Bankruptcy Adversary No.: 10-215 FSB; Bankruptcy Case No.: 10-14152
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
In this case, as in the companion case of Dang v. Bank of America, Civil Case No. 12-3343, which is decided simultaneously, the Appellant Barbara Dang (the "Appellant") challenges the jurisdiction and authority of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland (the "Bankruptcy Court"), which dismissed her adversary proceedings against lienholders on property of her estate. The issues raised by the Appellant in this case are essentially identical to those addressed in Dang v. Bank of America, to which this Court will make frequent reference in this Memorandum Opinion.
This case is before this Court on appeal of two orders: (1) the Bankruptcy Court's Memorandum Order of September 29, 2011, granting motions to dismiss the adversary proceeding initiated by the Appellant for failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted; and (2) the Bankruptcy's Court subsequent Order Denying Motion to Amend or Vacate the September 29, 2011, order of dismissal. These orders resulted in the dismissal of the Appellant's adversary proceeding against the Appellees Quicken Loans ("Quicken"); OneWest Bank FSB ("OneWest"); Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank"); as well as Howard Bierman, Jacob Geesing, Carrie M. Ward, and Bierman, Geesing, and Ward LLC, which is now known as BWW Law Group (collectively, the "BWW Defendants") (together with Quicken, OneWest, and Deutsche Bank, the "Appellees").*fn1
The Appellant, proceeding pro se, now challenges the Bankruptcy Court's dismissal on three grounds: (1) that the Bankruptcy Court erred in assuming jurisdiction over the adversary proceeding; (2) that the Bankruptcy Court lacked authority to rule on the adversary proceeding; and (3) that the Bankruptcy Court erred in granting relief to the BWW Defendants, because their motion to dismiss had been stricken as moot.
This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), which extends jurisdiction to the United States District Courts to hear appeals from the final judgments, orders, and decrees of the United States Bankruptcy Courts. The parties have fully briefed the issues, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons stated below, this Court treats the Bankruptcy Court's order of dismissal as proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and ADOPTS those findings and conclusions. Accordingly, this Court GRANTS the Appellees' motions to dismiss the Appellant's adversary proceeding.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
I.The Appellant's Three Bankruptcy Cases
This appeal concerns the Appellant's property located at 345 Folcroft Street in Baltimore, Maryland (the "Baltimore Property"). In 2006, the Appellant purchased the Baltimore Property with a mortgage loan and deed of trust from Quicken Loans ("Quicken"). That deed of trust was secured by the Baltimore Property. After the closing of the loan, Quicken sold the loan's servicing rights to IndyMac, whose successor in interest is the Appellee OneWest Bank FSB ("OneWest"). On January 1, 2008, after the loan and deed of trust had fallen into default, the attorneys for the lienholders on the Baltimore Property- Howard Bierman, Jacob Geesing, Carrie M. Ward, and Bierman, Geesing, and Ward LLC, which is now known as BWW Law Group (the "BWW Defendants")-filed a foreclosure proceeding against the Baltimore Property in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
That foreclosure was not consummated, because the Appellant filed for bankruptcy and received the protection of an automatic stay.*fn2 This Court's Memorandum Opinion in Dang v. Bank of America, Civil Case No. 12-3343, sets out the Appellant's extensive history in the Bankruptcy Court. That history need not be repeated in full, but the facts crucial to the analysis of this case are included as follows.
Between May 8, 2009, and March 1, 2010, the Appellant filed for bankruptcy three times in the District of Maryland. She filed her first bankruptcy case under Chapter 7.*fn3 At the close of the Chapter 7 case, the Bankruptcy Court granted a discharge of some of the Appellant's debts. See Discharge of Debtor, Bankruptcy No. 09-18291, ECF No. 54. That discharge, however, did not affect the Baltimore Property. Rather, the Bankruptcy Court granted relief from the automatic stay so that the parties seeking foreclosure of the Baltimore Property could proceed with that action. See Order Granting Relief from Automatic Stay, Bankruptcy No. 09-18291, ECF No. 34.
The Appellant filed her latter two bankruptcy cases under Chapter 13.*fn4 The first Chapter 13 case was dismissed because the Appellant failed to make payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee, in violation of section 1326 of the Bankruptcy Code. See Order Granting Motion to Dismiss Case, Bankruptcy No. 09-29846, ECF No. 55. The second Chapter 13 case, from which this adversary case arises, was filed on March 1, 2010. In the Appellant's schedules, she identified the Baltimore Property as a property in interest and acknowledged that Quicken had a secured claim as to the property. See Summary of Schedules, Bankruptcy No. 10-14152, ECF No. 1-1. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank") and OneWest, the banks which at that point held a secured interest in the Baltimore Property, filed a proof of claim in the Appellant's Chapter 13 case, to which the Appellant objected. See Objection to Claim Number 2, Bankruptcy No. 10-14152, ECF No. 63.
On August 12, 2010, the Appellant's Chapter 13 Plan was confirmed. See Order Confirming Chapter 13 Plan, Bankruptcy No. 10-14152, ECF No. 81. Over one year later, on December 20, 2011, the Chapter 13 Trustee submitted a Final Report and Account, certifying that the estate had been fully administered. See Chapter 13 Trustee Final Report and Account, Bankruptcy No. 10-14152, ECF No. 120. In that report, Deutsche Bank was identified as a secured creditor with respect to the Baltimore Property, with its claim of $38,508.69 listed as "allowed." See id.
II.The Appellant's Adversary Proceeding Against the Appellees
On April 2, 2010, before the Appellant's Chapter 13 plan was confirmed, the Appellant filed a complaint with nine causes of action against Quicken Loans, OneWest, Deutsche Bank, and the BWW Defendants (together, the "Appellees"). The Appellant's complaint was docketed as "Adversary Proceeding 10-215" in the Bankruptcy Court, thereby initiating the adversary proceeding (the "Adversary Proceeding") at issue in this appeal.*fn5 One set of Appellees, the BWW Defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the Adversary Proceeding ...