GENERAL PROCEDURES ESTABLISHED FOR
CASES ASSIGNED TO JUDGE GREGORY L. TADDONIO
EFFECTIVE AUGUST 30, 2013
The following procedures are specific to Judge Taddonio’s cases and are mandatory unless otherwise ordered. These procedures supplement and do not replace the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the Local Rules, and the Standing Orders of this Court.
These procedures and the hearing dates posted on the Court’s website are subject to change at any time. Parties and counsel are responsible for complying with the procedures and using only the posted hearing dates to self-schedule a hearing when appropriate.
Correspondence with the Court
The Court discourages letters or other ex parte communications concerning cases. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9003. Statements regarding the merits of a matter are properly brought before the Court solely in the form of a pleading. To the extent the parties feel it necessary to correspond with the Court regarding administrative matters, they should do so in writing and copy opposing counsel. Unless expressly authorized by the Court, no documents, papers, or courtesy copies of filed documents are to be sent to Chambers. Judge Taddonio’s courtroom deputy will assist with the administration of procedural matters but is prohibited from giving legal advice.
Continuing, Rescheduling, and Cancelling Hearings
Requests to continue, reschedule, or cancel a hearing must be made by written motion. Written requests to continue, reschedule, or cancel a duly-noticed hearing are considered by the Court on a case-by-case basis. Prior to filing a request to continue, reschedule, or cancel a hearing, the moving party shall make a good faith effort to contact opposing counsel to discuss consent to such request. All motions to continue, reschedule, or cancel a duly-noticed hearing should identify the good cause supporting the requested action and whether the parties in interest consent or object to the proposed relief. No hearings will be continued, rescheduled, or cancelled, even if the matter has been settled, unless an appropriate motion has been electronically filed with the Clerk of Court at least two (2) business days before the scheduled hearing date. If time does not allow filing a motion at least two (2) business days before the scheduled hearing date, the parties must appear at the scheduled hearing to provide a status report to the Court. Telephone calls to Chambers will not cause a hearing to be removed from the Court’s calendar.
Filing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Court Documents
All pleadings, motions and documents must be filed with ample time for the Court to review such documents prior to the scheduled hearing. Thus, all pleadings, motions, and documents shall be filed at least seven (7) days prior to the scheduled hearing.
All motions require a response to be filed by the opposing party unless such motion is unopposed. When filing a joint or uncontested motion, the pleading shall be designated as such.
Scheduling of Hearings (Revised 7/1/14)
As a general matter, most motions, applications, and other requests for relief filed in Chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 cases are "self-scheduled." Parties are directed to the Court's website for information regarding the dates and times for hearings that may be self-scheduled.
Matters Excluded from Self-Scheduling. The following matters shall not be self-scheduled by the moving party and will be scheduled by the Court:
- Confirmation Hearings on Chapter 11, 12, or 13 Plans
- Chapter 11 Disclosure Statements
- Amendments to Plans
- Applications to Modify Chapter 13 Plans
- Amendments to Schedules
- Chapter 7 Trustee’s Application to Retain Herself/Himself as Counsel
- Evidentiary Hearings (including evidentiary hearings for contested matters in the main bankruptcy case)
- Matters in Adversary Proceedings
- Matters related to the Loss Mitigation Program (excluding motions to approve a loan modification)
- Objections to Rule 3002.1 Mortgage Payment Changes
- Objections to Postpetition Mortgage Fees, Expenses, and Charges
- Dismissal or Conversion by the Debtor
- Extensions of Time
- Emergency/Expedited Hearing
- Hardship Discharge
- Payment of Unclaimed Funds
- Reconsider, Vacate, or Modify an Order
- Restrict Access (re: Redact Document)
- Status Conference
Self-Scheduling of Chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 Matters
Choosing a Hearing Date
When scheduling a matter, the movant shall choose a hearing date from the list published by the Clerk of Court relating to Judge Taddonio's self-scheduling calendar dates, and the moving party shall complete, file, and serve a Notice of Hearing. (Note: the Notice of Hearing must conform to the Notice of Hearing forms utilized by the Court). Only the hearing dates listed and published by the Clerk of Court for Judge Taddonio shall be used for self-scheduled matters. Any matters scheduled by the movant for a date other than one listed by the Clerk of Court will be dismissed without prejudice to be refiled, renoticed, and rescheduled by the movant for an authorized date. If a matter is dismissed for noncompliance, the filing party must serve all parties in interest with notice of the dismissal order and cancellation of the improperly scheduled hearing.
