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In re Reed

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 3, 2019

In re: Evette Nicole Reed Debtor
v.
Honorable Charles E. Rendlen, III Appellee Ross H. Briggs Appellant Office of U.S. Trustee U.S. Trustee

          Submitted: September 25, 2019

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before BENTON, SHEPHERD, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.

          GRASZ, Circuit Judge.

         Ross Briggs attempted to appeal two bankruptcy court orders to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri by filing a single notice of appeal. According to the district court, this violated a local bankruptcy court rule. The district court struck the notice of appeal without allowing Briggs an opportunity to cure the defect by filing separate notices of appeal for each order. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the district court's order striking the notice of appeal to the extent it denied Briggs an opportunity to cure.

         I. Background

         In 2016, United States Bankruptcy Judge Charles E. Rendlen sanctioned Briggs, an attorney in the State of Missouri, and banned him from practicing before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri for six months. We previously affirmed that decision on appeal. See In re Reed, 888 F.3d 930 (8th Cir. 2018). In June 2018, Briggs filed a motion before Judge Rendlen for reinstatement of his full practice privileges as well as a motion to disqualify Judge Rendlen from presiding over matters related to Briggs's request for reinstatement. Judge Rendlen denied both motions.

         On July 24, 2018, Briggs filed a single notice of appeal challenging the orders denying both motions. Briggs attached the two orders and paid a single filing fee. The district court entered an order striking Briggs's notice of appeal because he appealed two separate orders using one notice and paid only one filing fee in violation of Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A).

         Briggs filed a motion to reconsider and vacate the order. On August 23, 2018, the district court denied Briggs's motion for reconsideration. Briggs filed a timely notice of appeal from the district court's order, arguing Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A) is invalid and, alternatively, that the district court erred in treating the rule as if it were a jurisdictional requirement.

         II. Analysis

         We first consider our jurisdiction over the appeal. This court has jurisdiction to review final orders of the district court. 28 U.S.C. § 158(d). The district court's decision to strike Briggs's notice of appeal of two bankruptcy orders was the functional equivalent of a dismissal, ending his ability to challenge those orders. Because there was nothing more to do after striking the motion and closing the case, we conclude the district court's order was a final order under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). Cf. In re Apex Oil Co., 884 F.2d 343, 347 (8th Cir. 1989) (listing factors to determine the finality of a bankruptcy order).

         We now turn to Briggs's argument contesting the validity of Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A), which states "[a] separate notice of appeal and filing fee is required for each order being appealed." Bankr. E.D. Mo. R. 8001(A). We review de novo the district court's interpretation of this rule. See Keil v. Lopez, 862 F.3d 685, 703-04 (8th Cir. 2017) (interpreting the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure de novo).

         The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure expressly allow courts to adopt local rules of practice and procedure as long as they are consistent with the federal rules. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9029(a)(1).

         The federal bankruptcy rule governing appeals provides only that a notice of appeal must "(A) conform substantially to the appropriate Official Form; (B) be accompanied by the judgment, order, or decree, or the part of it, being appealed; and (C) be accompanied by the prescribed fee." Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8003(a)(3). The bankruptcy rules are otherwise silent as to a party's right to appeal multiple orders with a single notice of appeal. Although Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A) is more specific than ...


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