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IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVISION In re: HOUSTON REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORK, L.P. Alleged Debtor. HOUSTON BASEBALL PARTNERS LLC, Plaintiff, vs. MCLANE CHAMPIONS, LLC, R. DRAYTON MCLANE, JR., COMCAST CORPORATION, and NBCUNIVERSAL MEDIA, LLC, Defendants. § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § Chapter 11 Case No. 13-35998

Adversary Proceeding No. 13-03325 (Removed from the 80th Judicial District Court, Harris County, Texas)

HOUSTON BASEBALL PARTNERS LLC’S MOTION TO STRIKE COMCAST DEFENDANTS’ NOTICE OF REMOVAL This motion seeks an order that may adversely affect you. If you oppose the motion, you should immediately contact the moving party to resolve the dispute. If you and the moving party cannot agree, you must file a response and send a copy to the moving party. You must file and serve your response within 21 days of the date this was served on you. Your response must state why the motion should not be granted. If you do not file a timely response, the relief may be granted without further notice to you. If you oppose the motion and have not reached an agreement, you must attend the hearing. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the court may consider evidence at the hearing and may decide the motion at the hearing. Represented parties should act through their attorney. TO THE HONORABLE MARVIN ISGUR, UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE: Houston Baseball Partners LLC (“Partners”), Plaintiff in the above-captioned adversary proceeding, files this Motion to Strike Comcast Defendants’ Notice of Removal. In support of this Motion, Partners would respectfully show the Court as follows:

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I. JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT 1. Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media, LLC (“Comcast Defendants”)

allege that the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas has original jurisdiction over this adversary proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b). [Case No. 13-03325, Dkt. 1, ¶ 1]. 2. Partners disputes these jurisdictional allegations and does not submit to the

jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court or intend for this Motion to constitute or effect a waiver of any of its respective rights or the rights to which it may be entitled, in law or in equity, all of which rights, claims, actions, defenses, setoffs, or recoupments Partners expressly reserves. II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND 3. Partners filed its Original Petition in the District Court of Harris County, Texas,

80th Judicial District on November 21, 2013. 4. On November 29, 2013, Comcast Defendants filed a Notice of Removal in the

United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division [Case No. 13-03325, Dkt. 1] and a copy of that notice in the 80th Judicial District Court, Harris County, Texas. Comcast Defendants filed nothing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. 5. On December 12, 2013, the Court issued a Case Management Order “abat[ing] this

adversary proceeding” pending a decision on Houston Astros LLC’s motion to dismiss the involuntary petition against the alleged debtor, Houston Regional Sports Network, L.P. (the “Network”), in the bankruptcy case to which this proceeding allegedly relates. [Case No. 1303325, Dkt. 15].

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6.

On February 4, 2014, the Court denied the Houston Astros’ motion to dismiss and

granted “[r]elief under Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code” against the Network. [Case No. 13-35998, Dkt. 210]. The Court has now lifted the abatement and set a schedule for a motion to remand. See Feb. 11, 2014 Hr’g Tr. at 61:1–70:6 [Case No. 13-35998, Dkt. 2/11/14 Minutes Entry]. III. ARGUMENT 7. Comcast Defendants’ Notice of Removal was and is ineffective and void. This

Court should strike the Notice of Removal from the record and direct the clerk of court to notify the clerk of the District Court of Harris County, Texas, 80th Judicial District, that this action was not properly removed. 8. A defendant may only “remove any claim or cause of action in a civil action”

related to bankruptcy cases “to the district court for the district where such civil action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1452(a) (emphasis added). 9. To effect removal, a defendant “shall file in the district court of the United States

for the district and division within which such action is pending a notice of removal signed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal, together with a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant or defendants in such action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a) (emphasis added). It is undisputed that Comcast Defendants never did this. 10. District courts “may provide that any or all cases under title 11 and any or all

proceedings arising under title 11 or arising in or related to a case under title 11 shall be referred to the bankruptcy judges for the district.” 28 U.S.C. § 157(a). General Order 2012-6 of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, entered on May 24, 2012, provides that

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“Bankruptcy cases and proceedings arising under Title 11 or arising in or related to a case under Title 11 of the United States Code are automatically referred to the bankruptcy judges of this district” but does not authorize direct filing in the Bankruptcy Court, which would contravene the requirement of the removal statutes cited above. 11. Comcast Defendants’ direct removal of Partners’ Original Petition to Bankruptcy

