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In re Cameron

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 14, 2017

In re HELEN CAMERON, Debtor/Appellant.

          ORDER CONSOLIDATING CASES, DISMISSING APPEALS 17-11251 AND 17-11359, DISMISSING APPEAL 17-11112 IN PART, DISPOSING OF PENDING MOTIONS, AND ORDERING APPELLANT TO SHOW CAUSE

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         Appellant Helen Cameron has filed five separate appeals in this Court from the same bankruptcy action. She has filed a motion to consolidate those appeals in the lowest-numbered case pursuant to Local Rule 40.1(j). That same motion requests additional time to file her appeal brief. The United States Trustee for Region 1, as an amicus curiae, filed a brief explaining why the appeals should be dismissed or, in the alternative, summarily affirmed.[1]

         Because the cases are clearly related, the Court will grant Cameron's motion to the extent it seeks to consolidate the cases, although it will deny it to the extent it requests more time to file an appeal brief. Because the Court lacks jurisdiction over some of the appeals, those appeals will be dismissed. Because Cameron has failed to prosecute the remaining appeals, she will be ordered to show cause why those appeals should not also be dismissed.

         I. Background

         A. Proceedings Below

         Cameron's contact with the bankruptcy process began long before the underlying bankruptcy proceeding in this appeal. She has filed at least thirteen bankruptcy petitions since 1993. See Order to Show Cause, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 181 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 5, 2017) (Appx. 175).[2] In 13-bk-10115-FJB, the bankruptcy judge not only dismissed her case, but entered an order barring her from filing another bankruptcy case in any jurisdiction for two years because of her “unwillingness . . . to prosecute her cases in accordance with the law, ” her “cavalier disregard for the truth in her filings and dealings with the court, ” and her “repeated . . . abuses of the Bankruptcy Code, reeking of bad faith at every turn.” Memorandum of Decision on Motion for Order Dismissing Case at 9, In re Cameron, 13-bk-10115-FJB, ECF 90 (Bankr. D. Mass. Apr. 18, 2013) (Appx. 60).

         The bankruptcy proceeding appealed here was initiated on March 20, 2017. See 17-bk-10933-FJB. On March 25, 2017, the receiver who had been appointed in another proceeding to control Cameron's property at 98 Topliff Street, Dorchester, filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay. Motion filed by Interested Party Joshua Krefetz for Relief from Stay Re: 98 Topliff St., Dorchester (Boston), MA and Recognition of Receivership, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 17 (Bankr. D. Mass. Mar. 25, 2017) (Appx. 13-25). On April 3, 2017, without filing an opposition and before the bankruptcy court had even ruled on it, Cameron appealed that motion to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 23 (Bankr. D. Mass. Apr. 3, 2017) (Appx. 51). The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel dismissed that appeal on April 17, 2017, for lack of jurisdiction (as there was no ruling to review). Cameron v. Krefetz, BAP No. MB 17-008 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. Apr. 17, 2017) (Appx. 135-36). The mandate issued on June 5, 2017. Mandate Issued, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 180 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 5, 2017).

         On April 10 and 18, 2017, Cameron filed motions to waive the requirements that she receive pre-petition credit counseling and participate in a post-petition financial management course on the ground that she was disabled. Debtor's Motion to Waive of Credit Counseling Requirement, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 41 (Bankr. D. Mass. Apr. 10, 2017) (Appx. 115); Debtor's Request for Exemption from Participation in Financial Management Course Required Under 11 USC s 727 (a) (11) and for Reconsideration of Debtor's Motion to Waive Credit Counseling Certification, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 64 (Bankr. D. Mass. Apr. 18, 2017) (Appx. 132-34).[3] The bankruptcy court scheduled evidentiary hearings on those motions and expressly ordered her to attend. Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 124 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 10, 2017) (Appx. 205); Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 133 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 15, 2017) (Appx. 137).

         Cameron did not appear at the evidentiary hearing. Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933- FJB, ECF 146 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 19, 2017) (Appx. 140). The bankruptcy court then denied her motions to waive the requirements because she did not appear at the hearing and did not provide evidence sufficient for the court to determine that she met the definition of either “incapacity” or “disability” in 11 U.S.C. § 109(h)(4). Id.; Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 148 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 19, 2017).

