United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is Laura Sheedy's
(“Sheedy”), appeal, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
158(a), of the Bankruptcy Court's denial of her Motion for
Extension of Time to File Notice of Appeal (“Motion for
Extension”). Sheedy, the Debtor/Appellant, argued below
and argues here on appeal that she failed to file her Notice
of Appeal by the deadline due to “excusable
neglect” under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure
8002(d)(1), and thus her Motion for Extension should have
been granted. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court
AFFIRMS the Bankruptcy Court's decision denying
the Motion for Extension.
bankruptcy case has a long history, but the facts pertinent
to the issue before this Court are simple. On June 8, 2010,
Sheedy filed for relief under Chapter 13 of the United States
Bankruptcy Code in the Bankruptcy Court. [ECF No. 12-1 at 4].
By 2015, the Bankruptcy Court had not confirmed Sheedy's
Chapter 13 plan. As a result, on September 23, 2015, the
Standing Chapter 13 Trustee, Carolyn Bankowski
(“Bankowski”), filed a motion to dismiss the
case. Id. at 8. The Standing Chapter 13 Trustee is a
private individual appointed by the United States Trustee to
oversee the administrative aspects of a bankruptcy case. U.S.
Department of Justice, Executive Office for United States
Trustees, Handbook for Chapter 13 Standing Trustees
1-1-1-4 (2012). The Bankruptcy Court granted Bankowski's
motion to dismiss on October 20, 2015. [ECF No. 12-1 at 8].
Following this dismissal, on December 8, 2015, Bankowski
submitted her Final Report and Account and Request for
Discharge of Trustee (“Final Report”).
Id. Sheedy filed an Objection to the Final Report,
arguing that Bankowski had unlawfully deducted a fee of $7,
512.50. Id. at 12. After a hearing, the Bankruptcy
Court overruled Sheedy's objection, and entered an order
to that effect on March 10, 2016. Id. at 38.
Monday, March 28, 2016, Sheedy filed a Notice of Appeal late,
and simultaneously filed a motion requesting an extension of
time within which to file the Notice of Appeal. [ECF No. 12-1
at 8]. In the Motion for Extension, Sheedy's attorney
claimed he missed the filing deadline because he was a music
director in a church and was consumed by the duties of that
job leading up to Eastertide, which began the weekend the
Notice of Appeal was due. Id. at 42. He argued that
missing the filing deadline by one business day was excusable
neglect, allowable under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure
8002(d)(1). Id. Bankowski and the United States
Trustee both filed Objections to the Motion for Extension.
Id. at 44.
Bankruptcy Court denied the Motion for Extension, writing
“[t]he Motion is denied for the reasons stated in the
Objections to this Motion filed by the Chapter 13 Trustee and
the United States trustee.” [ECF No. 9 at 58]. On April
10, 2016, Sheedy appealed the Bankruptcy Court's denial
of the Motion for Extension. [ECF No. 1]. In this appeal, the
parties disagree as to whether Sheedy's filing of her
Motion for Extension one business day past the deadline set
by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8002(a)(1) met the
standard for excusable neglect.
Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8002(a)(1) states that “a
notice of appeal must be filed with the bankruptcy clerk
within 14 days after entry of the judgment, order, or decree
being appealed.” A bankruptcy court may extend this
time “upon a party's motion that is filed: (A)
within the time prescribed by this rule; or (B) within 21
days after that time, if the party shows excusable
neglect.” Fed. R. Bank. P. 8002(d)(1). Because Sheedy
moved for an extension to file a Notice of Appeal after the
expiration of the 14 day deadline, this appeal turns on
whether Sheedy showed excusable neglect under Federal Rule of
Bankruptcy Procedure 8002(d)(1)(B).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Bankruptcy
Court pertaining to “final judgments, orders, and
decrees.” 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). An order denying a
Motion for Extension under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy
Procedure 8002, which governs deadlines for such motions, is
a final order. Balzotti et al. v. RAD Investments, LLC et
al. (In re Shepherds Hill Dev. Co., LLC), 316 B.R. 406,
413 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2004). District courts reviewing an
appeal from a bankruptcy court generally review findings of
fact for clear error, and conclusions of law de
novo. See TI Fed. Credit Union v. DelBonis, 72
F.3d 921, 928 (1st Cir. 1995); Western Auto Supply Co. v.
Savage Arms, Inc. (In re Savage Indus., Inc.), 43 F.3d
714, 719-20 n.8 (1st Cir. 1994).
bankruptcy court's denial of a motion for extension based
on excusable neglect is reviewed for abuse of discretion.
See Vasquez v. Cruz (In re Cruz), 323 B.R. 827,
829-30 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2005) (“[W]e review the
bankruptcy court's determination regarding the existence
of excusable neglect for abuse of discretion.”);
Lure Launchers, LLC v. Spino, 306 B.R. 718, 721
(B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2004) (same); Eck v. Dodge Chem. Co. (In
re Power Recovery Sys.), 950 F.2d 798, 801 (1st Cir.
1991) (“The question of excusable neglect is by its
very nature left to the discretion of the bankruptcy court
whose decision should not be set aside unless the reviewing
court, a district court or court of appeals, has a definite
and firm conviction that the court below committed a clear
error of judgment.”). A court abuses its discretion
“when a material factor deserving significant weight is
ignored, when an improper factor is relied upon, or when all
proper and no improper factors are assessed, but the court
makes a serious mistake in weighing them.” Foster
v. Mydas Assocs., Inc., 943 F.2d 139, 143 (1st Cir.
1991) (internal quotation marks omitted). Furthermore,
“a court invariably abuses its discretion if it
predicates a discretionary decision on a mistaken view of the
law.” Mirpuri v. ACT Mfg., Inc., 212 F.3d 624,
627 (1st Cir. 2000).
appeal, Sheedy argues that such a small delay in filing is
excusable neglect, and that her Motion for Extension should
have been granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy
Procedure 8002(d)(1). Moreover, Sheedy argues that she is not
required to show “unique or extraordinary
circumstances, ” and that, even if she is, a religious
holiday is sufficiently unique. Bankowski argues that the
delay in filing the Motion for Extension is not attributable
to excusable neglect because inadvertence, absent unique or
extraordinary circumstances, cannot meet the standard.
Furthermore, Bankowski responds that Sheedy must provide a
“satisfactory explanation” for the delayed
filing, which she is unable to do.
term “excusable neglect” is broad, and whether a
particular reason for delay qualifies as “excusable
neglect” is determined by “latitudinarian
standards.” Pratt v. Philbrook, 109 F.3d 18,
19 (1st Cir. 1997). “Congress plainly contemplated that
the courts would be permitted, where appropriate, to accept
late filings caused by inadvertence, mistake, or
carelessness, as well as by intervening circumstances beyond
the party's control.” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co.
v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 388
(1993). The Supreme Court refused to “limit
the ‘neglect' which might be excusable to those
circumstances caused by intervening ...