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The bankruptcy court system deals with a substantial number of cases, with thousands of new cases filed every year. The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure establish certain uniform standards and procedures, and district and bankruptcy courts may establish local rules to assist judges and court staff. Failure to comply with these rules can result in setbacks, delays, or even outright dismissal. A debtor recently appealed the dismissal of her Chapter 13 bankruptcy case to a federal district court in Los Angeles. The district court, after finding that the debtor had failed to comply with local rules, dismissed her appeal and denied her motion to reconsider. In re Pulliam, No. 5:15-cv-00250, order (C.D. Cal., Jun. 23, 2015).

The debtor filed a Chapter 13 proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in 2014. The district court’s order states that the bankruptcy court dismissed her case on January 30, 2015 in connection with the Chapter 13 confirmation hearing, although it does not state the specific grounds for the dismissal. The debtor promptly filed an appeal with the district court.

The district court issued a notice in February, advising all parties that they must comply with the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Local Rules Governing Bankruptcy Appeals, Cases, and Proceedings for the Central District of California. It also stated that it would issue a briefing schedule once the appellate record was complete and that any party requesting an extension of time must do so “well in advance of the due date, and must specify good cause for the requested extension.” Pulliam, order at 2. The court cautioned the parties that a failure to comply with any applicable rules could result in dismissal.

The bankruptcy court certified that the record was complete on May 12. The district court issued a briefing schedule shortly afterwards that ordered the debtor to file her opening brief by May 26. Instead of filing a brief on that date, the debtor filed a “Motion for More Time to File Opening Brief.” Id. The district court issued an order two days later denying the debtor’s motion for more time, citing noncompliance with C.D. Cal. L. Bankr. R. 4.5, and dismissing the appeal under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8018(a) (formerly 8009) and C.D. Cal. L. Bankr. R. 4.4.

The debtor filed a motion to set aside the dismissal, which she also titled a “motion for reconsideration,” stating that she could not locate a “Local Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 4.5.” Pulliam at 3. She also filed an emergency motion requesting the court to expedite the hearing on her motion.

The district court held that the debtor’s motion to set aside the dismissal/reconsider did not meet the procedural requirements established by Rule 7-18 of the Local Rules. It explained that Local Bankruptcy Rule 4.5 required the debtor to request additional time for her opening brief well ahead of the due date, and that the debtor’s failure to do so authorized the court to dismiss the appeal under Local Rule 4.4. The court found that no hearing was necessary under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8013, denied the debtor’s first motion, and denied the emergency motion as moot.

Since 1997, bankruptcy lawyer Devin Sawdayi has helped individuals and families in the Los Angeles area obtain relief from financial difficulties through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Contact us online or at (310) 475-939 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.

More Blog Posts:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Reopened for Creditors Left Out of Debtor’s Schedules, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, August 7, 2015

Chapter 13 Case Dismissed Due to Failure to Disclose Prior Bankruptcy Filings, Other Acts Deemed in Bad Faith, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, July 30, 2015

Bankruptcy Court Grants Trustee’s Motion to Deny Discharge in Chapter 7 Case, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, April 8, 2015