Rhino Energy LLC v. C.O.P. Coal Development Co. (In re C.W. Mining Co.)

Rhino Energy LLC, et al. v. C.O.P Coal Dev. Co., et al. (In re C.W. Mining Co.), Case No. 15-4108 (10th Cir. September 16, 2016).
A District Court’s order is not final if it remands a case to the Bankruptcy Court for significant further proceedings and thus, the 10th Circuit does not have appellate jurisdiction. To qualify as a collateral-order, the order must resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment.
Procedural context:
The Bankruptcy Court in Utah dismissed some of plaintiffs’ claims and all of defendants’ counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction. The District Court held that the Bankruptcy Court erred in concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the claims and counterclaims and remanded the case to the Bankruptcy Court to consider plaintiffs’ summary-judgment motion on the merits. Rather than accept the remand, defendants appealed and plaintiffs moved to dismiss the appeal. The 10th Circuit dismissed the appeal finding significant further proceedings were required in the bankruptcy court and as a result, the District Court’s order was not final which left the 10th Circuit without jurisdiction. The 10th Circuit also found that the collateral-order doctrine did not apply since any decision of the Bankruptcy Court will be reviewable on appeal.
Plaintiffs bought certain assets from CW Mining’s bankruptcy estate including leases with defendants. Defendants claimed plaintiffs defaulted under the leases and plaintiffs brought an adversary proceeding asserting six claims for relief. Defendants filed seven counterclaims. Plaintiffs filed a summary judgment motion but rather than rule on that, the bankruptcy court dismissed four of plaintiffs’ claims and all seven of defendants’ counterclaims.
Phillips, McHugh, Moritz

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