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Appealing from Bankruptcy: Sixth Circuit Says Follow the Rules

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2020 | Bankruptcy, Debt, Firm News

By: Laura Day DelCotto

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision discussing deadlines for appeals from Bankruptcy Court. The case helps create a growing split among the circuits. This could take us all back to the (newly changed) Supreme Court, and is a change from prior Sixth Circuit caselaw.

The facts are not complex and the opinion is a short 8-page read. But it makes clear that the deadlines in Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a)(1) are not jurisdictional. This was something the Sixth Circuit has previously held. This is important so that the courts can or cannot get into whether a time limit was blown or not. If the issue is jurisdictional, then the courts lack appellate jurisdiction for ruling in any fashion.

14 Day Appeal

In Tennial v REI Nation LLC, 20-5358 (6th Cir. Oct 28, 2020), the appeal was dismissed as being “dilatory” but not for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The 14 day time limit for filing a notice of appeal is mandatory, but is rule-based, not a “jurisdictional imperative.”

The Sixth Circuit changed its mind and reexamined its prior caselaw. In light of the Supreme Court case of Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 US 500 (2006).   Since Congress did not explicitly make the deadlines jurisdictional in the statutes, the Court noted that this is “not… a hard principle to apply here.”

While this could be an important ruling, the best rule is to always meet your 14 day deadline with a few days to spare. Save your time and money towards arguing over the merits, not whether your appeal was timely.

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