Justia Bankruptcy Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In re: Larisa Ivanovna Markus
Appellant, an attorney, represented debtor in proceedings before the United States Bankruptcy Court. After Appellant failed to comply with a series of discovery orders, the bankruptcy court imposed sanctions of $55,000 for 55 days of non-compliance and $36,600 in attorneys' fees. The orders were affirmed by the district court. Appellant appealed, arguing that, first, the bankruptcy court lacked inherent authority to issue civil contempt sanctions, and second, as a matter of due process, he was not provided with sufficient notice of the basis for the sanctions imposed against him. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that the civil contempt sanctions imposed against Appellant were within the scope of the bankruptcy court's discretion and that he had ample notice of the basis and reasons for the imposition of sanctions. The court explained that it appears that Appellant could not have been sanctioned under any express authority; the bankruptcy court was right to consider its inherent contempt authority. Nor was the bankruptcy court's exercise of its inherent contempt authority contrary to any provision of the Bankruptcy Code, including Section 105(a). Further, the court reasoned that the bankruptcy court found all the necessary elements -- that is, a finding of bad faith and satisfaction of the King factors -- to order contempt sanctions in the circumstances here, where Appellant was acting as an advocate. View "In re: Larisa Ivanovna Markus" on Justia Law
In re: Kimberly Bruce
Defendants Citigroup Inc. and Citibank, N.A. (collectively, “Citi”) appealed from the bankruptcy court’s order granting in part and denying in part Citi’s motion, pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7012, to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended complaint, or, alternatively, to strike or dismiss the nationwide class action allegations therein. On appeal, Citi advanced s two primary arguments. First, Citi argues that a bankruptcy court’s civil contempt power is limited to the enforcement of its own orders and, therefore, that the Bankruptcy Code does not authorize one bankruptcy court to adjudicate the claims of a nationwide class of former debtors seeking to hold Citi in contempt of discharge orders entered by other bankruptcy courts across the country. Second, Citi argues that Plaintiff’s claim for violation of her discharge order and injunction under 11 U.S.C. Section 524(a)(2) fails to satisfy the civil contempt standard under Taggart v. Lorenzen, 139 S. Ct. 1795 (2019).The Second Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the bankruptcy court’s order and remanded the case to the bankruptcy court. The court explained that the Bankruptcy Code does not authorize a bankruptcy court to enforce another bankruptcy court’s discharge injunction. Further, the court wrote that there is no Section 524 “affirmative act” deficiency here. An intentional and systematic refusal to update the credit report upon the debtor’s request constitutes “an act to collect” under Section 524(a)(2), where, objectively, it has the practical effect of improperly coercing the debtor into paying off a discharged debt. View "In re: Kimberly Bruce" on Justia Law
In re: Purdue Pharma L.P.
