Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's order requiring the law firm to remit $59,432 to the trustee of debtor's bankruptcy estate. The amount the law firm was ordered to remit was part of the proceeds of an unauthorized post-petition transfer by the debtor of the estate's property. The court held that the trustee's recovery of a portion of the Thompson Loan from the law firm did not constitute a double recovery in violation of 11 U.S.C. 550(d). View "In re: Alice Phillips Belmonte" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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Plaintiff filed a whistleblower action under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act against CGI, alleging that he was unlawfully fired in retaliation for his complaints about and objections to an allegedly fraudulent scheme developed by CGI's executives. The district court held that the Sarbanes-Oxley claim survived summary judgment, but later dismissed plaintiff for lack of standing due to his parallel bankruptcy proceeding. After the bankruptcy case closed, plaintiff moved to be substituted in as the proper party-in-interest. The district court granted plaintiff's motion and then dismissed the case on grounds of judicial estoppel. The Second Circuit held that the district court exceeded its discretion by invoking the judicial estoppel doctrine. The court held that where, as here, a pro se debtor has listed his pending litigation on the Statement of Financial Affairs (SOFA), rather than the Schedule B as it was constituted at the time of plaintiff's filing, and then disclosed it to the trustee and the bankruptcy court prior to discharge of his debt, and the trustee and the bankruptcy court were on sufficient notice to take steps to protect the creditors' interests, the debtor is not estopped from pursuing that litigation by virtue of the doctrine of judicial estoppel. The court explained that, for estoppel to apply, there must be greater indicia than presented here of an intent to deceive the court for the debtor's benefit. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The court affirmed the district court's grant of partial summary judgment to CGI on the state-law breach of contract claim, holding that the dismissal order was rendered moot by virtue of later developments. View "Ashmore v. CGI Group" on Justia Law

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The trustee for the Liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC alleged that Madoff Securities transferred property to foreign entities that subsequently transferred it to other foreign entities, including the hundreds of appellees. The trustee claimed that the Madoff Securities' transfers were avoidable as fraudulent under 11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(A), and sought to recover the property from appellees under section 550(a)(2). The district court dismissed the actions based on the presumption against extraterritoriality and international comity principles. The Second Circuit vacated and held that neither the presumption against extraterritoriality nor international comity principles barred recovery. In this case, the focus of section 550(a) was on debtor's fraudulent transfer of property to the initial transferee, and these actions involved domestic applications of the Bankruptcy Code because section 550(a) focused on regulating domestic conduct. Therefore, the lower courts erred by dismissing these actions under the presumption against extraterritoriality. The court also held that the district court erroneously dismissed these actions on international comity grounds where the United States' interest in applying its law to these disputes outweighed the interest of any foreign state and prescriptive comity posed no bar to recovery. View "In re: Picard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, alleging that defendants wrongfully failed to pay debtor for produce held in trust for plaintiffs, in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The Second Circuit agreed with the bankruptcy judge and district court and affirmed summary judgment for plaintiffs, but held that defendants should receive a pro rata share of assets of the trust established under the Act. Because assets subject to the Act are held in a ʺfloatingʺ trust for the benefit of unpaid produce suppliers and never become part of a bankruptcy estate, when a purchaser of produce files for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, a creditor covered by the Actʹs provisions is entitled to a pro rata share of trust assets, but not to a complete offset of mutual debts between it and the bankrupt. In this case, although defendants did not file a proof of claim after the district court issued a claims process order under the Act, they preserved their claims by providing statutorily required notice to debtor in connection with each pre‐bankruptcy sale of fresh produce; filed a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court before the district court had issued the claims process order; and reasonably, although mistakenly, thought that they could vindicate their rights as creditors using a bankruptcy offset. View "The PACA Trust Creditors v. Genecco Produce Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's dismissal of a Chapter 7 involuntary bankruptcy petition creditor filed under 11 U.S.C. 303(a) against debtor. The bankruptcy court dismissed for cause under 11 U.S.C. 707(a) after concluding that the petition was simply a judgment enforcement tactic. The court held that creditor was not substantially prejudiced by being denied access to bankruptcy remedies and that the interests of debtor and of the bankruptcy system as a whole were advanced by dismissal. View "Wilk Auslander LLP v. Murray" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's personal injury claims against more than fifty corporate defendants, holding that the district court abused its discretion in invoking the equitable doctrine of judicial estoppel to dismiss her claims. In this case, Defendant Boeing argued that plaintiff's failure to disclose her husband's mesothelioma diagnosis during bankruptcy barred the personal injury claims related to the diagnosis. Plaintiff's husband passed away during the pendency of the appeal. The court held that the principles of equity required the courts to entertain plaintiff's personal injury claims where nothing in the record suggested that she withheld her husband's diagnosis from the bankruptcy court in an effort to game the bankruptcy system. View "Clark v. Advanced Composites Group" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Second Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's denial of Credit One's motion to compel arbitration on the basis of a clause in the cardholder agreement between Credit One and debtor. The court held that debtor's claim was not arbitrable because the dispute concerned a core bankruptcy proceeding and arbitrating the matter would present an inherent conflict with the goals of the Bankruptcy Code. In this case, the successful discharge of debt was not merely important to the Bankruptcy Code, it was its principal goal. The court explained that an attempt to coerce debtors to pay a discharged debt was thus an attempt to undo the effect of the discharge order and the bankruptcy proceeding itself. View "In re Orrin S. Anderson" on Justia Law

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SPV, the assignee of Optimal Strategic, filed suit against UBS and its affiliated entities and individuals (collectively, Access), alleging that UBS and Access aided and abetted the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and Bernard L. Madoff by sponsoring and providing support for two European-based feeder funds. The district court subsequently denied SPV's motion to remand the matter to state court and then granted separate motions to dismiss the complaint. The Second Circuit held that it had jurisdiction over this appeal; this litigation was "related to" the Madoff/BLMIS bankruptcies; the USB defendants lacked sufficient contacts with the United States to allow the exercise of general jurisdiction; the connections between the USB Defendants, SPV's claims, and its chosen New York forum were too tenuous to support the exercise of specific jurisdiction; and the court rejected SPV's two different theories of proximate cause. View "SPV OSUS Ltd. v. UBS AG" on Justia Law

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Three groups of creditors appealed MPM's substantially consummated plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Subordinated Notes holders challenged the lower courts' conclusions that their claims were subordinate to the Second-Lien Notes holders' claims; the Senior-Lien Notes holders contended that the lower courts erroneously applied a below-market interest rate to their replacement notes; the Senior-Lien Notes holders challenge the lower courts' rulings that they were not entitled to a make-whole premium; and debtors argued that the court should dismiss these appeals as equitably moot. The Second Circuit found merit only in the Senior-Lien Notes holders' contention with respect to the method of calculating the appropriate interest rate for the replacement notes. The court held that the Second-Lien Notes stand in priority to the Subordinated Notes; held that the Senior-Lien Notes holders were not entitled to the make-whole premium; declined to dismiss any of the appeals as equitably moot; and remanded to the bankruptcy court to assess whether an efficient market rate could be ascertained, and if so, applied to the replacement notes. View "In re MPM Silicones, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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Benjamin Ashmore appealed the district court's order dismissing him as the plaintiff in a whistleblower action under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. 1514A. Instead, the trustee of Ashmore's bankruptcy estate was substituted as plaintiff. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the district court's dismissal of the case as to Ashmore and the substitution of the trustee as plaintiff were interlocutory orders that were not immediately appealable. The court vacated the temporary stay of the district court proceedings and denied Ashmore's pending motion to stay as moot. View "Ashmore v. CGI Group, Inc." on Justia Law