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In re Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska

United States District Court, D. Alaska

February 12, 2015

In re CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NORTHERN ALASKA, Debtor,
v.
UNAATUQ, LLC; NANCY E. GREEN; and LOUIE GREEN, SR., Appellees. LOUIE GREEN, JR., Appellant, Br. No. 08-00110 DMD Adv. No. 11-90002

ORDER

H. RUSSEL HOLLAND, District Judge.

Louie Green, Jr. appeals the bankruptcy court's order granting Unaatuq, LLC's Motion to Enforce Judgment and Related Orders. Louie Jr. contends that he adversely possessed a portion of the Pilgrim Springs property that debtor sold to Unaatuq without providing notice of the proposed sale to Louie. Louie Jr. contends that he built a cabin, outbuildings, and trails near the airport on the Pilgrim Springs property in 1989 and that any time debtor's agents or representatives went out to the Pilgrim Springs property, they would have seen his cabin, outbuilding, and trails because the cabin was located near the airport.

This appeal is based on the same operative facts and raises the same issues as those in Case No. 4:14-cv-0010, which was brought by Louie Jr.'s brother, Dewey "Stacey" Green, and Stacey's wife, Mary Reader. Thus, the bankruptcy court's order is affirmed for the same reasons as set forth in the decision entered in that case, a copy of which is attached to this order.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ALASKA

ORDER

Dewey "Stacey" Green and Mary Reader appeal the bankruptcy court's order granting Unaatuq, LLC's Motion to Enforce Judgment and Related Orders. Oral argument was not requested and is not deemed necessary.

Background

Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska (CBNA) filed a Chapter 11 petition in bankruptcy court on March 1, 2008. At the time of the filing, CBNA owned the Pilgrim Springs property, which is 320 acres of land located on the Seward Peninsula, north of Nome, Alaska. CBNA had leased the Pilgrim Springs property to Pilgrim Springs, Ltd. (PSL) on November 1, 1969. PSL had a 99-year lease and was granted "the exclusive right to possess and develop the Property."[1]

Louis Green, Sr. served as the caretaker of the Pilgrim Springs property for PSL from 1975 to 1985 or 1987.[2] In a 1992 letter to CBNA, Louis Sr. wrote that "Pilgrim Springs, Ltd. asked myself and my family to serve as caretakers of the Church property from 1975 to the late 1980s."[3] After receiving the letter, CBNA wrote to PSL to express its "concern about those who are squatting on the property, namely, the Green family."[4] In response, PSL advised CBNA that the Green "family broke up" and that it had only given permission to Annie Green[5] to continue to use the property.[6] In 1994, Louis Sr. again became the caretaker of the property for PSL and remained so until the lease was terminated.[7]

Stacey Green is Louis Sr.'s son. Stacey and Mary Reader have long been domestic partners and were married in 2006.

In 1989 or 1990, Stacey selected a site on the Pilgrim Springs property on which to build a cabin.[8] Stacey avers that his father instructed him not to contact PSL about whether it was permissible to build a cabin on the property.[9] After selecting a cabin site, Stacey began building a trail and a bridge and in 1993 started moving materials to the site to construct a cabin.[10] Stacey and Mary aver that they have consistently used the property for camping, berry picking, and walking on the trails they have built and that they have consistently used their cabin and a near-by hot spring.[11] Stacey and Mary have invested approximately $50, 000 to build their cabin and make improvements to the cabin and the surrounding property.[12]

In 2008, CBNA sought approval from the bankruptcy court to terminate its lease with PSL so that it could sell the Pilgrim Springs property free and clear of all liens and interests in the property. Louis Sr. was sent notice of CBNA's motion to terminate the lease as PSL's registered agent.[13] On December 5, 2008, the bankruptcy court granted CBNA's motion to terminate the 99-year lease of the Pilgrim Springs property.[14]

On July 10, 2009, Tom Buzek, the business administrator for CBNA, asked Stacey and Mary "to consider the possibility of paying rent for having a cabin on the Pilgrim Springs property."[15] Stacey and Mary "politely declined" the request to pay rent for their use of the Pilgrim Springs property.[16]

On December 17, 2009, CBNA filed its reorganization Plan.[17] The Plan called for the auction and sale of the Pilgrim Springs property.[18]

Louis Sr. and Nancy commenced a quiet title action in state court against CBNA, claiming title to the entire Pilgrim Springs property by adverse possession. On January 21, 2010, the bankruptcy court entered an order and judgment that Louis Sr. and Nancy had violated the automatic stay by filing their quiet title action.[19] On January 29, 2010, Louis Sr. and Nancy filed an appeal of that order and judgment and also sought a preliminary injunction against the proposed sale.[20] On February 26, 2010, the bankruptcy court denied their motion for preliminary injunction.[21] On March 4, 2010, the district court denied their emergency motion for an order staying the sale of the Pilgrim Springs property.[22]

On April 26, 2010, the bankruptcy court entered an order approving the sale of the Pilgrim Springs property to Unaatuq, LLC.[23] The sale to Unaatuq was made "free and clear" of all interests, including "any claims to title to the Pilgrim Springs Property by Louis Green, Sr. and Nancy Green...."[24] When CBNA filed its Stipulated Motion seeking approval of the sale of the Pilgrim Springs property, Stacey ...


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