Opposition to a motion for relief from the automatic stay in United States Bankruptcy Court is the topic of this blog post. Note that the deadline for filing an opposition to a motion for relief from automatic stay may vary with each individual Court but as a general rule the opposition should be served and filed at least fourteen (14) calendar days before the hearing, unless the notice of motion states otherwise, or the Court has otherwise ordered.
It must be stressed that the failure to file and serve a timely opposition to a motion for relief from the automatic stay may be construed by the Court as an admission that the motion has merit and should be granted. Thus a party who wishes to oppose the motion for relief from the automatic stay should do everything possible to ensure that a timely opposition is served and filed.
The automatic stay prevents creditors from taking certain actions once a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code has been filed.
11 U.S.C . 362a states in relevant part: “Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a petition filed under section 301, 302, or 303 of this title, or an application filed under section 5(a)(3) of the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970, operates as a stay, applicable to all entities, of–(1) the commencement or continuation, including the issuance or employment of process, of a judicial, administrative, or other action or proceeding against the debtor that was or could have been commenced before the commencement of the case under this title, or to recover a claim against the debtor that arose before the commencement of the case under this title…”
The party requesting relief from the automatic stay bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case that “cause” exists for relief from the automatic stay. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden relief should be denied.
“The burden of proof on a motion to modify the automatic stay is a shifting one. To obtain relief from the automatic stay, the party seeking relief must first establish a prima facie case that “cause” exists for relief under § 362(d)(1). Once a prima facie case has been established, the burden shifts to the debtor to show that relief from the stay is unwarranted. If the movant fails to meet its initial burden to demonstrate cause, relief from the automatic stay should be denied.” In re Plumberex Specialty Products, Inc. 311 B.R. 551, 557 (Bkrtcy.C.D.Cal.,2004) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
The moving party must establish a factual and legal right to the relief that it is seeking.
“A prima facie case requires the movant to establish “a factual and legal right to the relief that it seeks.” In re Plumberex Specialty Products, Inc. , supra at FN 11.
In some cases the moving party will have to show that the debtor’s actions constitute a clear abuse of the bankruptcy process, in other words bad faith on the part of the debtor.
“The existence of good faith depends on an amalgam of factors and not upon a specific fact. The test is whether the debtor is attempting to unreasonably deter and harass creditors or attempting to effect a speedy, efficient reorganization on a feasible basis. Good faith is lacking only when the debtor’s actions constitute a clear abuse of the bankruptcy process.” In re Plumberex Specialty Products, Inc. , supra at 559.
Any party that is served with a motion for relief from the automatic stay should carefully review the motion and supporting documents to determine if the moving party has met its initial burden. Many times a party will file a motion for relief with very little if any, supporting facts to support their motion.
Attorneys or parties in California who wish to view a sample opposition to a motion for relief from the automatic stay in United States Bankruptcy Court can see below.
The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995. Visit his website at http://www.legaldocspro.com
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