Finality and bankruptcy appeals

A law firm appealed the disposition of its fee application.  The district court affirmed the bankruptcy court in part, vacated in part, and remanded for the firm to make another fee request that provided more necessary information.  Okin Adams & Kilmer v. Hill, No. 13-20035 (March 24, 2014).  The firm appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which concluded it had no appellate jurisdiction because the order was not final: “Given that the bankruptcy court must perform additional fact-finding and exercise discretion when determining an appropriate attorney’s fee award, the district court’s order requires the bankruptcy court to perform judicial functions upon remand.”  A detailed dissent concluded that, while the district court’s order required “more than a mechanical entry of judgment,” “it also involves only mechanical and computational tasks that are ‘unlikely to affect the issue that the disappointed party wants to raise on appeal.'”  Accordingly, it warned that “refusing to hear this appeal undermines the long-recognized, salutary purpose of allowing appeals in discrete issues well before a final order in bankruptcy.”

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