Lardas et al v. Grcic et al
OPINION and Order: For the reasons stated in the accompanying Opinion and Order, Christofalos's Motion for Reconsideration 84 is denied. See Order for further details. Signed by the Honorable William T. Hart on 12/20/2016. Mailed notice(ep, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
PATTI LARDAS, ET AL.,
SLAVKO GRCIC, ET AL.,
No. 14 C 193
OPINION AND ORDER
This case (hereinafter "Lardas") was filed on January 13, 2014. The
named plaintiffs in the original case were Patti Lardas and Danny Christofalos.
Jurisdiction was based on diversity, with all the defendants being citizens of
Illinois. Lardas is a citizen of Canada and it was alleged that Christofalos was a
citizen of Wisconsin. A dispute existed as to whether, at the time the lawsuit was
filed, Christofalos was domiciled in Illinois or Wisconsin. That dispute did not
have to be resolved because Christofalos had a pending personal bankruptcy and it
was determined that he had no standing because any claim he had belonged to the
bankruptcy estate. On August 14, 2014, an order was entered in Lardas stating:
"This case is dismissed without prejudice with leave to reinstate if the bankruptcy
court grants leave to proceed on the claims." Christofalos thereafter moved in the
Bankruptcy Court for leave to pursue the claim he originally made in Lardas.
That motion was denied by the Bankruptcy Court. Thereafter, Christofalos joined
with Lardas in requesting that Christofalos's claims be withdrawn and that Lardas
be permitted to proceed with an Amended Complaint naming Lardas as the only
plaintiff. On September 4, 2014, that motion was granted and Lardas filed her
Amended Complaint. Subsequently, Christofalos appealed from a Bankruptcy
Court order permitting the Bankruptcy Trustee to sell certain assets of the
bankruptcy estate, including the entity owning a shopping center that was related
to Lardas's claims. See Christofalos v. Cohen, No. 14 C 6958 (N.D. Ill.)
("Cohen"). Also sold was the claim that Christofalos originally attempted to bring
in Lardas. The purchasers were the Grcics, who are defendants in Lardas. Both
the Lardas case and the bankruptcy appeal were assigned to the same judge. On
January 29, 2015, in a consolidated opinion, it was held in Lardas that Lardas
lacked standing and, in Cohen, that the decision of the Bankruptcy Court was
affirmed. See Lardas v. Drcic, 2015 WL 444321 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 29, 2015). The
next day, a judgment was entered in Lardas dismissing Lardas's cause of action
without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to lack of standing.
Following a March 24, 2015 ruling denying reconsideration in both Lardas and
Cohen, see Lardas v. Drcic, 2015 WL 1406924 (N.D. Ill. March 24, 2015), Lardas
and Christofalos each appealed her and his respective case. The two appeals
proceeded jointly and were argued before the Seventh Circuit in October 2015. In
December 2015, Christofalos appealed a Bankruptcy Court decision in an
adversary proceeding denying discharge. This court affirmed the Bankruptcy
Court's decision. Christofalos v. Kienlen, 2016 WL 3268164 (N.D. Ill. June 14,
2016) (15 C 10832) ("Kienlen"). Christofalos appealed and the Keinlen appeal
was consolidated with the Lardas and Cohen appeals, with additional briefing
scheduled. That briefing has not yet been completed, which may explain why
there has yet to be a ruling in the Lardas and Cohen appeals which were argued
more than a year ago.
On December 12, 2016, Christofalos filed a motion in Lardas requesting
that the court reopen the case, allow him to reinstate his claim, and assign a
receiver to protect the shopping center property during the pendency of the
litigation. Christofalos contends the Grcics are harming the value of the shopping
center the Grcics purchased in Christofalos's bankruptcy proceeding. Christofalos
contends he will reacquire the shopping center if he succeeds on his appeal and
any related remand. Initially, an order was entered denying the motion to reopen,
stating: "The Court has no jurisdiction while the case is on appeal." Christofalos
moves for reconsideration, contending the court is not deprived of jurisdiction
because only Lardas is on appeal. When presenting the motion for
reconsideration, Christofalos also orally contended protection of the property is
collateral relief that may be granted while the Lardas case is pending on appeal.
Christofalos is not simply requesting collateral relief protecting property
while the appeal pends. He is not presently a party to this case. He seeks to
reinstate his original claim and litigate the merits of that claim. There has never
been a finding that Christofalos's claim is distinct from Lardas's claim such that it
would be appropriate for Lardas to proceed on appeal while Christofalos's claim
remains pending in the District Court. See Fed. Rule Civ. P. 54(b). In any event,
even if this court had jurisdiction to proceed separately on Christofalos's claim,
there is no basis for reinstating Christofalos's claim. The Bankruptcy Court did
not grant Christofalos leave to withdraw his claim from the bankruptcy and pursue
it in the District Court. To the contrary, the Bankruptcy Court denied such a
request and the claim was subsequently sold to the Grcics. Christofalos contends
that was an improper sale, but that was an issue for the Cohen case which is
presently on appeal before the Seventh Circuit. Additionally, Christofalos does
not address the unresolved issue of whether his citizenship is diverse from the
citizenship of the defendants. Christofalos also does not assert any basis for
finding that his motion to reopen, which presumably is pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
60(b)(6), is brought within a reasonable time as required by that Rule. Lardas will
not be reopened to permit Christofalos to proceed on his claim. Additionally,
there is no basis for Christofalos to seek relief collateral to the Lardas appeal.
Lardas is the one on appeal and she has requested no such relief. Moreover, there
is no attempt to show any likelihood of success on appeal, no offer of a bond, and
no contention (until a subsequent December 19, 2016 filing [ECF 87]) that any
damage to the property cannot be satisfied by monetary relief.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Christofalos's motion for
reconsideration  is denied.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
DATED: DECEMBER 20, 2016
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