United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on June 2, 2016, in
an effort to evade a $170, 000 sanction entered against her
by the Milwaukee County Circuit Court for her frivolous
litigation conduct. She was granted discharge on September
12, 2016. Appellee is the trustee of Appellant's
bankruptcy estate. On January 26, 2017, the bankruptcy court
approved Appellee's sale of Appellant's interest in a
family trust. Appellant appealed that order on February 7,
2017. Christine Lindemann v. Douglas F. Mann,
17-CV-180-JPS (E.D. Wis.) (Docket #1). On May 19, 2017, Court
granted a motion to dismiss that action as moot.
Id., (Docket #19).
that time, Appellant has inundated the bankruptcy court with
filings regarding the management of her estate. The
bankruptcy court has dismissed those motions and other
requests because the estate is itself bankrupt; there will be
no surplus for Appellant after her creditors are paid. On
January 31, 2018, Appellant filed an adversary proceeding
against Appellee. (Docket #2-2 at 1-4). The proceeding
objected to Appellant's own discharge and the
dischargeability of her debt to a law firm which represented
her in unrelated state court litigation. Id. In
essence, Appellant contended that the law firm fraudulently
represented the amount it was allegedly owed, and that
Appellee should not pay the firm that sum. Id.
February 22, 2018, the bankruptcy court dismissed the
proceeding sua sponte owing to its many procedural
infirmities. (Docket #2-1 at 8-11). The objection to
Appellant's discharge was improper for three reasons.
First, debtors do not have standing to object to their own
discharge. Id. at 9; 11 U.S.C. § 727(c)(1).
Second, even assuming she had standing, the deadline for
Appellant's objection had long since passed. (Docket #2-1
at 9); Fed.R.Bankr.P. 4004(a). Third, to the extent Appellant
desired a judgment revoking her discharge, this too failed
for lack of standing. (Docket #2-1 at 9-10); 11 U.S.C. §
dischargeability complaint was also procedurally faulty. The
Bankruptcy Code provides that a fraud on the part of a debtor
can affect the dischargeability of a debt. (Docket #2-1 at
10); 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A). The law firm's
alleged fraud, even if proven, would not make the debt
non-dischargeable. (Docket #2-1 at 10). Further, the deadline
to file a claim pursuant to Section 523 expired in September
2016, just before Appellant's discharge. (Docket #2-1 at
10); 11 U.S.C. § 523(c)(1); Fed.R.Bankr.P. 4007(c).
Finally, the bankruptcy court noted that to the extent
Appellant attempted to present yet another objection to the
law firm's claim on her estate (of which she made many),
it failed for lack of standing. (Docket #2-1 at 10).
appeal was taken on February 27, 2018. (Docket #1). The
notice of appeal contains some argument addressing the
grounds for the appeal. Id. at 1-2. Therein,
Appellant makes no attempt to address the bankruptcy
court's determinations of procedural error. Id.
Rather, Appellant focuses her efforts on the
“merits” of her appeal, namely that Appellee has
negligently or fraudulently approved the amount claimed by
the law firm. Id. Appellant asks that her adversary
proceeding be reinstated and reassigned to a different
bankruptcy judge. Id. at 3. She also insists that
she be permitted to take testimony from an attorney witness
who will explain how much is actually owed to the firm
Id. at 3.
April 20, 2018, before the Court received any briefing on
this appeal, Appellee filed a one-page motion to dismiss.
(Docket #4). The motion states that Appellee was directed to
file the motion by the bankruptcy court, and attaches the
bankruptcy court's order thereon, which was issued on
April 16, 2018. Id. The April 16 order explains what
has occurred in the bankruptcy court while this appeal has
been ongoing. Id. at 7-10.
February 14, 2018, Appellee filed an application to employ an
attorney to defend against Appellant's adversary
proceeding. Id. at 8-9. Appellant objected to the
application and a hearing was set for April 12, 2018.
Id. at 9. At the hearing, Appellee explained that he
needed counsel to defend himself from Appellee's
adversary proceeding, and that Appellant's continued
filings were holding up the final disposition of the
bankruptcy estate. Id. The bankruptcy court asked
Appellant to explain the bases for her appeal in light of
that court's grounds for dismissing the adversary
proceeding. Id. Appellant could not offer a cogent
reason why her adversary proceeding should be considered
procedurally proper. Id. at 9- 10.
light of the apparent lack of merit to the appeal, the
bankruptcy court stated that it “expect[s] that the
district court might summarily dismiss the appeal without
requiring [Appellee] to respond.” Id. at 10.
It directed Appellee to file the motion to dismiss.
Id. If the motion was not granted, the bankruptcy
court authorized Appellee to retain counsel to defend from
the appeal. Id.
Court agrees that this appeal should be summarily dismissed
and will grant Appellee's motion to that effect. As
explained in the bankruptcy court's February 22 order,
Appellant's adversary proceeding faced insurmountable
procedural failings and the bankruptcy court had no choice
but to dismiss the case. This Court agrees entirely with that
analysis and Appellant gives this Court no reason to think
otherwise. Appellant's opening brief, filed April 27,
2018, is almost entirely silent on the procedural issues
identified in the bankruptcy court's dismissal order.
See generally (Docket #5). Instead, Appellant's
rambling, incoherent submission focuses on the putative
“substance” of her adversary proceeding.
Id. Those issues, even if they had merit, are not
before this Court. The only matter for this appeal is whether
the bankruptcy court's dismissal was proper.
brief offers only one contention which merits mention. She
says she has standing to pursue her adversary proceeding as a
trustee of the family trust. Appellant is mistaken in both
fact and law. She no longer has any interest in the trust, as
that was sold to provide assets to her bankruptcy estate.
See Christine Lindemann v. Douglas F. Mann,
17-CV-180-JPS (E.D. Wis.) (Docket #19). Even if that interest
was not sold, it would not supply standing to pursue her
adversary proceeding. As the bankruptcy court noted in
dismissing the adversary proceeding, a debtor cannot object
to their own discharge or the dischargeability of a debt
pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §§ 523 or 727. (Docket #2-1
at 9-10). Appellant's status in the family trust has no
bearing on her position as the debtor in her bankruptcy case.
Finally, assuming that none of this were true, Appellant
offers no cogent argument why her adversary proceeding should
be considered timely.
Court has also reviewed the entirety of the audio transcript
of the April 12 hearing before the bankruptcy court. In
re Lindemann, 16-25706-GMH, (E.D. Wis. Bankr.), (Docket
#279). There was no better opportunity for Appellant, a
pro se litigant, to explain the basis for her appeal
orally rather than in the written word. Despite the
bankruptcy court's careful and conscientious questioning
at that hearing, Appellant offered no legitimate basis either
for her adversary proceeding or the instant
appeal. No further proceedings in this case would
be of benefit to any party.
bankruptcy estate is already under water. This Court agrees
with the bankruptcy court that Appellant's litigiousness
cannot be allowed to further diminish the estate's
limited assets. Further, both courts need not continue to
waste their time indulging Appellant's complete ignorance
of the applicable legal principles. The Court will therefore
grant the motion to dismiss and affirm the bankruptcy
court's order dismissing the adversary proceeding. The
Court will also provide Appellant a word of warning. It would
be wise for her to cease straining the patience of both this
Court and the bankruptcy court. Any further frivolous appeals
to this Court will be met with appropriate
IT IS ORDERED that Appellee's motion to
dismiss (Docket #4) be and ...