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In re Newton

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 19, 2019

In .Re ANDREA NEWTON, Debtor. Newton et al., Plaintiff,
v.
Clinton Palmer, Defendant.

          OPINION

          Kevin McNulty, United States District Judge.

         These matters come before the Court on the applications of pro se Debtor Andrea Newton and her husband, Mark Newton, for an order "staying the execution and any proceedings regarding the orders entered on" September 19, 2017, October 6, 2017, and November 14, 2017 by the United States Bankruptcy Court pending appeal to this Court. (Civ. No. 17-8377, DE 7). The petition filed in the bankruptcy matter is not a joint petition - only Ms. Newton has filed a Chapter 7 petition for bankruptcy and is deemed the debtor.

         Three different orders are presented in this appeal: (1) a September 19, 2017 Order that incorporated a settlement between Appellants and their landlord, Clinton Palmer; (2) an October 6, 2017 Order that granted relief from the automatic stay in bankruptcy to Palmer to proceed with eviction proceedings against Appellants for their failure to comply with the September 19, 2017 Order; and (3) a November 7, 2017 Order denying Mr. Newton's application to intervene in Ms. Newton's bankruptcy proceeding.

         For the following reasons, the Newtons' motion for a stay pending appeal is denied.

         I. Background[1]

         In April of 2017, Clinton Palmer filed a summary eviction proceeding against the Appellants for non-payment of rent. (DE 26, 1|9; DE 7-2, ¶9). On May 1, 2017, Ms. Newton filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. (DE 7-2, ¶ 10). On July 7, 2017, Palmer filed a motion in the United States Bankruptcy Court for relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. §362(a). (Bankr. No. 17-19019, DE 66).

         On August 30, 2017, a hearing was held on the motion to lift the automatic stay. (Bankr. No. 17-19019, DE 89-90, 92-94). Mr. Palmer appeared pro se, and Ms. Newton was represented by pro bono counsel. (Id.; see also DE 26, ¶13). As a result of that hearing, the parties put a settlement agreement on the record. The agreement was later, on September 19, 2017, so-ordered in writing by the Bankruptcy Court. (DE 1-1 (the "Settlement Order")).

         In substance, the terms of the August 30 settlement and the Settlement Order required Palmer to provide an exterminator to address a bed bug problem in the Newtons' apartment; thereafter, the Newtons would vacate the apartment within thirty (30) days. The Order provides as follows:

This matter having been opened to the Court on Motion of Clinton and Janet Palmer for Relief from the Automatic Stay to pursue eviction proceedings against the Debtor; and Clinton and Janet Palmer having appeared pro se and the Debtor having appeared through counsel, Bruce H. Levitt, Esq., and it having been represented to the Court by all parties that the matter has been resolved between them, and agreement to the settlement terms having been put on the record by Clinton and Janet Palmer, the Debtor, and Mark Newton, the Debtor's non-filing spouse,

         IT IS ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:

1. "DE" refers to the docket entry number in Civ. No. 17-8377.
3. The Debtor and Mark Newton will cooperate with the professional hired by the Palmers and provide all access to the apartment required to complete the remediation.
5. The Debtor and Mark Newton will vacate the premises no later than 30 days after written proof from the professional hired by the Palmers has been provided to the Debtor and Mark Newton and Bruce H. Levitt, Esq., counsel to the Debtor, that the bed bug problem has been remediated.
6. Stay relief is granted to the Palmers to pursue eviction on the 30th day after notice of remediation of the bed bug problem as set forth in the preceding paragraph.
7. Neither the Debtor nor Mark Newton will pursue any claim against the Palmers related to the motion for stay relief or the bed bug problem raised in ...

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