Florida district court rules order on reconsideration of objection to claim determining priority status was final order, dismissing appeal from confirmation of chapter 11 plan

There is a very short 14 day period to appeal final orders in bankruptcy. A question can often arise whether an order is final or not. This was the situation in A&S Entm’t LLC v. Florida, case no. 22-cv-20919-BLOOM, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100789 (S.D. Fla., 6 June 2022). Here the chapter 11 debtor objected to the claim of the Florida Department of Revenue, and filed a reconsideration of the order denying the objection, but waited to file the notice of appeal until the order confirming the plan which treated the claim as priority status, some seven months later. The debtor argued that the order on objection to claim was not final until the confirmation order dealing with the priority status was entered. The district court disagreed, granting the Department of Revenue’s motion to dismiss the appeal.

Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002(a)(1) requires an appeal to be filed within 14 days after the entry of the judgment, order, or decree being appealed. The time is extended under Rule 8002(b) until the entry of the order disposing of any reconsideration motions. The timely filing of a notice of appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional. The appellate court does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal that is not timely filed.1

In bankruptcy, the concept of finality is applied to discrete controversies within the administration of the estate, when the separate dispute has been finally resolved leaving nothing more for the bankruptcy court to do.2 Debtor relied on the decision in In re Golden, 207 B.R. 252 (N.D. Fla. 1996) which found that an order overruling an objection to claim of the IRS was not final, but the appellate court noted that that decision was entered under a prior version of Rule 9021 which now no longer requires a final judgment under Rule 58. Rather, the court found that to determine that priority and reconsideration orders were not final would contravene the purpose of the relaxed rule of finality and long postpone appellate review of fully adjudicated disputes. Delaying appeal until completion of a bankruptcy case could require the unravelling of subsequent adjudications made in reliance on such decision.

Courts have previously determined that orders establishing the priority of a claim are final even if the claim or priority may be reduced by other claims or priorities.3 The district court found that the priority and reconsideration order were final appealable orders, and dismissed the appeal as it was filed more than 14 days after entry of the order on reconsideration of the objection to claim.

1 In re Williams, 216 F.3d 1295, 1298 (11th Cir. 2000).↩

2 In re Atlas, 210 F.3d 1305, 1308 (11th Cir. 2000).↩

3 In re Saco Local Dev. Corp., 711 F.2d 441, 448 (1st Cir. 2006); In re Delgado, 360 B.R. 406, 408 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2006) citing Beneke Co., Inc. v. Economy Lodging Sys., Inc., 234 B.R. 691, 693 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 1999); In re Fowler, 394 F.3d 1208, 1211 (9th Cir. 2005).↩

Michael Barnett
Michael Barnett, PA
506 N Armenia Ave.
Tampa, FL 33609-1703