Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Bankruptcy Law
  • Date Filed: May 4, 2015
  • Case #: 14-116
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Roberts, C.J., delivered the Court's unanimous decision.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel does not consider denial of debtor repayment plans final orders that warrant appeal.

Petitioner filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and submitted a repayment plan to all creditors, including Respondent, who was owed the bulk of Petitioner's debt for his mortgage. If the plan was confirmed, Petitioner could make payments on his mortgage and keep his home. After five years of timely payments, Petitioner could be relieved of his remaining debt. However, Respondent denied the terms of Petitioner's proposed repayment plan and the Bankruptcy Court affirmed.

Petitioner appealed to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP). Citing jurisdictional issues due to lack of a final order, the BAP denied review. Subsequently, Petitioner appealed and the Court of Appeals granted interlocutory relief while it echoed the BAP's ruling, stating that denial of a repayment plan is not equal to a final order because Petitioner is still free to create another plan. Without a final order, Petitioner may not appeal any decision regarding his proposed repayment plan.

The Supreme Court held that the denial of confirmation of Petitioner's repayment plan was not a final order. The BAP recognizes confirmations of repayment plans or dismissals as final, but not denials. Only final orders can be reviewed by the BAP. Because Petitioner has the option to revise the repayment plan, he is not faced with an undue burden. The Supreme Court reasoned that appeals should be limited and that liberal interpretations of finality will lead to increased delays. Consequently, Petitioner should be encouraged to work through the process with Respondent, and other creditors, before filing an appeal.

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