United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS United States District Judge
LaVerne Thomas together with her son, Mark Thomas, appeal an
order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District
of Maryland denying the removal of the Chapter 13 Trustee.
ECF No. 1. Pending and ready for resolution is a motion to
dismiss the appeal filed by Appellee Nancy Spencer Grigsby,
Chapter 13 Trustee. ECF No. 11. Oral argument is deemed
unnecessary because the facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented in the briefs and record, and the
decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral
argument. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8019(b)(3); see
also Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons stated below,
Appellee's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11) is GRANTED.
December 31, 2015, Valerie LaVerne Thomas (the
“Debtor”) commenced her bankruptcy case under
Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code and Nancy Spencer Grigsby
was appointed as the Chapter 13 Trustee. ECF No. 5 at 8; ECF
No. 3-8 at 7. More than three months later, the Debtor,
together with her son, Mark Thomas (“Mr.
Thomas”), as trustee for the Valerie LaVerne Thomas
Trust, (collectively, “Appellants” or
“Thomas Appellants”) filed their Joint Motion to
Remove Chapter 13 Trustee and Motion for Leave to Intervene
as Representative of the Estate (the “Motion”).
ECF No. 3-1; B.R. Doc. 37.
Motion requested the Bankruptcy Court to (a) allow Mr. Thomas
to intervene in the Debtor's bankruptcy case for the
purpose of providing estate-planning services to the Debtor
and to use an office that he maintains as
successor-in-interest of the LaVal Corporation, which
operates out of the Debtor's home, and (b) replace Nancy
Spencer Grigsby, Chapter 13 Trustee (“Trustee” or
“Appellee”), with Mr. Thomas, who is a trustee
for The Valerie LaVerne Thomas Trust. ECF No. 3-1; B.R. Doc.
Trustee opposed the Motion, arguing that Mr. Thomas is not a
proper party to “intervene” in the Bankruptcy
proceedings and that no cause had been shown to remove
the Trustee and replace her with Mr. Thomas. ECF No. 3-2;
B.R. Doc. 41. The Bankruptcy Court denied the Appellants'
Motion because no cause was shown to grant the relief
requested. ECF No. 1-1 at 1; B.R. Doc. 43 at 1; see
also B.R. Doc. 96 at 3, Order Denying Joint Motion to
Stay Pending Appeal of Order (denying removal of the trustee
because the Motion did not allege any misconduct, negligence
or the existence of a conflict of interest by the Chapter 13
April 15, 2016, Valerie LaVerne Thomas and Mark Thomas filed
a joint notice of appeal with this Court, appealing the
denial of the movants' Motion. ECF No. 1; B.R. Doc. 51.
The Appellants contend that the Motion was denied
“without having afforded adequate notice, or an
opportunity to be heard, thereupon.” ECF No. 5 at 5.
They also assert that the Bankruptcy Court misapplied the law
in deciding that no cause had been shown for removing the
Chapter 13 Trustee. ECF No. 5 at 17.
Thomas Appellants filed their appellate brief on May 11, 2016
“pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158” asserting that
the order denying the motion to remove the Trustee “is
final in Bankruptcy Case No. 15-27855, as to inter
alia, the interests of Appellant, Mark Thomas, as a
Trustee of The Valerie LaVerne Thomas Trust.” ECF No. 5
at 5. The Trustee responded by moving to dismiss the appeal.
ECF No. 11. The Trustee contends that the Court lacks
jurisdiction to review the Order because it is interlocutory
and not final, and thus the appeal must be dismissed. For the
reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
jurisdiction of a district court to hear appeals from
bankruptcy courts is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 158(a),
(a) The district courts of the United States shall have
jurisdiction to hear appeals
(1) from final judgments, orders, and decrees;
(2) from interlocutory orders and decrees issued under
section 1121(d) of title 11 increasing or reducing the time
periods referred to in section 1121 of such title; and
(3) with leave of the court, from other interlocutory orders
28 U.S.C. § 158(a). “Thus, by statute, an appeal
of right exists only from a final judgment, and any other
appeal, i.e., from an interlocutory order, may lie only upon
obtaining leave of the court.” In re Rood, 426
B.R. 538, 546 (D. Md. 2010). “[I]nterlocutory review is
not to be granted lightly. While it is a prerequisite to our
jurisdiction, certification by a district court that an
interlocutory order turned on a ‘controlling question
of law' does not require us to grant leave to
appeal.” In re Pawlak, No. Civ-DKC-14-2839,
2015 WL 1523017, at *2 (D. Md. Apr. 1, 2015), reh'g
denied, No. ...