Memorandum of Decision Re: Vexatious Litigant

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Judge's Decisions
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
In re RONALD S. MAZZAFERRO,                                       No. 97-11483      Debtor(s). ______________________________________/ RONALD S. MAZZAFERRO,      Plaintiff(s),    v.                                                                                  A.P. No. 99-1032 TRIAD SYSTEMS FINANCIAL CORP., et al,      Defendant(s). _______________________________________/
Memorandum
     On June 30, 1998, after discharging his attorney, Chapter 13 debtor Ronald Mazzaferro filed an adversary proceeding on his own behalf in this court against the above defendants arising substantially out of a proof of claim filed by defendants. In essence, the action sought damages for filing of the claim without having established its invalidity, the procedural equivalent of filing a malicious prosecution action without first prevailing in the underlying dispute. On September 3, 1998, the court found that the complaint was procedurally improper and dismissed it, without prejudice to his right to object to the claim. The court also sanctioned Mazzaferro $250.00 and enjoined him from initiating any action against defendants until he paid the sanction.      On November 4, 1998, still representing himself, Mazzaferro filed substantially the same action in district court. On February 4, 1999, the district court sent that action to this court with instructions to hear defendants' motion to dismiss and for sanctions. Those motions were set for hearing on March 26, 1999.      In response to the motions, Mazzaferro filed a "Notice of Lack of Personal Jurisdiction" and a purported "removal" of the case back to district court.      While the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts is sometimes challenged by parties with no connection to the court, such challenges are not available to those who have voluntarily submitted to its jurisdiction, either by filing a voluntary petition or a proof of claim. Katchen v. Landy, 382 U.S. 323 (1966); See Matter of Brown, 26 B.R. 119, 120-21 (Bkrtcy.W.D.Mo.1983), and authority therein cited.      Since this adversary proceeding originated in district court, it cannot be "removed" there. Even if it could, it would be automatically referred back to this court pursuant to Local Rule 5011-1(a). Mazzaferro's procedural machinations accordingly avail him nothing.      By filing the district court action, Mazzaferro violated this court's order that he not commence any action against defendants before paying the rather nominal sanctions the court assessed the first time around. The filing of an essentially identical action in another court after dismissal in this court was a bad faith attempt to circumvent this court's ruling. Both of these actions require the imposition of further sanctions.      The complaint seeks damages for filing a false claim. However, Mazzaferro has steadfastly refused to file a simple objection to the claim. Pursuant to § 502(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, claims are deemed allowed unless an objection is filed. The complaint is patently without merit, since it seeks damages for a claim which is deemed valid.      Defendants seek $14,000.00 in sanctions for legal fees they say they incurred in dealing with the matter in district court. While they may have incurred this amount of expenses, it appears that their actions have been somewhat excessive. Given Mazzaferro's lack of ability to properly frame his issues, it seems to the court that it should not have cost so much to have the matter dismissed. The court will award sanctions in the amount of $10,000.00 both pursuant to FRBP 9011 and as civil contempt sanctions, as this matter was commenced in violation of the court's order of September 3, 1998. The court also warns Mazzaferro that he will be risking penury, regardless of the merits of his claims against defendants, by any further improper actions.      For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motions will be granted. Sanctions will be assessed in the amount of $10,000.00.
Dated: March 26, 1999                                                                              ____________________________                                                                                                                      Alan Jaroslovsky                                                                                                                      United States Bankruptcy