United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division
IN RE YELLOW POPLAR LUMBER COMPANY, INC., Debtor.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones United States District Judge.
reasons hereafter set forth, it is ORDERED that this
bankruptcy case is REFERRED to the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the Western District of Virginia.
history of this case, which is governed by the Bankruptcy Act
of 1898 and the 1973 Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, is as
17, 1928, White Oak Lumber Company filed a petition in the
United States District Court for the Western District of
South Carolina to have Yellow Poplar Lumber Company, Inc.
(“Yellow Poplar”) adjudged a bankrupt. Yellow
Poplar was adjudged a bankrupt and the bankruptcy case was
closed in 1931. Eighty-two years later, on April 3, 2013,
suit was filed in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County,
Virginia, seeking a determination of the ownership of the gas
estates of certain parcels of land located in Virginia, based
upon a 1929 deed from Yellow Poplar's bankruptcy
trustee. The defendants removed the case to the
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of
Virginia. Later, at the request of the plaintiff, this court
withdrew reference of this removed declaratory judgment
action from the bankruptcy court. On December 10, 2013, the
court appointed John M. Lamie to serve as Guardian ad Litem
(“GAL”) on behalf of the unknown successors in
interest to Yellow Poplar. Order, ECF No. 101.
with the agreement of the parties, the United States District
Court for the District of South Carolina reopened Yellow
Poplar's bankruptcy case and transferred it in its
entirety to this court. Order, In re Yellow Poplar Lumber
Co., Case No. 8:28-cv-01101-BHH (Closed Case No. B-1101)
(D.S.C. July 20, 2015); Case No. 1:15CV00037, ECF No. 4. On
August 24, 2015, this court appointed Mr. Lamie to serve as
the replacement Trustee for Yellow Poplar.Order, ECF No.
397. The court later authorized the employment of Mr. Lamie
in his capacity as an attorney, along with his law firm,
Browning, Lamie & Gifford, P.C., as counsel for the
case was set for jury trial, but on January 25, 2017, a few
days before trial, the parties notified the court that they
had reached a settlement of the ownership claims. On February
8, 2017, the Trustee filed a Settlement Agreement and
accompanying Motion for Approval of Settlement. After
publication of notice of the proposed settlement, the court
held a hearing on the settlement on May 12, 2017. No
objections to the settlement were submitted. An Order
approving the settlement and quieting title to the subject
property was entered on June 7, 2017. Order, ECF No. 550. Mr.
Lamie applied for payment of his fees and expenses as GAL,
Trustee, and counsel to the Trustee, which were approved. Op.
& Order, June 28, 2017, ECF No. 552. The ownership case
was dismissed from the docket of this court on June 28, 2017,
ECF No. 553.
on this court's approval of the settlement, which
determined the shares of ownership of the gas interests in
question, it is anticipated that the bankruptcy estate of
Yellow Poplar will receive approximately $2 million of gas
royalties now being held in escrow by the Virginia Gas and
Oil Board. In addition, it is likely to receive ongoing
apparent that the bankruptcy court is in the best position to
administer Yellow Poplar's bankruptcy estate. In such
administration, the bankruptcy court may wish to consider two
issues. First, one of the parties to the ownership case
objected to the appointment of Mr. Lamie as Trustee on the
ground that he had previously been appointed as GAL for the
unknown successors in interest to Yellow Poplar and had in
fact represented certain descendants of one of its
shareholders. I determined that his service as Trustee in the
ownership case would pose no conflict since it did not
encompass the distribution of assets. Op. & Order 7, Aug.
24, 2015, 1:15CR00037, ECF No. 13. The individuals alleged to
be successors to a shareholder obtained other counsel after
Mr. Lamie's appointment as Trustee, and it may be that no
conflict will exist in the administration of the estate. In
addition, Mr. Lamie is well experienced in Yellow
Poplar's property and affairs, and may be best suited to
continue to serve as Trustee.
addition, pursuant to Rule 212(c) of Federal Rules of
Bankruptcy Procedure (1973), which former rule is applicable
to this case, a bond or the giving of other security by Mr.
Lamie as Trustee was excused upon his appointment, because he
then had no custody of any property of the estate. Order,
Oct. 14, 2015, 1:15CV00037, ECF No. 16. The bankruptcy court
will wish to reconsider that issue in lieu of the anticipated
payment of royalties to Yellow Poplar's estate.
clerk of this court shall administratively terminate the
bankruptcy case from the docket of this court, in light of
clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Opinion and Order
to the Honorable Paul Black, United Sates Bankruptcy Judge
for the Western District of Virginia, to John W.L. Craig, II,
Clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western
District of Virginia, and to Margaret Garber, Assistant
United States Trustee, Office of the United States Trustee,
First Campbell Square Building, Suite 505, 210 First Street,
SW, Roanoke, Virginia 24011.
 South Carolina was then divided into
two federal judicial districts. It was reorganized as a
single district in 1965. ...