MEYER v. KENMORE GRANVILLE HOTEL CO.(1936)
* Rehearing denied 297 U.S. 727 , 56 S.Ct. 572. [297 U.S. 160, 161] Messrs. Meyer Abrams and Max Shulman, both of Chicago, Ill., for petitioners.
Mr. I. E. Ferguson, of Chicago, Ill., for resp ndents.
Mr. Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.
Certiorari was granted in these cases, 296 U.S. 565 , 56 S.Ct. 140, 296 U.S. 565 , 56 S.Ct. 141, as companion cases to St. Louis Can Co. v. General American Life Insurance Co., 77 F.(2d) 598 (C. C.A.8th), in which certiorari was granted, 296 U.S. 557 , 56 S.Ct. 104, on the same day, to resolve questions as to the mode of appeal from certain orders entered by a District Court in the course of a reorganization proceeding under section 77B of the Bankruptcy Act, 48 Stat. 912, 11 U.S.C. 207, 11 U.S.C.A. 207. The writ in St. Louis Can Co. v. General American Life Insurance Co. was later dismissed by this Court on stipulation of the parties, 296 U.S. 660 , 56 S.Ct. 305.
On February 4, 1935, an involuntary petition was filed in the District Court for Northern Illinois for reorganization of a corporate debtor. The debtor filed an answer admitting the essential allegations of the petition, and the District Court found that the petition was filed in good faith, and ordered that it stand approved, and that creditors be restrained from asserting claims against the property of the debtor. After this order was entered, the petitioner here filed a petition in the reorganization proceeding setting up that she owned some of the mortgage bonds to which the property of the debtor was subject; that subsequent to the petition for reorganization, but before it was approved, she had brought suit in the state courts against the debtor and others for an accounting, charging fraud in the issue and sale of the bonds and a fraudulent scheme to bring about a reorganization of the debtor to the detriment of the bondholders and to the advantage of the defendants in the suit. She prayed that the petition for reorganization be [297 U.S. 160, 162] dismissed for want of good faith and of jurisdiction in the District Court, and that the injunction be dissolved. The District Court entered an order March 20, 1935, denying the petition. From this order it allowed an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which dismissed the appeal without opinion. 77 F.(2d) 1004. The correctness of this ruling is presented in No. 375.
Meanwhile, the District Court proceeded with hearings, in which petitioner took no part, on a proposed plan of reorganization. The plan, after certain modifications, was ultimately approved by 94 per cent. of the bondholders of one class and 95 per cent. of another, and, with further changes directed by the court, was confirmed by order entered May 20, 1935. The Court of Appeals dismissed without opinion petitioner's appeal from this order, allowed by the District Court. 78 F.(2d) 1018. And it denied petitioner's application for leave to appeal from the same order, on the ground that petitioner, who alone sought leave to appeal, had not objected to the plan in the bankruptcy court, and so was not in a position to challenge the plan on her own behalf or on that of bondholders who had objected. The correctness of these rulings of the Court of Appeals is presented in No. 376.
1. The question in No. 375 is whether the order of the District Court denying the application to dismiss the proceeding brought under section 77B and to dissolve the injunction generally restraining creditors, is, for purposes of appeal, the equivalent of 'a judgment adjudging or refusing to adjudge the defendant a bankrupt,' which by section 25a of the Bankruptcy Act, 44 Stat. 665; 48 Stat. 926, 11 U.S.C. 48(a), 11 U.S.C.A . 48(a), is appealable as of right to the Court of Appeals.
When section 77B introduced into the Bankruptcy Act the proceeding for reorganization of a corporation, it was provided that the procedure to be followed in case reorganization were ordered should, so far as practicable, fol- [297 U.S. 160, 163] low that already established by the Bankruptcy Act for liquidation proceedings. Section 77B(k)1, 11 U.S.C.A. 207(k), directs that the other sections of the Bankruptcy Act hall apply to proceedings under section 77B, unless inconsistent with it, and that 'the date of the order approving the petition or answer under this section shall be taken to be the date of adjudication, and such order shall have the same consequences and effect as an order of adjudication.'
The appeal provisions of sections 24 and 252 of the Bankruptcy Act, as amended 11 U.S.C.A. 47, 48, are thus made applicable to orders entered in the course of a reorganization proceeding, and an order approving or disapproving a petition for reorganization is made the equivalent, at least for purposes of an appeal under section 25a, of a judgment adjudging or refusing to [297 U.S. 160, 164] adjudge the defendant a bankrupt. By section 24a and section 24b appeals in 'proceedings' in bankruptcy, as distinguished from appeals in 'controversies arising in bankruptcy,' may be taken only on leave granted in the discretion of the appellate court, except that in the cases enumerated in section 25a, including, in clause (1), 'a judgment adjudging or refusing to adjudge the defendant a bankrupt,' an appeal may be taken as of right.
