Farmer v. Macy's, Inc. et al

Filing 6

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 8/13/2017. (tds, Deputy Clerk)

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c; II FILED IN TilE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COUlt~s'i "C"j" FOR HIE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND " SOl/them MONICA GRAHAM FARMER, Dil'i.\"iol/ c~". CI~""I '1, ..•. 1 r!::J,~,.J. ;;'.J,:~. ~" ,f" r L",.J 1011 AUG I ~ A g: 34 * J' \I Plaintiff, " * v. -- -- Case No.: G.JH-I 7-lIS67 * MACY'S INC., et al., Adversary Proceeding: LSS-16-lIJSlI * Defendants. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiff rvlonica Graham against Defendants Bankruptcy 13 bankruptcy Complaint. age. disability. Retail I loldings. Motion to Withdraw see Farmer \'. Macy's Inc.. AI' No. LSS-16-0350. various claims of employment the Reference Macy's. discrimination to the Bankruptcy in this matter. Upon consideration In the based on Doc. I. [ Now pending beil)J'e this to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. and relevant authorities. Proceeding Inc. in the United Slates case. see In re Farmer. ilK No. LSS-14-15219. PlaintilTalleges not entered an appearance Reference liled this casc as an Advcrsary and race against her fonner employer. Court is Plaintiffs Proceedings Inc. and Macy's Court for the District of Maryland. within her Chapter Adversary Macy's Fanncr originally Court and Transfer ECF No. I. Defendants of the Motion to Withdraw the Motion shall be granted. and the action transferred U.S. District Court Illr the District of Maryland have the to the as a civil action. Ducket entries in the Adversary Proceeding. Farmer \'. 1\!llL:'""S Inc.. All No. 16-0350. arc denoted herein as "Doc:' Following a hearing before the Bankruptcy Judge 011 January I 1.2017. during which the Bankruptcy Judge indicated her belief that jurisdiction over the Adversary Proceeding was lacking. PlaintilTwas prompted to file a Motion to Withdnl\v the Reference. See Doc. 10. I I. DISCUSSION In ceneral. the District Court has "oricinal ~ ~. title II:' and exclusivc Code. /11 r" TMST. /Ilc .• No. 09-17787 the Bankruptcy (D. Md. July 6. 2015) (citing 28 U.S.C ~ 1334(a». jurisdiction of all cases under NY A. 2015 WI. 4080077. The District Court may. however. at *3 refer "any or all cases undcr title II and any or all proceedings arising undcr titlc II or arising in or related to a case under title II ... I(lr the district." to the bankruptcy judgcs Id (citing 28 U.S.C * I 57(a)): .1''''' a/so I.oc. R. 402 (D. Md. July J. 2(16)2 By the same tokcn. the District Court can withdraw Court. 28 U.S.C the relcrence of the case to the Bankruptcy * 157(d) provides: The district court may withdraw. in whole or in part. any case or proceeding relcrred under this section. on its own motion or on timely motion of any party. /(lr cause shown. The district court shall. on timely motion of a party. so withdraw a proceeding if the court determines that resolution of the proceeding requires consideration of both title II and other laws of the United States regulating organizations or activities affecting interstate commerce. 28 U.S.C * ~ 157 (d). If the proceeding 157(d). "it triggers mandatory removed in the bankruptcy withdrawal court comes under the second clause of and. upon timcly motion. the proceeding must be to the district court." i\foorill~ Capila! FIIIlt!. U.C)". SlIlIil"llll. NO.3: 16-CY-74. 2016 WI. 4628572. at *4 (N.D. W. Va. Sept. 6. 2016). If the proceeding "it triggers permissive withdrawal comes under the !irst clause. and the district court will conduct a review of six ItlCtorS to 218 U.S.C. ~ 157{b){ I) authorizes bankruptcy courts to "hear and determine all cases under title II and all core proceedings arising under title I I. or arising in a case under title I I:' subject to appellate review by the district courts. 28 U.S.c. ~ 157(b)( I) (emphasis added). In a "non-core" proceeding. bul that is otherwise related to a case under Title II. the bankruptcy court can only submit proposed findings of Hiet and conclusions or law to the district eOUI1. 28 U.S.c. ~ 157(c)( I). Following the Supreme Coun"s decision in Slem ". ,\/ar.\'hall. 564 U.S. 462 (2011). and Ert!ClIlh'c! Ben(fir.<j Insurance .{~L'I1(:" \', Arki.wn. 13--lS. Ct. 1165 (2014). it was further held that evell for some "corc" proceedings. bankruptcy courts do not have constitutional authority to enter linal judgments. despite their statutory 3utl1ority to adjudicate those matters under ~ 157(b) . .)fle In I'e TJIST, Inc.. No. 09-17787 NV 1\.2015 WI. 4080077. at *4 (D. Md. July 6.1(15) (discussing .,"ern and Arkison). determine whether it should exercise its discretion to withdraw the reference to the bankruptcy court:' Id With respect to mandatory withdrawal. ..[tlhe great weight of the case law interpreting ~ 157(d) holds that this seemingly broad language ... should be narrowly read:' 1111'<' M<'rJ)'\I'<'Oliler IlIIpol'lers. Il1c.• 179 B.R. 61. 62 (D. Md. 1995) (compiling cases). Indeed. "mandatory withdrawal should only be made where substantial and material consideration of non-bankruptcy statutcs is ncccssary in the case:' Id Theref(lI'e. whereas cases invol\'ing "federal questions that arc complex or arc of first impression must be withdrawn fi'om reference:' cases that merely involve "straightf()[\vard application of fedcral statutcs to a particular set of facts" would not come under the ambit of mandatory withdrawal. Id Although Plaintitrs Complaint alleges e1aims under various federal employment discrimination statutes. the Court docs not find mandatory withdrawal to be required. Nonetheless. because the Court agrees that permissive withdrawal is appropriate. it need not definitely resolve whether mandatory withdrawal applies in this case. Regarding permissive withdrawal. the District Court "has broad discretion in deciding whether reference should be withdrawn for cause shown:' 1111'<' Mi//<'l1l1iulII Sludios. Il1c.. 286 B.R. 300. 