United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
Akhtar voluntarily dismissed her Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
She has now brought this appeal, seeking to challenge both
the voluntary dismissal and a separate order allowing the
Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie
Mae") to pursue its rights in state court to take
possession of her residential property in Hagerstown,
Maryland. Though she has not yet filed an appellate brief,
the bankruptcy trustee has argued that any appeal of the
debtor's own voluntary dismissal must be frivolous and
ought to be halted.
thoroughly reviewed the bankruptcy court records and Ms.
Akhtar's filings in this appeal, and, having done so, I
see no basis on which this appeal could proceed. This Court
cannot reach the merits of either of the issues Ms. Akhtar
has raised, as one of those issues is moot and the other
falls outside of the Court's jurisdictional authority.
For these reasons, the trustee's motion to dismiss will
Akhtar filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland on March 8,
2018. Pet., In re Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC (Bankr.
D. Md. Mar. 8, 2018,, ECF No. .. Her
voluntary petition stated she had no more than $50, 000 in
assets. See Id. at 6.
notice advised creditors that the filing of Ms. Akhtar's
voluntary petition triggered an automatic stay against most
collection activities, a form of statutory protection that
generally prevents creditors from collecting debts or
foreclosing on property. Notice of Appointment 1, In re
Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC (Bankr. D. Md. Mar. 8, 2018,,
ECF NO.4; see 11 U.S.C. S 362(a). Counsel for Fannie
Mae soon entered a notice of appearance in the case,
see ECF No. 10-1, and filed a motion for relief from
the automatic stay, see Fannie Mae Mot., ECF No.
10-2. The motion indicated that Fannie Mae wished to pursue
its remedies under state law to take possession of the real
property at 17711 Perlite Way, Hagerstown, Maryland,
see Fannie Mae Mot. 2, a property Ms. Akhtar had
listed as her home address on her voluntary petition,
see Pet. 2, In re Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC.
Along with the motion, Fannie Mae enclosed state court
records showing it had purchased the property at a
foreclosure sale on October 9, 2013, and that a judge had
ratified the sale. See Record of Sale, In re
Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC (Bankr. D. Md. Mar. 19, 2018,,
ECF No. 10, Ex. A; Order of Ratification, In re
Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC, ECF No. 10, Ex.B.
Aktar missed a number of filing deadlines in the bankruptcy
case and failed to appear at the scheduled meeting of
creditors. See Show Cause Order, In re
Akhtar, No. 18-13022-TJC (Bankr. D. Md. Apr. 16, 2018),
ECF No. 26. She did, however, oppose Fannie Mae's motion
for relief from the automatic stay, arguing that she remained
the record owner of the Hagerstown property because Fannie
Mae had failed to notify her of the foreclosure sale and deed
transfer. See Opp'n to Mot. for Relief, 1, ECF
No. 10-5. She enclosed a copy of a deed, dated July 16, 2013,
purporting to convey the property, for no consideration, from
her husband, Mohammed A. Farooq, to himself and Ms. Akhtar as
tenants by the entirety. See Id. at 5-6. Ms. Akhtar
also argued, in effect, that Fannie Mae lacked standing to
seek relief from the automatic stay because it was not a
creditor. See Id. at 2.
bankruptcy court held a hearing on Fannie Mae's motion on
June 13, 2018. See Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 11. The
bankruptcy trustee, Nancy Spencer Grigsby,  and Ms. Akhtar had
each that morning filed a motion to dismiss the case,
see Bankruptcy Docket 3, ECF No. 10-17, but the
judge opted to hear arguments on Fannie Mae's motion in
any event,  see Hr'g Tr. 3. After
hearing from both sides, the judge granted Fannie Mae's
motion for relief, explaining:
Clearly, this is not a matter for this Court. There is no
dispute that a foreclosure sale was conducted on October 9th,
2013. There is also no dispute that an order ratifying the
sale was docketed April 3rd, 2015. That being the case, that
sale is final .... [I]t cannot be challenged in this Court.
It has to be challenged in [state] court.
Hr'g Tr. 7.
bankruptcy case concluded on May 4, 2018, with the court
issuing two orders on that day. The first order stated the
automatic stay was "lifted on the [Hagerstown] real
property so as to allow [Fannie Mae] to take whatever future
action may be necessary to obtain possession" of the
property. Order Lifting Stay, ECF No. 10-15.
second order granted Ms. Akhtars's motion for a voluntary
dismissal. See Dismissal Order 1, ECF No. 10-16.
That order was accompanied by a notice of dismissal advising
all creditors and interested parties that the automatic stay
imposed by 11 U.S.C. S 362(a) was terminated in full. See
Id. at 2.
for purposes of this appeal, the bankruptcy court's order
contained no explicit references to 11 U.S.C. 109(g), a
statutory provision that restricts a debtor's right to
seek bankruptcy relief for a period of time after her case
has been voluntarily dismissed. However, at the bottom of the
court's order, a notation from the deputy clerk of the
bankruptcy court stated: "Section 109(g)(2) is
applicable, and the above-named Debtor(s) may not file
another bankruptcy petition for 180 days after the date this
order is entered." Id. at 1.
Akhtar filed a notice of appeal on May 15, 2018. Notice of
App., ECF No. 1. The notice indicated she wished to appeal
the bankruptcy court's orders lifting the automatic stay
and dismissing the case. See Id. at 2. As noted in
the "statement of issues" accompanying the record
on appeal, Ms. Akhtar seeks to challenge the bankruptcy
proceedings on two grounds. Appellant Designation 2, ECF No.
10. First, she contends that Fannie Mae was not entitled to
relief from the automatic stay because it was a mere third
party, as opposed to a creditor. See id Second, ...