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In re Roberts Broadcasting Co.

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit

May 8, 2017

In re: Roberts Broadcasting Company, also known as WRBU TV, also known as Roberts Broadcasting Co., LLC, also known as Roberts Brothers Broadcasting, LLC, also known as Roberts Broadcasting Company of St. Louis, MO, LLC, Debtor
v.
A. Thomas DeWoskin; Danna McKitrick, Defendants-Appellants Roberts Broadcasting Company; Roberts Broadcasting Company, Columbia, South Carolina, LLC; Roberts Broadcasting Company, Evansville, Indiana, LLC; Roberts Broadcasting Company, Jackson, Mississippi, LLC, Plaintiffs - Appellees

          Submitted: April 7, 2017

         Appeal from United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before KRESSEL, FEDERMAN, and NAIL, Bankruptcy Judges.

          NAIL, Bankruptcy Judge.

         Danna McKitrick, P.C., and A. Thomas DeWoskin (collectively, "Danna McKitrick") appeal the October 31, 2016 memorandum opinion and order of the bankruptcy court[1] abstaining from hearing Roberts Broadcasting Company, Roberts Broadcasting Company, Columbia, South Carolina, LLC, Roberts Broadcasting Company, Evansville, Indiana, LLC, and Roberts Broadcasting Company, Jackson, Mississippi, LLC's (collectively, "Roberts Broadcasting") malpractice claim against Danna McKitrick. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Danna McKitrick represented Roberts Broadcasting in its chapter 11 case. After the chapter 11 case was closed, Roberts Broadcasting filed a civil action against Danna McKitrick in Missouri state court, alleging Danna McKitrick had committed malpractice in its representation of Roberts Broadcasting.

         Danna McKitrick removed the civil action from Missouri state court to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. On Roberts Broadcasting's motion to remand the case to Missouri state court, the district court[2]concluded it had subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b), [3] denied the motion, and referred the case to the bankruptcy court pursuant to the district court's local rule 9.01(B)(1).[4]

         Following the district court's referral, the bankruptcy court asked the parties to brief the issue of whether it should abstain from hearing the case under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(c)(1), an issue left unresolved by the district court's decision. Both parties did so, and the bankruptcy court entered its memorandum opinion and order abstaining from hearing the case and remanding it to the Missouri state court. Danna McKitrick timely appealed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review a bankruptcy court's decision to abstain from exercising jurisdiction for an abuse of discretion. Stabler v. Beyers (In re Stabler), 418 B.R. 764, 766 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2009).

A court abuses its discretion when a relevant factor that should have been given significant weight is not considered; when an irrelevant or improper factor is considered and given significant weight; or when all proper factors and no improper ones are considered, but the court commits a clear error of judgment in weighing those factors.

City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 702 F.3d 1147, 1152 (8th ...


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