United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit
In Re: Rick St. George, Debtor.
Rick St. George, Defendant-Appellant. Daniel M. McDermott, United States Trustee, Plaintiff-Appellee,
from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern
District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 14-16075; Adv. No.
15-01063-Arthur I. Harris, Judge.
Kravitz, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant.
Good, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C.,
Before: DELK, HARRISON, AND PRESTON, Bankruptcy Appellate
F. HARRISON, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judge. Rick St.
George ("debtor") filed this appeal from the
bankruptcy court's order granting additional time for the
United States Trustee ("UST") to file a complaint
objecting to discharge of the debtor, and from the bankruptcy
court's judgment on the UST's complaint, denying the
debtor a discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(3) and
the bankruptcy court erred in granting the UST's second
request for additional time to file a complaint objecting to
discharge, and if this was error, whether the bankruptcy
court's judgment denying discharge should be reversed.
AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
United States District Court for the Northern District of
Ohio has authorized appeals to the Panel, and no party has
timely elected to have this appeal heard by the district
court. 28 U.S.C. § 158(b)(6), (c)(1). A final order of
the bankruptcy court may be appealed as of right pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). For purposes of appeal, a final
order "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves
nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment."
Midland Asphalt Corp. v. United States, 489 U.S.
794, 798, 109 S.Ct. 1494, 1497 (1989) (citations and internal
quotations omitted). A judgment determining dischargeability
is a final order. Trudel v. U.S. Dep't of Educ.
(In re Trudel), 514 B.R. 219 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2014).
In this case, the order granting additional time to file a
dischargeability complaint was an interlocutory order that
became final once the bankruptcy court entered the final
order denying the debtor's discharge.
determinations, such as whether cause exists to extend the
filing deadline for dischargeability complaints, are reviewed
for abuse of discretion. LPP Mortg., Ltd. v.
Brinley, 547 F.3d 643, 647 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted). See also In re Nowinski, 291 B.R. 302, 305
(Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citations omitted) (The determination
of whether cause exists to extend the filing deadline set by
Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 4004(b) rests within the
bankruptcy court's discretion.).
abuse of discretion occurs only when the [bankruptcy] court
'relies upon clearly erroneous findings of fact or when
it improperly applies the law or uses an erroneous legal
standard.'" Bank One, N.A. v. Bever (In
re Bever), 300 B.R. 262, 264 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Corzin v. Fordu (In re Fordu), 209
B.R. 854, 857-58 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 1997)).
An abuse of discretion is defined as a "definite and
firm conviction that the [court below] committed a clear
error of judgment." Soberay Mach. & Equip. Co.
v. MRF Ltd., Inc., 181 F.3d 759, 770 (6th Cir. 1999);
Bowling v. Pfizer, Inc., 102 F.3d 777, 780 (6th Cir.
1996)). The question is not how the reviewing court would
have ruled, but rather whether a reasonable person could
agree with the bankruptcy court's decision; if reasonable
persons could differ as to the issue, then there is no abuse
of discretion. See Washington v. Sherwin Real Estate,
Inc., 694 F.2d 1081, 1087 (7th Cir. 1982); see also
In re Carter, 100 B.R. 123, 126 (1989).
Mayor of Baltimore v. West Virginia (In re
Eagle-Picher Indus. Inc.), 285 F.3d 522, 529 (6th Cir.
2002) (quoting Barlow v. M.J. Waterman & Assocs.,
Inc. (In re M.J. Waterman & Assocs.,
Inc.), 227 F.3d ...