The petitioner appealed not from the order approving the reorganization, but from that denying her application to dismiss the reorganization proceedings. It is not contended that this order is one in a controversy arising in bankruptcy, appealable as of right under section 24a. See Taylor v. Voss, 271 U.S. 176, 181 , 46 S.Ct. 461; Harrison v. Chamberlin, 271 U.S. 191 , 46 S.Ct. 467; Hewit v. Berlin Machine Works, 194 U.S. 296, 299 , 300 S., 24 S.Ct. 690. It is urged that it is the equivalent of an order approving a petition in a reorganization proceeding, which section 77B(k) assimilate to an order of adjudication, appealable as of right. But an order refusing to set aside an adjudication of bankruptcy is not within section 25a, cl. (1). This Court has held that an appeal can be taken from such an order only on leave of the appellate court, under section 24b. Valley v. Northern Fire & Marine Insurance Co., 254 U.S. 348 , 41 S.Ct. 116. The present appeal from the order refusing to dismiss the reorganization [297 U.S. 160, 165] proceedings does not stand on any different footing, and was rightly dismissed because taken without leave of the appellate court. Humphry v. Bankers Mortgage Co. (C.C.A.) 79 F.(2d) 345; Vitagraph, Inc., v. St. Louis Properties Corporation (C.C.A.) 77 F.(2d) 590; St. Louis Can Co. v. General American Life Insurance Co., supra; Credit Alliance Corporation v. Atlantic Pacific & Gulf Refining Co. (C.C.A.) 77 F.(2d) 595; and see Wilkerson v. Cooch (C.C.A.) 78 F. (2d) 311.
That part of petitioner's application to the District Court which asked that the injunction restraining creditors be set aside does not present a 'controversy arising in bankruptcy' as distinguished from a 'proceeding' in bankruptcy. The relief from the restraining order which petitioner sought was but incidental to her assault on the order approving the petition, and raised no issue capable of litigation independently of the proceeding in the bankruptcy court. It related only to the due administration of the pending proceeding and so was a 'proceeding' in bankruptcy, in which the allowance of an appeal is discretionary. See Taylor v. Voss, supra; Harrison v. Chamberlin, supra.
2. In No. 376 petitioner contends that the order of the District Court approving the plan of reorganization corresponds to an order confirming or rejecting a composition with creditors, and that the latter, as was held in United States ex rel. Adler v. Hammond (C.C.A.) 104 F. 862, is appealable as of right under section 25 as equivalent to an order 'granting or denying a discharge.' But we think it plain that an order confirming a plan of reorganization under section 77B is not the equivalent of a judgment granting or denying a discharge, for, unlike confirmation of a composition, see section 14c, 30 Stat. 550, 11 U.S.C. 32(c), 11 U.S.C.A. 32(c), it does not operate as a discharge. The release of the debtor in a reorganization proceeding is contingent upon the performance of its part of the reorganization plan. Section 77B(h), 11 U.S.C.A. 207(h), commands the debtor and others to execute [297 U.S. 160, 166] the plan of reorganization, when confirmed, under the direction of the court, authorizes the court to make appropriate orders to that end, and provides that 'upon the termination of the proceedings a final decree shall be entered,' which 'shall discharge the debtor from its debts and liabilities.' Discharge is effected not by confirmation of the plan but by the final decree.
Confirmation of a plan of reorganization is but a step in the administration of the debtor's estate, and, for reasons already stated, is an order in a proceeding in bankruptcy rather than a controversy arising in bankruptcy proceedings, and appeal lies only in the discretion of the appellate court. See Campbell v. Alleghany Corporation (C.C.A.) 75 F.(2d) 947, 955.
3. In the exercise of the discretion conferred upon it by section 24b, the court below denied the application for leave to appeal from the order of the District Court confirming the plan of reorganization. Petitioner, who alone asked leave to appeal, made no objection to the plan. Her criticisms of the plan are not of a character to invite the exercise of the discretion of the court to examine them for the first time on appeal.
Mr. Justice VAN DEVANTER took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
[ Footnote 1 ] Section 77B, subsec. (k):
[ Footnote 2 ] Section 24: