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In re Felix

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit

April 6, 2018

In re: Austin Chidi Felix; Dorothy Ify Felix, Debtors.

          Appeal from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus. No. 15-50016-Charles M. Caldwell, Judge.

          Nancy Ashbrook Willis, LAW OFFICE OF NANCY ASHBROOK WILLIS, Mount Vernon, Ohio, for Trustee.

          Austin Chidi Felix, Dorothy Ify Felix, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, pro se.

          Before: DELK, HARRISON, and WISE, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judges.

          OPINION

          MARIAN F. HARRISON, BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL JUDGE.

         This appeal concerns the bankruptcy court's order denying Austin and Dorothy Felix's (collectively "debtors, " individually Mr./Mrs. Felix) homestead exemption based on its finding that the debtors were not domiciled in Ohio for the 730 days required by 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A) before they filed their bankruptcy petition. Because the bankruptcy court's interpretation of the facts was not clearly erroneous, its ruling is affirmed.

         ISSUES ON APPEAL

         1. Whether this appeal should be dismissed because the debtors' brief was filed one day late and does not comport with the formatting requirements.

         2. Whether the bankruptcy court erred in refusing to admit certain evidence offered by the debtors.

         3. Whether the bankruptcy court erred in determining that the debtors were not entitled to claim the Ohio Homestead Exemption in their property located in Ohio because they were not domiciled in Ohio for the 730 days prior to filing their bankruptcy petition.

         JURISDICTION

         The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction to decide this appeal. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has authorized appeals to the Panel, and none of the parties have timely elected to have this appeal heard by the district court. 28 U.S.C. § 158(b)(6), (c)(1). A final order of the bankruptcy court may be appealed as of right pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). For purposes of appeal, an order is final if it "'ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.'" Midland Asphalt Corp. v. United States, 489 U.S. 794, 798, 109 S.Ct. 1494, 1497 (1989) (citation omitted). A bankruptcy court's order denying a claim of exemption is a final, appealable order. Menninger v. Schramm (In re Schramm), 431 B.R. 397, 399 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         Conclusions of law are reviewed de novo. Mediofactoring v. McDermott (In re Connolly N. Am., LLC), 802 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted); Isaacs v. DBI-ASG Coinvester Fund III, LLC (In re Isaacs), 569 B.R. 135, 139 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). "Under a de novo standard of review, the reviewing court decides an issue independently of, and without deference to, the trial court's determination." Menni ...


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