Appellants appealed from a district court’s order reversing an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court confirming a Chapter 11 plan that included nonconsensual third-party releases of direct claims against non-debtors. The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s order holding that the Bankruptcy Code does not permit nonconsensual third-party releases against non-debtors, affirmed the bankruptcy court’s approval of the Plan, and remanded the case to the district court for such further proceedings as may be required. The court also affirmed the district court’s denial of the Canadian Creditors’ cross-appeal. The court held that nonconsensual third-party releases of such direct claims are statutorily permitted under 11 U.S.C. 10 Sections 105(a) and 1123(b)(6) of the Bankruptcy Code. The court further concluded that the court’s case law also allows for nonconsensual third-party claim releases in specific circumstances, such as those presented in this appeal. View "In re: Purdue Pharma L.P." on Justia Law
In re: George Washington Bridge
Plaintiff Tutor Perini Building Corp. appealed from the district court’s order affirming an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court, which held that Plaintiff may not use 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) to assert a “cure claim” against the Trustee for the Trustee’s assumption of an unexpired lease to which Plaintiff was neither a party nor a third-party beneficiary. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that a creditor who seeks to assert a “cure claim” under Section 365(b)(1)(A) must have a contractual right to payment under the assumed executory contract or unexpired lease in question, and the court agreed that Plaintiff is not a third-party beneficiary of the assumed lease. The court explained that Tutor Perini’s expansive view of the priority rights conferred by 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) is inconsistent with applicable principles of Bankruptcy Code interpretation, and its third-party beneficiary argument is inconsistent with controlling principles of New York contract law. View "In re: George Washington Bridge" on Justia Law
Mader v. Experian
Plaintiff alleged that private educational loan was discharged in bankruptcy. He sued Experian under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for reporting the loan was due and owing. The district court concluded the loan was not discharged in bankruptcy and later declined to set aside summary judgment when Plaintiff proffered newly discovered evidence. The Second Circuit held that the kind of legal inaccuracy alleged by Plaintiff is not cognizable as an “inaccuracy” under the FCRA, thus the court affirmed, on an alternative ground, the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Experian. Accordingly, the court dismissed as moot Plaintiff’s appeal of the denial of his motion for an indicative judgment. The court explained that Plaintiff has failed to allege an inaccuracy within the plain meaning of section 1681e(b) of the FCRA. The unresolved legal question regarding the application of section 523(a)(8)(A)(i) to Plaintiff’s educational loan renders his claim non-cognizable under the FCRA. The court noted that the holding does not mean that credit reporting agencies are never required by the FCRA to accurately report information derived from the readily verifiable and straightforward application of law to facts. However, the inaccuracy that Plaintiff alleged does not meet this statutory test because it evades objective verification. There is no bankruptcy order explicitly discharging this debt. View "Mader v. Experian" on Justia Law
In re LATAM Airlines Group S.A.
The TLA Claimholders, who assert unsecured claims against Tam Linhas Aéreas S.A. (“TLA”), an affiliate of LATAM Airlines Group S.A. (“LATAM”), a large South American airline holding company, appealed from an order of the district court, affirming a June 18, 2022 order of the United States Bankruptcy Court confirming LATAM’s reorganization plan. The plan of reorganization provides that the Appellants’ claims will be paid in full, except for any post-petition interest. The Bankruptcy Court determined that such treatment rendered the claims unimpaired under Section 1124(1) of the Bankruptcy Code, because Section 502(b)(2) of the Code provides that “unmatured interest” may be excluded from a claim. It also determined that the affiliate, TLA, was insolvent, so that the solvent-debtor exception—an equitable doctrine permitting the payment of post-petition interest by a solvent debtor in limited circumstances—did not apply. On appeal, the TLA Claimholders contend that, unless they receive post-petition interest, their claims are “impaired” under Section 8 1124(1). They also argue that TLA is solvent and that its solvency makes the solvent debtor exception applicable. They further contended that the Bankruptcy Court’s test for assessing solvency was legally flawed. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that 1) a claim is not impaired under 11 U.S.C. Section 1124(1) when it is altered by operation of the Bankruptcy Code, and (2) the Bankruptcy Court did not err in its assessment of TLA’s solvency. The district court did not abuse that discretion in determining that the Debtors’ analyses and the corrected Waterfall Analysis were more probative on the question of TLA’s solvency than the Discounted Cash Flow Analysis. View "In re LATAM Airlines Group S.A." on Justia Law
In re Clinton Nurseries
In 2017, Congress passed an amendment to the statute setting forth quarterly fees in bankruptcy cases, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1930. The 2017 Amendment increased quarterly fees in judicial districts in which the United States Trustee Program oversees bankruptcy administration.Debtors challenged the Bankruptcy Court's ruling rejecting their constitutional challenge to quarterly fees imposed during the pendency of their bankruptcy proceeding. The Bankruptcy Court rejected Debtors’ argument that the 2017 Amendment violated the uniformity requirement of the Bankruptcy Clause of the United States Constitution.The Second Circuit reversed, finding the 2017 Amendment is a bankruptcy law subject to the uniformity requirement of the Bankruptcy Clause. The court also held that, under the version of Sec. 1930 in effect prior to the 2020 Act, the 2017 Amendment violated the uniformity requirement. View "In re Clinton Nurseries" on Justia Law
In re Sears Holdings Corp.
