Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4007(c), 9029(a); 11 U.S.C. 523; Timeliness of Dischargeability Complaint; Local Rules
Askew v. Patel, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5201, Case No. 4:05-CV-118 (M.D. Ga. January 30, 2006)(Land).
Plaintiff filed a complaint to determine dischargeability against the debtor. The Local Rules in place at the time required that the complaint be filed in both electronic format and in paper form. By administrative order of the Bankruptcy Court, the filing date would be the date on which the paper copy was received and if no paper copy was received, the electronic document would be deleted.
Plaintiff filed its complaint electronically on the last day to file dischargeability complaints, but the paper copy was not received until after the deadline. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed the complaint as untimely. The District Court reversed, finding that documents are generally deemed “filed” when under the clerk’s possession and control, even if the filing is not in the proper form or in compliance with other prerequisites for maintaining an action. Further, Rule 9029(a)(2) provides that local rules shall not be enforced in such a manner that causes a party to lose rights because of a nonwillful failure to comply. Since the complaint was in the possession of the clerk by the deadline and there was no evidence of willful or contemptuous conduct on the part of plaintiff, the complaint was deemed timely filed.