United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit
Submitted: October 2, 2017
from United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
SCHERMER, NAIL, and DOW, Bankruptcy Judges.
Stuart Baker ("Debtor") appeals the May 3, 2017
order of the bankruptcy court remanding an adversary proceeding
brought against Debtor by Zahn Law Firm, P.A. ("Law
Firm"). We affirm.
August 2015, Law Firm commenced an action against Debtor in
Minnesota state court, alleging breach of contract and
account stated. Debtor answered and counterclaimed, alleging
Law Firm's representation agreement was unenforceable and
seeking recovery of sums Debtor had paid Law Firm. Law Firm
replied, raising various affirmative defenses to Debtor's
state court action bumped along for many months. In June
2016, both parties filed motions to amend their respective
pleadings, which were heard by the state court on June 24,
2016 and taken under advisement. In July 2016, Law Firm filed
a motion for summary judgment, which was scheduled to be
heard by the state court on August 24, 2016.
hearing on Law Firm's motion for summary judgment never
took place. On August 10, 2016, Debtor filed a petition for
relief under chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. This stayed
further proceedings in the state court. Five days later,
Debtor removed the state court action to the bankruptcy
April 2017, the bankruptcy court entered an order directing
the parties to appear and show cause why the adversary
proceeding that was opened following the removal of the state
court action should not be remanded to the state court. Both
parties appeared and were heard. Debtor opposed remand; Law
Firm did not. After hearing the arguments of counsel, the
bankruptcy court determined remand was appropriate. The
bankruptcy court memorialized its oral ruling in an order
entered May 3, 2017. Debtor timely appealed.
review a bankruptcy court's decision to remand for an
abuse of discretion. Sears v. Sears (In re
Sears), 539 B.R. 368, 370 (D. Neb. 2015).
A court abuses its discretion when a relevant factor that
should have been given significant weight is not considered;
when an irrelevant or improper factor is considered and given
significant weight; or when all proper factors and no
improper ones are considered, but the court commits a clear
error of judgment in weighing those factors.
City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior
Chippewa, 702 F.3d 1147, 1152 (8th ...