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Papadopoulos v. Gazes

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 12, 2014

GREGORY PAPADOPOULOS, Appellant,
v.
IAN GAZES, et al., Appellees.

OPINION AND ORDER

KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge.

Appellant Gregory Papadopoulos is a prolific filer in the courthouses of this Circuit, and is indeed subject to a filing ban in this District. Nonetheless, on July 18, 2012, Papadopoulos filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, and on September 12, 2013, he commenced an adversary proceeding. That adversary proceeding alleged precisely the same claims he has unsuccessfully raised dozens of times before, against precisely the same defendants. Papadopoulos now appeals from the April 15, 2013 judgment of the United States Bankruptcy Court, which dismissed his adversary complaint as factually frivolous, and further found that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. For the reasons discussed in the Opinion, the Bankruptcy Court's decision is affirmed in all respects.

BACKGROUND[1]

1. Proceedings Before the Bankruptcy Court

On July 18, 2012, Appellant filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. See In re Papadopoulos, No. 12-13125 (REG) (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.). On September 12, 2013, he commenced an adversary proceeding by filing a complaint (the "Complaint") against Ian J. Gazes, Tracy Davis, George Venizelos, Janice Fedarcyk, Joseph Demarest, Alfonso Fanjul, Jose Fanjul, Julia Mineeva, Ray Zemon, and Matthew Press (collectively, "Appellees")[2]; the proceeding was assigned Adversary Proceeding No. 13-01506, and it alleged claims under the United States Bankruptcy Code, the United States Internal Revenue Code, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (No. 13-01506, Dkt. #1). Appellant's claims in the adversary proceeding, as with his prior lawsuits, arose from his contentions that (i) "there exists a criminal organization known as the Palm Beach Mafia operated by Alfonso and Jose Fanjul"; (ii) "the FBI corruptly collaborated and conspired with the Palm Beach Mafia"; (iii) "the conspiracy was financed by the Fanjul Brothers with funds stolen from Lehman, MF Global, and the Madoff clients"; (iv) "the FBI and Palm Beach Mafia had motive to target" Appellant; and (v) "this conspiracy somehow le[d] to financial harm suffered" by Appellant, among other allegations. (No. 13-01506, Dkt. #37 at 3-4).

Appellees moved to dismiss the Complaint, and the Bankruptcy Court held a hearing on the motions on April 8, 2013. ( See No. 13-01506, Dkt. #37). By Order dated April 15, 2013, which incorporated a memorandum decision issued on April 9, 2013, United States Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Grossman granted Appellees' motions to dismiss, on the basis that the Complaint was factually frivolous and failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (No. 13-01506, Dkt. #37, 38). Separately, Judge Grossman ordered Appellant to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011, and for violating this District's filing ban. ( See No. 12-13125, Dkt. #118).

By Opinion and Order dated May 27, 2013, Judge Grossman declined to enter sanctions, finding that the dismissal of the Complaint, and issuance of the decision on the Order to Show Cause, sufficiently sanctioned and served to deter Appellant's conduct. (No. 12-13125, Dkt. #126). However, Judge Grossman noted that "the Court will deem his submission of any further pleadings and papers before this Court containing the same frivolous factual allegations regarding a purported conspiracy between the FBI, Palm Beach Mafia and others to have been done in bad faith, " and that such action may result in sanctions. ( Id. at 11-12). Moreover, Judge Grossman warned Appellant that the filing ban was applicable to the filing of adversary proceedings in the Bankruptcy Court. ( Id. ).

2. The Instant Action

Appellant initiated this action on May 23, 2013 (Dkt. #1), contending that Judge Grossman improperly dismissed the Complaint. He first contended that the filing ban was applicable only to the District Court, and not to the Bankruptcy Court; moreover, since his adversary proceeding was not dismissed immediately upon filing, "a precedent was set that leave in the Bankruptcy Court was not required." (Dkt. #12). Second, Appellant reiterated the same factual allegations in the Complaint regarding the purported conspiracy between the Palm Beach Mafia, the FBI, and various others, including this Court, in support of his contention that "[t]his case is not frivolous." ( Id. ). Lastly, he questioned why the case was assigned to Judge Grossman, who sits in Central Islip. ( Id. ).

Pursuant to the scheduling order endorsed on May 28, 2013 (Dkt. #4), and extended on June 16, 2013 (Dkt. #9), Appellant's brief was filed on June 25, 2013 (Dkt. #12). All Appellees, with the exception of Julia Mineeva, [3] notified the Court that they intended to rest on their submissions to the Bankruptcy Court. ( See Dkt. #13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20).

By letter dated June 25, 2013 (Dkt. #11), Appellant asked the Court to consider sua sponte recusal on the basis of prejudice. On July 11, 2013 (Dkt. #18), Appellant moved for recusal of the undersigned.

DISCUSSION

1. The In Forma Pauperis Application

The Court must first address Appellant's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. That motion was filed on May 23, 2013, and is hereby GRANTED for the ...


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