Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank

Topic(s): 
Court Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, and Appellate Jurisdiction
Documents:
Case Description: 

The issue in this case was whether the denial of confirmation of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan is a “final” order appealable by the debtor—an issue over which there is a longstanding conflict among the circuits. In both this case and in Gordon v. Bank of America, a debtor’s proposed plan was rejected, and the debtor’s appeal from the denial of confirmation was dismissed by a federal court of appeals on the ground that the confirmation denial was not an appealable order. Both debtors filed petitions for certiorari seeking Supreme Court review of the issue. Public Citizen filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of the petition for certiorari in Gordon, but noted that Bullard would be an equally appropriate case for resolving the issue.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Bullard and held the petition in Gordon. Public Citizen, together with the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Bullard’s position on the merits. The brief argued that an order denying plan confirmation qualifies as a final order within the meaning of the bankruptcy appellate jurisdictional statute, and that denying appeals of plan confirmation denials will pose unfair obstacles to appeals by debtors and inhibit authoritative appellate resolution of important issues of bankruptcy law. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the denial of plan confirmation is not a final, appealable order, enshrining a double standard that treats creditors better than debtors.