United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON APPELLANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC.
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. Senior United States District Judge.
2, 2016, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District
of Connecticut entered an order denying the "Motion to
Avoid Liens Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(1)" of
bankruptcy debtors Stuart Scott Snyder and Doreen Anne
Snyder. See In Re Snyder, Bankr. No. 15-50533, Doc.
157 (Bankr. D. Conn.). On June 16, 2016, the Snyders
commenced an appeal in this Court with respect to the denial
of that motion. On June 13, 2016, the Snyders (hereinafter
"Appellants") filed a post-judgment motion [Doc.
165] in bankruptcy court, seeking relief under each prong of
Federal Rule 8002(b)(1)(A)-(D) of Bankruptcy Procedure.
Specifically, Appellants moved: "to amend or make
additional findings [of fact] under Rule 7052, "
"to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 9023, "
"for a new trial under Rule 9023, " or "for
relief under Rule 9024" (because the motion was
"filed within 14 days after the judgment [was]
entered"). In re Snyder, Doc. 165
("Motion" for reconsideration of the bankruptcy
court's order denying Debtors' Motion to Avoid Lien).
Under those circumstances, the Snyders' time to file a
notice of appeal was tolled while the Rule 8000(b)(1) motion
was pending. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8002(b)(2). On September 29,
2016, the bankruptcy court granted the post-judgment motion,
providing the relief for which Appellants pray in this
appeal. See In Re Snyder, Doc. 204.
to Federal Rule 8002(a)(1) of Bankruptcy Procedure, a notice
of appeal must be filed within fourteen days after the entry
of the judgment, order, or decree appealed. If, however, a
post-judgment motion is filed under one or more of the prongs
set forth in Federal Rule 8002(b)(1) of Bankruptcy Procedure,
the time to file a notice of appeal is tolled while that
motion is pending. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8002(b)(1)(A)-(D).
Moreover, "[i]f a party files a notice of appeal after
the [bankruptcy] court announces or enters a judgment, order,
or decree - but before it disposes of any motion listed [in
Rule 8002(b)(1)(A)-(D)] - the notice becomes effective when
the order disposing of the last such remaining motion is
entered." Id. 8002(b)(2).
described above, in the case at bar, Appellants filed a
post-judgment motion under Federal Rule 8002(b)(1)(A)-(D) of
Bankruptcy Procedure on June 13, 2016, within fourteen days
after the bankruptcy court entered an order denying their
"Motion to Avoid Liens Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §
522(f)(1)." See In re Snyder, Doc. 157
("Order" signed June 1, 2016). Although they
appealed the bankruptcy order to this Court three days later,
on June 16, 2016, their notice of appeal did not become
effective until the bankruptcy court disposed of their motion
seeking relief under Rule 8002(b)(1)(A)-(D), Fed. R. Bankr.
P., which occurred when the bankruptcy court granted that
motion on September 29, 2016. In re Snyder, Doc.
before this Court is Appellants' "Motion to Dismiss
Appeal" [Doc. 7] on the ground that "this appeal is
moot." Doc. 7, ¶ 5. In particular, when the
bankruptcy court granted Appellants' post-judgment motion
[Doc. 165] on September 29, 2016, it provided the relief
Appellants seek in this action. See In re Snyder,
Doc. 204. Appellants thus assert that the bankruptcy
court's order obviated the need for the appeal, rendering
it, in Appellants' own words, "moot."
Federal Rule 8023 of Bankruptcy Procedure, "[a]n appeal
may be dismissed on the appellant's motion on terms
agreed to by the parties or fixed by the district court . . .
" The Advisory Committee Notes to the Rule
clarify that "[n]othing in the rule prohibits a district
court. . . from dismissing an appeal for other reasons
authorized by law, such as the failure to prosecute an
Appellants' asserted legal basis for dismissal is
"mootness." The constitutional mootness doctrine is
premised first and foremost "on the fundamental
jurisdictional tenet that Federal courts are empowered to
hear only live cases and controversies." In re Delta
Air Lines, Inc., 386 B.R. 518, 537 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.
2008) (quoting Trans World Airlines, Inc. v.
Texaco, Inc. ("In re Texaco, Inc."),
92 B.R. 38, 45 (S.D.N.Y.1988)). See also U.S. Const.
art. III, § 2 (providing federal courts with judicial
power over "cases" and "controversies"
relating to, inter alia, the laws of the United
States). Thus, it is well settled that
when, pending an appeal from the judgment of a lower court,
and without any fault of the defendant, an event occurs which
renders it impossible for [the appellate] court, if it should
decide the case in favor of plaintiff, to grant him any
effectual relief whatever, the court will not proceed to a
formal judgment, but will dismiss the appeal [as moot]."
In re Texaco Inc., 92 B.R. at 45 (quoting Mills
v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653 (1895). See also
Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969) (mootness
doctrine "avoid[s] advisory opinions on abstract
propositions of law"). Moreover, this principle of
mootness "retains its vitality in the context of a
bankruptcy appeal." In re Texaco Inc., 92 B.R.
at 45 (gathering cases).
case is moot, and accordingly the federal courts have no
jurisdiction over the litigation, when the parties lack a
legally cognizable interest in the outcome." Fox v.
Bd. of Trustees of State Univ. of N.Y., 42 F.3d 135, 140
(2d Cir. 1994) (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted). "[T]he mootness doctrine ensures that the
litigant's interest in the outcome continues to exist
throughout the life of the lawsuit, including the pendency of
the appeal." Id. (quoting Cook v. Colgate
Univ., 992 F.2d 17, 19 (2d Cir.1993)).
case at bar, the Snyders have - through the Order the of
bankruptcy court - already received the relief they request
by appeal. Constitutionally, they ...