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Summarizing by Amir Shachmurove

LaTasha Tennial v. REI Nation

Case Type:
Case Status:
No. 20-5358 (6th Circuit, Oct 28,2020) Published
Having previously treated Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a)(1)'s appellate deadline as jurisdictional, the Sixth Circuit here held it to be mandatory. The panel pointed to Supreme Court cases limning the distinction between jurisdictional and mandatory and four Sixth Circuit cases treating other rule-based deadlines as non-jurisdictional. It endorsed a tenet—a bankruptcy appellate deadline is not jurisdictional if Congress did not create it—that admittedly defied other circuits' recent views, a split thusly created. Whatever label Rule 8002(a)(1)'s deadline merited, the debtor had been fatally dilatory.
Procedural context:
Though required to file her appeal of the bankruptcy court's order within fourteen days of its issue -- by September 26, 2019 -- per Rule 8002(a)(1), LaTasha Tennial (“Tennial” or the “Debtor”) did not do so until October 9, 2019. Accordingly, the district court dismissed Tennial’s appeal as untimely. In its view, Tennial’s failure to file her appeal within the fourteen-day window allotted by Rule 8002(a)(1) deprived it of the subject matter jurisdiction to review the original bankruptcy court order. Nor, it added, could the appeal deadline be extended, as Tennial had failed to move for an extension under another provision -- paragraph (d) -- of this same rule. The Sixth Circuit affirmed on an alternate ground: though Rule 8002(a)(1)’s deadline is not jurisdictional, as the district court determined, it is nevertheless mandatory, and Tennial indubitably ran afoul of it, an argument the panel could properly consider because REI had raised the issue in its motion to dismiss. Practically, the Debtor lost because their appeal had not been filed until after fourteen days has elapsed. More significantly, the panel reclassified the deadline in Rule 8002(a)(1) in direct contrast with other intermediate appellate authority as to this same exact issue.
After her mortgage company foreclosed on her home, Tennial filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, thus triggering an automatic stay of any further action against her home. As such, Tennial was able to continue living in her home pursuant to § 362. In the very next year, this calm was disrupted when REI Nation (“REI”) bought Tennial’s home from the mortgage company. Upon doing so, REI naturally moved the bankruptcy court to end the automatic stay. The bankruptcy court (“court”) terminated the stay in an order entered on September 12, 2019. Tennial’s attorney received electronic notice of the order that same day, and the bankruptcy court mailed a copy to Tennial by first class mail on September 14. A single text—Rule 8002(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Rules” collectively, or “Rule []” individually)—thereupon started an all-import clock’s ticking. Based on this provisions’ text, Tennial had fourteen days—until September 26, 2019—to appeal the bankruptcy court’s order to the district court. Tennial, however, did not file her notice of appeal until October 9, 2019. At the bottom of her notice, she wrote, “I am filing this notice of Appeal after the allowed time because I did not receive a copy of the order until September 26, 2019, via U.S. Postal Service.” The case thus centered on the language of Rule 8002(a)(1), considered in light of the text of section 158(c)(2) in title 28 of the United States Code. The former requires that “a notice of appeal must be filed with the bankruptcy clerk within 14 days after entry of the judgment, order, or decree being appealed.” The latter provides that bankruptcy appeals “shall be taken in the same manner as appeals in civil proceedings generally are taken to the courts of appeals from the district courts and in the time provided by Rule 8002 of the Bankruptcy Rules.”
Jeffrey S. Sutton; Deborah L. Cook; and Helene N. White

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