Justia Bankruptcy Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit dismissed Plaintiffs' appeal for want of jurisdiction, holding that the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (the bankruptcy rules), and not the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the civil rules), govern cases that have come within the federal district court's jurisdiction as cases "related to" a pending bankruptcy proceeding. 28 U.S.C. 1334(b).In this case arising from the derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Canada, Plaintiffs brought thirty-nine separate suits against several defendants. The derailment occurred on the watch of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA). MMA sought the protection of the bankruptcy court. Plaintiffs' suits were removed to federal district court. Plaintiffs subsequently joined Canadian Pacific Railway Company as an additional defendant. The suits were centralized in the District of Maine. The district court later granted Plaintiffs' request to dismiss their claims against all defendants except Canadian Pacific pursuant to a settlement agreement that was part of MMA's plan of liquidation. The district court entered judgment for Canadian Pacific. Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of their motion to file an amended complaint. The district court denied the motion as untimely. The First Circuit dismissed Plaintiffs' appeal, holding that the Bankruptcy Rules governed the procedural aspects of this case, Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider was untimely, and the attempted appeal was untimely. View "Roy v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Title III court holding that Claimants, who invested in mutual funds that owned bonds issued by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and filed proofs of claim in the Commonwealth's Title III case, lacked standing to recover damages directly from the Commonwealth for losses suffered by the mutual funds, holding that there was not a basis in law for this lawsuit.The Claimants alleged that they had a right to recover damages directly from the Commonwealth for losses suffered by the mutual funds in those investments. The title III court concluded that Claimants lacked standing because they did not own any bonds issued by the Commonwealth and that the Claimants' ownership interest in the mutual funds did not give them a right to recover against the Commonwealth. The Title III court subsequently denied the Claimants' motions for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Title III court did not err in its standing analysis, either in its initial decision disallowing the Claimants' claims or in its consideration of the two motions for reconsideration. View "Diaz Mayoral v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that the district court correctly denied the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's motions for reconsideration at issue in this appeal insofar as they might be construed as motions to apply an automatic stay under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) to either dismiss a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action or a settlement agreement that had not yet been enforced, holding that the circuit court did not err.This case stemmed from a settlement following a section 1983 suit against a Commonwealth officer in the officer's individual capacity. After the settlement agreement was filed under seal and the district court had dismissed the case with prejudice, and before the first installment of the agreed settlement payments was due, the Financial Oversight and Management Board filed a petition for bankruptcy relief on behalf of the Commonwealth under Title III of PROMESA. Appellant filed a motion in opposition, arguing that the automatic stay was not applicable in his case. The district court granted the opposition. The Commonwealth filed a motions for reconsideration, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying the Commonwealth's motions for reconsideration insofar as they may be construed as motions to apply PROMESA's automatic stay to either the dismiss section 1983 action or the settlement agreement. View "Diaz-Morales v. Rubio-Paredes" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the district court requiring immediate payment of a $10,000 settlement sum by Defendant, the Secretary of Corrections to Puerto Rico, and remanded with instructions to stay Plaintiff's effort to recover on the settlement, holding that the automatic stay provision of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) applied.Plaintiff brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendant and others, alleging that the defendants had been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs while he was an inmate at the Baymon Correctional Facility. The parties eventually settled for $50,000. At issue was who was responsible to pay the remaining $10,000 of that sum. The district court ordered Defendant, and not the Commonwealth, to pay the balance of the settlement amount. Defendant appealed, arguing that Plaintiff's effort to collect the $10,000 should have been stayed under the automatic stay provision of PROMESA. The First Circuit agreed, holding that, given the manner in which Plaintiff styled his effort to recover, the automatic stay properly applied. View "Colon-Torres v. Negron-Fernandez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit (BAP) affirming the judgment of the bankruptcy court finding that Debtor defaulted on his obligation and refusing to grant him a discharge, holding that Debtor's assignments of error were unavailing.Debtor filed a petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the District of