United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit.
In the Matter of DILBERT'S QUALITY SUPERMARKETS, INC., Debtor-Respondent-
THE PETITION of IRMA M. REALTY CORP., Petitioner-Appellant.
No. 5, Docket 30347.
Argued Oct. 4, 1966.
Decided Nov. 28, 1966.
Alleged mortgagee made a motion in proceeding for reorganization under the
Bankruptcy Act for permission to continue to prosecute mortgage foreclosure
action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The United States
District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Matthew T. Abruzzo, J.,
entered an order denying the motion and enjoining interference by the alleged
mortgagee with the possession by the debtor as lessee of the mortgaged realty.
The Court of Appeals, J. Joseph Smith, Circuit Judge, held that the District
Court had jurisdiction to enjoin the foreclosure, and that adoption of a
reorganization plan did not oust the District Court of jurisdiction, and that
the District Court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to pass on the
validity of the lease and mortgage claims.
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Federal District Court, in which reorganization proceeding under Bankruptcy Act
was pending, had jurisdiction to enjoin foreclosure of mortgage on realty leased
to debtor in reorganization. Bankr.Act, § § 101 et seq., 116(4), 148, 11
U.S.C.A. § § 501 et seq., 516(4), 548.
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Adoption of reorganization plan under Bankruptcy Act did not oust federal
District Court of jurisdiction to enjoin foreclosure of mortgage on realty
leased to debtor in reorganization, and District Court could retain jurisdiction
until final decree. Bankr.Act, § § 101 et seq., 116(4), 148, 11 U.S.C.A. § §
501 et seq., 516(4), 548.
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Federal District Court in reorganization proceeding under Bankruptcy Act did not
abuse its discretion in deciding to pass on validity of lease to debtor of
realty and mortgage claims of alleged mortgagee which had instituted mortgage
foreclosure action in state court to foreclose mortgage on leased realty, where
claimed default was during administration, and lease was essential to
functioning of debtor in reorganization. Bankr.Act, § § 101 et seq., 116(4),
148, 11 U.S.C.A. § § 501 et seq., 516(4), 548.
*922 Samuel Kirschenbaum, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Sylvan D. Freeman, and Dreyer &
Traub, Brooklyn, N.Y., on the brief), for petitioner-appellant.
Harold Unterberg, New York City (Abbie Goldstein, David M. Perlmutter, and
Unterberg & Unterberg, New York City, on the brief), for debtor-appellee.
Daniel A. Shirk, New York City (Joseph Jaspan, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Daniel
Waxman, New York City, on the brief), for trustee.
Before SMITH, HAYS and FEINBERG, Circuit Judges.
*923 J. JOSEPH SMITH, Circuit Judge:
Irma M. Realty Corp. (Irma), as the claimed assignee of a mortgage on realty in
which Dilbert's Quality Supermarkets, Inc. (Dilbert's), a debtor in
reorganization in a Chapter X proceeding in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of New York, was a tenant, moved in the reorganization
proceedings for permission to continue the prosecution in the Supreme Court of
the State of New York of a mortgage foreclosure action. The District Court,
Matthew T. Abruzzo, Judge, denied the motion, and enjoined Irma from disturbing
Dilbert's possession and title. Irma appeals under Sec. 121 of Title X of the
Bankruptcy Act (11 U.S.C. 47). We find no error and affirm the order.
Dilbert's operated a chain of supermarkets in the Eastern District of New York.
On April 17, 1957 it entered into a lease with Flushing #1 Corp. of a one story
building in Flushing, New York, for a term of 21 years for use as a food
supermarket, at a percentage of gross sales against an agreed minimum rent plus
water and sewer charges and any increase in real property taxes over the base
On November 21, 1962 Dilbert's filed a petition under Chapter XI of the
Bankruptcy Act, continuing to operate the business as a debtor in possession. On
petition of the Securities and Exchange Commission the proceeding was on March
14, 1963 transferred to Chapter X, and a trustee was appointed.
On July 6, 1964 an order was entered confirming a plan of reorganization and
retaining jurisdiction over Dilbert's assets. On July 28, 1964 an order was
entered affirming the lease. This lease contained a provision making it
'subject and subordinate to all mortgages which may now or hereafter affect such
leases or the real property of which the demised premises form a part and to all
renewals, modifications, consolidations, replacements and extensions thereof.
This clause shall be self operative and no further instrument shall be required
by any mortgagee.' On March 20, 1962, Flushing Project #1, along with other
corporations, as mortgagors executed and delivered two purported mortgages to
Webb & Knapp, Inc. as mortgagee. Among the property covered by these
instruments was the debtor's leasehold. On that same day, Webb & Knapp assigned
one mortgage to General Investors Company and the other to Mastan Company
Incorporated. On June 1, General Investors assigned its mortgage to Mastan who,
on July 13, 1964, assigned both mortgages to Bankers Life & Casualty Company.
The latter, on March 5, 1965, assigned both mortgages to Irma.
