United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
Charlene Edwards Honeywell, United States District Judge
cause comes before the Court upon Appellant Gary Lee
Woodroffe’s Notice of Appeal (Doc. 1-1) of the United
States Bankruptcy Court’s Denying Confirmation of
Chapter 13 Plan and Dismissing Case (“Dismissal
Order”) (Doc. 16-2). In the Dismissal Order, the
Bankruptcy Court concluded that Appellant’s Chapter 13
plan did not meet the requirements for confirmation and it
was, therefore, denied. Doc. 16-2. The Bankruptcy Court
dismissed the case without prejudice. Id. Upon due
consideration of the record, the parties’ submissions,
and otherwise being fully advised in the premises, the Court
concludes that the Dismissal Order of the Bankruptcy Court
should be affirmed.
filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy
Code on October 6, 2017. Doc. 16-5 at 2. The State of Florida
– Child Support Enforcement filed a Proof of Claim for
$114, 754 owed in child support. Doc. 16-10. The Proof of
Claim indicated that payments should be made to the Florida
Department of Revenue, Bankruptcy (“DOR”).
Id. at 1. The State indicated that the claim was
based on arrearage payments owed by Appellant and $918.50 was
to be paid monthly towards the arrearage. Id. at 4.
During the proceedings, Appellant advised the Bankruptcy
Court that he had a case pending before the Second District
Court of Appeal in Florida that related to the state
court’s jurisdiction, parental kidnapping, and the
propriety of the amount of the domestic support obligation.
Doc. 16-48. Additionally, Federal National Mortgage
Association (“Fannie Mae”) filed a claim in the
amount of $187, 365.37 for an unpaid mortgage that was
secured by real property. Doc. 16-11.
the bankruptcy proceeding, the DOR filed a Motion to Dismiss.
Doc. 20-59. The DOR explained that prior to this bankruptcy,
Appellant had filed two prior Chapter 13 petitions within the
past 11 months. Id. ¶ 2. The DOR also stated
that the minimum payment plan for its claim alone would be
approximately $2, 000 per month. Id. ¶ 6. Based
on its calculations, the DOR argued that Appellant’s
income was not sufficient to support payments required for
confirmation of a Chapter 13 plan and that dismissal was
warranted on the basis that Appellant would not be able to
propose a plan that met the requirements of Chapter 13.
Id. ¶¶ 7-9.
Bankruptcy Court held a hearing on November 9, 2017. Doc.
16-46. During that hearing, Fannie Mae requested that the
Bankruptcy Court permit the Chapter 13 Trustee to disburse
adequate protection payments to it, and the Bankruptcy Court
granted the motion. Id. Also during the November 7
hearing, the Bankruptcy Court continued the hearing on the
DOR’s Motion to Dismiss until March 15, 2018. Doc.
on December 20, the Bankruptcy Court held an initial
confirmation hearing. Doc. 16-5 at 8. However, the hearing
was continued to May 9. Id. The Bankruptcy Court
entered an order on the docket that stated
“CONT TO 5/9/2018 AT 1:35 PM; ANNOUNCED IN OPEN
COURT NO FURTHER NOTICE TO BE GIVEN.”
the March hearing on the Motion to Dismiss, the DOR orally
withdrew its motion, without prejudice. Doc. 16-51. Also
during the hearing, Fannie Mae orally moved to compel
Appellant to file an amended plan, which the Bankruptcy Court
granted by written order “[f]or the reasons stated
orally and recorded in open court . . . .” Doc. 16-50.
Appellant was given fourteen days to file an amended plan.
Id. No amended plan appears on the
docket. Doc. 16-5 at 9-10.
this was ongoing, an adversary proceeding related to the
bankruptcy was also pending. More specifically, on December
4, 2017, Appellant filed an adversary proceeding against the
DOR related to the bankruptcy case. Doc. 16-7 at 2. The DOR
filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding, which was heard on
March 15, 2018, and granted on March 22, 2018. Id.
continued initial confirmation hearing proceeded on May 9.
Neither Appellant nor his counsel appeared. Doc. 16-54 at
1-2. The Bankruptcy Court “considered the Chapter 13
Trustee’s Unfavorable Recommendation and Objection
Concerning Confirmation . . . and the record, ” denied
confirmation, and dismissed the case for failure to file a
Chapter 13 plan that met the requirements for confirmation.
Id. at 3; see also Doc. 16-53.
filed an Emergency Motion to Dismiss Ex Parte Hearing due to
Insufficient Process, Motion for Status Conference, Request
to Take Judicial Notice (“Motion for
Reconsideration”). Doc. 16-52. In the Motion for
Reconsideration, Appellant argued that any decision resulting
from the hearing should be considered null and void because
he did not receive notice of the hearing and, therefore, was
denied due process. Id. ¶¶ 3-4.
Additionally, Appellant indicated that the adversarial
proceeding in which he challenged the DOR’s claim
remained pending, and no payment plan could be made until
that proceeding was resolved and the DOR’s improper
claim and garnishment was removed. Id. ¶ 8.
Bankruptcy Court denied Appellant’s Motion for
Reconsideration, doc. 16-54, explaining that
Appellant’s counsel had notice of the hearing, which
was sufficient to meet the requirements of due process.
Id. at 2. Additionally, the Bankruptcy Court noted
that Appellant did not address the deficiencies of his plan
that were described in the Trustee’s Objection to
Confirmation. Id. The Bankruptcy Court indicated
that Appellant’s plan proposed to deal with Fannie
Mae’s claim by seeking a modification in mediation with
Fannie Mae. Id. at 2-3. However, such a mediation
had already occurred and was not successful. Id. at
3. Consequently, the Bankruptcy Court stated, Appellant was
“unable to present the Court with a plan that c[ould]
be implemented and confirmed” and “even if
[Appellant] had attended the May 9th hearing, there [wa]s no
argument he could have made to change the outcome because no
grounds exist[ed] to vacate the dismissal order and reinstate
the case.” Id. This appeal followed. Doc. 1-1.