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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:John F. Lowman and Karen June Scruggs married in September 1993. The next month, Lowman retired and elected 100 percent of the “joint and survivor annuity” from his pension plan. He began receiving payments in November 1993. Lowman and Scruggs separated in March 1994, and a final divorce decree was filed in Florida on March 25, 1994. Five years later, on Oct. 25, 1999, Lowman filed a motion in Monroe County, Fla., seeking enforcement of Karen’s divorce settlement agreement waiving any interest in Lowman’s pension. The next day, Lowman died of cancer in Michigan. His joint annuity ceased automatically. On Nov. 1, 1999, Scruggs began receiving monthly payments from the annuity. Lowman’s daughter, Donna Lowman, was substituted as the plaintiff in the Monroe County action in October 2000, and that court entered an “Order on Federal ERISA Issue” on March 5, 2002. On April 24, 2002, Scruggs and her new husband, Thomas Herbert Scruggs, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Texas. An automatic stay went into place against Donna Lowman’s prosecution of the Florida enforcement action. In June, Donna Lowman sought relief from the automatic stay, which the bankruptcy court granted on Oct. 2, 2002. Scruggs and her husband appealed the lifting of the bankruptcy stay on Oct. 11, and on Oct. 21 filed a motion to stay the bankruptcy court’s decision and order granting Donna Lowman relief from the automatic stay. Meanwhile, Donna Lowman filed a motion for final judgment in the Florida proceeding on Oct. 16, and the Florida court issued a final judgment on Nov. 2. That judgment became final on Dec. 2. The bankruptcy court denied Scruggs’ motion to stay its decision Nov. 8, but the district court reversed the bankruptcy court on Aug. 7, 2003, and reinstates the stay. Donna Lowman appealed that judgment to this court on Sept. 4. In the meantime, the bankruptcy court ordered Scruggs’ bankruptcy to be converted from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, and on Dec. 30, 2003, Scruggs was discharged in bankruptcy and the automatic stay expired. Scruggs filed a motion to dismiss Donna Lowman’s appeal of the district court ruling as moot. That motion and Donna Lowman’s appeal are now together before this court. HOLDING:Appeal dismissed; district court order vacated. The district court’s order is moot because the Florida state court judgment had become final and no longer appealable long before the district court purported to reverse the bankruptcy court (and even longer before Scruggs’ Chapter 7 discharge). Consequently, by the time the district court acted in August 2003, the sole case or controversy between the parties had ceased to exist as a matter of law. Under the doctrine of mootness, this deprived the district court of jurisdiction, making its order reversing the bankruptcy court void ab initio and the appeal of that order moot, thereby depriving this court of appellate jurisdiction. Thus, the only federal court ruling left uninfected by mootness was the bankruptcy court’s Oct. 2, 2002, order lifting the automatic stay and keeping it lifted until after the Florida judgment had become final, non-appealable and executory. OPINION:Per curiam; Smith, Wiener and Pickering, JJ.

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