Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding appeals of orders denying relief from the automatic stay.  Generally, the automatic stay (section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code) prevents creditors from taking action against the debtor’s assets outside the bankruptcy process. In order to continue debt collection efforts, creditors can file a motion for relief from stay.

In Ritzen Group., Inc. v. Jackson Masonry LLC, No. 18-938, the Supreme Court considered the finality of a bankruptcy court order denying a motion for relief from stay and the time to appeal such an order.   In this case, a creditor did not appeal such an order until the end of the bankruptcy case.

In the unanimous opinion written by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court affirmed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and found that the creditor’s appeal at the end of the case was untimely because the 14 days within which to file an appeal ran from the day the order denying stay relief was entered.  Id. at 5.

The Supreme Court explained that “Orders in bankruptcy cases qualify as ‘final’ when they definitively dispose of discrete disputes within the overarching bankruptcy case.”  Id. at 1 (citation omitted).  The Court further reasoned that the bankruptcy “court’s order ended the stay-relief adjudication and left nothing more for the Bankruptcy Court to do in that proceeding.”  Id. at 12.