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Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Gail L. BRATCHER and Edmond R. Rivera, Appellants-Defendants, v. WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Appellee-Plaintiff.

Court of Appeals Case No. 19A-MF-1404

Decided: October 28, 2019

Appellants Pro Se: Gail L. Bratcher, Edmond R. Rivera, New Salisbury, Indiana Attorneys for Appellee: Dustin R. DeNeal, Elizabeth A. Little, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana


Statement of the Case

[1] Gail L. Bratcher and Edmond R. Rivera (collectively “Homeowners”) appeal the trial court's order dated May 29, 2019, regarding several pending motions in this foreclosure action filed by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells Fargo”). Homeowners present three issues for our review. However, we conclude that Homeowners have not secured appellate jurisdiction. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal.

Facts and Procedural History

[2] On February 19, 2019, Wells Fargo filed a complaint to foreclose its mortgage lien on real property in New Salisbury owned by Bratcher. Rivera lives with Bratcher and has contributed to the mortgage payments on the real property, and the trial court permitted him to intervene in this action. Homeowners filed various motions, including a motion to dismiss the complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order. Following a hearing on all pending motions on May 16, the trial court denied each of Homeowners' motions, but the court granted in part Homeowners' motion for the court to take judicial notice of “certain facts.” Appellants' Br. at 17. This appeal ensued.

Discussion and Decision

[3] On appeal, Homeowners raise three issues for our review.1 However, “ ‘[i]t is the duty of this Court to determine whether we have jurisdiction before proceeding to determine the rights of the parties on the merits.’ ” DuSablon v. Jackson Cty. Bank, ––– N.E.3d ––––, No. 18A-MI-2259, 2019 WL 4582946, at *5 (Ind. Ct. App. Sept. 23, 2019) (quoting Allstate Ins. Co. v. Scroghan, 801 N.E.2d 191, 193 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), trans. denied). Jurisdiction is a question of law we review de novo. Id. This Court's typical jurisdiction is over final judgments from our trial courts. Id. (citing Ind. Appellate Rule 5(A)). There is no final judgment here, however, as Wells Fargo's complaint remains pending in the trial court. See App. R. 2(H)(1). Indeed, the trial court has scheduled a settlement conference in this matter for November 14, 2019.

[4] Nonetheless, this Court “shall have jurisdiction over appeals of interlocutory orders” pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 14. App. R. 5(B). As we have explained:

“An appeal from an interlocutory order is not allowed unless specifically authorized by the Indiana Constitution, statutes, or the rules of court. The authorization is to be strictly construed, and any attempt to perfect an appeal without such authorization warrants a dismissal.

* * *

․ There are three ways that this Court has jurisdiction over interlocutory orders under Rule 14: (1) Rule 14(A) allows interlocutory appeals as of right; (2) Rule 14(B) permits discretionary appeals “if the trial court certifies its order and the Court of Appeals accepts jurisdiction over the appeal”; and (3) Rule 14(C) authorizes other interlocutory appeals only as provided by statute.”

Dusablon, 2019 WL 4582946, at *5 (quoting Allstate Ins. Co., 801 N.E.2d at 193 (emphasis added; citations omitted)).

[5] Here, Homeowners purport to appeal from a final judgment, but no final judgment has yet been entered. Rather, Homeowners appeal from an interlocutory order. But Homeowners did not seek certification of the trial court's order under Appellate Rule 14(B), and they do not allege that any of the three issues they raise on appeal are appealable as of right under Appellate Rule 14(A) or otherwise appealable under Appellate Rule 14(C). Accordingly, there is nothing for this Court to review, and we are required to dismiss this appeal.

[6] Dismissed.


1.   Homeowners are pro se and ask that we apply a “less stringent” standard to their brief on appeal. Appellants' Br. at 8. However, it is well settled that pro se litigants are held to the same standards as licensed attorneys. Evans v. State, 809 N.E.2d 338, 344 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), trans. denied.

Najam, Judge.

Crone, J., and Altice, J., concur.

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