United States District Court, N.D. Georgia
ALLEY CASSETTY COMPANIES, INC. d/b/a ALLEY CASSETTY BRICK, Appellant,
KEVIN E. WREN and JANINE MARIE WREN, Appellees
For Alley Cassetty Brick, Inc., Appellant: Ryan Lance Isenberg, Isenberg & Hewitt, Atlanta, GA.
For Kevin Erik Wren, Janine Marie Wren, Appellees: Charles Neil Kelley, Jr., William Douglas Jacobson, Cummings & Kelley, PC, Gainesville, GA.
WILLIAM C. O'KELLEY, Senior United States District Judge.
The captioned case is before the court on appeal from the following two orders of the bankruptcy court: 1) finding appellant in contempt of the automatic stay; and 2) awarding $2,500 in attorney's fees as actual damages to appellees. Appellant has also filed a motion to stay the appeal and to remand to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings .
I. Factual Background
Appellant was hired by Hard Rock Pavers, LLC (" Hard Rock" ), a subcontractor that did brick paving for a public works project (the " Project" ) to provide bricks for the Project. Appellant extended credit to Hard Rock with Kevin Wren's personal guaranty.
On May 1, 2011, Kevin Wren (" Wren" ) filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which was later converted to Chapter 7. On May 24, 2011, appellant hired Isenberg & Hewitt, P.C. (" Isenberg & Hewitt" ) to collect the amounts due from Hard Rock to appellant. Isenberg & Hewitt sent a letter to Hard Rock and its owner, Wren, demanding payment of the balance owed on the account together with accrued interest (the " Demand Letter" ). On June 6, 2011, a demand on the bond was sent to the bonding company and the general contractor of the Project.
Having received no notice of the bankruptcy or a response to the Demand Letter, appellant filed a state court lawsuit against Hard Rock, Wren, and Hartford Insurance Company, the bond insurer, on June 27, 2011. On June 29, 2011, Isenberg & Hewitt received a letter from Wren's counsel that included a notice of the bankruptcy. On June 30, 2011, Isenberg & Hewitt notified Wren's counsel, in writing, that no further action would be taken in pursuit of the debt against Wren in the state court and asked that he notify the state court of the bankruptcy. Subsequently, on June 30, 2011, Wren responded, demanding that the case against him be dismissed by the end of the week. Wren also sent a suggestion of bankruptcy to the state court.
On July 15, 2011, Wren filed a motion for contempt of the automatic stay in the bankruptcy court. On August 10, 2011, a
hearing was held on the contempt motion (the " Contempt Hearing" ). On February 6, 2012, the bankruptcy court entered an order finding appellant in contempt and allowing Wren to recover reasonable attorney's fees as actual damages. Wren's counsel, Douglas Jacobson (" Jacobson" ), filed an affidavit in support of Wren's claim for attorney's fees in the amount of $3,915, and appellant filed its objections. On June 27, 2012, the bankruptcy court held a hearing to determine the amount of attorney's fees (the " Fee Hearing" ). On June 28, 2012, the bankruptcy court ...