On March 29, 1965, Irma, as mortgagee, instituted a foreclosure proceeding in
the New York Supreme Court and named, among other defendants, the debtor-tenant
Dilbert's. In its answer on April 30, 1965, Dilbert's pleaded the following
affirmative defenses: full payment of the mortgage debt; the interference by the
foreclosure action with the jurisdiction of the federal court in the Chapter X
proceeding and the need for an application for permission to continue; a
fraudulent conspiracy designed to destroy the leasehold.
On June 7, 1965, Irma applied to the reorganization court for leave to continue
prosecution of the mortgage foreclosure action. After several adjournments,
Judge Abruzzo scheduled a hearing on November 16, 1965. On October 18 the Court
of Appeals denied Irma's petition for a writ of prohibition, or in the
alternative, for a writ of mandamus assuming that the November hearing would be
held as scheduled. In his opinion following the hearing Judge Abruzzo stated:
'the purpose of the hearing was twofold: (1) to determine whether or not Irma
had the right to continue its foreclosure proceeding in the State Court against
Dilbert's, and (2) to determine whether or not the defenses raised by Dilbert's
By order dated January 14, 1966 Judge Abruzzo denied Irma's motion to prosecute
the foreclosure action and ruled, among other matters, that the lease was *924
an asset of the debtor and within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal
court and that Irma was the owner, not the mortgagee, of the leased premises.
Irma's appeal is based on three claims:
(1) That the District Court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the foreclosure
proceeding because no property of the debtor was involved.
(2) That the plan of reorganization, 'deemed consummated' August 24, 1964,
ended on that date the jurisdiction of the District Court over the property of
the debtor, including the lease.
(3) That the order is an abuse of discretion.
 1. At the outset, it is clear that the reorganization court had
jurisdiction to determine whether it has jurisdiction to enjoin the foreclosure.
6 Collier Bankruptcy (14th ed. 1965) sec. 3.12. Its determination that it did
have such jurisdiction to enjoin the foreclosure was correct. Its jurisdiction
is grounded on the actual or constructive possession of the debtor's property.
Thompson v. Magnolia Petroleum Co., 309 U.S. 478, 481, 60 S.Ct. 628, 84 L.Ed.
876 (1940). Provisions of Chapter X (11 U.S.C. 516(4), 548) grant power to stay
foreclosure actions brought to enforce liens against the property of the debtor.
The lease to Dilbert's is property of the debtor within the jurisdiction of the
reorganization court. Callaway v. Benton, 336 U.S. 132, 142, 69 S.Ct. 435, 93
L.Ed. 553 (1949). This is so whether it be labeled an interest in realty or a
'chattel real' as appellant urges. The foreclosure action seeks, under the
subordination language of the lease, to extinguish the debtor's interest.
 2. The contention that adoption of the reorganization plan ousted the
court of jurisdiction must be rejected. The reorganization court may retain
jurisdiction of the debtor until the final decree. See generally 6A Collier
Bankruptcy (14th ed. 1965) Sec. 11.13. By its order of August 25, 1964 the
court expressly reserved jurisdiction 'to hear and determine any and all
questions as to the title to and possession of the assets and property vested or
revested pursuant to this order, and the character and extent of such assets.'
As indicated above, the lease, specifically confirmed by order of July 28, 1964,
was an asset of the corporation in reorganization.
 3. Under the circumstances of this case we hold that the court did not
abuse its discretion in deciding to pass on the validity of the lease and
mortgage claims. When reorganization has been completed and the new corporation
is fully functioning as an economic unit, a court should not attempt to keep it
indefinitely under the judicial wing. North Am. Car Corp. v. Peerless Weighing
and Vending Mach. Corp., 143 F.2d 938, 940 (2d Cir. 1944). Here, however, the
claimed default was during administration, on July 14, 1964 two weeks prior to
affirmance of the lease. Jurisdiction was properly retained by the court to
protect its decree, to prevent interference with the execution of the plan and
to aid otherwise in its operation. Compare In re Pittsburgh Terminal Coal
Corp., 183 F.2d 520 (3d Cir. 1950), cert. denied 340 U.S. 904, 71 S.Ct. 280, 95
L.Ed. 654; In re New York, New Haven & Hartford RR Co., 169 F.2d 337, 340 (2d
Cir.), cert. denied, Mulcahy v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 335 U.S. 867, 69
S.Ct. 138, 93 L.Ed. 412 (1948). Much remained to be done before final decree
could be entered-- determination of intercompany claims, participation of
classes of creditors, confirmation of other leases. The lease in question was
essential to the functioning of the corporation in reorganization. Serious
claims were made of irregularities in the purported creation and transfer of the
mortgage liens, foreclosure of which might operate to frustrate a substantial
portion of the plan of reorganization. The court was not unfamiliar with the
tangled affairs of Zeckendorf and Webb & Knapp from its supervision of these
bankruptcy proceedings, and the testimony before it here justified its refusal
to permit the foreclosure to proceed in *925 the state courts. Appellant has
chosen not to attack the order on the merits, relying on the attack on
jurisdiction. The record supports the court's determination.
The order appealed from is affirmed.
368 F.2d 922
END OF DOCUMENT
In re Dilbert's Quality Supermarkets, Inc., 368 F.2d 922 (2nd Cir.(N.Y.), Nov 28, 1966) (NO. 5, 30347)
United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit.