Articles 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

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A group of hotel-related businesses, as well as investors and guarantors, filed suit alleging claims of fraud against the Royal Bank and two of its subsidiaries. The district court dismissed the claims because plaintiffs had failed to list their cause of action in a schedule of assets in their now-concluded bankruptcy proceeding, they lacked standing to bring the claim, and were barred by judicial estoppel. The claims of the investor and guarantors were dismissed as untimely and barred by the law of the case. The Second Circuit affirmed on the grounds of judicial estoppel and timeliness. The court held that, under Fifth Circuit law, the kind of LIBOR-fraud claim that BPP wanted to assert was "a known cause of action" at the time of confirmation, so that BPP's failure to list it in the schedule of assets was equivalent to a representation that none existed; the bankruptcy court "adopted" BPP's position; and BPP's assertion of the claims now would allow it to enjoy an unfair advantage at the expense of its former creditors. Furthermore, plaintiffs have not shown good cause for an untimely amendment, and the district court properly denied leave to amend. View "BPP Illinois v. Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Bankruptcy

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Avoca Plaintiffs filed suits against New Kerr-McGee, alleging toxic tort claims. The suits were stayed when the owners/operators of the Avoca Plant, Tronox debtors, filed for bankruptcy. In this appeal, Avoca challenged the district court's order enforcing a permanent anti‐suit injunction issued after the bankruptcy settlement. New Kerr‐McGee had moved in the district court for an order enforcing the Injunction and for sanctions, asserting that the Injunction forecloses claims that arise from liabilities derived from or through the Tronox debtors that are also generalized and common to all creditors. The district court concluded that the claims are barred by the Injunction and, without imposing sanctions or finding contempt, ordered the Avoca Plaintiffs to dismiss with prejudice their state‐court complaints. The court rejected the Avoca Plaintiffs' assertions of appellate jurisdiction, concluding that the district court's order is not "final" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1291, because it neither found contempt nor imposed sanctions; the order is not a decision by the district court on review of a bankruptcy court order, as required by 28 U.S.C. 158(d); and the court lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) because the district court properly construed (and neither modified nor continued) the Injunction. The court held that the Avoca Plaintiffs' personal injury claims based on conduct of the Tronox debtors, and asserted against New Kerr‐McGee on a variety of state‐law indirect‐liability theories, are generalized "derivative" claims that fall within the property of the bankruptcy estate. Accordingly, the court lifted the stay and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "In re Tronox Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, unsuccessful bidders in a bankruptcy proceeding, appealed the district court's dismissal of their suit alleging claims for breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, and common law fraud against the law firm K&L Gates, LLP and two of its former partners. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants used their prior representation of plaintiffs to undermine plaintiffs' attempt to acquire assets in a bankruptcy sale.  The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss based on res judicata. The court agreed with plaintiffs that they could not have brought their claims during the bankruptcy proceedings, and that this present action would not disturb the orders of the bankruptcy court. The court explained that the circumstances in this case did not demand that plaintiffs raise their claim in the bankruptcy proceeding, and noted that the relevant issues were not litigated through an adversary proceeding or otherwise. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated, remanding for further proceedings. View "Brown Media Corp. v. K&L Gates, LLP" on Justia Law

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After Old GM filed for bankruptcy, New GM emerged. This case involves one of the consequences of the GM bankruptcy. Beginning in February 2014, New GM began recalling cars due to a defect in their ignition switches. Many of the cars in question were built years before the GM bankruptcy. Where individuals might have had claims against Old GM, a ʺfree and clearʺ provision in the bankruptcy courtʹs sale order barred those same claims from being brought against New GM as the successor corporation. Various individuals nonetheless initiated class action lawsuits against New GM, asserting ʺsuccessor liabilityʺ claims and seeking damages for losses and injuries arising from the ignition switch defect and other defects. The bankruptcy court enforced the Sale Order to enjoin many of these claims against New GM. The court concluded that the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the Sale Order; the ʺfree and clearʺ provision covers pre‐closing accident claims and economic loss claims based on the ignition switch and other defects, but does not cover independent claims or Used Car Purchasersʹ claims; the court found no clear error in the bankruptcy court's finding that Old GM knew or should have known with reasonable diligence about the defect, and individuals with claims arising out of the ignition switch defect were entitled to notice by direct mail or some equivalent, as required by procedural due process; because enforcing the Sale Order would violate procedural due process in these circumstances, the bankruptcy court erred in granting New GMʹs motion to enforce and these plaintiffs cannot be bound by the terms of the Sales Order; and the bankruptcy courtʹs decision on equitable mootness was advisory. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "In re Motors Liquidation Co." on Justia Law

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Appellants, representatives of certain unsecured creditors of the Chapter 11 debtor Tribune Company, appealed the grant of a motion to dismiss their state law, constructive fraudulent conveyance claims brought against Tribune’s former shareholders. The court held that appellants are not barred by the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay because they have been freed from its restrictions by orders of the bankruptcy court and by the debtors’ confirmed reorganization plan. The court also held that appellants’ claims are preempted by Bankruptcy Code Section 546(e), where that section shields from avoidance proceedings brought by a bankruptcy trustee transfers by or to financial intermediaries effectuating settlement payments in securities transactions or made in connection with a securities contract, except through an intentional fraudulent conveyance claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re: Tribune Co. Fraudulent Conveyance Litig." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy