United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. Hazel United States District Judge
case is before the Court on appeal from the Order of the
Bankruptcy Court, which terminated the Automatic Stay halting
foreclosure proceedings of the Property belonging to
Appellant Innocent Obi Enweze ("Enweze"). Appellee
Bayview Loan Servicing. LLC ("Bayview") has filed a
Motion to Dismiss the Appeal as Moot, ECF No. 9. Oral
argument is deemed unnecessary in this case because the facts
and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs
and records, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8019;
see also Loc. R. 105.6. Because the Court finds the
appeal to be moot, the appeal is dismissed. The Motion to
Dismiss the Appeal as Moot. ECF No. 9, is granted.
was the owner of the Property located at 14903 Habersham
Circle. Silver Spring. Ml) (the "Property"").
ECF No. 6 at 5. Bayview Loan Servicing. LLC was the
mortgage lender. Id. On July 29. 2015. a foreclosure
action was filed against the Property, id. On or
about November 23. 2015, the Property was sold at a
foreclosure auction and purchased by a third-party. JLG
Investments. Id. Prior to the
"ratification"" of sale. Enweze filed a
Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition on December 5. 2015. Id.
Filing the bankruptcy petition initiated an Automatic Stay on
the foreclosure proceedings. See id.
filed a Motion for Relief from the Stay, arguing that Debtor
Enweze had "no interest in the property because the
foreclosure sale held on November 17. 2015. prior to the
filing of bankruptcy, divested the mortgagor [Enweze] of all
rights of redemption and vested equitable title in the
purchaser [JLG] at the foreclosure sale." ECF No. 2-1 at
1. In response. Enweze argued that because "the
foreclosure auction had not yet been ratified by the Circuit
Court." he was still able to "save the Property
through a Chapter 13 Plan." based upon his remaining
retention of "legal title" to the Property.
See ECF No. 6 at 5-9. Enweze relied primarily upon
the case of Ocwen Loan Servicing. LLC v. Kameni, PJM
14-877. 2014 WF 3563658 (D. Md. July 17. 2014). in which the
District Court affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's
retroactive extension of the automatic stay, where the Debtor
had filed for bankruptcy before the foreclosure sale had
taken place, but after the sale had been
scheduled ECF No. 2-5 at 1-4.
Bankruptcy Court rejected this argument at Enweze's
bankruptcy hearing held June 2. 2016. holding that
Kameni did not apply in Enweze's case, and
rather, that the case of//? re Denny, 242 B.R. 593
(Bankr. D. Md. 1999) was precedent. Doc. 76 at
The Bankruptcy Court reasoned that Kameni involved a
special set of factual circumstances, id at 4. and
further noted that the debtor has only a "scintilla of
rights" after the foreclosure sale, and potential
protections and defenses are able to be pursued in state
court. Id. at 5. The Bankruptcy Court therefore
granted Bayvievv's Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay,
which allowed the sale to proceed to ratification.
Id. Enweze appealed the decision to this Court on
June 16. 2016. arguing that the Bankruptcy Court erred by
lifting the Stay post-foreclosure sale but pre-ratification.
ECF No. 6. Enweze requested that the Court "reverse the
decision of the Bankruptcy Court, and reinstate the
stay." hi at 7.
the appeal was pending, the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County entered an Order of Ratification of Sale on August 26.
2016. ECF No. 9 at 2. Bayview subsequently filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Appeal as Moot on October 12. 2016. ECF No. 9.
Bayview argued that "Appellant's appeal argument is
moot because the sale has ratified." Id. at 3.
Enweze filed his Response in Opposition on November 3. 2016.
ECF No. 10. Enweze contended that "if the Court reverses
[the Bankruptcy Court's] decision. Mr. Enweze could file
a motion with the Montgomery Count} Circuit Court to vacate
the ratification order." Id. at 2-3. The Court
has reviewed the record and relevant case law. and now finds
the appeal to be moot.
Court "may dismiss a bankruptcy appeal if it appears
that the case has become either constitutionally or equitably
moot." Walker v. Grtgsty, No. CIV.A.AW-06-62.
2006 WL 4877450. at *2 (Bankr. D. Md. Apr. 11. 2006). This
appeal is both. Under the doctrine of constitutional
mootness. "a case is moot when the issues presented are
no longer 'live" or the parties lack a legally
cognizable interest in the outcome." Los Angeles
Cty. v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625. 631 (1979). "Federal
courts lack jurisdiction to decide moot cases because their
constitutional authority extends only to actual cases and
controversies." Iron Arrow Honor Society v.
Heckler. 464 U.S. 67. 70 (1983). Thus, federal courts
must refrain from rendering judgments that would amount to
mere "advisory opinions." See Williams v.
Johnson. 386 I7. Supp. 280. 283 (D. Md. 1974) (citing
Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911)). To
survive a challenge of mootness. a party must have suffered
an actual injury that "can be redressed by a favorable
judicial decision." Iron Arrow Honor Society,
464 U.S. at 70. Accordingly, an appeal must be dismissed as
moot when "an event occurs while a case is pending
appeal that makes it impossible for the court to grant
'any effectual relief what[so]ever* to a prevailing
party, " Church of Scientology v. United
Stales. 506 U.S. 9. 12 (1992). Additionally, under the
doctrine of equitable mootness. the Court may also exercise
its "discretion in matters of remedy and judicial
administration" to avoid results that are
"impractical, imprudent, and therefore
inequitable." Walker. 2006 WL 4877450. at *3.
Enweze's injury cannot be redressed by a favorable
judicial decision. Enweze asks this Court to "reinstate
the stay." and his entire argument on appeal is that he
should be permitted to "save" the Property in a
Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan because the sale had not yet been
ratified. ECF No. 6 at 5. However, not only is it undisputed
that Enweze"s Property has already been sold at a
foreclosure auction, but also that the sale has now been
ratified by the Circuit Court. ECF No. 9 at 2: ECF No. 10 at
2. Because Enweze failed to obtain a stay in the interim, the
bankruptcy appeal is moot. Sm In re March. 988 F.2d
498T 499 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing hi re
Sullivan Central Plaza. I. Ltd.. 914 F.2d 73 1. 733 (5th
Cir. 1990) ("If the debtor fails to obtain a stay, and
if the property is sold in the interim, the district court
will ordinarily he unable to grant any relief. Accordingly,
the appeal will be moot."): In re Lashley. 825
F.2d 362. 364 (11th Cir. 1987) ("When a debtor docs not
obtain a stay pending appeal of a bankruptcy court order
setting aside an automatic stay and allowing a creditor to
foreclose on property the subsequent foreclosure renders moot
case is also moot as an equitable matter because a
third-party. JLG Investments, has purchased the Property
through the foreclosure sale, and that sale has been
ratified. Hence, reversing the Bankruptcy Court's Order
could act to impair the rights of third parties. See In
re McLean Square Assocs., G.P., 200 B.R. 128. 133 (I-.D.
Va. 1996) (holding that bankruptcy appeal was also moot on
equitable grounds where reversal of bankruptcy court's
order would seem to require a third party to vacate the
premises); Mac Panel Co. v. Virginia Panel Corp..
283 F.3d 622. 626 (4th Cir. 2002) (holding that reversing
order of bankruptcy court would require undoing of financial
transactions involving third parties, and thus appeal was
equitably moot). Because it is impossible to award effective
relief at this juncture, and attempting to do so could lead
to inequitable results, the case must be
foregoing reasons. Bayview"s Motion to Dismiss the
Appeal as Moot, ECF No. 9, is granted. A ...