Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain - 503 U.S. 249 (1992)


OCTOBER TERM, 1991

Syllabus

CONNECTICUT NATIONAL BANK v. GERMAIN, TRUSTEE FOR THE ESTATE OF O'SULLIVAN'S FUEL OIL CO., INC.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

No.90-1791. Argued January 21, 1992-Decided March 9,1992

In a suit by respondent Germain, the trustee of a bankrupt debtor's estate, seeking to hold petitioner Connecticut National Bank (CNB) liable for various torts and breaches of contract, the Bankruptcy Court denied CNB's motion to strike Germain's demand for a jury trial, and the District Court affirmed. The Court of Appeals dismissed CNB's attempted appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that a court of appeals may exercise jurisdiction over an interlocutory order in bankruptcy only when the district court issues the order after having withdrawn the case from the bankruptcy court, and not when the district court acts in its capacity as a bankruptcy court of appeals.

Held: An interlocutory order issued by a district court sitting as a court of appeals in bankruptcy is appealable under the unambiguous language of 28 U. S. C. § 1292. That section provides for review in the courts of appeals, in certain circumstances, of "[i]nterlocutory orders of the district courts," and does not limit such review to orders issued by district courts sitting as bankruptcy trial courts rather than appellate courts. Title 28 U. S. C. § 158(d)-which gives the courts of appeals jurisdiction over, inter alia, appeals from all final orders of district courts sitting as appellate courts in bankruptcy, but is silent as to review of interlocutory orders-does not limit the unadorned words of § 1292 by negative implication. Contrary to Germain's contention, giving effect to § 1292's companion provision, § 1291-which confers jurisdiction over appeals from "final decisions of the district courts" acting in any capacity-would not render § 158(d) wholly superfluous. Although §§ 1291 and 158(d) do overlap, § 158(d) also confers jurisdiction over the final decisions of bankruptcy appellate panels, such that each section reaches cases that the other does not. Redundancies across statutes are not unusual events in drafting, and where, as here, there is no positive repugnancy between two laws, a court must give effect to both. Pp.251-254.

926 F.2d 191, reversed and remanded.

THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST,


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an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 255. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which WHITE and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 256.

Janet C. Hall argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the briefs were G. Eric Brunstad, Jr., and Linda L. Morkan.

Thomas M. Germain argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent.

JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, we determine the appealability of an interlocutory order issued by a district court sitting as a court of appeals in bankruptcy.

I

In 1984, O'Sullivan's Fuel Oil Co., Inc., filed a bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut. Although the case began as a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, in 1986 the Bankruptcy Court converted it into a liquidation under Chapter 7. Petitioner Connecticut National Bank (CNB) is successor in interest to one of O'Sullivan's creditors. Respondent Thomas M. Germain is trustee of O'Sullivan's estate.

On June 1, 1987, Germain sued CNB in Connecticut state court, seeking to hold the bank liable for various torts and breaches of contract. CNB removed the suit to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, which, pursuant to local rule, automatically referred the proceeding to the Bankruptcy Court overseeing the liquidation. Germain then filed a demand for a jury trial. CNB moved to strike Germain's demand. The Bankruptcy Court denied CNB's motion, In re O'Sullivan's Fuel Oil Co., 103 B. R. 388 (Conn. 1989), and the District Court affirmed, Germain v. Connecticut Nat. Bank, 112 B. R. 57 (Conn. 1990).

CNB then tried to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, but the court dismissed for lack of jurisdic-


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Full Text of Opinion

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