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In re Woide

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

January 9, 2017

In Re CHARLES EDWARD WOIDE; and SUSANNAH CLARE WOIDE, Debtors.
v.
FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, Appellee. CHARLES EDWARD WOIDE; and SUSANNAH CLARE WOIDE, Appellants, Bankr. No. 6:10-bk-22841-KSJ

          ORDER

          ROY B. DALTON JR. United States District Judge.

         This cause is before the Court on the following:

         1. Appellant[s'] Brief (Doc. 21), filed November 3, 2016;

         2. Brief of Appellee[] Federal National Mortgage Association (Doc. 22), filed December 5, 2016; and

         3. Reply Brief For Appellant[s] Charles Edward Woide and Susannah Clare Woide (Doc. 23), filed December 19, 2016.

         Upon consideration, the Court finds that the bankruptcy court's Order Granting Motion to Reopen the Bankruptcy Case to Compel Surrender of Real Property (Doc. 5-2) is due to be affirmed and that the appeal is due to be dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         Appellants Charles Edward Woide and Susannah Clare Woide-proceeding pro se-filed a voluntary petition (“Petition”) under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (“Code”) late in 2010 (“Bankruptcy Action”). (See Doc. 6-1.) Along with the Petition, Appellants disclosed their assets, including a home they owned in Deland, Florida (“Property”) on standardized forms known as schedules (“Original Schedules”). (Id. at 8-28.) Original Schedules A and D indicated that: (1) Appellants would surrender the Property; and (2) the Property was encumbered by a mortgage (“Mortgage”) in favor of Lender Business Process Services (“LBPS”) in the amount of $249, 383.12. (Id. at 10, 16.) The record also reveals that LBPS filed proof of a secured claim on the Property for $257, 978.99 (“Proof of Claim”) on behalf of Appellee Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”).[1] (Doc. 22-1, p. 90.) Appellants did not object to the Proof of Claim. (See Doc. 6-1, p. 16.)

         Less than three months after filing the Petition, Appellants requested that the Bankruptcy Action be converted to a proceeding under Chapter 7 of the Code (Doc. 7-8; see also Doc. 8-1.) Following conversion, Appellants filed an amended set of schedules listing their assets (“Amended Schedules”). (Doc. 8-5.) While Appellants did not list their interest in the Property on Amended Schedule A, their total assets-including the Property-remained the same.[2] (Id. at p. 3; compare Doc. 6-1, p. 8, with Doc. 8-5, p. 1.) Ultimately, Appellants received a Chapter 7 discharge, and the Bankruptcy Action was closed on July 12, 2011. (See Doc. 8-7.) Five months later, Fannie Mae, as mortgagee of the Property, commenced foreclosure (“Foreclosure Action”), which Appellants opposed. (Doc. 21, p. 5; see also Doc. 22, p. 3.)

         Over the next three years, Appellants attempted to maintain possession of the Property by filing lawsuits and asserting claims to invalidate the Mortgage and the underlying note (“Note”).[3] (See Doc. 21, pp. 5-6; see also Doc. 22, pp. 4-5.) Frustrated by Appellants' actions, Fannie Mae moved to reopen the Bankruptcy Action to compel surrender of the Property nearly five years after Appellants were discharged from bankruptcy. (Doc. 9-9 (“Motion to Reopen”).) The bankruptcy court granted the Motion to Reopen on June 22, 2016. (Doc. 5-2 (“Surrender Order”).)

         In the instant proceeding, Appellants appeal the Surrender Order.[4] (See Doc. 1.) The Court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the Surrender Order, as it is a “final” order under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). See In re Bonner, 330 B.R. 880, 880 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2005) (concluding that an order to reopen a bankruptcy case to administer an asset was a “final” order).

         STANDARD

         When a bankruptcy court enters a final order, a party may appeal to the district court under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). In reviewing decisions of a bankruptcy court, a district court functions as an appellate court. In re Colortex Indus., Inc., 19 F.3d 1371, 1374 (11th Cir. 1994). The Court generally reviews a bankruptcy court's factual findings for clear error and its legal conclusions de novo. In re Globe Mfg. Corp., 567 F.3d 1291, 1296 (11th Cir. 2009). A bankruptcy court's decision whether to reopen a case is reviewed for abuse of discretion. See HDR Architecture P.C. v. Maguire Grp. Holdings, 523 B.R. 879, 886-87 (S.D. Fla. 2014) (collecting federal circuit court decisions); see also, e.g., In re Double J Operating Co., 37 F. App'x 91, 91 (5th Cir. 2002) (“[T]he decision to reopen a bankruptcy case is committed to the sound discretion of the bankruptcy judge and will not be overturned ...


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