United States District Court, D. Delaware
IN RE SAMSON RESOURCES CORPORATION, et al., Reorganized Debtors.
SAMSON RESOURCES CORPORATION, et al., Appellees. DIANE S. JONES, Appellant, No. 15-11934-BLS
before this Court is the Motion to Dismiss the Bankruptcy
Appeal for Lack of Appellate Jurisdiction (D.I. 5) filed by
the above-captioned Reorganized Debtors
("Appellees") and the Motion for Enlargement Due to
Excusable Neglect (D.I. 23) filed by pro se
appellant Diane S. Jones ("Appellant"). The Motion
to Dismiss argues that the Court lacks appellate jurisdiction
to consider this appeal because Appellant failed to file a
notice of appeal within the 14-day period prescribed by Rule
8002(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
("Bankruptcy Rules") and failed to make a showing
of excusable neglect for the untimely filing within the time
frame set forth in Bankruptcy Rule 8002(d)(1). For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion for Enlargement is
denied, the Motion to Dismiss is granted, and the appeal is
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
following facts appear to be undisputed. On September 16,
2015, each of the Appellees filed a voluntary petition under
Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Between November 17, 2015,
and January 26, 2016, Appellant and eleven other heirs of
Randolph Parker (collectively, the "Parker Heirs")
filed 22 proofs of claim ("Parker Heir Claims") in
the Chapter 11 cases, alleging "unpaid royalties, unfair
leasing, [and] theft of property through fraud."
(See D.I. 5 at 2 & n.3).
February 13, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court entered an order
confirming the Global Settlement Joint Chapter 11 Plan of
Reorganization of Samson Resources Corporation and its
Affiliates (B.D.I. 1822) (the "Plan"). On February 28,
2017, Appellees filed an amended omnibus objection to claims,
seeking to disallow, inter alia, all of the Parker
Heir Claims in their entirety on the grounds that none of the
Parker Heir Claims made a prima facie showing that
the Parker Heirs had been underpaid royalties or owned
royalty interests in any lands beyond a 25-acre tract in Rusk
County, Texas (B.D.I. 2060) (the "Objection").
Certain of the Parker Heirs filed responses to the Objection.
(B.D.I. 2045, 2065, 2067, 2143, 2144, 2148, 2151, 2156, 2162,
2184, 2185, 2186). On April 28, 2017, Appellees filed a reply
in further support of the Objection. (B.D.I. 2330). The
Bankruptcy Court held a two-day trial starting on May 1, 2017
on the issue of whether the Parker Heir Claims should be
June 15, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court issued its opinion
disallowing the Parker Heir Claims (B.D.I. 2436), together
with an Order denying all relief sought by the Parker Heirs
(B.D.I. 2437) ("Order"). On Friday, June 30, 2017,
Appellant mailed her notice of appeal from the Order.
(See D.I. 13 at 2). On Monday, July 3, 2017, the
notice of appeal was received and time-stamped by the
Bankruptcy Court Clerk. (See D.I. 1). On July 26,
2017, Appellees filed the Motion to Dismiss. (D.I. 5). On
September 5, 2017, Appellant filed the Motion for Enlargement
of the 14-day appeal deadline due to excusable neglect. (D.I.
23). On September 11, 2017, Appellant filed the Motion to
Continue/Join the Parker Heirs to Appellant's Appeal
(D.I. 24) ("Motion to Join"), and on October 12,
2017, Appellant filed a Motion to Submit New
Evidence/Supplement to Appeal (D.I. 31) ("Motion to
Jurisdiction and Standard of Review.
Court has appellate jurisdiction over all final orders and
judgments from the Bankruptcy Court. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 158(a)(1). Bankruptcy Rule 8002 provides: "Except
as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), a notice of appeal
must be filed with the bankruptcy clerk within 14 days after
entry of the judgment, order, or decree being appealed."
Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8002(a)(1). The Third Circuit has held that the
failure to appeal a bankruptcy court's ruling to the
district court within the time period established by
Bankruptcy Rule 8002 deprives the district court of
jurisdiction to hear an appeal. See In re Caterbone,
640 F.3d 108, 113 (3d Cir. 2011).
14-day period for appealing the June 15, 2017 Order expired
on June 29, 2017. The appeal was not filed until July 3,
2017, four days after the 14-day period under Bankruptcy Rule
8002(a) had expired. Although the Bankruptcy Rules alone
cannot create or withdraw jurisdiction, Congress has limited
the jurisdiction of this Court to hear an appeal from a final
order of a Bankruptcy Court by specifically incorporating the
time limits of Bankruptcy Rule 8002 in the jurisdictional
grant to the district courts to hear appeals from bankruptcy
courts. Section 158(c)(2) of title 28 provides: "An
appeal under subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall be
taken in the same manner as appeals in civil proceedings
generally are taken to the courts of appeals from the
district courts and in the time provided by Rule 8002
of the Bankruptcy Rules." 28 U.S.C. §
158(c)(2) (emphasis added).
Appellant advances several arguments in opposition to the
Motion to Dismiss. Appellant argues that the
"requirements [for] filing the notice of appeal... are
not jurisdictional, and the court does not have to dismiss
the appeal if the appellant is late filing a
non-jurisdictional item." (D.I. 13 at 3). However, the
Third Circuit has held on several occasions that the time
limits of Bankruptcy Rule 8002 are jurisdictional and deprive
an appellate court of subject matter jurisdiction if the
appellant fails to comply. See Caterbone, 640 F.3d
at 111-12 (citing S 'holders v. Sound Radio,
Inc., 109 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1997); Whitemere
Dev. Corp., Inc. v. Cherry Hill Twp., 786 F.2d
185, 187 (3d Cir. 1986); In re Universal Minerals,
Inc. 755 F.2d 309, 311 (3d Cir. 1985)). In
Caterbone, the court stated:
Because Section 158 ... specifies the time within which an
appeal must be taken - i.e., "in the time provided by
Rule 8002" - that requirement is jurisdictional. . .
Here, even though it is a bankruptcy rule that specifies the
time within which an appeal must be filed, the statutory
incorporation of that rule renders its requirement statutory
and, hence, jurisdictional and non-waivable.
Id. at 111-12. Because the notice of appeal was not
filed within the time frame provided by Bankruptcy Rule
8002(a), the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and must
dismiss the appeal. United States v. Cotton, 535
U.S. 625, 630 (2002) ("subject-matter jurisdiction,
because it involves a court's power to hear a case, can
never be forfeited or waived.")
Appellant further argues that the notice of appeal was in
fact timely filed. Because the Order was docketed after
business hours on June 15, 2017, Appellant argues that the
14-day period did not begin to run until the following day,
resulting in a June 30 deadline - as opposed to June 29.
(See D.I. 13 at 2). Because her notice of appeal was
postmarked on June 30, 2017, Appellant contends that it was
timely filed. (See id.) Both of these contentions
First, the fact that the Order was entered following business
hours is irrelevant for calculating the 14-day deadline under
Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a) because that day is already excluded.
See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9006. As Appellees correctly
argue, Bankruptcy Rule 9006, which governs when computing any
time period specified in the Bankruptcy Rules, provides that
the day the order is entered is excluded for purposes of
calculating the deadline to appeal the order; thus, the
14-day period began to run on June 16, 2017. See
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9006(a)(1)(A) (instructing that "the
day of the event that triggers the period" is excluded).
However, Bankruptcy Rule 9006 further instructs that the
"last day of the period" shall be included for
purposes of calculating a ...