Massachusetts. The case was subsequently converted to a Chapter 7 case. After Debtor failed to file any of the documents mandated by court orders the court entered a further order requiring Debtor to file the overdue documents by a certain date. Debtor did not heed the order. After a show cause hearing, the bankruptcy court denied Debtor a discharge and dismissed his petition for failing to ignore the court's orders. The BAP affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Debtor received the constitutional protections to which he was entitled and that, due to Debtor's conduct, the bankruptcy court's denial of a discharge was within its discretion. View "Francis v. Desmond" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed this appeal arising out of the Title III debt-restructuring proceedings commenced by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico on behalf of the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation (COFINA) under the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), 48 U.S.C. 2101-2241, holding that the appeal was equitably moot.After Title III proceedings were initiated several Puerto Rican credit unions (Credit Unions) filed an adversary proceeding against several defendants, including the Commonwealth and COFINA. Thereafter, the Board proposed a plan (Plan) of adjustment restructuring COFINA's debt. The Plan as approved called for the dismissal with prejudice of all litigation against COFINA that arose before the effective date of the Plan. The Credit Unions sought to strike the provision releasing the claims they asserted against COFINA in their adversary proceeding. The Title III court denied the motion. This appeal followed. At the time of this opinion the Plan had been fully implemented for over two years. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that it was equitably moot. View "Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito de Rincon v. Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the bankruptcy court declaring a foreclosure void and awarding Appellant damages but denying relief on her remaining claims, holding that Appellant's challenges on appeal were either waived or otherwise unavailing.After two attempts to foreclose the mortgage on a condominium that Appellant purchased she filed a six-count adversary complaint in the bankruptcy court naming five defendants, the financial institutions and law firms connected with the foreclosure. The bankruptcy court granted summary judgment as to one count in favor of Appellant, voiding one of the foreclosures, but denied the remaining claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant's challenges were either waived or baseless. View "Jackson v. ING Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) dismissing under the doctrine of equitable mootness this appeal brought by United Surety & Indemnification Company (USIC), holding that USIC's appeal was equitably moot.In 2013, Pedro Lopez-Munoz filed a voluntary petition for chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 2018, the bankruptcy court confirmed a reorganization plan. One of Lopez-Munoz's creditors was USIC, which had an unsecured claim in the amount of $2,700,000. USIC appealed. The BAP dismissed USIC's appeal under the doctrine of equitable mootness. The First Circuit affirmed after analyzing the three factors for determining whether an appeal is equitably moot, holding that USIC's appeal was equitably moot. View "United Surety & Indemnity Co. v. Lopez-Munoz" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the bankruptcy court granting creditor Schleicher & Stebbins Hotels, LLC (S&S) relief from an automatic stay imposed by section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code, holding that the bankruptcy court properly granted relief from the automatic stay.In the bankruptcy proceedings of debtor Old Cold, LLC, Old Cold listed S&S as the only secured creditor and Mission Product Holdings, Inc. as an unsecured creditor. Eventually, S&S filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay imposed in the bankruptcy proceedings, arguing that it had valid, first-priority, perfected liens on the debtor's assets, that the debtor lacked equity in its remaining property, and that the property was not needed to effect a reorganization. The bankruptcy court granted the stay relief motion. Mission appealed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the bankruptcy court did not commit clear error in granting relief from the automatic stay. View "Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Schleicher & Stebbins Hotels" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the bankruptcy court denying Chapter 7 Trustee Nathaniel Richard Hull's objection to Jeffrey Rockwell's homestead exemption listed at the time he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, holding that the Bankruptcy Code dictates that Rockwell's homestead exemption maintains the status it held on the day Rockwell filed his bankruptcy petition.When he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy Rockwell exempted his home from the bankruptcy estate under Maine's homestead law. While the bankruptcy was proceeding, Rockwell sold that home and did not reinvest the proceeds of the sale in another homestead within six months, contrary to Maine law. When he converted his bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 proceeding, Hull objected to Rockwell's homestead exemption. The bankruptcy court denied the objection. The district court affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that exemptions are analyzed on the date the debtor files for bankruptcy and that the complete snapshot rule applies. View "Hull v. Rockwell" on Justia Law