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In re Renegar Golf, LLC

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit

July 24, 2019

In re: Renegar Golf, LLC, aka R Golf, LLC, Debtor.

          Appeal from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville. No. 3:16-bk-03262-Randal S. Mashburn, Judge.

         ON BRIEF:

          Justin T. Campbell, THOMPSON BURTON PLLC, Franklin, Tennessee, for Trustee.

          Robert M. Renegar, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, pro se.

          Before: BUCHANAN, PRICE SMITH, and WISE, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judges.

          OPINION

          JESSICA E. PRICE SMITH, BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL JUDGE.

         The issue on appeal is whether the bankruptcy court erred by declining to use its equitable powers under 11 U.S.C. § 105 to fashion a remedy for a creditor. After reviewing the record, the parties' briefs, and applicable law, the Panel concludes that the bankruptcy court did not err. Accordingly, we affirm.

         ISSUE ON APPEAL

         The appellant presents the following issue: "Did the Court err when it constrained itself to the black letter of the law and failed to exercise its judicial discretion as a court of equity under 11 U.S.C. § 105(a), thereby applying principles of equity to correct the obvious injustice in this matter?" (Statement of Issues, In re Renegar Golf, LLC, Case No. 16-03262 ECF No. 95 (Bankr. M.D. Tenn.).)[1]

         JURISDICTION AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel has jurisdiction to decide this appeal, as authorized by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. 28 U.S.C. §§ 158(b)(6), (c)(1). A final order of the bankruptcy court may be appealed as of right. 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). For an appeal, a final order is one that "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." Midland Asphalt Corp. v. U.S., 489 U.S. 794, 798, 109 S.Ct. 1494, 1497 (1989) (internal quotation & citation omitted). The order overruling the objection to the trustee's final report and authorizing the trustee to distribute the estate assets effectively ended this case on the merits. There is nothing further for the court to do. The case only remains open due to the appeal.

         A bankruptcy court's use of its equitable powers under 11 U.S.C. § 105 is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See Nicholson v. Isaacman (In re Isaacman), 26 F.3d 629, 633 (6th Cir. 1994); In re New Ctr. Hosp., 187 B.R. 560, 572 (E.D. Mich. 1995) ("Equitable discretionary powers of the Bankruptcy Court are reviewed using an 'abuse of discretion' standard.").

"An abuse of discretion occurs where the reviewing court has 'a definite and firm conviction that the [bankruptcy court] committed a clear error of judgment.'" B-Line, LLC v. Wingerter (In re Wingerter), 594 F.3d 931, 936 (6th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Under the abuse of discretion standard, the bankruptcy court's decision will only be disturbed if it "relied upon clearly erroneous findings of fact, improperly applied the governing law, or used an erroneous legal standard." Elec. Workers ...

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