Notice of Hearing
Except with respect to matters that require a longer notice period (such as objections to claims), the hearing date selected by the movant must provide for at least 25 calendar days' notice of the hearing. At least 25 calendar days before the chosen authorized hearing date, the movant shall simultaneously electronically file the motion and Notice of Hearing and serve the same on the applicable trustee (if any) and the United States Trustee and all other respondents and parties in interest. The motion must be filed in sufficient time to allow: (1) up to 17 days for a response as required by Local Rule 9014-1; and (2) a deadline for filing responses/answers/objections that is no less than seven (7) days before the scheduled hearing date. Objections to claims must be filed at least 30 days before the selected hearing date. Any matters scheduled by the movant which provide for less than the required period of notice will be dismissed without prejudice to be refiled, renoticed, and rescheduled by the movant for an authorized date. If a matter is dismissed for noncompliance, the filing party must serve all parties in interest with notice of the dismissal order and cancellation of the improperly scheduled hearing.
Failure to Comply
The Court may strike a pleading or other request for relief if the proponent fails to adhere to the self-scheduling procedures. Parties are not permitted to opt out of self-scheduling absent approval of the Court.
- Choosing a Hearing Date
- Matters Excluded from Self-Scheduling. The following matters shall not be self-scheduled by the moving party and will be scheduled by the Court:
Appearance of Counsel at Hearings (Revised 7/1/14)
Counsel must appear at scheduled hearings unless the Order scheduling the hearing specifically provides otherwise. Parties who do not appear when a case is called will be deemed to have waived their appearance and the Court will proceed with the hearing. The Court will not vacate an order entered due to a party’s failure to appear when the case is called.
If counsel is scheduled to appear simultaneously before two different bankruptcy judges, it is counsel's responsibility to promptly alert the Court that counsel's attendance is required in another courtroom. Upon notice of counsel's obligation, the Court will endeavor to reorder the hearing list to accommodate counsel's obligation. If counsel fails to notify the Court of the simultaneous hearings, the Court will proceed to call the case in the order in which it was originally scheduled and if counsel is not present when the case is called, counsel will be deemed to have waived their appearance.
Certificates of No Objection and Certifications of Counsel
The Court requires the use of Certificates of No Objection (a “CNO”) and Certifications of Counsel (a “COC”) as provided in Local Rule 9013-5 and supplemented by these procedures.
In the event that no response or answer to a particular matter has been filed by the appropriate response date, the moving party shall file a CNO (substantially in the form of Local Form 25) within three (3) business days of such response date. Upon the filing of a CNO, a default order may be entered. It also is possible that the matter may not be defaulted and the hearing will remain on the Court’s calendar. In the absence of a properly filed CNO, a matter may be defaulted or cancelled in the discretion of the Court. Parties should check Judge Taddonio’s calendar on the Court’s website after 12:00 p.m. on the day prior to the scheduled hearing to determine if the matter remains on the calendar. Orders entered by default will be identified on the calendar. Unless a matter is removed from the calendar, the party (if pro se), or counsel for the party, must appear at the hearing.
Parties shall submit consensual orders to the Court resolving motions or other contested matters by filing a COC (substantially in the form of Local Form 26), together with an attached proposed agreed order. A COC shall be served on all affected parties in interest. If there is an applicable objection or response deadline, the COC shall not be filed until after the expiration of such deadline. A COC shall also be filed when the parties seek entry of an Order that differs from the proposed Order attached to a filed motion. In such instances, a revised proposed Order and redline showing the changes should be attached to the COC.
