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In re Doughty

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit

December 17, 2019

In re: Joanne Amy Doughty Debtor
v.
Richard Douglas Movant -Appellee Joanne Amy Doughty Debtor - Appellant

          Submitted: November 22, 2019

          Appeal from United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Hot Springs

          Before SCHERMER, SHODEEN, and SANBERG, Bankruptcy Judges.

          SCHERMER, Bankruptcy Judge

         Joanne Amy Doughty (Debtor) appeals the bankruptcy court's[1] order dismissing her request for relief for alleged violations of the automatic stay and discharge injunction. We have jurisdiction over this appeal from the final order of the bankruptcy court. See 28 U.S.C. § 158(b). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         ISSUE

         The issue on appeal is whether the bankruptcy court properly dismissed the Debtor's request for relief for alleged violations of the automatic stay and the discharge injunction. We hold that it did. We also deny the Debtor's motion to supplement the record on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         In December 2014, the Debtor filed a petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Debtor received her Chapter 7 discharge on August 9, 2017. In March 2019, the bankruptcy court reopened the Debtor's case to allow the Debtor to file her request seeking relief based on alleged violations of the discharge injunction and automatic stay (2019 Request).

         Richard Douglas is the father of one of the Debtor's two children.[2] The Debtor and Mr. Douglas were never married. Nevertheless, they had custody and support disputes in state court related to their child.

         On October 6, 2014, the Arkansas state court entered its initial custody order, which did not require the Debtor to pay Mr. Douglas. In its September 13, 2017 order, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed $50, 250 in attorneys' fees previously awarded to the Debtor from Mr. Douglas during the custody litigation. Mr. Douglas requested that he be reimbursed for the attorneys' fees out of funds held in the registry of the state court. In July 2018, the state court awarded Mr. Douglas the $20, 150 in interplead funds. Of the $20, 150, part represented back child support owed by the Debtor to Mr. Douglas and $12, 574 represented part of the sum to which Mr. Douglas was entitled following the 2017 Arkansas Court of Appeals decision. In October 2018, the state court entered a judgment for the remaining balance of attorneys' fees owed to Mr. Douglas pursuant to the appellate court's decision. Then in November 2018, Mr. Douglas filed a petition for attorney's fees and costs in the state court. At the time of the hearing on the motion to dismiss the 2019 Request, the Debtor was required by the Arkansas state court to pay child support to Mr. Douglas.

         In February 2019, a subpoena was issued in the state court case requiring the Debtor to produce financial information to Mr. Douglas in connection with the Debtor's child support obligations. On March 15, 2019, after the Debtor failed to comply with the subpoena, Mr. Douglas filed a petition for contempt and to compel the information.

         The Debtor filed her 2019 Request seeking various forms of relief against Mr. Douglas and others based on alleged violations of the automatic stay and discharge injunction.[3] Although the Debtor does not clearly articulate what constituted the automatic stay and discharge injunction violations, she refers to: the subpoena and motion to compel in the Arkansas state court proceedings; Mr. Douglas's attorney's fee award and receipt of interpleader funds from the state courts; and Mr. Douglas's November 2018 state court attorney's fees request. Part of the relief sought by the Debtor was a judgment against Mr. Douglas and others for $12, 574 (the same as the amount of the interplead funds given to Mr. Douglas as attorney's fees).[4]

         The bankruptcy court granted Mr. Douglas's motion to dismiss the Debtor's 2019 Request under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). It stated that she had no basis to allege a plausible cause of action against Mr. Douglas, his attorneys, and the others named in her 2019 Request. The bankruptcy court ruled on the motion to dismiss after the Debtor filed her response to it and after the bankruptcy court held a hearing and ...


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