Court Discusses Excusable Neglect in Filing an Appeal of the Dismissal of a California Bankruptcy Petition

The bankruptcy code aims to provide relief to people unable to manage their debts. Thus, even if a trustee files a motion to dismiss a person’s bankruptcy petition and a court grants the petition and dismisses a bankruptcy action, the law provides a right to appeal the dismissal. While an appeal must generally be filed within the specified time frame, the court will excuse a delay in filing an appeal under certain circumstances. Recently, a California court discussed what a petitioner seeking relief from a dismissal must show in order to be granted leave to file an untimely appeal. If you live in California and are interested in seeking relief of your debts via bankruptcy, you should contact a skillful California bankruptcy attorney to discuss your case.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the petitioner filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. In response, the trustee filed a motion to dismiss and requested a one year bar to any refiling of a petition due to the deficiencies in the petitioner’s proposed Chapter 13 plan, and her failure to make ongoing payments to her debts. The notice for the motion was mailed to the petitioner but she did not file a response or appear at the hearing. Thus, the court granted the motion and dismissed the petition. Thirty-four days later, the petitioner filed a motion to reopen or extend the time to file an appeal, arguing that she did not receive notice of the dismissal, and her failure to file an appeal was based on excusable neglect. The court denied the motion, after which the petitioner appealed.

Demonstrating Excusable Neglect

After an order has been entered in a bankruptcy case, a party has fourteen days to appeal the order. If the party cannot meet that deadline, he or she can file a motion asking or an extension of the time to file an appeal; however, the deadline for seeking an extension is fourteen days from the entry of the order as well, unless the moving party can demonstrate that the delay in filing the motion was caused by excusable neglect.

In determining whether neglect is excusable, the court will consider the danger of prejudice to the other party, the duration of the delay, and its impact on the court’s proceedings. The court will also assess the reason for the delay, which includes whether it was within the moving party’s control and whether the moving party acted in good faith. In the subject case, the petitioner’s only reason for failing to file a timely appeal was that she did not receive notice of the dismissal. While some of the factors weighed in favor of the petitioner, the court ultimately found that she was not acting in good faith and did not have a valid reason for the delay. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Dedicated California Bankruptcy Attorney

Even if a person fails to file a timely appeal to the dismissal of a bankruptcy petition, the person may still be able to argue he or she is entitled to relief. If you need assistance with a bankruptcy matter, it is advisable to speak with an attorney regarding your options. Matthew D. Roy is a dedicated California bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of your options and assist you in seeking debt relief via bankruptcy. You can contact Mr. Roy at (916) 361-6028 or via the form online to set up a confidential consultation.

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