United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court upon appeal by
Barrington Boyd (“Appellant”), who objects to two
orders from the Bankruptcy Court. Appellant first objects to
the Bankruptcy Court's Order Approving Interim Fees and
Expenses of Counsel for the Trustee, (Doc. No. 1-1), which
approved A. Burton Shuford's (“Appellee” or
“Trustee”) request for compensation and expenses
as attorney for the estate. (Doc. No. 1). Appellant also
objects to the Bankruptcy Court's approval of
Trustee's Final Report. (Doc. No. 2).
Bankruptcy Judge adequately summarized the factual background
of this case in her Order Approving Interim Fees and Expenses
of Counsel for the Trustee, (Doc. No. 1-1). In summary,
Appellant, pro se, originally commenced the
underlying bankruptcy proceeding, In re Live Naturally,
LLC, 3:16-BK-30739, by filing a voluntary petition under
Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code on May 2, 2016. (Doc. No.
1-1 at 1). On July 18, 2016, after the Bankruptcy Court found
the Chapter 11 reorganization unsuccessful, it converted
Appellant's case to a Chapter 7 proceeding whereby
Appellee was appointed trustee of the estate. (Id.).
On July 18, 2016, Appellee was also appointed as Attorney for
the Estate. (Id. at 2). Appellant objected to this
appointment at a hearing held on August 10, 2016. On August
15, 2016, the Bankruptcy Court ultimately denied
Appellant's objection after construing it as a
“motion to reconsider.” (Id.).
3, 2017, Appellee sought reimbursement of expenses as well as
compensation for his work as attorney for the estate. (Doc.
No. 1-3). In doing so, Appellee did not seek compensation for
his duties as trustee. (Id.). The Bankruptcy Court
granted Appellee's application for reimbursement and
compensation stating that the listed costs were reasonable
for actual, necessary services rendered by Appellee as
attorney for the estate. (Doc. No. 1-2 at 2).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 158(a), district courts have jurisdiction to
hear appeals of the decisions of bankruptcy courts. A
bankruptcy court's findings of fact are reviewed for
clear error, and conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.
In re J.A. Jones, Inc., 492 F.3d 242, 249 (4th
Cir.2007). Findings of fact are clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court
on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed. In re
Weiss, 111 F.3d 1159, 1166 (4th Cir.1997). “Stated
differently, a choice between two permissible views of the
evidence cannot be clearly erroneous, ” 9 JAMES WM.
MOORE ET AL., MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE-CIVIL §
52.31 (3d ed. 1997), and “so long as the trial
court's factual finding is plausible, the appellate court
may not reverse it.” 19 JAMES WM. MOORE ET AL.,
MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE- CIVIL § 206.03 (3d ed.
1997); see also Anderson v. City of Bessemer City,
N.C., 470 U.S. 564, 573-74 (1985).
review of the underlying Bankruptcy Court docket shows that
Appellant fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the
proceedings he was participating in. In multiple hearings,
the Bankruptcy Judge gave Appellant the opportunity to voice
his grievances but ultimately denied them as
misinterpretations of the law. For example, during an August
10, 2016, hearing for Appellee's application as Attorney
for the Estate, Appellant stated that Appellee did not
deliver fair and just representation. In re Live
Naturally, LLC, 3:16-BK-30739, ECF Doc. No. 93 at
00:04:50) (hereinafter “(BK Doc. No.)”). The
Bankruptcy Judge heard Appellants objection but had to
clarify the situation.
problem with this case from the inception, ” the Judge
stated, “has been a fundamental misunderstanding on
your part of how this all works.” The Judge explained
to Appellant that Appellee “does not represent you.
Neither does he represent Live Naturally. He represents the
trustee and he is charged with doing what is in the best
interest of the estate and the creditors and that is what is
driving him and all of his actions.” (Id. at
the Court today is another such instance of Appellant's
misunderstanding of Bankruptcy Law as a pro se
party. Appellant submits two objections for appeal before
this Court. Both involve Appellee's compensation. To
begin with, Appellant objects to the Bankruptcy Judge's
order granting Appellee's Application for Interim
Attorneys Fees and Expenses that the Bankruptcy Judge
approved. (Doc. No. 1). Within this objection, Appellate
challenges the Bankruptcy Court's approval of
Appellee's application of compensation which granted: (1)
compensation for Appellee's duties as attorney for the
estate; and (2) reimbursement for the expenses Appellee made
to utility companies on behalf of the estate. (Doc. No. 1).
In his Second Objection, Appellant appeals to this Court
similar issues, but targets the Bankruptcy Court's
approval of Appellee's Final Report. (Doc. Nos. 2, 2-1).
multiple hearings, the Bankruptcy Judge expressed doubt as to
Appellant's standing to bring the above objections. (BK
Doc. Nos. 228 at 00:08:25; 241 at 00:19:00). The Judge's
doubts were well-founded. Appellant does not have standing to
attack either Appellee's Application for Interim
Attorneys Fees and Expenses or his Final Report.
to appeal an order from a bankruptcy court requires the
appellant to “be a ‘person aggrieved'-one who
has been ‘directly and adversely affected
peculiarly'-by the bankruptcy order.” Pavlock
v. Sheehan, No. 1:16CV39, 2016 WL 3960505, at *4 (N.D.
W.Va. June 20, 2016), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 1:16CV39, 2016 WL 3963027 (N.D. W.Va. July
21, 2016) (quoting In re Urban Broadcasting Corp.,
401 F.3d 236, 244 (4th Cir 2005) (citation omitted)).
“Ordinarily, a Debtor does not have standing to
challenge the award of professional fees and expenses, nor to
object to claims, in an insolvent Chapter 7 estate.”
In re Eidson, 481 B.R. 380, 383 (Bankr. E.D. Va.
2012) (citing Willemain v. Kivitz,764 F.2d 1019