)

5. On October 1, 2012, this court entered a memorandum order dismissing the appeal, but remanded the matter to the bankruptcy court. The court concluded that, before the bankruptcy court could impose a filing injunction, an order to show cause hearing was necessary to afford appellant the opportunity to respond to the potential sanctions. In re Buchanan, Civ. No. 11-1227 (D. Del. Oct. 1, 2012).

6. On October 4, 2012, the bankruptcy court scheduled a rule to show cause hearing to determine why appellant should not be barred from future filings in the bankruptcy action. (B.D. 248)

7. From October 18, 2012 to November 30, 2012, appellant filed (in the bankruptcy action) seven pleadings and a proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Appellant also filed a request for mandate of dischargeability of claim. (B.D. 255)

8. On December 11, 2012, the bankruptcy court held a hearing, with appellant participating by telephone due to his incarceration in a Delaware state prison. (D.I. 2-3) Appellant was afforded the opportunity to respond to the order to show cause.

9. Later that same day, the bankruptcy court issued three orders. In the first, the bankruptcy court denied appellant's findings of fact and conclusions of law, concluding they were without merit or had already been adjudicated. (D.I. 2-1) By separate order, the bankruptcy court dismissed as moot appellant's request for a mandate of dischargeability of claims, finding that the claims were moot "inasmuch as the case was dismissed for failure to present a confirmable plan on December 1, 2006 and dismissal was affirmed on appeal." (D.I. 2-2)

10. The bankruptcy court's third order addressed the order to show cause hearing and imposed a permanent injunction on appellant's filing in the bankruptcy action. (D.I. 2-3 at 1-9) With meticulous detail, the bankruptcy court outlined the procedural history of the bankruptcy action, as well as the appeals, adversary actions and ancillary hearings resulting therefrom. The court considered the arguments presented by appellant at the order to show cause hearing and characterized his responses as implicating the "very same issues previously adjudicated" and noted that appellant "presented no justification for reopening [the bankruptcy action] which was dismissed over six years ago .. . ." (D.I. 2-3 at 9) Concluding that "there is no purpose in filing further pleadings in this case, " the bankruptcy court ordered appellant "permanently enjoined and barred from filing any pleading, letter, document, or other item in this case." (Id. at 10)

11. Appellant initiated this appeal[5] on December 20, 2012. (D.I. 2) In his papers, appellant describes with great detail the history of the bankruptcy action and sets forth, what he perceives as, errors and injustices. (D.I. 14) He seeks several forms of relief, including the reopening of the bankruptcy action, a rescinding of all real estate sales conducted, sanctions of all fraudulent creditors and an order to show cause against his ex-wife.

12. In response, the Trustee states that appellant's arguments have been addressed by the bankruptcy court or mooted by the dismissal order of the bankruptcy action. Instead, the narrow issue before the court is whether the permanent injunction was proper. The court agrees. The record demonstrates that the matter at bar emanates directly from this court's October 1, 2013 order of ...

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