Justice Cometh, Ltd. v. Lambert

Decision Date30 September 2005
Docket NumberNo. 05-10629. Non-Argument Calendar.,05-10629. Non-Argument Calendar.
Citation426 F.3d 1342
PartiesJUSTICE COMETH, LTD., as trustee, et al., Plaintiffs-Counter-Defendants, Cheryl B. Lamkins, Plaintiff-Counter-Defendant-Appellant, v. James V. LAMBERT, Wylene Lambert, Martin Kroll, Thomas Oprandi, Clifford S. Lancey, William Herbert Neal, Harry B. White, et al., Defendants-Appellees, David Watkins, et al., Defendants-Counter-Claimants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Mark M.J. Webb, Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis, Rome, GA, Douglas G. Smith, Jr., Mozley, Finlayson & Loggins, LLP, Douglas Campbell Dumont, Paul Willard Burke, Drew, Eckl & Farnham, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before TJOFLAT, DUBINA and BARKETT, Circuit Judges.


Cheryl B. Lamkins appeals the district court's order dismissing, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, her claim against Clifford Lancey, David Watkins, Eddie Watkins and Watkins Lumber & Supply Co. ("Lancey Group"), pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(h), for damages caused by their violation of the automatic stay in her bankruptcy proceeding.1 She argues that both 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1334 provide the district court jurisdiction over her claim. We review questions of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. See Milan Express, Inc. v. Averitt Express, Inc., 208 F.3d 975, 978 (11th Cir.2000).

The filing of a bankruptcy petition pursuant to Title 11 operates to automatically stay creditors from pursuing certain specified collection actions against the debtor or estate. See 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). An individual who is injured by a willful violation of the stay may recover damages. See 11 U.S.C. § 362(h) ("An individual injured by any willful violation of a stay provided by this section shall recover actual damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, and, in appropriate circumstances, may recover punitive damages.").

District courts have original jurisdiction of "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Further, the district courts have original jurisdiction over all cases under Title 11, as explicitly stated by 28 U.S.C. § 1334:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the district courts shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction of all cases under title 11.

(b) Notwithstanding any Act of Congress that confers exclusive jurisdiction on a court or courts other than the district courts, the district courts shall have original but not exclusive jurisdiction of all civil proceedings arising under title 11, or arising in or related to cases under title 11.

. . .

Unquestionably, the district courts may "provide that any or all cases under title 11 and any or all proceedings arising under title 11" be referred to the bankruptcy court for that district. 28 U.S.C. § 157(a). However, the explicit § 1334 grant of original jurisdiction over Title 11 cases clearly forcloses a conclusion that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this case. See Price v. Rochford, 947 F.2d 829, 832 n. 1 (7th Cir.1991).2 We therefore REVERSE the district court's order dismissing Lamkins' claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and REMAND for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.


1. According to her complaint, Lamkins filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding on June 4, 2002. She alleges that the Lancey Group was served notice of the automatic stay that same day, and violated the stay by selling real property subject to the stay to itself at a foreclosure sale that it conducted on that same day. Subsequently, Lancey Group demanded a payment of $31,000 and a release of claims against the individuals and corporations involved, in exchange for returning the property to Lamkins. Lamkins paid the sum and executed the release. Lamkins' bankruptcy case was subsequently...

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30 cases
  • Wallis v. Levine
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • January 2, 2013
    ...bankruptcy proceedings have terminated." Price v. Rochford, 947 F.2d 829, 830-31 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Justice Cometh, Ltd. v. Lambert, 426 F.3d 1342, 1343 n.2 (11th Cir. 2005) (holding that district court had original jurisdiction over claim alleging violation of automatic stay). In th......
  • Roberts v. Am. Bank & Trust Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • December 21, 2011
    ...by virtue of the grant of original jurisdiction over Title 11 cases found in 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1334. See Justice Cometh, Ltd. v. Lambert, 426 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir.2005). Section 1334(b) of Title 28 explicitly states that district courts have “original but not exclusive” jurisdiction......
  • Walker v. Got'cha Towing & Recovery, LLC (In re Walker)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Georgia
    • June 17, 2016
    ...emphasis added).5 The District Court summarily denied the Debtor's Motion to Remand (Dkt. 2, Part 19), citing Justice Cometh, Ltd. v. Lambert, 426 F.3d 1342 (11th Cir.2005), which provides that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1334, the district court in which the case is pending has orig......
  • Beaulieu v. City of Alabaster
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • June 30, 2006
    ...exhaust her administrative remedies. Of course, we review questions of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. Justice Cometh, Ltd. v. Lambert, 426 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir. 2005). Specifically, the City argues that Beaulieu's claims are not ripe because she: (1) bypassed Alabaster's administ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Bankruptcy - James D. Walker, Jr. and Amber Nickell
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 57-4, June 2006
    • Invalid date
    ...word "property" rather than "property of the estate" in the absolute priority rule, that exempt property is subject to the rule). 147. 426 F.3d 1342 (11th Cir. 2005). 148. Id. at 1343. 149. Id. at 1342. 150. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1334 (2000). 151. Lambert, 426 F.3d at 1343. 152. Id. However, the c......

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