         That same day, the bankruptcy court dismissed her case sua sponte, on the ground that she had not completed the credit-counseling requirement imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 109(h) in the 180-day period ending on the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Order, In re Cameron¸ 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 151 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 19, 2017) (Appx. 141).

         The bankruptcy court further ordered Cameron to show cause why she should not be barred from refiling for two years (again). Order to Show Cause, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 152 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 19, 2017) (Appx. 142).[4] Cameron did not respond to the show-cause order. On June 5, 2017, the bankruptcy court entered an order barring her from filing another bankruptcy action in any jurisdiction for two years. Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk- 10933-FJB, ECF 181 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 5, 2017) (Appx. 175). Cameron filed a motion to reconsider the filing bar, which the bankruptcy court denied on June 15, 2017. Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 198 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 15, 2017) (Appx. 187).

         B. Appeals to this Court

         Cameron has appealed six orders of the bankruptcy court, which has resulted in five appeals pending in this Court.

         On May 30, 2017, Cameron appealed the bankruptcy court's May 19, 2017 order dismissing the case. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 171 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 20, 2017) (Appx. 170) (appealing ECF 151). That appeal is pending as 17-cv-11026-FDS.

         On June 12, 2017, Cameron appealed both (1) the June 5, 2017 mandate from the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel from the dismissal of her appeal of the receiver's motion and (2) the original June 5, 2017 order barring her from filing another bankruptcy case for two years. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 193 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 12, 2017) (Appx. 181) (appealing ECFs 180 & 181). Those appeals are pending as 17-cv-11112-DJC.

         On June 26, 2017, Cameron appealed the bankruptcy court's June 15, 2017 order denying her motion for reconsideration of its order barring her from filing another bankruptcy case for two years. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933, ECF 202 (Bankr. D. Mass. June 26, 2017) (Appx. 211-12) (appealing ECF 198). That appeal is pending as 17-cv-11193-WGY.

         The last two appeals are procedurally vague. On July 5, 2017, Cameron filed a document purporting to be a “Notice of Appeal, ” which did not cite any particular bankruptcy order that was being appealed. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 210 (Bankr. D. Mass. July 5, 2017) (Appx. 188). It stated that the “appeal is of post-dismissal judgment, order, decree or mandate entered on June 26, 2017, ” but nothing was filed on June 26 except Cameron's own notice of appeal of the order denying reconsideration. (Id.). That appeal is pending as 17-cv-11251-MGM.

         The bankruptcy court, at a loss for how to interpret that notice of appeal, entered an order on July 5 stating: “To the extent this pleading constitutes a motion for relief from this court, such motion is denied as the court is unable to discern what relief the debtor is seeking.” Order, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 214 (Bankr. D. Mass. July 5, 2017) (Appx. 216). On July 21, 2017, Cameron filed a notice of appeal appealing the bankruptcy court's order denying her relief on her July 5, 2017 notice of appeal. Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-br-10933-FJB, ECF 221 (Bankr. D. Mass. July 21, 2017) (Appx. 217) (appealing ECF 214). That appeal is pending as 17-cv-11359-DJC.

         C. Procedural Background of Appeals

         There are no scheduling orders and no procedural history to speak of in three of the appeals, 17-cv-11112, 17-cv-11193, and 17-cv-11251. The procedural history of 17-cv-11026 and 17-cv-11359 will be discussed below.

         1. 17-cv-11026

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1), Cameron was required to file a “designation of the items to be included in the record on appeal and a statement of the issues to be presented” by June 13, 2017. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1) (requiring designation 14 days after notice of appeal); Notice of Appeal, In re Cameron, 17-bk-10933-FJB, ECF 171 (Bankr. D. Mass. May 30, 2017) (setting designation deadline). She did not timely file the designation.

         The Court originally ordered Cameron to file her appeal brief by June 22, 2017. On the day of the deadline, June 22, she filed a first motion for an extension of time to file her brief, claiming that she was legally blind, untrained in legal analysis, and had not been able to find an attorney. She requested an extension of thirty-five days, to July 27, 2017. Appellant's Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief, In re Cameron, 17-cv-11026, ECF 5 (D. Mass. June 22, 2017). The Court granted that motion, but noted that she had failed to designate the record and state the issues on appeal as required by Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1). It accordingly ordered her to file a designation ...


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