United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge.
before the undersigned District Judge is George James
Black's appeal from a ruling by the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois
dismissing his bankruptcy petition. Black, an inmate in the
Bureau of Prisons (FCI Greenville), filed for Chapter 7
bankruptcy in June 2016. At the time of filing, he sought
exemption from the bankruptcy rule requiring a debtor to
complete credit counseling and a financial management course
on the premise that he was unable to do so while
incarcerated. The Bankruptcy Court denied his request to be
exempt, but did ultimately grant him a 45-day extension to
file proof of his completion of those requirements. On July
22, 2016, after the 45-day extension had run, the Bankruptcy
Court dismissed Black's petition for want of prosecution
because he failed to supply the requisite proof of
completion. Black then filed a notice of appeal with this
Court seeking review of the Bankruptcy Court's ruling.
asks this Court to reverse the Bankruptcy Court's ruling
dismissing his case for failing to file the required
certificates of completion. He also requests that this Court
remand the case with directions that the Bankruptcy Court
assist him in taking an oath to properly complete his
response to Black's appeal, the trustee (Robert Eggmann)
filed a motion to dismiss this action because Black failed to
supply a proper record on appeal, as is required by Federal
Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8009(a). Though Black did not
respond to that motion or otherwise supply a record for the
appeal, the trustee ultimately supplied the pertinent
documents (Docs. 13 and 14).
addition to the motion to dismiss, the trustee has also
submitted a brief asking this Court to affirm the Bankruptcy
Court's disposition of the case on the merits (Doc. 13).
Black replied (Doc. 15). For the reasons described below, the
Court rejects Black's appeal and affirms the Bankruptcy
Summary of Key Facts
6, 2016, Black filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy
under Chapter 7, Title 11 of the United States Code. The
petition proceeded through the Bankruptcy Court as In Re
George Black (Inmate No. 12653-027), Case No. BK
16-30892. In Black's initial petition he sought a waiver
of the credit counseling and financial management
requirements based on his status as an inmate-alleging that
due to ‘disability' he was unable to satisfy those
prerequisites. His only alleged disability was his status as
an inmate at FCI Greenville. Black also submitted a separate
motion seeking waiver of the credit counseling requirement
based upon his incarceration.
29, 2016, Bankruptcy Judge Laura K. Grandy issued an Order
denying Black's motion for permanent waiver of the credit
counseling requirement and directing satisfaction of the
requirement within 14 days. Judge Grandy reasoned that 11
U.S.C. § 109(h)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code did not
classify incarceration as a “disability, ” and
multiple courts had interpreted the code to exclude
incarceration as a “disability” for purposes of
the credit counseling requirement. Judge Grandy extended the
deadline for filing the certificate of completion to July 21,
2016, per Black's request.
22, 2016, having received nothing from Black, the Bankruptcy
Court dismissed the matter for want of prosecution, noting
that Black failed to submit the certificate of completion for
a budget and credit counseling course. On August 1, 2016,
Black appealed the Bankruptcy Court's July 22nd Judgment.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Standard of Review
appeal is taken from a final order of the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The
undersigned District Judge enjoys jurisdiction to hear this
appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). This Court
reviews the Bankruptcy Court's findings of fact for clear
error, and the findings of law de novo. Arlington LF, LLC
v. Arlington Hospitality, Inc., et al., 637 F.3d 706,
713 (7th Cir. 2011), citing In re Resource Tech.
Corp., 624 F.3d 376, 382 (7th Cir. 2010).
argues that the Bankruptcy Court erred by refusing to relieve
him of the credit and financial management prerequisites to
voluntary bankruptcy. His argument relies on two primary
tenets-that his incarceration constitutes a
‘disability' for purposes of waiving the
prerequisites, and that the bankruptcy court requirements are
in essence denying him ...