303 (D. Md. 2002). In determining whether cause exists for withdrawal. the Court considers ..the following factors: (I) whether the maller at issue between the parties is 'core' within the meaning of Section 157(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code; (2) unif(JrI11ityof bankruptcy administration: (3) f()rum shopping: (4) conservation of creditor and debtor resources: (5) expediency of the bankruptcy proceeding; (6) the likelihood ofajury Il1c.. 506 B.R. 453.455 (D. Md. 2014): .1'<'<' a/so 1111'<' M<'rJ)'lI'wlilel' trial:' Alherl \', Sil<' ,1/gI111 .. 1IIII)()I'Iers. Il1c.. 179 B.R. 61. 63 (D. Md. 1995) (noting that with respect to the sixth factor ... the f~lctthat only equitable , ., issues arc posed. not requiring a jury trial. falling within the traditional bankruptcy judge as chancellor" "It is the mO\'ant's bankruptcy burden to show eause for the permissive In response to the Court's Age Discrimination "core" bankruptcy proceedings debtor-creditor CO. I'. the Relerence. Court is appropriate. discrimination in Employment proceeding PlaintilTsubmitted Such proceedings existence her brief Act ("ADA"). 157(b )(2) of the Bankruptcy Code. function of restructuring aspects of a bankruptcy delined as a controversy a case."' Edgcomh Mewls marks that 'would have no practical A/herl, 506 B.R. at 456 (citing Grau.c \'. Ellg/l/Illler. 321 F.3d 467, 4 71 (4th Cir. 2003)) (emphasis in original). are plainly not integral to bankruptcy Plainti 1'1' employment s discrimination claims functions and thercfi.lrc are not core. C( Illre ,lIi//ellllium IlIc.. 286 B.R. 300, 306 (D. Md. 20(2) (withdrawing relercncc of Plaintilrs that despitc "thc c10sc and significant Plaintilrs claims and its bankruptcy Plaintiff's claims are bascd, this adversary law to be appropriatcly asserting (D. Md. 1(88) (internal citations and quotations are "generally contract and tort claims: reasoning the Act ("ADEA "). and 42 U .S.c. ~ 1981. does not constitute all necessary hutjiJr the bankruptcy."' Proceeding, with Disabilities arc those matters integral to the core bankruptcy omitted). bankruptcy to Studios. 286 B.R. at 303). First. the Adversary within the meaning of Section rights, including court). ECF NO.5. The Court Iinds that. applying claims under the Amcricans ElIslmet COIl}.. 89 B.R. 546,548 Studios. ofrelerence factors set f(lrth in A/herl and Illre Mel"/:l'\l'el/ther, withdrawing to the Bankruptcy solely employment "[Clore withdrawal Letter Order dated July 12.2017, in support of the Motion to Withdraw reference powers of a would counsel in f~lvor of keeping the case in bankruptcy court." A/hert, 506 B.R. at 455 (citing Mi//ellllium the above-mentioned equitable case ... with rcgard to thc substantivc procecding rclationship bctwcen law on which is not relatcd enough to the lield of subject to the jurisdiction 4 state of and Iinal determination by a bankruptcy In re CO/ll/lleree. U.C. No. AP 15-69-JFS. 2015 WL 4055477. at *2 (D. court."): Md. July 1.20 15) (withdrawing refercnce ..[tJhis action is clcarly not a 'core' Application The uniformity expedient ofthc unjust enrichmcnt factors also counsel in fllvor of withdrawing administration will not be negatively to try the ease in District Court. as the Adversary not typically handled by the Bankruptcy 2006 WL 3899997, at *2 (S,D.W. that "[wlithdrawing the referencc bankruptcy Proceeding ccrtainly (granting will not aflectthc Complaint and it is more involves subject matter that PlaintitTtile motion to withdraw and noting unif(mn administration raises issues govemed The Court further finds that the risk of forum shopping of the Complaint. impacted. the refcrence. Court. See til/en \'. Nal'/ Cil)' '\/orlg. No. 2:04 MC I XX, Va, July 13.2006) law because the Amended Court itself recommended claims and noting procccding:"). remaining of bankruptcy of Plaintiffs by non-Title of II law:'). by the Plaintiff is low. as the Bankruptcy a motion to withdraw the reference or face dismissal See Doc, 20, Finally. Fed. R, Civ, P. 38 provides that where the right to jury trial is provided Constitution demanded or statute. a party may demand ajury must be by jury unless ... trial. Once demanded ... trial on all issues so the court. on motion or its own. finds that on some or all of those issues there is no federal right to ajury trial:' Complaint. damages and ajury Additionally. Plaintiff has requested by the monetary Fed. R. Civ. 1'. 39(a). In the Adversary and for that reason. creditor and debtor resources trial. See Doe. I at 34. would likely be conserved transferring the action to the District Court sooner rather than later. Accordingly, withdrawal is proper. 5 by permissive II. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above. Plaintiff-s Motion to Withdraw the Reference. ECI' No. I. is granted. The Court will address Defendants' default in forthcoming proceedings. A separate Order shall issue. Dated: August /3 .2017 GEORGE .I. HAZEL United States District Judge 6

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