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In re Cameron

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 4, 2018

In re HELEN CAMERON, Debtor/Appellant.

          ORDER DISMISSING APPEALS FOR FAILURE TO PROSECUTE

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge

         Appellant Helen Cameron has filed five separate appeals in this Court from the same bankruptcy action, which have been consolidated in this proceeding. The United States Bankruptcy 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]

         On December 14, 2017, the Court dismissed certain of the appeals for lack of jurisdiction and ordered Cameron to show cause why the remaining appeals should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Because Cameron has not provided a sufficient explanation for her failure to prosecute, and has not remedied her failure to make key filings, the remaining appeals will likewise 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, United States Bankruptcy Judge Frank Bailey 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 (Bankr. D. Mass.). 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. See Motion filed by Interested Party Joshua Krefetz for Relief from Stay Re: 98 Topliff St., Dorchester (Boston), MA and Recognition of Receivership, In re Cameron, 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, however, 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 had not appeared at the hearing and had not provided 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 was assigned case number 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 were assigned case number 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 was assigned case number 17-cv-11193-WGY.

         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 was assigned case number 17-cv-11251-MGM.

         The bankruptcy court, at a loss for how to interpret the latter 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 ...


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