United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Xinis United States District Judge.
27, 2018, the Court dismissed the three above-captioned
bankruptcy appeals as moot. Following this dismissal,
Appellants Gregory B. Myers and Barbara Ann Kelly filed a
“Motion for Rehearing, ” which this Court will
construe as a motion to alter or amend under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e). Appellee Roger Schlossberg, Chapter 7
Trustee in the underlying bankruptcy case (“the
Trustee”), did not respond, and the time for doing so
has expired. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.2.a. The matter
is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See
D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon consideration, the Court DENIES
facts giving rise to these appeals were described in the
Court's previous Memorandum Opinion and Order, and need
not be recounted in detail here. See generally ECF
No. 25. Briefly, these appeals arise from an
adversarial proceeding in Myers' bankruptcy case
involving Offit Kurman, a law firm that Myers and his wife,
Kelly, had previously retained. See Myers v. Offit
Kurman, P.A., Adversary Proceeding No. 16-00474, ECF No.
59 at 3 (Bankr. D. Md. Dec. 18, 2017). After Myers'
bankruptcy was converted to a Chapter 7 proceeding and the
Trustee was vested with standing to pursue or settle
Myers' claim against Offit Kurman, the Trustee moved for
approval of a Compromise and Settlement with Offit Kurman,
which the Bankruptcy Court granted by Order over
Appellants' objections. See generally Id.
Pursuant to that Compromise and Settlement, certain proceeds
from the sale of real property in Seaside, Florida that had
been jointly owned by Myers and Kelly would be disbursed to
Offit Kurman. The Settlement was consummated prior to January
10, 2018, and the funds were disbursed. See Myers v.
Offit Kurman, P.A., Adversary Proceeding No. 16-00474,
ECF No. 80 at 3 (Bankr. D. Md. Jan. 10, 2018); Myers v.
Offit Kurman, P.A., Adversary Proceeding No. 16-00474,
ECF No. 83 at 1-2 (Bankr. D. Md. Jan 18, 2018).
appeals (case numbers PX-17-3846 and PX-17-3847) challenged
the Bankruptcy Court's Order approving the Compromise and
Settlement, seeking to vacate the Bankruptcy Court's
Order, in addition to other relief. See ECF No. 22
at 27. The third appeal (case number PX-18-0336) challenged
the Bankruptcy Court's denial of the request to stay the
execution of the Order pending appeal.
original Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court dismissed
the appeals as moot because the settlement with Offit Kurman
had been consummated. Appellants now contend the dismissal was
in error because the Court relied on the “false
premise” that the Bankruptcy Court's
“Settlement Order is legally valid.” ECF No. 26
at 3-4. Appellants further contend that the Order was not
valid because (1) the Bankruptcy Court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction to enter the Order approving the Compromise and
Settlement; (2) Kelly's Due Process and Seventh Amendment
rights were violated by the entry of the Order; (3) the
Bankruptcy Court lacked constitutional authority to enter the
Order; and (4) the timing of the Order in relation to certain
exemptions claimed by Myers further calls into question the
Bankruptcy Court's authority to approve the Order.
See generally ECF No. 26 at 4-11. Appellants argue
that this renders the Order “void” and, as such,
that this Court is “compelled” to vacate the
Order. See ECF No. 26 at 16. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court disagrees.
motion for to alter or amend a judgment under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e) may be granted on three limited
grounds: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
previously available; or (3) to correct a clear error of law
or prevent manifest injustice. See United States ex rel.
Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284,
290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998)), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 1012 (2003). A Rule
59(e) motion “may not be used to relitigate old
matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could
have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.”
Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403 (quoting 11 Wright
et al., Federal Practice and Procedure §
2810.1, at 127-28 (2d ed. 1995)). “In general,
‘reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an
extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.'” Id. (quoting Wright et
al., supra, § 2810.1, at 124).
Court dismissed the appeals on constitutional mootness
grounds. See ECF No. 25 at 7-10. “[A]n appeal
is moot when an affirmance would ostensibly require something
to be done which had already taken place, and a reversal
would ostensibly avoid an event which had passed beyond
recall.” In re Carr, 321 B.R. 702, 706 (E.D.
Va. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Brownlow v. Schwartz, 261 U.S. 216, 217-18 (1923)).
“If intervening factual or legal events effectively
dispel the case or controversy during pendency of the suit,
the federal courts are powerless to decide the questions
presented.” Simmons v. United Mortg. & Loan
Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 763 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Ross v. Reed, 719 F.2d 689, 693-94 (4th Cir. 1983)).
If a case is moot, and the Court cannot provide effective
relief, then the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case
and dismissal is warranted. See Int'l Brotherhood of
Teamsters, Local Union No. 639 v. Airgas, Inc., 885 F.3d
230, 235-36 (4th Cir. 2018); see also Simmons, 634
F.3d at 763 (mootness constitutes part of the limit on
federal court jurisdiction).
to Appellants' contention, the Court did not assume that
the Bankruptcy Court's Order is legally valid. Instead,
this Court concluded that the settlement was consummated
prior to the Court's consideration of the appeals,
as a result, effective relief could not be fashioned. ECF No.
25 at 7-8. As the Court noted, “The questions presented
on appeal in all three cases are constitutionally moot.
Appellants essentially challenge the Trustee's authority
to disburse proceeds from the Lot 6 sale through the
settlement reached with Offit Kurman.” ECF No. 25 at 7;
see ECF No. 25 at 7-8 (citing cases).
most recent challenges broadly echo arguments previously made
to the Court. See generally ECF No. 26 at 4-11;
compare ECF No. 22 at 12-25. None of Appellants'
arguments are sufficient to require alteration or amendment
of the Court's prior judgment. The three appeals were
moot and dismissal was proper.
only remaining issue is whether this Court committed a clear
error of law by not vacating the Bankruptcy Court's
Order. Moot cases should be “disposed of . . . in the
manner most consonant to justice in view of the nature and
character of the conditions which have caused the case to
become moot.” U.S. Bancorp Mortg. Co. v. Bonner
Mall P'ship, 513 U.S. 18, 24 (1994) (internal marks
and citations omitted). Although vacatur may be proper when
an appeal is dismissed as moot, “[t]he relief of
vacatur . . . is not a foregone conclusion.” Rux v.
Republic of Sudan, 410 Fed.Appx. 581, 587 (4th Cir.
2011). Indeed, vacatur is an extraordinary equitable remedy,
see id.; Valero Terrestrial Corp. v. Paige,
211 F.3d 112, 117 (4th Cir. 2000), and a general presumption
lies against vacating court orders, Valero, 211 F.3d
at 118. This is because judicial precedents “should
stand unless a court concludes that the public interest would
be served by a vacatur.” Bancorp, 513 U.S. at
26 (quoting Izumi Seimitsu Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha v. U.S.
Philips Corp., 510 U.S. 27, 40 (1993) (Stevens, J.
dissenting)); see Valero, 211 F.3d at 118 (quoting
Bancorp). The burden of justifying vacatur rests
with the party seeking that relief. Bancorp, 513
U.S. at 26.
have not established that the extraordinary remedy of vacatur
is warranted here. In effect, Appellants request vacatur
as affirmative relief because, in Appellants'
view, the Order approving settlement is deficient. Vacatur in
this case would amount to “a refined form of collateral
attack” on a ...