Ritzen Group, Inc. v. Jackson Masonry, LLC

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Bankruptcy Law
  • Date Filed: January 14, 2020
  • Case #: 18-938
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

A creditor’s motion for relief from the automatic stay initiates a distinct proceeding terminating in a final, appealable order when the bankruptcy court rules dispositively on the motion.

Petitioner sued Respondent for breach of contract in state court, but Respondent filed for Bankruptcy just days before trial began. Petitioner moved for relief from the automatic stay, asking to be allowed to proceed to trial. The Bankruptcy Court denied the motion. Parties are required to appeal from a final order "within 14 days after entry of the . . . order . . . being appealed." 28 U.S.C. § 158(c)(2). Petitioner filed an appeal challenging the court’s denial after the two-week window had expired. The district court rejected the appeal as untimely. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the bankruptcy court’s order denying relief was a final, appealable order and that Petitioner’s appeal was rightly rejected as being untimely. The Supreme Court reasoned that, under the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 158(a), motions for relief from the automatic stay are independent proceedings separate from claim resolution. Furthermore, the Supreme Court reasoned that it is irrelevant whether the court rested its decision on a substantive determination, so long as the order "conclusively resolved" the motion for relief. Therefore, the order denying relief was final, and Petitioner failed to appeal in a timely manner. AFFIRMED. 

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