Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Eleventh Circuit: No Rule 60(b)(4) Relief Based on Jurisdictional Errors

Per the Eleventh Circuit in In re Optical Technologies, Inc., 425 F.3d 1294 (11th Cir. Sep. 20, 2005):

Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure], a court may relieve a party from a final judgment or order based on a finding that the judgment is void." Burke v. Smith, 252 F.3d 1260, 1263 (11th Cir.2001). "However, it is well-settled that a mere error in the exercise of jurisdiction does not support relief under Rule 60(b)(4)." Oakes v. Horizon Fin., S.A., 259 F.3d 1315, 1319 (11th Cir.2001). Furthermore, as a general matter, parties to a proceeding that do not raise jurisdictional objections are entirely barred from attacking jurisdiction collaterally. See Chicot County Drainage Dist. v. Baxter State Bank, 308 U.S. 371, 377, 60 S.Ct. 317, 320, 84 L.Ed. 329 (1940). The only exception to this arises from a constitutionally defective failure of process.

The confirmation order is clearly not void as to appellants. Under Chicot County, because they were parties to the bankruptcy proceedings and could have challenged jurisdiction in the confirmation stage of the case, appellants must demonstrate that they were denied due process in order to challenge the bankruptcy court's jurisdiction collaterally. As discussed supra, appellants had constitutionally adequate notice of the confirmation proceedings. At this stage of the case, they do not allege any defect of process. As a result, the voidability argument fails, as does appellants' only basis for challenging the bankruptcy court's prior jurisdiction.


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