Court ignores the plain requirement of the federal removal statute that any such notice “shall [be] file[d] in the district court.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). Removal here was never properly effected because the required statutory procedure was not followed. Accordingly, this action is not properly before this Court. 12. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has concluded that the

general and bankruptcy removal statutes’ plain language requires an action to be removed to a district court. See Centrust Sav. Bank v. Love, 131 B.R. 64, 65–66 (S.D. Tex. 1991). In Centrust, Judge Hughes observed that “no statute allows removal directly from a state court to bankruptcy court,” and that “removal is never proper directly to the bankruptcy court.” Id. at 66. Although not unanimous, numerous other courts agree with the law of this District.1 As

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See, e.g., LMRT Assocs., LC v. MB Airmont Farms, LLC, 447 B.R. 470, 473–74 n.6 (E.D. Va. 2011) (“A majority of courts have concluded that direct removal to the bankruptcy court is permissible . . . [but] [t]he minority view appears to be the correct one as it follows the text of the statute most closely; it is the text of the statute, after all, that must drive the analysis.”); McKinstry v. Sergent, 442 B.R. 567, 572 (E.D. Ky. 2011) (“[T]he theory supporting direct removal . . . is a stretch . . . . [T]he Court is hesitant to read 28 U.S.C. § 1452(a)’s requirement that parties remove to the ‘district court’ to authorize removal directly to bankruptcy courts because an earlier version of the statute expressly permitted just that—an allowance that was changed as part of an effort to reign in the independence of Article I bankruptcy courts.”); Calvary Baptist Temple v. Reliance Trust Co. (In re Calvary Baptist Temple), No. 10–40754, 2010 WL 6794159, at *1 (Bankr. S.D. Ga. Aug. 26, 2010) (“[R]emoval was procedurally improper because [the defendant] removed the claims directly to this Court rather than to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (the “District Court”) as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1452(a).”); Morris Black & Sons, Inc. v. 23S23 Constr., Inc. (In re Carriage House Condominiums L.P.), 415 B.R. 133, 138-39 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (striking notice of 4

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these courts and Judge Hughes concluded, where the text of the statute is clear, as it is here, the statutory language must control. See also Conn. Nat’l Bank v. Germain, 503 U.S. 249, 253–54 (1992) (“[C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there. When the words of a statute are unambiguous, then . . . judicial inquiry is complete.” (citations omitted)). 13. General Order 2012-6 does not authorize direct removal to the Bankruptcy Court,

and Comcast Defendants’ reliance on it in their Notice of Removal is misplaced. [Case No. 1303325, Dkt. 1, ¶ 1]. General Order 2012-6 provides: “[b]ankruptcy cases and proceedings arising under Title 11 or arising in or related to a case under Title 11 of the United States Code are automatically referred to the bankruptcy judges of this district . . . .” General Order 2012-6 at ¶ 1 (emphasis added). It also states that “[c]ases related to a bankruptcy may be removed only from state court to the United States District Court and not from other federal courts.” Id. at ¶ 3 (emphasis added). Nowhere in the General Order did the District Court authorize direct removal to the Bankruptcy Court. Indeed, Judge Hughes previously rejected a defendant’s similar reliance on this standing referral order as a basis for direct removal to the Bankruptcy Court, concluding that “[e]ven when a standing order automatically referring the case to the bankruptcy

removal because Section 1452(a) “limit[s] removal to district courts” notwithstanding court’s standing order referring all matters related to bankruptcy cases to the bankruptcy court); Doyle v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 307 B.R. 462, 464–65 (E.D. Pa. 2004) (striking notice of removal after finding “no statutory support” for direct removal to bankruptcy court and rejecting the contention that “‘district court’ in section 1452(a) could be read as embracing bankruptcy courts”); Sharp Elecs. Corp. v. Deutsche Fin. Servs. Corp., 222 B.R. 259, 264 (Bankr. D. Md. 1998) (striking notice of removal after observing that the “specific right of direct removal to the bankruptcy court died with [N. Pipeline Constr. Co. v.] Marathon [Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50 (1982)] and the Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984”); Mitchell v. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks Baseball Club (In re Kevin Mitchell), 206 B.R. 204, 211 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 1997) (“28 U.S.C. § 1452(a) must properly be read as referring to the removal of an action to district court . . . and not as allowing removal of actions directly to bankruptcy court (there is no jurisdiction to remove actions directly to bankruptcy court).”). 5