Filing of Emergency Matters
The movant shall immediately notify the courtroom deputy and the Chapter 13 clerk (when applicable) upon filing an emergency motion or request for an expedited hearing pursuant to Local Rule 9013-2. The Court will evaluate requests for an expedited hearing on a case-by-case basis and will schedule a hearing at a date and time as may be appropriate. Courtesy copies of emergency motions or requests for expedited hearings should be delivered to the courtroom deputy unless otherwise instructed by the Court.
Counsel may be authorized to participate telephonically in most non-evidentiary hearings provided that arrangements are made through CourtCall as provided herein. Participation by telephone is always at the discretion of the Court. Out-of-town counsel participating by telephone at any given hearing may be required to have local counsel present in the courtroom.
Parties wishing to appear telephonically through CourtCall must advise the Court by telephone at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing in which the request to appear telephonically is being made. After contacting Judge Taddonio’s Chambers, parties must register with CourtCall at (866) 582-6878 no later than three (3) business days prior to a scheduled hearing. Registrants must provide CourtCall with the following information: (a) case name and number; (b) name of the judge conducting the hearing; (c) the hearing date and time(s); (d) the participant’s name, address, and telephone number; (e) the name of the party or parties whom the participant represents; (f) the matter(s) on which the participant wishes to be heard or whether the participant intends to monitor the proceedings in “listen-only” mode; and (g) any other information required by CourtCall. Parties shall pay the current fee charged by CourtCall upon registration.
Telephonic participation is not permitted in the following matters at which all parties in interest must appear in person:
- Any matter in which a party is directed to attend in person;
- Show Cause hearings;
- Plan confirmation hearings; and
- Evidentiary matters of any kind.
All parties appearing by telephone must abide by the following directives at all times:
- Use of a speaker phone, cellular phone, or phone located in a public place is prohibited;
- All parties must use their “mute” buttons when not speaking;
- Placing the Court on “hold” during the call is prohibited;
- Conversations with any party, other than the Court, are prohibited; and
- Any interference with the call, including background noise which disturbs the proceedings, is prohibited.
Failure to comply with these telephonic procedures may result in the Court revoking the party’s telephonic privileges or imposing other sanctions.
All parties appearing telephonically must dial-in to CourtCall ten (10) minutes prior to the scheduled start of the hearing. Parties participating telephonically should be aware that, based on the Court’s docket, a hearing may not begin until after the time scheduled. In that event, parties who wish to participate must remain on the line until the case is called. The Court will not call a case a second time. Parties who do not appear when the case is called will be deemed to have waived their appearance and the Court will proceed with the hearing.
Any party who registers to appear telephonically but fails to appear either in person or telephonically shall be deemed to have waived its appearance. The Court will proceed with the hearing in the absence of that party, and the Court may enter an order adjudicating the matter.
In limited circumstances and for non-evidentiary hearings only, the Court may permit counsel to appear via video conference from another courtroom within the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Counsel wishing to participate in a hearing by video conference, where permitted, must advise the Court at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing in which the request to appear by video conference is being made. Arrangements for video conference participation may be made by contacting the courtroom deputy.
No witnesses will be heard on motions days unless otherwise specifically ordered by the Court in a particular case. All evidentiary hearings will be specifically scheduled by the Court. For evidentiary hearings and trials, witnesses shall appear in person.
Prior to any hearing where documentary evidence would be submitted and unless otherwise ordered, counsel shall provide the Court with three (3) complete copies of marked exhibits at least three (3) business days prior to the date set for the commencement of any proceeding in which exhibits are to be offered. Each party shall make an additional set of exhibits available for use by witnesses at the time of the taking of evidence in any proceeding. All exhibits must be marked by counsel using appropriate exhibit labels. The labels must be marked to identify the proponent of the exhibit and the date of the proceeding in which it is used. Plaintiffs/movants shall identify their exhibits through the use of letters, while defendants/respondents shall identify their exhibits through the use of numbers.
