68 F.3d 1022 (7th Cir. 1995), 92-4100, Matter of Bluestein & Co.

Docket Nº:92-4100.
Citation:68 F.3d 1022
Party Name:In the Matter of BLUESTEIN & COMPANY, d/b/a Zemel's Terralyn Farms, Debtor-Appellee. Appeal of Alan E. HOFFMAN, individually and as a shareholder of Bluestein & Company.
Case Date:October 26, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 1022

68 F.3d 1022 (7th Cir. 1995)

In the Matter of BLUESTEIN & COMPANY, d/b/a Zemel's Terralyn

Farms, Debtor-Appellee.

Appeal of Alan E. HOFFMAN, individually and as a shareholder

of Bluestein & Company.

No. 92-4100.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 26, 1995

Submitted Oct. 26, 1994.[*]

Page 1023

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1024

Gerald A. Goldman, Chicago, IL, Robert L. Caplan, Clarendon Hills, IL, for Appellant.

Paul Bluestein, Steger, IL, for Appellee.

Before FAIRCHILD, FLAUM, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.


Alan Hoffman appealed two bankruptcy court decisions to district court. Five months later, due to Hoffman's lengthy delay in filing his Appellant's Brief, the district court dismissed his appeal for want of prosecution. Hoffman appeals to this court, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by dismissing the appeal without having warned his attorney in advance.


On May 5, 1992, Alan Hoffman filed notice of his appeal of two bankruptcy court decisions to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The district court directed that he was to file an Appellant's Brief on or before June 24. By October, Hoffman had neither filed his brief nor requested additional time in which to do so. Desiring an explanation for the delay, the district court placed the matter on status call, and a status hearing was set for October 30, 1992. At the hearing, Hoffman's attorney--apparently accustomed to a more permissive atmosphere--requested an additional twenty-one days in which to file his brief. Understandably displeased with the delay and additional request for time, the district court dismissed the case sua sponte for want of prosecution and rebuked Hoffman's attorney:

.. I didn't get [a brief] in June, I didn't get one in July, I didn't get one in August, I didn't get one in September. And, in fact, I'm not going to get one in October, because you're coming in here after I had to go to the effort of having my minute clerk issue a minute order calling you in here, and you then come in and say, "Oh, I need 21 days."

Well, you had your time. This appeal is dismissed for want of prosecution. There is no good basis, and you articulated no good basis for your failure to comply with the orders or to move for an extension of time....

Page 1025

The appeal is dismissed.

On November 9, 1992, Hoffman filed a motion to vacate the dismissal order. The motion represented that the delays were not caused by Hoffman; that the delays were caused by the inability of Hoffman's attorney, a sole practitioner, to bear his workload; that the attorney was willing to accept reasonable sanctions for his delays; and that the Appellant's Brief had been completed and was ready to be filed. The district court denied the motion, and Hoffman appeals the dismissal.


District courts possess the inherent authority to dismiss a case sua sponte for want of prosecution as part of the "control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases." Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-31, 82 S.Ct. 1386, 1389, 8 L.Ed.2d 734 (1962). In exercising this authority, the district courts must "perpetually balance the competing interests of keeping a manageable docket against deciding cases on their...

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