US judges reject cut-and-paste appeal in fight against federal loan default for Harrisburg restaurant

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A “copy and paste” appeal filed in a court battle over the default on a $ 594,000 Small Business Administration loan that funded the creation of a restaurant in Harrisburg not only failed to impress a federal court, but left the judges more than a little upset.

Judge Thomas M. Hardiman made this irritation clear in the opinion issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, declining the offer of businessmen Desmond Conboy and Brendan Gilsenan to waive their obligation. to repay the SBA loan which was part of Ceoltas’ financial package. Irish pub.

Hardiman’s criticism centered on his finding that their attorney had not made an initial appeal challenging the initial dismissal of their lawsuit against the SBA by US Intermediate District Judge Malachy E. Mannion. Instead, Hardiman wrote, the lawyer simply cut and pasted parts of the original complaint he filed in Mannion court and forwarded it to the circuit court without a proper editing.

“It’s not easy to become a lawyer. The practice of law is difficult, and even the best lawyers make mistakes from time to time. Thus, we sin on the side of leniency towards the bar in similar cases. But the cut-and-paste work ahead of us reflects a dereliction of duty, not an honest mistake, ”Hardiman wrote.

He followed this observation by dismissing the Conboy / Gilsenan appeal, upholding Mannion’s decision, and ordering the couple to pay damages to the agency the SBA hired to collect the loan.

As Hardiman noted, Conboy and Gilsenan used SBA money to purchase and renovate a property in the 300 block of North Second Street. They defaulted on the outstanding loan balance and in 2016 the pub property was sold to a group of European investors. The SBA authorized the sale but refused to release Conboy and Gilsenan from their obligation to repay approximately $ 375,000, according to court documents.

Conboy and Gilsenan then sued the SBA and the collection agency it hired, CBE Group, citing violations of state and federal laws governing debt collection. In dismissing the lawsuit, Mannion found no basis for their claims, including an allegation of unjust enrichment.

Hardiman wrote that the appeal of Mannion’s decision filed with his court lacked proper arguments for an appeal and simply repeated the claims rejected by the district judge. The Conboy / Gilsenan challenge to CBE’s claim for financial damages was “yet another cut-and-paste job,” Hardiman found, and he ordered them to pay CBE, even though Mannion had denied the compensation claim. of CBE. CBE sought compensation on the grounds that the couple’s trial was frivolous.

The amount Conboy and Gilsenan will have to pay to CBE remains uncertain pending a new argument in the circuit court.

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