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In re Love

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 27, 2017

In re ANTIONETTE THOMAS LOVE, Debtor,
v.
PACIFICA SEACOVE, LP, Appellees. ANTIONETTE THOMAS LOVE, Appellant, Bankruptcy No. 2:13-bk-32142-WB Adversary Proceeding No. 2:13-ap-1933-WB

          OPINION ON APPEAL FROM BANKRUPTCY COURT

          PERCY ANDERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is an appeal filed by Antionette Thomas Love (“Appellant”). In the course of her chapter 13 bankruptcy, Appellant initiated an adversary proceeding against appellee Pacifica Seacove LP (“Pacifica”). Appellant now challenges the decision by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the adversary proceeding with prejudice. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds that this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument.

         I. Background

         On October 25, 2012, Pacifica purchased a single family residence located at 9617 South 2nd Avenue, Inglewood, California 90305 (the “Property”) at a trustee's sale. (Appellant's Excerpts of Record (“AER”) at 195.) Pacifica received a Trustee's Deed Upon Sale, which it recorded on November 30, 2012. (Id. at 205-207.)

         On December 12, 2012, Pacifica filed an unlawful detainer action against Appellant and others residing at the Property, Pacifica Seacove LP v. Marlon Anthony et al., Case No. 12L02956. (Id. at 200-202.) Prior to filing the unlawful detainer complaint, Pacifica served all occupants of the Property with a notice to quit pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 1161. (Id. at 196.) On August 6, 2013, a default judgment was entered in favor of Pacifica. (Id. at 248.)

         On September 3, 2013, Appellant filed a voluntary Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. (Id. at 1.) A week later, on September 10, 2013, Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies executed a writ of possession against Appellant and others residing at the Property. (Id. at 37.) Appellant filed an adversary proceeding against Pacifica on September 12, 2013, contending that Pacifica had willfully violated the bankruptcy court's automatic stay by directing sheriffs deputies to execute the writ of possession despite Appellant's bankruptcy proceeding. (Id. at 29-41.)

         Appellant filed a motion for summary judgment in the adversary proceeding on June 17, 2014. (Id. at 56-183.) The Bankruptcy Court granted the motion, concluding that Appellant's post-petition eviction was a wilful violation of the automatic stay. (Id. at 285-294.) In so concluding, the Bankruptcy Court relied heavily on a “strikingly similar” case, In re Perl, 513 B.R. 566, 575 (9th Cir. B.A.P. 2014). (See id. at 290-91.) However, after the Bankruptcy Court granted Appellant's motion for summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel's decision in In re Perl. See In re Perl, 811 F.3d 1120, 1123 (9th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Perl v. Eden Place, LLC, 137 S.Ct. 39, 196 L.Ed.2d 27 (2016). In doing so, the Ninth Circuit reasoned that after an unlawful detainer judgment is entered against an occupying resident, the resident has neither a legal nor equitable interest in the property which is protectable under an automatic bankruptcy stay. See id. at 1130.

         The Bankruptcy Court then issued an Order to Show Cause why Appellant's adversary proceeding should not be dismissed in light of the Ninth Circuit's decision in In re Perl. (AER at 325-326.) After holding a hearing on the Order to Show Cause and considering briefing from the parties, the Bankruptcy Court reversed its prior determination and concluded that the automatic stay was not violated, and therefore dismissed the adversary proceeding. (Id. at 339-40, 383-85.)

         Presently before the Court is Appellant's appeal of the Bankruptcy Court's order dismissing the adversary proceeding.

         II. Jurisdiction

         This Court possesses appellate jurisdiction over a Bankruptcy Court's final order dismissing an adversary proceeding with prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 158(a); In re SK Foods, L.P., 676 F.3d 798, 801 (9th Cir. 2012).

         III. Standard of Review

         “Whether the automatic stay provisions of 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) have been violated is a question of law reviewed de novo.” In re Mwangi, 764 F.3d 1168, 1173 (9th Cir. 2014). The Bankruptcy Court's decision may be affirmed on any ground finding support in the record. In re Frontier Properties, Inc., 979 F.2d 1358, 1364 (9th Cir. 1992).

         The Bankruptcy Court's legal conclusions are reviewed de novo, while factual findings are reviewed for clear error. Greene v. Savage, 583 F.3d 614, 618 (9th Cir. 2009). “A court's factual determination is clearly erroneous if it is illogical, implausible, or without ...


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