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Reynolds v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 4, 2018

JOSHUA REYNOLDS Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND, DLLR Appellee.

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge

         This bankruptcy matter is before the Court on an appeal filed by Joshua Reynolds, who is self-represented. See ECF 1 (Notice of Appeal); 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). Reynolds, who was the debtor in a related Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, appeals an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland ("Bankruptcy Court"), granting summary judgment in an adversary proceeding in favor of plaintiff, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation ("DLLR"), and against Reynolds, defendant. ECF 1-1 (Order of October 13, 2017). The Order entered judgment in favor of DLLR in the total amount of $7, 208.71. Id. Moreover, the Bankruptcy Court concluded that Reynolds's debt to DLLR was "non-dischargeable." Id.

         On appeal, Reynolds raises three issues: (1) the Bankruptcy Court's hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment was "not relevant to the Dischargeability of the Debt"; (2) the "Ruling" of the Bankruptcy Court failed to "meet the legal standard" for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; and (3) by granting summary judgment, the Bankruptcy Court effectively denied Reynolds his "14th Amendment right to a trial." ECF 4-1 (Reynolds's Statement of the Issues); see also ECF 7 (Reynolds's Brief).

         DLLR filed a "Designation of Record" (ECF 8), consisting of fifteen exhibits. It also filed a brief. ECF 10. Reynolds filed a response brief. See ECF 13.

         DLLR also moved to dismiss the appeal (ECF 5, "Motion") on the ground that Reynolds, the appellant, failed to file a designation of the record. Reynolds opposes the Motion. ECF 12 ("Opposition"). DLLR has not filed a reply and the time to do so has expired. See Local Rule lO5.2.a.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion or the appeal. See Local Rule 105.6. The Court is mindful of its obligation to construe liberally the pleadings of a pro se litigant, which are "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).

         In the exercise of my discretion, I shall deny the Motion. However, I shall affirm the Bankruptcy Court.

         I. Discussion

         A.

         Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8009(a)(1)(A) states, id: "The appellant must file with the bankruptcy clerk and serve on the appellee a designation of the items to be included in the record on appeal[.]" And, Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8OO9(a)(1)(B)(i) states, id: "The appellant must file and serve the designation . . . within 14 days after (i) the appellant's notice of appeal as of right becomes effective[.]" Moreover, "[i]f the appellant intends to argue on appeal that a finding or conclusion is unsupported by the evidence or is contrary to the evidence, the appellant must include in the record a transcript of all relevant testimony and copies of all relevant exhibits." Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(b)(5).

         In the recent case of In re Echeverry, ___F. App'x___, 2018 WL 509307, at *1 (11th Cir. 2018), the Eleventh Circuit stated: "To challenge a finding or conclusion as unsupported by, or contrary to the evidence, the appellant must designate the transcript of any relevant testimony or exhibits as a part of the record on appeal" under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1)(A) and Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(b)(5). See also In re Downs, 614 Fed.Appx. 855, 856 (7th Cir. 2015) ("A district court has discretion to dismiss an appeal from the bankruptcy court if the appellant disregards procedural rules."); In re Dunlap, 16-cv-37, 2017 WL 374915, at *3 (W.D. N.C. Jan. 5, 2017) ("[B]y failing to adequately designate [the issues on appeal under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1)(A)] . . . there is not an issue on appeal for this Court to review and the appeal will be dismissed."); LaBarre v. Ulrich, cv-15-1959, 2016 WL 927140, at *2 (D. Ariz. Mar. 11, 2016) ("The Court concludes that the appeal should be dismissed. . ., Debtors have failed to secure transmission of the record of appeal to the Court despite the bankruptcy court's having notified them of this deficiency."); Galasso v. Imes, A-15-CA-578-SS, 2015 WL 6443135, at *5 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 22, 2015) ("Dismissal of the appeal may be appropriate where the record does not disclose the factual or legal basis of the bankruptcy court's decision, and the appellant has failed to provide the reviewing court with key portions of the record.") (citations omitted).

         Reynolds noted his appeal on October 26, 2017. As DLLR points out, pursuant to Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(a)(1)(A), Reynolds "was required to file with the bankruptcy court and serve on the appellee a designation of the items to be included in the record on appeal", and he was to do so within fourteen days "after the notice of appeal" was filed in this Court. ECF 5, ¶¶ 1-2.

         In his Opposition, Reynolds states, inter alia, that he "has filed all documents in a timely" manner. Id. at 1. However, Reynolds never filed a designation of items to be included in the record on appeal. See Docket.[1] Therefore, by Order of April 12, 2018 (ECF 15), I directed Reynolds to file a designation of items to be included in the record on appeal, due by April 30, 2018. Id. at 2. In doing so, I extended the time for Reynolds to provide the required designation to the clerk of the Bankruptcy Court and to appellee.

         On May 2, 2018, the Clerk of this Court docketed "Appellant's Designation of Items To Be Included In The Record On Appeal, " which is dated April 27, 2018. See ECF 16. Even assuming it was timely filed, it merely lists items Reynolds would like the Court to review on appeal. Some of the items are already in the record; others are not. Notably, Reynolds has not provided a "transcript of all relevant testimony and copies of all relevant exhibits", as required by Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8009(b)(5). Nor is it this Court's responsibility to scour the docket of the Bankruptcy Court to locate all of the documents listed by Reynolds on the designation. ...


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