Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal


R. Jake Jumbeck


Equitable mootness has troubled appellate courts since its creation in the 1980s. Despite the doctrine's express limitation to 'complex reorganizations,' courts have found appeals from relatively simple reorganizations and liquidation plans equitably moot. Courts have criticized and limited the doctrine in recent years, resulting in three Court of Appeals decisions within ten weeks of each other in 2015. This Comment argues that these criticisms ultimately stemmed from the doctrine's misapplication. To apply the equitable mootness properly, this Comment proposes that appellate courts should first determine whether a complex reorganization occurred as a threshold matter. This Comment offers a four-factor normative approach to 'complexity' that would determine whether a complex reorganization occurred. If a court determines a complex reorganization occurred after assessing these four factors, only then should it proceed to an equitable mootness analysis. This approach will keep equitable mootness the exception, not the rule.