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Dupage Paper Stock, Inc. v. Matsukis

February 12, 2008

DUPAGE PAPER STOCK, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PETER MATSUKIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George M. Marovich United States District Judge

Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a), defendant-appellant Peter Matsukis ("Matsukis") appeals decisions made by the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court both denied Matsukis's request for a retroactive extension of time and granted DuPage Paper Stock, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment against Matsukis. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the decisions of the bankruptcy court.

I. Background

Peter Matsukis is currently incarcerated because he plead guilty in federal court to two counts of fraud. Matsukis was in the business of selling recycled paper products, and he plead guilty to defrauding customers by misrepresenting the quality and quantity of recycled paper products he sold them. When Judge Norgle entered judgment against Matsukis, he ordered Matsukis to pay restitution in the amount of $1,228,471.23, of which $198,680.23 was allocated to DuPage Paper Stock, Inc. ("DuPage Paper").

Separately, Matsukis sought to discharge some of his debts in bankruptcy. DuPage Paper filed an adversary proceeding in which it objected to the dischargeability of the debt Matsukis owed DuPage Paper.

DuPage Paper filed a motion for summary judgment before the bankruptcy court. The statement of material facts DuPage Paper submitted in connection with its motion was supported by a 32-page affidavit, which outlined some twenty fraudulent transactions between Matsukis and DuPage Paper. DuPage Paper's affidavit established that DuPage Paper had been damaged in the amount of $431,358.37.

On October 19, 2006, Judge Barbosa, the Bankruptcy Judge assigned to the matter, entered an order setting a briefing schedule on DuPage Paper's motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to that order, Matsukis's response was due December 13, 2006. DuPage Paper's reply was due January 18, 2007. Judge Barbosa also set a hearing date of February 8, 2007 for oral argument.

Matsukis failed to file a response to the motion for summary judgment. Neither he nor his attorney appeared at the February 8, 2007 hearing. DuPage Paper's counsel appeared and requested that Judge Barbosa deem admitted the facts DuPage Paper set out in its motion for summary judgment and enter summary judgment in favor of DuPage Paper. Judge Barbosa granted the motion for summary judgment and asked that DuPage Paper's counsel prepare an order, which was ultimately entered on or about February 14, 2007. Judge Barbosa entered judgment in favor of DuPage Paper and against Matsukis in the amount of $431,358.37 plus prejudgment interest, costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

On or about February 20, 2007, Matsukis (via counsel) filed a motion for a retroactive extension of time to file a response to DuPage Paper's motion for summary judgment. In the motion, Matsukis's counsel stated, among other things:

6. That on October 19, 2006, this Honorable Court entered an order providing for the following briefing schedule: Matsukis to file his response on or before December 18, 2006, Plaintiff to file any reply on or before January 18, 2007 and a status hearing to be held on February 8, 2007.

7. That the briefing schedule was inadvertently not docketed by counsel for Matsukis and, accordingly, no response was filed.

8. That since the briefing schedule was not docketed, the status date of February 8, 2007 was inadvertently not docketed and, therefore, counsel for Matsukis failed to appear. (Matsukis Motion for Retroactive Extension at 2).

Judge Barbosa heard argument in court and then allowed additional briefing on the motion for retroactive extension. On April 12, 2007, Judge Barbosa denied the motion in open court. He stated the standard and explained ...


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