Steffen v. Menchise (In re Steffen)

Steffen v. Menchise, Case No. 13-11052 (11th Cir. Jan. 16, 2014)(unpublished)
Affirming district court's ruling that appeal was moot due to debtor-plaintiff's failure to obtain a stay of sale under 11 U.S.C.§363(m). Closing by trustee before sale order was final did not affect debtor-plaintiff's right to seek a stay and is not grounds for reversal.
Procedural context:
Appeal from district court's (i) order dismissing as moot debtor-plaintiff's appeal of bankruptcy court order approving sale of real property pursuant to 11 U.S.C.§363, and (ii) denial of motion to reconsider dismissal order. (de novo review of legal conclusions, plenary review re interpretation of Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure)
Two days after issuance of order, dated February 6, 2012, authorizing sale of real property, trustee closed the sale. On February 14, 2012 Steffen moved for stay pending appeal, which appeal was denied on February 21, 2012. The Court held that plain language of section 363 rendered Steffen's appeal moot - she failed to obtain a stay. Re Steffen's argument, in part, that trustee's early sale violated Fed. R. Bankr. P. 6004(h)'s 14-day stay, the Court noted that "the ... stay applies 'unless the court orders otherwise'", which time period the bankruptcy court did curtail by the terms of its sale order. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 6004(h) The Court also noted that though the trustee closed before sale order was final, this action did not affect Steffen's right to seek a stay and is not grounds for reversal. Should Ms. Steffen have obtained a stay, the district court could have invalidated the sale.
Hull. Marcus and Jordan

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