The Supreme Court granted cert last Friday in the case of Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank, in which the First Circuit held that an order denying confirmation of a reorganization plan is not a “final judgment” and therefore not appealable. The First Circuit’s decision agreed with five other circuits, including the Sixth Circuit, and disagreed with three others, broadening a circuit split we have previously discussed.
The Sixth Circuit addressed this issue sua sponte in In re Lindsey (which we discussed here) in 2013, dismissing the debtor’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In a unanimous ruling, on which the First Circuit relied heavily in Bullard, the Sixth Circuit reasoned that the rejection of a reorganization plan is not final because “[f]ar more than a few ministerial tasks remain to be done after such a decision.” The Sixth Circuit just reaffirmed its dedication to this jurisdictional principle (even in the bankruptcy context) last week, in In re Bradley, where it dismissed the appeal of a BAP determination on the issue of dischargeability because the BAP had remanded for a determination of damages, explaining that “accept[ing] new evidence and issu[ing] additional findings of fact and conclusions of law on damages” were more than ministerial tasks. The court raised the issue of jurisdiction sua sponte in Bradley as well, demonstrating a proactive approach.
It will be interesting to see whether the Supreme Court agrees with the petitioner in Bullard that “finality in bankruptcy is a broader concept than finality in ordinary civil litigation,” or with the Sixth Circuit that there is “no good reason to have ‘final’ mean one thing in the former cases and another in the latter.”