Author Archives: Thomas Curtin

Court Approves Extension of the Automatic Stay in Detroit’s Chapter 9 Case to State Officials

On July 24, 2013, Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan approved the City of Detroit’s motion to extend the automatic stay to various non-debtor parties, including certain state officials. The Court’s ruling effectively stays all pending litigation against the City, allows the City to continue to move forward with its chapter 9 case, and paves the way for a dispute over the City’s eligibility to file for chapter 9. Continue reading

UPDATE: Court Rejects CalPERS’ Efforts to Lift Stay In San Bernardino Case

In a ruling predicted by the Restructuring Review Blog last month, Judge Meredith A. Jury of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California rejected arguments by CalPERS that the Bankruptcy Court should lift the automatic stay and … Continue reading

California Dreaming? CalPERS Seeks Payment in Full of All Pension Obligations During Pendency of San Bernardino’s Chapter 9 Case

California has seen a string of three Chapter 9 filings this year and faces a long line of distressed municipalities. Given this backdrop, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (“CalPERS”) figures to play a prominent role in the resolution of many of these situations (in or out of bankruptcy). Thus, the bond‑buying public will scrutinize closely any steps that CalPERS takes to protect its claims in the Bankruptcy Court. Continue reading

Because of Winn-Dixie? SDNY Bankruptcy Court Looks Beyond Literal Compliance with Venue Statute and Transfers Patriot Coal Cases to Eastern District of Missouri

On November 27, 2012, in a ruling that undoubtedly will impact the choice of venue for many large corporate bankruptcies in the future, Judge Shelley C. Chapman of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York transferred venue of the chapter 11 cases of Patriot Coal Corporation and ninety-eight of its affiliates to the Eastern District of Missouri. Drawing on an array of jurisprudence regarding venue, Judge Chapman found that notwithstanding literal compliance with the applicable statute, the New York domicile of two of the debtors was insufficient to establish venue for all ninety-nine cases in the Southern District of New York when the two debtors were formed on the eve of the commencement of the chapter 11 cases admittedly for the sole purpose of establishing venue. In re Patriot Coal Corp., 12-12900-SCC (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2012) [docket no. 1629]. The Patriot decision is the latest in a line of recent decisions by courts in the Southern District of New York and the District of Delaware granting motions to transfer venue to other districts. The decision is notable in that it strongly discourages the practice of “bootstrapping” a corporate bankruptcy case to the case of a recently formed affiliate in New York when the debtor has no meaningful presence in the jurisdiction, change of venue is requested by economic parties in interest, and moving the case is unlikely to inflict demonstrable economic harm to the estate. Continue reading

Texas Rangers: Lenders Strike Out in Challenge to Financial Advisors’ Professional Fees

On September 25, 2012, Judge D. Michael Lynn for the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Texas held that a “tail provision” for professional fees rendered prepetition survived – and was not cut off by – the debtor’s bankruptcy filing. In re Texas Rangers Baseball Partners, Case No. 10-43400-DML, 2012 WL 4464550 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. Sept. 25, 2012). Continue reading

Fifth Circuit Holds that Fixed Quantities are Not Required to Satisfy the “Forward Contracts” Safe Harbor Defense

On August 2, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a requirements contract for the supply of electricity constituted a “forward contract” under the Bankruptcy Code and, therefore, was exempt from preference avoidance actions. The Fifth Circuit held that the contract in this case met the plain language definition of a “forward contract,” notwithstanding the fact that it lacked fixed quantity and delivery date terms. Lightfoot v. MXEnergy Elec., Inc. (In re MBS Mgmt. Servs., Inc.), 2012 WL 3125167 (5th Cir. Aug. 2, 2012). Continue reading

Second Circuit Adopts Abuse of Discretion Standard of Review for Equitable Mootness Decisions

On August 31, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit published its first decision expressly adopting an abuse of discretion standard for reviewing equitable mootness determinations by district courts. In In re Charter Communications, Inc., the Second Circuit followed the Third and Tenth Circuits, while also reaffirming the Second Circuit’s rebuttable presumption of equitable mootness upon substantial consummation of a debtor’s plan. The Charter court ultimately held that the presumption applied but was not overcome and therefore dismissed the appeal at issue as equitably moot. In re Charter Commc’ns Inc., 2012 WL 3764706 (2d Cir. Aug. 31, 2012). Continue reading

Finding that Underlying Development Agreement was Terminated, Delaware Bankruptcy Court Disallows Claim for Rejection Damages

On July 9, 2012, Judge Mary F. Walrath of the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware disallowed a claim for rejection damages related to a real estate development agreement, because the claim had been released upon the termination of an LLC Agreement, and the underlying ground lease never came into existence. In re Magna Entm’t Corp., 2012 Bankr. LEXIS 3089 (Bankr. D. Del. July 9, 2012). Continue reading

Stockton: Bankruptcy Court Upholds Municipal Debtor’s Power to Impair Retiree Contracts

On August 6, 2012, Judge Christopher M. Klein of the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a group of retirees’ adversary proceeding and held that under its pendency plan, a chapter 9 debtor has the power to … Continue reading

SDNY Bankruptcy Court Holds that Venue of Houghton Mifflin Case is Improper, But Delays Transfer

On June 22, 2012, Judge Robert E. Gerber of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York granted the U.S. Trustee’s motion to transfer the chapter 11 cases of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company and its affiliates to a different venue, notwithstanding the fact that the debtor’s prepackaged plan had been confirmed with unanimous support from its creditors, the cases were projected to conclude within 30 days of filing, and the debtors’ primary creditor constituencies supported venue in New York. While the Court found itself bound by the applicable venue statutes, the Court nevertheless held that because the statutes did not dictate when the Court must transfer the case, it would order the transfer at a time that would minimize the prejudicial effect to creditors – the first to occur of the effective date of the prepackaged plan or three weeks from the date of entry of the confirmation order. In re Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publ’g Co., 2012 Bankr. LEXIS 2868 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2012). Continue reading