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In re Petrone

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the First Circuit

September 11, 2013

Alice D. PETRONE, Debtor. Alice D. Petrone, Appellant. Bankruptcy No. 08-12024-DF.

Alice D. Petrone, pro se, on brief for Appellant.

Before LAMOUTTE, HAINES, and DEASY, United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judges.

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PER CURIAM.

The debtor, Alice C. Petrone, appeals pro se fro the bankruptcy court's order denying her 27th and 28th motions to delay entry of her discharge, and the order entering her discharge.[1] For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM.

BACKGROUND

The debtor filed a chapter 7 petition in July 2008. The trustee held a § 341 meeting on August 7, 2008, and the deadline for filing objections to the debtor's discharge expired on October 6, 2008. During the course of the bankruptcy case, the debtor made dozens of requests to delay the entry of her discharge, first so that she could finalize reaffirmation agreements with creditors holding loans secured by her residence and her automobile, and later so that she could negotiate out-of-court loan modifications with the mortgagees. The bankruptcy court granted all of the debtor's requests through August 2012.

The debtor filed her 26th motion to delay the entry of her discharge on September 28, 2012. At a hearing in November 2012, the bankruptcy court advised the debtor that such repeated delays of the entry of her discharge after more than four years were not consistent with the framework of chapter 7. The debtor pleaded for one last extension until December 30, 2012, which the bankruptcy court reluctantly granted, stating that her discharge would enter at that time. Nonetheless, on December 28, 2012, the debtor filed her 27th motion to delay her discharge, which the bankruptcy court denied in a bench ruling on January 30, 2013. The very next day, the debtor filed her 28th motion to delay her discharge.

On February 4, 2013, the bankruptcy court issued a " Memorandum of Order" in which it: (1) memorialized its bench ruling from January 30, 2013 denying the debtor's 27th motion to delay her discharge; (2) denied the debtor's 28th motion to delay her discharge; and (3) ordered the entry of the debtor's discharge " forthwith." Also on February 4, 2013, the bankruptcy court issued an Order Discharging Debtor.

Quoting In re Roderick, 425 B.R. 556, 571 (Bankr.E.D.Cal.2010), the bankruptcy court noted in its decision that the Bankruptcy Rule 4004(c)(2) discharge deferral has its limits and cannot be used to " run roughshod over security interests generally" or for the " indefinite delay of the inevitable." Finding that the debtor wanted her discharge delayed indefinitely and that she was seeking " to use the sword of the automatic stay against her mortgage lenders," the bankruptcy court determined that the " undue delay of the entry of [the debtor's] discharge for such purpose is not in good faith and is repugnant to the statutory framework of Chapter 7." According to the bankruptcy court, any further delay of the debtor's discharge was " unreasonable and contravene[d] the protections afforded to secured creditors [ ... ] whose mortgages against the Debtor's personal residence [we]re unaffected by the bankruptcy filing, except for the temporal bar to a foreclosure action under Bankruptcy Code § 362 until after the Debtor's discharge enters. See Bankruptcy Code § 524(a)."

This appeal followed.

JURISDICTION

Before addressing the merits of an appeal, we must determine that we

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have jurisdiction, even if the issue is not raised by the litigants. See Boylan v. George E. Bumpus, Jr. Constr. Co. (In re George E. Bumpus, Jr. Constr. Co.), 226 B.R. 724 (1st Cir. BAP 1998). We have jurisdiction to hear appeals from: (1) final judgments, orders, and decrees; or (2) with leave of court, from certain interlocutory orders. 28 U.S.C. § 158(a); Fleet Data Processing Corp. v. Branch (In re Bank of New England Corp.), 218 B.R. 643, 645 (1st Cir. BAP 1998). Even if interlocutory, however, an order is nevertheless appealable if it has merged into a subsequent order which is a final appealable order. Rivera Siaca v. DCC Operating, Inc. (In re Olympic Mills Corp.), 333 B.R. 540, 548 (1st Cir. BAP 2005). As the orders at ...


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