U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Challenge to Equitable Mootness Doctrine

In a choice that may probably influence chapter proceedings across the nation, the Supreme Court just lately denied the petition for writ of certiorari of David Hargreaves, which challenged the equitable mootness doctrine. Because of this, the idea of equitable mootness stays something however moot.

The dispute arose after oilfield logistics firm Nuverra Environmental Options, Inc.’s prepackaged plan of reorganization was confirmed by the Delaware chapter court docket in 2017. Hargreaves, a holder of a $450,000 unsecured be aware towards Nuverra, objected to his remedy below Nuverra’s plan, as a result of he obtained a decrease restoration than different unsecured collectors. The chapter court docket dominated that the recoveries of these unsecured commerce collectors, although higher than the recoveries afforded noteholders similar to Hargreaves, had been a permissible “horizontal” present from secured collectors to the unsecured commerce collectors to guarantee ongoing relationships with events vital to Nuverra’s reorganization.2

Hargreaves appealed the Delaware chapter court docket’s affirmation order and filed a movement for keep of the order pending enchantment, which was denied. The District Court of Delaware utilized the Third Circuit’s take a look at for equitable mootness: “(1) whether a confirmed plan has been substantially consummated; and (2) if so, whether granting the relief requested in the appeal will (a) fatally scramble the plan and/or (b) significantly harm third parties who have justifiably relied on plan confirmation.”3 The District Court dominated Hargreaves’ enchantment was equitably moot. The Third Circuit agreed with the District Court and once more dominated that Hargreaves’ enchantment was equitably moot.  The Third Circuit reasoned, “the only way to give Hargreaves the money he wants is to give all [creditors in his class] a 100% refund . . . which would fatally scramble the Plan and significantly harm third parties.”4

Lastly, Hargreaves petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, and challenged the appliance of the doctrine of equitable mootness, which has been often invoked in chapter proceedings. It’s important to be aware that equitable mootness is totally different from true mootness. True mootness is the lack of a court docket to alter the end result of a continuing (for instance if the convicted had died within the case of a felony enchantment), whereas equitable mootness is a court docket’s unwillingness to alter the end result of a continuing, regardless of the chance of doing so (for instance an appellate court docket’s unwillingness to require a change to a chapter court docket’s affirmation of a plan of reorganization).

In his petition, Hargreaves argued that that federal courts mustn’t even have the opportunity to apply the equitable mootness doctrine in instances the place they’d in any other case have jurisdiction. Hargreaves argued that, equitable mootness is now so often invoked, that Article III courts that ought to evaluate the choices of chapter courts don’t.5 Of their amicus temporary many distinguished chapter students supported Hargreaves’ place.6 In its response temporary, Nuverra argued that debtors depend on the choices of chapter courts when crafting their plans of reorganization and requesting affirmation.7 Nuverra additional argued that if appellate courts had been to rehash confirmed plans, this may hurt the method for debtors and collectors.

In the end the Supreme Court denied Hargreaves’ petition with out remark, that means that the doctrine of equitable mootness could proceed to be utilized by courts sitting in evaluate of chapter proceedings.  Because of this, debtors will proceed to depend on equitable mootness as the last word fallback place in an enchantment of a confirmed and efficient plan. 

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1. Hargreaves v. Nuverra Envtl. Sols., Inc. et al., 834 Fed. App’x 729 (3d Cir. 2021), cert. denied, 595 U.S. (U.S. Oct. 12, 2021)(No. 21-17).

2. In re Nuverra Env’t Sols., Inc., 590 B.R. 75, 81 (D. Del. 2018).

3. In re Nuverra Env’t Sols., Inc., 590 B.R. at 89. 

4. In re Nuverra Env’t Sols., Inc., 834 F. App’x 729, 736 (3d Cir. 2021).

5. Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Hargreaves v. Nuverra Envtl. Sols., Inc. et al., 595 U.S. (No. 21-17).

6. Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioner, Hargreaves v. Nuverra Envtl. Sols., Inc. et al., 595 U.S. (No. 21-17).

7. Respondent’s Temporary, Hargreaves v. Nuverra Envtl. Sols., Inc. et al., 595 U.S. (No. 21-17)

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