United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ELIZABETH L. ROWE
WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY, FSB, DOING BUSINESS AS CHRISTIANATRUST, NOTIN ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY BUT SOLELY AS TRUSTEE FOR BCAT 2014-4TT
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON APPELLEE'S MOTION TO
RICHARD G. STEARNS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rowe is appealing a Bankruptcy Court order granting
Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB,  relief from the
automatic stay of creditor proceedings. Wilmington moves to
dismiss the appeal. For the reason to be explained,
Wilmington's motion to dismiss will be allowed.
facts, viewed in the light most favorable to Rowe as the
nonmoving party, are as follows. Wilmington was the holder of
a first mortgage on Rowe's property located at 22
Pasadena Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. On December 1,
2017, Rowe filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of
the Bankruptcy Code, which triggered an automatic stay of
creditor proceedings against her property. 11 U.S.C. §
362(a). On March 27, 2018, Wilmington filed a motion for
relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. §§
362(d)(i)-(2). Wilmington alleged that a March 2009 payment
on the mortgage remained outstanding, and that, in any event,
Rowe has no equity in the property because it is under water.
(The property is currently appraised at $119, 503, while the
outstanding mortgage totals $270, 232.) Wilmington Br. (Dkt #
9) at 2. On April 26, 2018, the Bankruptcy Court heard oral
arguments and granted Wilmington's motion, noting that
"the documents attached to [the] motion [were]
sufficient to establish that the movant [had] a colorable
claim to the property." Id. at 3. On May 10,
2018, Rowe appealed the order to this court. Rowe, however,
did not file a motion to stay the order pending appeal. On
September 27, 2018, Wilmington conducted a foreclosure sale
and purchased the property.
is a jurisdictional defect, rooted in Article III case or
controversy considerations." Horizon Bank &Tr.
Co. v. Massachusetts, 391 F.3d 48, 53 (1st Cir. 2004).
"The doctrine of mootness enforces the mandate 'that
an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of the
review, not merely at the time the complaint is
filed.'" Mangual v. Rotger-Sabat, 317 F-3d
45, 60 (1st Cir. 2003), quoting Steffel v. Thompson,
415 U.S. 452, 459 n.10 (1974). A case is moot when a court
cannot give "'any effectual relief
whatever'" to the potentially prevailing party.
Church of Scientology of California v. United
States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992), quoting Mills v.
Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653 (1895).
makes three main arguments. First, she argues that Wilmington
did not own an enforceable note against her property because
there were gaps in the chain of title. Rowe Reply Br. (Dkt #
10) at 5. Second, she argues that the Bankruptcy Court erred
by refusing to order a show cause hearing. She alleges that
Wilmington was ineligible for relief because it had dirtied
its hands by its involvement in "a table-funded
loan." Rowe Br. (Dkt # 8) at 16. Third, she argues that
the Bankruptcy Court erred by adjudicating a
"non-core" issue over which it had no jurisdiction.
Id. at 18.
the merits of these arguments, the appeal is now moot as Rowe
no longer owns the disputed property. See In re
Soares, 187 F.3d 623, 623 (1st Cir. 1998) (unpublished
table decision) ("[T]he property's sale has rendered
the appeal moot. Generally, when the debtor fails to obtain a
stay pending appeal of the bankruptcy court's... order
setting aside an automatic stay and allowing a creditor to
foreclose on property, the subsequent foreclosure and sale of
the property renders moot any appeal.") (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). Rowe could have
sought to stay the Bankruptcy Court order pending appeal.
See In re Lomagno, 429 F.3d 16, 17 (1st Cir. 2005)
("[W]hen the petition giving rise to the stay is
dismissed, the stay terminates immediately, and creditors may
proceed with foreclosure.. . . The Federal Rules of
Bankruptcy Procedure provide that a debtor may seek a stay
pending appeal.") (internal citations omitted). By
failing to do so, Rowe left Wilmington free to conduct the
foreclosure sale and render her appeal of the Bankruptcy
Court's order moot as a result. Horizon Bank &
Tr. Co., 391 F.3d at 53 ("[A] case not moot at the
outset can become moot because of a change in the fact
situation underlying the dispute ....").
foregoing reason, Wilmington's motion to dismiss the
appeal is ALLOWED. The Clerk will enter judgment for
Wilmington and close the case.
 Wilmington is doing business as
Christiana Trust, not in its individual capacity, but solely
as trustee ...