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In re Odyssey Contracting Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

December 12, 2019

In re: ODYSSEY CONTRACTING CORP., Appellant
v.
ODYSSEY CONTRACTING CORP.; FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY L&L PAINTING CO., INC.

          Argued September 25, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil Action Nos. 2-18-cv-00456 and 2-18-cv-00458) District Judge: Honorable Cathy Bissoon

          Chris Georgoulis (Argued) Georgoulis Robert O. Lampl Rober O Lampl & Associates Counsel for Appellant

          Jose Aquino Charles Fastenberg (Argued) Jeffrey W. Spear Duane Morris, Joel M. Walker Duane Morris Counsel for Appellees

          Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, McKEE, AMBRO, Circuit Judges

          OPINION

          AMBRO, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Appellant Odyssey Contracting Corp. and Appellee L&L Painting Co., Inc. were, respectively, a subcontractor and the prime contractor on a project to repaint the Queensboro Bridge. Over the course of that project, Odyssey and L&L became embroiled in a dispute over whether L&L was underpaying Odyssey. Consequently, Odyssey stopped its work, and the parties sued each other for breach of contract. After Odyssey filed for bankruptcy, this litigation became the subject of an adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court.

         At the final pre-trial conference, the parties entered into a stipulation approved by the Bankruptcy Court. The stipulation provided that if the Bankruptcy Court determined that Odyssey was the breaching party, then "all of the [p]arties' pending claims will be withdrawn and disposed of in their entirety with prejudice" and the adversary proceeding "shall be deemed to be finally concluded in all respects."

         Following a bench trial, the Bankruptcy Court concluded that Odyssey was the breaching party. Accordingly, it entered an order "direct[ing] [the] parties to resolve the . . . adversary proceeding . . . in compliance with the [s]tipulation." The order also required the parties to provide a status update within three weeks as to whether that had been done.

         Instead, Odyssey appealed to the District Court, seeking review of the Bankruptcy Court's decision that it was the breaching party. L&L moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that, under the terms of the stipulation, Odyssey had released its claims and waived its right to appeal. The District Court agreed and modified the Bankruptcy Court's order to make it a dismissal of the adversary proceeding with prejudice.

         Odyssey now appeals to us. Because we agree that Odyssey waived its right to appeal by entering into the stipulation, we will affirm.

         I. Jurisdiction

         The Bankruptcy Court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 157(a) and 1334(b). The District Court's jurisdiction, on which our jurisdiction depends, is less certain.

         District courts have jurisdiction to "hear appeals . . . from final judgments, orders, and decrees . . . of bankruptcy judges." 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). The order from which Odyssey appealed was the Bankruptcy Court's order directing the parties to resolve the adversary proceeding per the stipulation and requiring a status update on whether that had been done. Was this a final order ...


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