If any party’s exhibits cumulatively total in excess of 20 single-sided pages, each set of the exhibits shall be bound in a three-ring binder, with each exhibit separated by a tabbed divider page. Additionally, the lower right hand corner of each page of the collective exhibit document shall be consecutively numbered (Bates Stamp numbering) from the first page to the last page, independent of exhibit identification numbers previously placed on the exhibits.
Scheduling of Evidentiary Hearings
A separate scheduling order will be issued for evidentiary hearings in adversary proceedings. The Court may also issue a scheduling order for an evidentiary hearing in the main bankruptcy case.
Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Court encourages litigants to utilize mediation as a means to resolve disputes. If litigants desire to mediate a particular controversy, the parties shall advise the Court in writing that the matter is ripe for mediation.
Unless Court permission (upon proper motion) is received prior to filing, no brief by any party shall be in excess of 20 pages.
Motions for a Temporary Restraining Order
A motion for a temporary restraining order shall be filed in accordance with Local Rule 7065-1. See also Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7065 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 65. As soon as the request for a temporary restraining order is filed, plaintiff's counsel must call the courtroom deputy and the Chapter 13 clerk (when applicable) to arrange for a hearing.
Motions for Summary Judgment
The procedures that follow shall govern all motions for summary judgment unless the Court directs otherwise.
A party seeking summary judgment shall electronically file a motion that sets forth succinctly, but without argument, the specific grounds upon which the judgment is sought, and must be accompanied by all of the following:
Concise Statement of Material Facts. A separately filed concise statement setting forth the facts deemed to be essential for the Court to decide the motion, which facts the movant contends are undisputed and material, including any facts that, for purposes of the motion only, are assumed to be true. The facts set forth in the concise statement shall be stated in separately numbered paragraphs. A party must cite with specificity to each pleading, deposition, answer to interrogatory, admission on file, or other part of the record supporting the party's statement, acceptance, or denial of the material fact.
Memorandum of Law in Support. The supporting memorandum must address applicable law and explain why there are no genuine issues of material fact precluding entry of summary judgment, and why the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Appendix. Documents referenced in the Concise Statement of Material Facts shall be included in an appendix. The Appendix may contain extracted and highlighted portions of the referenced documents, which need not be submitted in their entirety.
Any opposition to a motion for summary judgment must be made within the time set by the Court and include all of the following:
Response. A response to the motion for summary judgment;
Responsive Concise Statement of Material Facts. A separately filed concise statement that responds to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts by:
Admitting or denying whether each fact contained in the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts is undisputed and/or material;
Setting forth the basis for the denial (if any fact contained in the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts is not admitted in its entirety) and the basis for any claim that the fact is material, together with citations to specific references to each pleading, deposition, answer to interrogatory, admission on file, or other part of the record supporting the denial; and,
Setting forth in separately numbered paragraphs any other material facts that allegedly are at issue and/or that the opposing party asserts are necessary for the Court to decide the motion, together with citations to specific references to each pleading, deposition, answer to interrogatory, admission, on file, or other part of the record supporting the party’s statement of the material fact.
Memorandum of Law in Opposition. The memorandum of law in opposition to the motion for summary judgment must address applicable law and explain why there are genuine issues of material fact to be tried and/or why the moving party is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Appendix. Documents referenced in the Responsive Concise Statement of Material Facts shall be included in an appendix. The Appendix may contain extracted and highlighted portions of the referenced documents, which need not be submitted in their entirety.
By the deadline set by the Court, the moving party shall separately file a response to any new facts contained in the Responsive Concise Statement of Material Facts.