The Sears Holdings Corporation and its affiliates (collectively, the “Debtors” or “Sears”) carried approximately $2.68 billion of first- and second-lien secured debt at the time of its bankruptcy petition. The holders of the second-lien debt alleged that they were paid less than the value of the collateral that secured their claims. To recoup the difference, the second-lien holders sought relief under section 507(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, arguing that the value of their collateral decreased during the course of the bankruptcy proceeding, which entitled them to priority payment of the difference. The bankruptcy court disagreed, finding that the value of the second-lien holders’ collateral had not decreased since the date the Debtors filed for bankruptcy and that, in fact, the second-lien holders had received more than the value of their collateral. On appeal, the second-lien holders raise a number of objections to the bankruptcy court’s valuation methodology, as well as to its valuation of several specific categories of collateral. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the bankruptcy court committed no legal or factual error in its decision to value the collateral based on NOLV. The bankruptcy court reasonably concluded that the second-lien holders failed to meet their burden of demonstrating the NBB’s value, and therefore did not err by valuing the NBB at zero. Similarly, the bankruptcy court did not err by deducting their full face value from the value of the collateral. Accordingly, the bankruptcy court did not commit clear error by denying the second-lien holders’ section 507(b) claims. View "In re Sears Holdings Corp." on Justia Law
In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC
Defendants JABA Associates LP and its general partners appealed the district court’s judgment granting summary judgment to Plaintiff, (“Trustee”), pursuant to the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 (“SIPA”). JABA was a good faith customer of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) and held BLMIS Account Number 1EM357 (the “JABA Account”). The Trustee brought this action to recover the allegedly fictitious profits transferred from BLMIS to Defendants in the two years prior to BLMIS’s filing for bankruptcy. The district court granted recovery of $2,925,000 that BLMIS transferred to Defendants in the two years prior to BLMIS’s filing for bankruptcy, which made it recoverable property under SIPA.Defendants appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The Second Appellate District affirmed reasoning that because is no genuine dispute of material fact that Bernard L. Madoff transferred the assets of his business to Defendants, which made it recoverable property under SIPA, the district court properly granted summary judgment to Plaintiff. The court reasoned that here Here, Defendants argue that the Bankruptcy Code does not authorize an award of prejudgment interest because the statute is silent. Yet Defendants do not make any argument that this silence is dispositive. Further, the court wrote that prejudgment interest has been awarded against other similarly situated defendants in related SIPA litigation. Thus, the district court appropriately balanced the equities between the parties. Given this, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting an award of 4 percent prejudgment interest to the Trustee. View "In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC" on Justia Law
Gasson v. Premier Capital, LLC
Appellant appealed from a judgment of the district court affirming an order of the bankruptcy court denying the Appellant’s statutory discharge under 11 U.S.C. Section 727(a)(2). Appellant argued that the bankruptcy court erred by finding that he had an interest in Soroban, Inc., that was concealed to hinder creditors, and, in the alternative, that denying discharge was improper because the concealment began prior to the statutory one-year period set forth in Section 727(a)(2)(A). The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the bankruptcy court did not err in finding that Appellant had a valid interest in Soroban that was concealed to hinder creditors, and properly denied the discharge because the acts of concealment continued throughout the one-year period prior to his filing the bankruptcy petition. The court explained that the record evidence fully supports the bankruptcy court’s findings that Appellant concealed his interest in Soroban, and that the concealment was done with an intent to hinder his creditors. View "Gasson v. Premier Capital, LLC" on Justia Law