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When Eclipse, a jet aircraft manufacturer, declared bankruptcy in November 2008, it reached an agreement to sell the company to its largest shareholder, ETIRC, which would have allowed Eclipse to continue its operations. The sale required significant funding from VEB, a state-owned Russian Bank. The funding never materialized. For a month, Eclipse waited for the deal to go through with almost daily assurances that the funding was imminent. Delays were attributed to Prime Minister Putin needing “to think about it.” Eventually, Eclipse was forced to cease operations and notify its workers that a prior furlough had been converted into a layoff. Eclipse’s employees filed a class action complaint as an adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court alleging that Eclipse’s failure to give them 60 days’ notice before the layoff violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, 29 U.S.C. 2101-2109, and asserting that Eclipse could invoke neither the Act’s “faltering company” exception nor its “unforeseeable business circumstances” exception. The Bankruptcy Court rejected the employees’ claims on summary judgment, holding that the “unforeseeable business circumstances” exception barred WARN Act liability. The district court and Third Circuit affirmed. Eclipse demonstrated that its closing was not probable until the day that it occurred. View "In re: AE Liquidation, Inc." on Justia Law

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Certain real property was sold in violation of an automatic stay from the homeowners’ bankruptcy proceedings. Because the property was situated in Nevada, and the bankruptcy proceedings commenced in Texas, the Supreme Court was presented with a purported conflict of laws issue. Appellant sought to quiet title in the district court. Respondent disputed the validity of the sale by filing a complaint in intervention. The district court granted summary judgment for Respondent, concluding that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied, Respondent had standing as a creditor enforce the automatic stay in the homeowners’ bankruptcy, and the foreclosure sale was void due to the violation of the automatic stay. On appeal, Appellant argued that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit law applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper because, under both the Ninth and Fifth Circuits, a sale conducted during an automatic stay in bankruptcy proceedings is invalid. View "LN Management LLC Series 5105 Portraits Place v. Green Tree Loan Servicing LLC" on Justia Law

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The County of Los Angeles may not enforce a lien on the personal property of a Chapter 11 debtor in possession when the County has failed to perfect the lien as against a bona fide purchaser. In this case, the Ninth Circuit rejected Mainline's argument that this appeal was mooted by the disbursal of Mainline's bankruptcy estate and dismissal of the Chapter 11 case; 11 U.S.C. 545(2) allows a Chapter 11 debtor in possession to set aside liens against its estate; under section 545(2), Mainline may avoid the County's liens; and Cty. of Humboldt v. Grover (In re Cummins), 656 F.2d 1262 (9th Cir. 1981), remained good law. View "Los Angeles County Treasurer & Tax Collector v. Mainline Equipment, Inc." on Justia Law

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The County of Los Angeles may not enforce a lien on the personal property of a Chapter 11 debtor in possession when the County has failed to perfect the lien as against a bona fide purchaser. In this case, the Ninth Circuit rejected Mainline's argument that this appeal was mooted by the disbursal of Mainline's bankruptcy estate and dismissal of the Chapter 11 case; 11 U.S.C. 545(2) allows a Chapter 11 debtor in possession to set aside liens against its estate; under section 545(2), Mainline may avoid the County's liens; and Cty. of Humboldt v. Grover (In re Cummins), 656 F.2d 1262 (9th Cir. 1981), remained good law. View "Los Angeles County Treasurer & Tax Collector v. Mainline Equipment, Inc." on Justia Law

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A case becomes moot when the court can no longer grant any effectual relief to a prevailing party due to a change in circumstances. The Eighth Circuit dismissed as moot James Gretter's appeal of the district court's dismissal of his appeal from a bankruptcy court decision denying debtors' motion to assume and assign certain car-dealership agreements. The court held that the case was moot in the ordinary sense because no court, in reversing the bankruptcy court's order denying the motions to assume and assign, would order the sale of Edwards Auto Plaza to proceed. View "Gretter v. Gretter Autoland, Inc." on Justia Law

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Debtors claimed an exemption for funds held in an individual retirement account (IRA). The Fifth Circuit upheld the bankruptcy court's holding that the funds had lost their exempt status because Texas law provides that funds withdrawn from a retirement account remain exempt only if rolled over into another retirement account within sixty days. In this case, debtors subsequently withdrew the funds from the IRA and did not roll them over into another IRA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Hawk v. Engelhart" on Justia Law

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SemGroup purchased oil from producers and resold it to downstream purchasers. It also traded financial options contracts for the right to buy or sell oil at a fixed price on a future date. At the end of the fiscal year preceding bankruptcy, SemGroup’s revenues were $13.2 billion. SemGroup’s operating companies purchased oil from thousands of wells in several states and from thousands of oil producers, including from Appellants, producers in Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The producers took no actions to protect themselves in case 11 of SemGroup’s insolvency. The downstream purchasers did; in the case of default, they could set off the amount they owed SemGroup for oil by the amount SemGroup would owe them for the value of the outstanding futures trades. When SemGroup filed for bankruptcy, the downstream purchasers were paid in full while the oil producers were paid only in part. The producers argued that local laws gave them automatically perfected security interests or trust rights in the oil that ended up in the hands of the downstream purchasers. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the downstream purchasers; parties who took precautions against insolvency do not act as insurers to those who took none. View "In re: SemCrude LP" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy courts' findings that debtor was involved in a scheme designed to deprive mortgage holders of foreclosure sale proceeds, and that the damages flowing from this scheme were nondischargeable debts pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(4) and 523(a)(6). The court held that debtor's debts to the Countrywide Plaintiffs (and Bank of America) "arise" from larceny and were nondischargeable in bankruptcy. The court also held that debtor failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the bankruptcy court entering the Countrywide Adversary Judgment without lifting the automatic stay in his Chapter 7 case. View "Cowin v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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Catherine’s parents, Mary and Henry, settled an inter vivos trust with real estate as the trust property. The trust document included a standard spendthrift provision meant to shield the trust’s future benefits from the reach of beneficiaries and their creditors and directed the trustee to evenly divide all remaining principal among their three children at the time of the surviving spouse’s death. Any share belonging to a child who did not survive the surviving spouse by 60 days would go to the child’s successors. The trustee was given the discretion to delay the distribution for six months. Henry survived Mary and died in July 2012. Catherine and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy seven months later in February 2013. They claimed $30,000 for “Wife’s Father’s Estate” as property exempt from liquidation under 11 U.S.C. 522. The bankruptcy trustee objected, arguing that her father’s death gave Catherine an immediate and unconditional right to receive her interest in the trust property, which removed the interest from the purview of the trust’s spendthrift provision. The bankruptcy court, district court, and Seventh Circuit agreed. Catherine’s trust interest fully vested before the bankruptcy filing, so the property belongs to the bankruptcy estate. View "Carroll v. Takada" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed an order denying a discharge on the grounds that debtor concealed his property in interest in a fishing boat and trailer, and made a false oath about the boat. The court rejected debtor's several procedural objections to the bankruptcy court's order denying the discharge and held that the bankruptcy court did not clearly err in finding the requisite intent. Therefore, the bankruptcy court properly denied the discharge under 8 U.S.C. 727(a)(2). The court need not address the bankruptcy court's alternative determination. View "Sears v. Sears" on Justia Law