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Wenegieme v. Goldstein Group Holding

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 21, 2017

Celestine Wenegieme, Appellant,
v.
Goldstein Group Holding, Appellee.

          Appellant is proceeding pro se.

          Appellee is represented by Elizabeth Anne Haas of Elizabeth A. Haas, Esq., PLLC.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOSEPH F. BIANCO United States District Judge.

         Pro se appellant Celestine Wenegieme (“appellant”) appeals from a September 23, 2016 Order (the “Stay Order”) by the Honorable Robert E. Grossman, United States Bankruptcy Judge, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding that lifted the automatic stay, nunc pro tunc, for cause pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) as to appellee Goldstein Group Holding's (“appellee”) interest in 215 West 134th Street, New York, New York 10030 (the “Property”).

         Appellee now moves to dismiss this appeal as moot on the grounds that (1) the Bankruptcy Court has dismissed the underlying bankruptcy proceeding, and thus no case or controversy exists; and (2) the appeal is equitably moot because the Property has been sold to a third party. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants appellee's motion to dismiss this action.

         I. Background

         The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the full facts and procedural history of this action and summarizes the facts and history relevant to the instant appeal based on the Bankruptcy Record on Appeal (“R., ” ECF No. 4-1), as well as the parties' affidavits and exhibits.

         A. The Bankruptcy Proceeding

         On September 6, 2013, appellant filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the Bankruptcy Court. (R. at 4.) Thereafter, on September 13, 2016, appellee moved for an order dismissing the bankruptcy proceeding or, in the alternative, terminating the automatic stay of sale, nunc pro tunc, of the Property, which was the subject of a pending foreclosure action in New York State court (the “Foreclosure Action”).[1] (Id. at 4-15.) The Bankruptcy Court held a hearing on appellee's motion on September 19, 2016, where Judge Grossman determined that appellee had standing to file its motion and that relief from the automatic stay was warranted for cause pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1). (See Tr. of Sept. 19, 2016 Hr'g, ECF No. 19-1.) Specifically, Judge Grossman found “abuse of the bankruptcy process” by appellant and that there was “no question . . . based upon the evidence that ha[d] been put before the [Bankruptcy] Court that there [was] ample cause for the relief from the stay that” appellee sought. (Id. at 19-20.)

         Accordingly, Judge Grossman issued the Stay Order on September 23, 2016 granting appellee's motion and directing that

the automatic stay imposed by [the Bankruptcy] Court pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) is terminated, nunc pro tunc, to the date of filing, for cause as to [appellee]'s interest in the Property to allow [appellee]'s enforcement of its rights and remedies in and to the Property, including the finalization of a foreclosure sale held September 7, 2016, against the Property.

(R. at 354-55.) As noted in the Stay Order, the Property was sold to a third party at a September 7, 2016 public auction held in the Foreclosure Action, and the Property deed was transferred to that party. (See Oct. 11, 2016 Referee's Report of Sale, ECF No. 15-13.) Subsequently, by Order dated January 13, 2017 (the “Dismissal Order”) and upon motions by the United States Trustee and the Chapter 13 trustee, Judge Grossman dismissed the bankruptcy proceeding in its entirety with prejudice to re-filing for one year from entry of the Dismissal Order.[2](ECF No. 19-2.)

         B. The Appeal

         Appellant appealed the Stay Order on September 27, 2016 (ECF No. 1), and thereafter filed a motion to stay that decision on November 25, 2016 (ECF No. 9). The Court denied appellant's motion on December 8, 2016 after determining that appellant was unlikely to succeed on the merits of this action because (1) reversing the Stay Order would likely interfere with the Foreclosure Action and thus implicate Rooker-Feldman ...


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