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In re Fisher

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 1, 2015

In re Bobbie J. Fisher, Debtor.
v.
Daniel M. McDermott, United States Trustee, Appellee. Betty June Taylor, Appellant,

OPINION & ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR STAY AND AFFIRMING BANKRUPTCY COURT'S ORDER

SEAN F. COX, District Judge.

Appellant Betty June Taylor ("Taylor"), who is proceeding pro se, is a person who acted as a bankruptcy petition preparer in the Eastern District of Michigan. In this bankruptcy appeal, Taylor appeals the bankruptcy court's January 14, 2015 Order ( See Docket Entry 1 in this action at Pg ID 2). That order, issued by Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Tucker, is titled "Order Permanently Enjoining Betty Taylor, Finding Her In Contempt, And Imposing Certain Other Relief." Taylor has also filed a "Motion For Discretionary Stay Pending Appeal." Both the appeal and the motion have been briefed by the parties. The Court finds that oral argument would not aid the decisional process. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan; see also FED.R.BANKR.P. 8012 (stating oral argument will not be allowed if the appeal is frivolous). The Court therefore orders that the motion and appeal will be decided upon the briefs.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court: 1) DENIES Taylor's Motion to Stay; and 2) AFFIRMS the bankruptcy court's January 14, 2015 Order.

BACKGROUND

A. Relevant Provisions Of The Bankruptcy Code and Local Administrative Orders

Certain provisions of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 are relevant for purposes of this appeal.

11 U.S.C. § 110 "was enacted to address the growing problem of bankruptcy preparers who abuse the system' and is intended to police fraud and abuse by such preparers.' S.Rep. No. 168, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. 51 (1993). The legislative history describes § 110 as critically needed to confront the large scale fraudulent conduct of [bankruptcy petition preparers] who prey on the poor and unsophisticated.' 140 Cong.Rec. § 14, 597-98 (daily ed. October 7, 1994)." In re Rausch, 197 B.R. 109, 116 (Bkrtcy. D. Nev. 1996).

Section 110 defines a "bankruptcy petition preparer" as "a person other than an attorney or an employee of an attorney, who prepares for compensation a document for filing" in a bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C. § 110(a). Section 110 contains several provisions that govern the conduct of a bankruptcy petition preparer. Notably, Section 110 bars a bankruptcy petition preparer ("BPP") from offering legal advice. 11 U.S.C. § 110 (e).

Section 110 provides that BPPs who violate the statute can be sanctioned and enjoined from acting as a BPP in the future. Section 110 provides that:

(i)(1) If a bankruptcy petition preparer violates this section or commits any act that the court finds to be fraudulent, unfair, or deceptive, on the motion of the debtor, trustee, United States trustee (or the bankruptcy administrator, if any), and after notice and a hearing, the court shall order the bankruptcy petition preparer to pay to the debtor-
(A) the debtor's actual damages;
(B) the greater of-
(i) $2, 000; or
(ii) twice the amount paid by the debtor to the bankruptcy petition preparer for the preparer's services; and
(C) reasonable attorneys' fees and costs in moving for damages under this subsection.

11 U.S.C. § 110(i). The court may also enjoin a person from acting as a BPP:

(j)(1) A debtor for whom a bankruptcy petition preparer has prepared a document for filing, the trustee, a creditor, or the United States trustee in the district in which the bankruptcy petition preparer resides, has conducted business, or the United States trustee in any other district in which the debtor resides may bring a civil action to enjoin a bankruptcy petition preparer from engaging in any conduct in violation of this section or from further acting as a bankruptcy petition preparer.

(2)(A) In an action under paragraph (1), if the court finds that-

(i) a bankruptcy petition preparer has-
(I) engaged in conduct in violation of this section or of any ...

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