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court is employed by the district court, the case still touches the United States District Court.” Centrust, 131 B.R. at 66. Under the plain language of the removal statute, to effect removal a “party must remove the case from state court to the district court.” Id.2 IV. 14. REQUESTED RELIEF

Because Comcast Defendants did not follow the required statutory removal

procedure, removal of Partners’ Original Petition was ineffective. Comcast Defendants’ Notice of Removal [Case No. 13-03325, Dkt. 1] should be stricken. 15. The Court has the inherent authority to grant Partners’ Motion and issue the

proposed order attached hereto. See, e.g., Ocean-Oil Expert Witness, Inc. v. O’Dwyer, 451 F. App’x 324, 332 (5th Cir. 2011) (noting that “the inherent power of the court to control parties and cases before it” includes “[s]triking a pleading”). Movant respectfully requests an oral hearing on this Motion and that it be heard before any remand motion. Since the removal was procedurally defective, this Proceeding is not properly before the Court.

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In any event, the General Order could not overrule the removal procedure required by statute. Although 28 U.S.C. § 157(a) permits district courts to automatically refer bankruptcy cases to bankruptcy courts, it cannot be read into conflict with Section 1452(a). Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 9029 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure require local rules to “be consistent with” federal statutes. See also Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 9–10 (1941) (Congress may delegate to federal courts “authority to make rules not inconsistent with the statutes or Constitution of the United States”); First Nat’l Bank, Henrietta v. Small Business Admin., 429 F.2d 280, 284 (5th Cir. 1970) (“Court procedure may be regulated by local rule when not provided for in the federal rules and then only ‘in [a] manner not inconsistent with these rules.’” (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 83)). A judge’s standing orders “may regulate practice in any manner consistent with federal law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 83(b); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9029(b). But removal directly to bankruptcy court is inconsistent with 28 U.S.C. § 1452(a), which cannot be altered or amended by judicial decision. Moreover, federalism concerns would also be triggered were a state court stripped of its jurisdiction over a case properly before it without adhering to the letter of the federal statutory scheme authorizing removal of that case from the state court. 6

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Respectfully submitted,

_/s/ Richard B. Drubel___________ Richard B. Drubel (admitted pro hac vice) Colleen A. Harrison (admitted pro hac vice) Jonathan R. Voegele (admitted pro hac vice) BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER LLP 26 South Main Street Hanover, NH 03755 Telephone: (603) 643-9090 Facsimile: (603) 643-9010 rdrubel@bsfllp.com charrison@bsfllp.com jvoegele@bsfllp.com Scott E. Gant (admitted pro hac vice) BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER LLP 5301 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC 20015 Telephone: (202) 237-2727 Facsimile: (202) 237-6131 sgant@bsfllp.com Counsel for Houston Baseball Partners LLC

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I hereby certify that on March 10, 2014, a copy of Houston Baseball Partners LLC’s Motion to Strike Comcast Defendants’ Notice of Removal was served via First-Class mail to the following parties: Vincent P. Slusher Eli Burriss Andrew Mayo Andrew Zollinger DLA PIPER 1717 Main Street, Suite 4600 Dallas, TX 75201-4629 Email: Vince.Slusher@dlapiper.com Eli.Burriss@dlapiper.com Andrew.Mayo@dlapiper.com Andrew.Zollinger@dlapiper.com (Attorneys for Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media, LLC) Howard M. Shapiro Craig Goldblatt Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP 1875 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006 Email: howard.shapiro@wilmerhale.com craig.goldblatt@wilmerhale.com (Attorneys for Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media, LLC) Wayne Fisher Fisher Boyd & Huguenard, LLP 2777 Allen Parkway, 14th Floor Houston, Texas 77019 Email: WayneF@fisherboyd.com (Attorney for Defendants McLane Champions, LLC and R. Drayton McLane, Jr.) Arthur J. Burke Timothy Graulich Dana M. Seshens Davis Polk &Wardwell LLP 450 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10017 Email: arthur.burke@davispolk.com timothy.graulich@davispolk.com dana.seshens@davispolk.com (Attorneys for Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media, LLC)

Dated: March 10, 2014

_/s/ Richard B. Drubel_________ Richard B. Drubel

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