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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel dismissed debtor's appeal of the bankruptcy court's order granting a motion for relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay filed by Deutsche Bank. The panel held that a foreclosure and sale of the property at issue rendered the issues raised on appeal moot and therefore the panel lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "Marshall v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." 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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Before Buccanneer filed for bankruptcy, the company fired its CEO, who then filed a claim for breach of contract in the bankruptcy. The CEO later dropped the claim and filed a tortious interference with contract claim in state court against Buccaneer's secured creditor, Meridian. After Meridian moved to federal court, the bankruptcy court sent the tortious interference claim back to state court. The Fifth Circuit held that the tortious interference claim alleging a direct injury to the CEO was not property of the estate, and thus there was no basis for bankruptcy court jurisdiction. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment remanding the case back to state court. View "Meridian Capital CIS Fund v. Burton" on Justia Law

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Mining’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding allowed it to continue operating with the goal of restructuring. Its Lenders asserted liens on assets, including cash collateral, 11 U.S.C. 362(c), but consented to the use of cash collateral for operating funds. A “Cash Collateral Order” granted the Lenders super-priority claims and adequate protection liens; it authorizes the use of cash collateral for the costs and expenses of administering the bankruptcy case. The agreement included a "Carve-Out" to give attorneys and other professionals hired for the reorganization priority for payment from cash collateral in case of insolvency. Restructuring failed. The Lenders moved to terminate the use of cash collateral. the bankruptcy court ordered amounts to be budgeted for professional fees to complete asset sales. The Lenders supported asset sales rather than immediate conversion to Chapter 7, agreeing that the cash collateral budgets would be modified to ensure that professionals working on those sales would be paid. The case was converted to Chapter 7. The professionals filed Final Fee Applications for approximately $2.5 million, citing the Carve-Out. The Lenders argued that the sums comprising the Carve-Out did not extend to Lenders’ prepetition liens and cash collateral, but could come only from post-petition liens now that the case had converted. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's rejection of their arguments. The Lenders’ reasoning is not supported by the terms of the cash collateral order, their conduct during the proceeding, or precedent. View "In re: Licking River Mining, LLC" on Justia Law

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The class representative of federal securities class actions appealed the dismissal of the unsecured creditor claim and amended claim he filed in the pending Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding of lead class counsel, Green Jacobson, P.C. The Eighth Circuit held that the claim for the cy pres distribution was no longer an issue because the distribution had been returned by the charity and deposited with the district court clerk for ultimate distribution for the benefit of the NationsBank class; the negligent supervision claim was time-barred; the disgorgement claim was not time-barred by Missouri's five year statute of limitations; and the bankruptcy court did not err in disallowing the bankruptcy claim as premature and lacking in supporting foundation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Oetting v. Sosne" on Justia Law

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Debtor Walter Energy petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sought to sell substantially all of its assets as a going concern. The bankruptcy court exercised its authority under the Retiree Benefits Bankruptcy Protection Act of 1988 (RBBPA) and terminated Walter Energy's obligation to pay premiums. The Funds appealed to the district court, which affirmed the bankruptcy court's judgment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, and held that the bankruptcy court had the authority to modify the premiums that Walter Energy owed the Funds. The panel held that the RBBPA authorized the bankruptcy court to terminate Walter Energy’s obligation to pay premiums, even though the premiums were imposed by statute and Walter Energy was pursuing liquidation under Chapter 11, not a classic reorganization. View "United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund v. Toffel" on Justia Law

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Gregory and Andrea Chernushin owned a second home in Colorado in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Eventually, Mr. Chernushin (not Ms. Chernushin) filed for bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Chernushin died. The bankruptcy trustee, Robertson Cohen, then filed an adversary complaint against Ms. Chernushin, seeking to sell the home. Ms. Chernushin argued the bankruptcy estate no longer included any interest in the home because Mr. Chernushin’s joint tenancy interest ended at his death. The bankruptcy court agreed with Ms. Chernushin, as did the district court on appeal. The trustee appealed, but the Tenth Circuit concurred the bankruptcy estate had no more interest in the home than Mr. Chernushin and Mr. Chernushin’s interest extinguished when he died. View "Cohen v. Chernushin" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the dismissal of a medical malpractice action filed by plaintiff Nicole Alward against defendants Emery Johnston, M.D., Gary Fleischer, M.D., Tung Thuy Nguyen, M.D., Elliot Hospital, and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. Following a second back surgery, plaintiff consulted with two different attorneys about a potential medical malpractice claim. Ultimately, both attorneys advised the plaintiff that they were unwilling to represent her in a medical malpractice action against the treating physicians and hospitals. As a result, plaintiff believed that her potential claim had no value. Plaintiff then consulted with a bankruptcy attorney, Mark Cornell, in April 2015. She informed Cornell about her potential medical malpractice claim and that other attorneys had declined to pursue it. When Cornell drafted the plaintiff’s petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy, he did not list the potential medical malpractice claim on the plaintiff’s schedule of assets. Cornell also failed to advise plaintiff that she needed to disclose this potential claim to the bankruptcy trustee. At her ex-husband’s suggestion, in February 2016, plaintiff consulted with a third law firm, Swartz & Swartz, P.C., which agreed to represent her and pursue the medical malpractice claim. Plaintiff filed the underlying medical malpractice action against defendants in June 2016. The bankruptcy court issued its order discharging her case in July 2016. In October, defendants moved to dismiss the medical malpractice action, arguing plaintiff should have been judicially estopped from pursuing her medical malpractice claim because she failed to disclose it on her schedule of assets in the bankruptcy case. Plaintiff immediately consulted with new bankruptcy counsel, who moved to reopen her bankruptcy case to "administer a potential asset" and appoint a new trustee. The bankruptcy court granted the motion and appointed a new trustee. Plaintiff then resisted defendants' motion to dismiss, which was denied by the trial court. The trial court ultimately dismissed the case, holding plaintiff was judicially estopped from bringing her medical malpractice claim. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in applying judicial estoppel to this matter, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alward v. Johnston" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of debtors' motion under 11 U.S.C. 362(k) for attorneys' fees incurred on appeal in successfully challenging the bankruptcy court's award of attorneys' fees to debtors for a willful violation of an automatic stay. The panel held that section 362(k) also authorizes attorneys' fees and costs to the debtor incurred on appeal in successfully challenging an initial award made pursuant to section 362(k). The panel also held that the district court abused its discretion by denying the motion on the alternative ground that debtors failed to comply with a local rule. In this case, the memorandum of points and authorities filed with the district court sufficiently clarified the attorneys' fees and costs. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Easley v. Collection Service of Nevada" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether 11 U.S.C. 362(c)(3)(A) terminates the automatic stay as to actions against property of the bankruptcy estate. Maine’s Bureau of Revenue Services (MRS) had a claim for a tax debt owed by Leland Smith, a repeat Chapter 13 bankruptcy filer. At issue int his appeal was the scope of the termination of the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay for repeat filers like Smith who file a second petition for bankruptcy within a year of the dismissal of a prior bankruptcy case. Thirty days after the filing of his bankruptcy petition, some part of the stay had terminated under section 362(c)(3)(A). Smith argued that the stay only terminated as to actions against the debtor and the debtor’s property, not as to actions against the property of the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy court ruled that the automatic stay had terminated in full, including as to property of the estate, and the district court affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that section 362(c)(3)(A) terminates the entire stay thirty days after the filing of a second petition. View "Smith v. State of Maine Bureau of Revenue Services" on Justia Law