Alleged material facts set forth in the Concise Statement of Material Facts and in the Responsive Concise Statement of Material Facts that are claimed to be undisputed will, for the purpose of deciding the motion for summary judgment, be deemed admitted unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted.
Motions Seeking Sale Approval
In addition to the requirements of a sale motion pursuant to Local Rules 6004-1 and 9013-3(c), the proposed order filed with a sale motion shall: (1) reference the outside date for the sale closing (unless otherwise ordered by the Court); and (2) require the report of sale to be filed within 14 days of the closing.
Motions to Approve Settlements
Any motion to approve a settlement or compromise pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9019 shall be served on all creditors and a certificate of service to that effect shall be filed. In an adversary proceeding, such motion shall be filed in the main bankruptcy case and a notice of filing of the motion shall be filed in the adversary case. The Court will enter its Order either granting or denying the motion in both the main bankruptcy case and the adversary case.
A tentative ruling is a written statement issued by the Court prior to a hearing whereby the Court either indicates its likely ruling on a particular matter or, alternatively, points out a particular issue of concern based on the Court's review of the pleadings and record before it. A tentative ruling may provide that it is the Court's tentative determination to grant or deny a motion, in whole or in part. Tentative rulings may also present questions which should be addressed at the scheduled hearing, cite authority that should be discussed at the hearing, and/or otherwise identify issues to be emphasized at the hearing.
The Court reserves its right, in its sole discretion, to make tentative rulings on pending motions based upon the record before it. Tentative rulings will not be made with respect to the following matters:
- Approval of disclosure statements;
- Plan confirmation hearings;
- Status conferences;
- Evidentiary hearings;
- Show Cause hearings; and
- Any proceeding set for hearing on shortened notice.
Tentative rulings, where applicable, will be posted on Judge Taddonio’s calendar by 3:00 p.m. on the day immediately prior to a scheduled hearing. Even if the Court has issued a tentative ruling, appearances at the scheduled hearing are still required unless the tentative ruling explicitly states that no appearance is required.
The Court is not bound by any tentative ruling. Tentative rulings merely reflect the Court’s pre-argument determination based upon the evidence, argument, and information already before the Court. The Court invites argument from any party not satisfied with a tentative ruling. A tentative ruling is not to be given the force of an Order of Court and is subject to change based upon argument presented at the scheduled hearing or as a result of further consideration by the Court.
The forms available on Judge Taddonio’s website and the Local Bankruptcy Forms of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania shall be used in pending cases when applicable.
All proposed orders filed with the Court shall identify the drafter of the document with the indication “Prepared by: ____________” at the end of the order immediately preceding the line for the date and the Court’s signature. Consent orders or agreed-to orders shall include signature blocks for each consenting party and otherwise comply with Local Rule 5005-6(c)(1) or (c)(2).
Courtroom Deputy Clerks (Revised 7/1/2014)
Counsel or parties (if pro se) may contact the deputy clerks only when authorized to do so by these procedures (i.e., Filing of Emergency Matters and Motions for Temporary Restraining Order). The deputy clerks are prohibited from giving legal advice, and may not discuss the case beyond the scheduling parameters set forth in these procedures. The contact information for Judge Taddonio's deputy clerks is as follows:
Ms. Connie Takacs (cases ending in 0-3) (412) 355-3209 Ms. Holly Thurman (cases ending in 4-6) (412) 644-4064 Mr. Doug Basinski (cases ending in 7-9) (412) 316-1660
Proceeding Memoranda (Revised 7/1/14)
As routine practice, the Court often issues a proceeding memorandum following a hearing. Each proceeding memorandum may contain a concise summary of the discussions held on the record. The proceeding memoranda should not be considered a substitute for the complete hearing transcript, and no party should make any inferences or draw any conclusions from the inclusion or omission of any details from the hearing. Parties are advised that proceeding memoranda are prepared as the hearing occurs and are not subsequently verified against the audio transcript. For this reason, the proceeding memoranda should not be cited or relied upon by the parties in their motions or pleadings. To the extent a complete record of the hearing is desired, a transcript request should be made with the Clerk pursuant to W.PA.LBR 5007-1.
