Ritzen Group, Inc. v. Jackson Masonry, LLC

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Bankruptcy Law
  • Date Filed: May 20, 2019
  • Case #: 18-938
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 906 F.3d 494 (6th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether an order denying a motion for relief from the automatic stay is a final order under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a) (1).

Petitioner initiated a state court action for material breach of a real estate purchase contract with Respondent. On the day of the second sanctions hearing and seven days before trial, Respondent filed its chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, staying the action. Petitioner sought relief from the automatic stay arguing that Respondent had filed the bankruptcy case in bad faith. The bankruptcy court ultimately ruled for Respondent. Petitioner’s appeal was held untimely by the Middle District of Tennessee. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Petitioner asks for guidance on the circuit court split. Two circuits recognize a case by case analysis which is not always final and appealable. Seven circuits have applied a “blanket rule” where denying motions for relief are always appealable. The Sixth Circuit held all bankruptcy court orders which “fully resolve a judicial unit” are final and immediately appealable. Petitioner argues that the Sixth Circuit’s opinion conflicts with this Court’s precedent in Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, — U.S. —, 135 S. Ct. 1686 (2015), which states “only plan confirmation—or case dismissal—alters the status quo and fixes the rights and obligations of the parties,” whereas denial “changes little.” Id. at 1692. The Court has also previously held that determining a “final” ruling would be an impossible uniform formula, as finality is a flexible concept. Petitioner argues orders denying relief would not be “final” because the denial does not fully resolve the underlying issues.

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