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In re Wysocki

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 2, 2016

IN RE WYSOCKI

          RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS APPEAL (DOC. NO. 25)

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         James Edward Wysocki (“Wysocki”) filed this appeal (“Appeal”) (Doc. No. 1) from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut’s order (“B’cy Order”) (B’cy Case 15-21851, Docs. No. 63, 66), granting appellee First Niagara Bank, N.A. (“First Niagara”) relief from automatic stay as to the property where Wysocki resides, at 62 Eagle Brook Drive, Somers, Connecticut (the “Property”). First Niagara filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal (Doc. No. 25) for lack of standing and frivolousness, and for non-compliance with Bankruptcy Rule 8009. See Appellee’s Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss (“Appellee’s Mem.”) (Doc. No. 26) at 1, 16.

         For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 25) is GRANTED. This appeal (Doc. No. 1) is DISMISSED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Bankruptcy Court set forth much of the relevant background in a February 11, 2016 proceeding, the recording and transcript of which serve as its decision. See Transcript of Proceedings at 7-13, In re Wysocki, No. 15-21851 (Bankr. D. Ct. 2016) (“B’cy Decision”) (B’cy Case 15-21851, Doc. No. 79). A decision by Judge Thompson in this district provides additional background. See Wysocki v. First Niagara Fin. Grp., No. 3:15-CV-515 (AWT), 2016 WL 2946163, at *1-3 (D. Conn. Mar. 21, 2016).

         The current litigation represents Wysocki’s third Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition affecting the Property in the last three years. See B’cy Decision at 17. Wysocki had signed a mortgage deed and promissory note with the Property as collateral. See id. at 7. On April 16, 2012, the Connecticut Superior Court entered a judgment of foreclosure against the Property. See Order Regarding Motion for Judgment of Strict Foreclosure (“Foreclosure Order”) (State Case TTD-CV-116004291-S, Doc. No. 121.10). On April 23, 2013, First Niagara recorded a certificate of foreclosure, reflecting that title of the Property had transferred to First Niagara. See B’cy Decision at 8. As of February 2016, First Niagara had spent eighteen months foreclosing on the Property and about three years attempting to evict Wysocki. See id. at 17. Wysocki appealed the foreclosure three times and filed one motion to reopen an appeal. See id. at 9-10. The Connecticut Appellate Court dismissed all appeals, denied the motion to reopen, and issued an order that barred Wysocki from filing further documents in the Connecticut Appellate Court without permission. See id. at 9-10. Wysocki then filed a complaint against First Niagara in this district for unfair debt collection practices, among other things. See Wysocki, 2016 WL 2946163 at *1. On October 23, 2015, the Connecticut Superior Court ordered Wysocki to make use and occupancy payments on the Property. See B’cy Decision at 11. Wysocki filed a motion to vacate that order, which the Connecticut Superior Court denied. See id. at 11.

         On October 29, 2015, Wysocki filed this bankruptcy case. See id. at 11. First Niagara filed a motion seeking relief from automatic stay. See id. at 11. In the Bankruptcy Court hearing, Wysocki repeated arguments that he had already made in the foreclosure case. See id. at 12. Wysocki argued, among other things, that First Niagara lacked standing because it did not own the note underlying the mortgage foreclosure, and that Wysocki had not missed any payments on his mortgage. See Id. at 12. Wysocki filed numerous motions in the bankruptcy case, including a motion to bar First Niagara from the courthouse. See id. at 12-13.

         On February 11, 2016, the Bankruptcy Court granted First Niagara a relief from stay. See id. at 25. The Bankruptcy Court found that title to the Property had already transferred to First Niagara and that Wysocki’s “filing of the petition in this case was a part of a scheme to delay or hinder Mr. Wysocki’s creditors.” Id. at 17. The Bankruptcy Court found that, “[t]he State court has already determined that First Niagara not only had a right to [to] foreclose the Property but has already done so and owns title to the Property. Mr. Wysocki cannot relitigate these same issues here.” Id. at 18. In response to Wysocki’s argument that First Niagara was not a successor in interest to the bank mentioned in the mortgage deed and promissory note, the Bankruptcy Court stated that it was constrained by the Connecticut Superior Court’s finding that the bank mentioned in the deed and note “merged with New Alliance Bank and that [First Niagara] then purchased New Alliance Bank.” Id. at 20. In response to Wysocki’s arguments that First Niagara is a fictitious entity and was not truly a party to the foreclosure action, the Bankruptcy Court responded that “it is clear from the docket in the Connecticut Superior Court and the documents filed in that court that First Niagara exists as a business entity, that it was the party plaintiff in the foreclosure case, [and] that the same First Niagara entity is currently prosecuting the motion before this court.” Id. at 22. The Bankruptcy Court also stated that, “Wysocki has had numerous opportunities to litigate his potential defenses to the foreclosure case and this court may not consider them here or reconsider what the Superior Court concluded.” Id. at 23.

         Wysocki filed this appeal on February 16, 2016, arguing that the Bankruptcy Court erred in granting the relief from stay. See Appeal at 1. Meanwhile, on March 21, 2016, Judge Thompson of this district granted First Niagara’s Motion to Dismiss Wysocki’s abovementioned district court suit. See Wysocki, 2016 WL 2946163, at *1. In doing so, Judge Thompson stated that First Niagara Bank is the owner of the Property. Id. at *6.

         III. JURISDICTION

         A Bankruptcy Court’s decision on whether to grant relief from an automatic stay is “the equivalent of a permanent injunction. It [is] a final order disposing of [a] petition for relief from the automatic stay, and [is] therefore appealable as of right to the district court.” In re Taddeo, 685 F.2d 24, 26 n.4 (2d Cir. 1982) (citations omitted). That said, this court only has jurisdiction to hear an appeal if the appellant has standing.

         IV. ...


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