Scheduling of Hearings
"Self-Scheduling" applies to most motions, applications, and other requests for relief filed in Chapter 7 and 11 cases. The movant should refer to Section A.4 of these General Procedures to determine when self-scheduling is required.
First Day Matters in Chapter 11 Cases
As soon as the first-day motions have been filed in a Chapter 11 case, counsel for the debtor shall contact the courtroom deputy to arrange for a hearing. Counsel for the Chapter 11 debtor shall provide the Court with: (1) a "first-day" binder of all filed first-day motions and any responses or objections thereto; (2) a proposed agenda for the first-day hearing; and (3) an affidavit or declaration of a representative of the debtor in support of the first-day motions.
Motions Under 11 U.S.C. § 1113
As soon as a party electronically files a motion for relief under 11 U.S.C. § 1113, the movant must deliver to the Court a courtesy paper copy of the motion, along with a paper copy of all collective bargaining agreements and modifications thereto to which the motion relates, and must call the courtroom deputy to arrange a hearing.
Scheduling of Hearings
"Self-Scheduling" applies to most motions, applications, and other requests for relief filed in Chapter 12 and 13 cases. The movant should refer to Section A.4 of these General Procedures to determine when self-scheduling is required.
Motions Seeking Approval of Motor Vehicle Financing
In addition to the requirements of Local Rule 4001-4(d), a motion seeking approval of motor vehicle financing shall contain a proposed order requiring a report of financing to be filed within 14 days of the closing date of the approved loan. In the instance where financing to purchase a vehicle is not obtained within 60 days of entry of an Order approving the same, the Debtor shall file a status report to indicate whether it is continuing to seek financing or has instead abandoned that effort.
Amendments to Plans Previously Confirmed on a Final Basis
It is not necessary to file a motion to modify when an amendment to a finally confirmed Chapter 13 plan is sought. Instead the proponent must file:
- A "Notice of Proposed Modification to Confirmed Plan Dated _____________," which substantially complies with the form found on Judge Taddonio's website; and
- A proposed Amended Chapter 13 Plan.
If these two items are filed, the proposed amendment will follow the Court's standard conciliation/confirmation process. The Amended Plan and the Notice of Proposed Modification shall be served on all creditors.
Failure to file the Notice of Proposed Modification contemporaneously with the Amended Plan will cause a corrective entry to issue on the docket, advising counsel that the Notice of Proposed Modification should be filed and served along with the Amended Plan. If the debtor does not take corrective action within the time period proscribed by the corrective entry, the proposed amendment will be denied without prejudice due to failure to adhere to these procedures.
Cases Ready for Trustee’s Final Account/Report
Cases Involving a Plan Duration of 60 Months
Following completion of the 60th month after plan confirmation, the Court routinely schedules a status conference to determine the necessity of entering a scheduling order to implement the closure of the case.
Cases Involving a Plan Duration of Less Than 60 Months
In instances where a case has not been closed within four (4) months of the end of the plan term, debtor's counsel shall file a motion requesting a status conference to determine whether Court intervention is needed to close out the case. Such motion for a status conference should advise the Court as to (1) whether the plan base is met; (2) the date on which the plan duration has run; and, (3) within four (4) months of either event, whether the Chapter 13 Trustee has filed a final account/report or taken some other action toward closing the case (i.e., notifying debtors that they are to assume responsibility for the mortgage payments and cease making payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee). Debtor's counsel shall serve the motion for a status conference, and any scheduling order related thereto, upon the Chapter 13 Trustee and all other parties in interest. Nothing contained in these procedures should be deemed or construed to eliminate the Chapter 13 Trustee’s responsibility to promptly close Chapter 13 cases when the plan term has expired and the plan goals (and base) have been met.
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