Divided Supreme Court clarifies bankruptcy courts’ jurisdictional powers

From Westlaw Journal BankruptcyA sharply split U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bankruptcy courts are empowered to decide so-called “Stern claims” — certain disputes otherwise outside a bankruptcy judge’s constitutional authority — so long as the litigants consent.

In a 6-3 ruling, the high court on May 26 reversed a decision of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

Texas Supreme Court tosses estate’s $2.6 million meso award

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: The Texas Supreme Court has refused to reinstate a $2.6 million mesothelioma verdict, ruling that a statute exempting a premises owner from liability for injuries to an employee of a subcontractor applies even when the injuries are caused by the property owner’s negligence.

In an unpublished opinion, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed an appeals court’s “take-nothing judgment,” saying the estate’s claims were barred because the estate failed to show its claims fell outside the law’s scope.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

Trustees’ group asks 7th Circuit to affirm percentage-based compensation

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A Chapter 7 trustee was rightly paid for his services based on a percentage of the funds disbursed, despite the objections of a creditor, a trustees’ association has told a federal appeals court in an amicus brief.

The proper standard for calculating a Chapter 7 trustee’s compensation is the statutory commission rate in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees says in its filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

Colgate-Palmolive hit with $13 million verdict in talcum powder exposure suit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A California jury has returned a $13 million damages award against Colgate-Palmolive Co., finding that exposure to asbestos in its talcum powder led a consumer to develop mesothelioma.

After only two hours of deliberations, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found the company 95 percent liable for plaintiff Judith Winkel’s injuries, according to a statement from the law firm that represented her, Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

Money in joint marital account is exempt from bankruptcy estate

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can protect funds in a brokerage account she shares with her non-filing husband from being liquidated for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate, a Missouri federal judge has ruled.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cynthia A. Norton of the Western District of Missouri made the ruling in an April 14 opinion over the objection of the U.S. Trustee, who argued the nearly $200,000 in the account was not exempt property.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

New York trial court reverses $11 million meso verdict

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A New York trial court judge has set aside an $11 million verdict and granted judgment for defendant Ford Motor Co. after finding no foundation for admitting testimony by the plaintiffs’ experts.

“Evidence of [the plaintiff’s] ‘regular’ exposure to brakes, clutches or gaskets sold or distributed by defendant during his work life, absent any quantification of the exposure, is insufficient to constitute a scientific expression of his exposure,” Justice Barbara Jaffe of the New York Supreme Court said in an April 13 order.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

Supreme Court hears argument on debtor’s right to appeal bankruptcy plan denials

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy:  The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument April 1 about whether the Bankruptcy Code allows direct appeals by a debtor from the denial of a Chapter 13 plan.

“The potential ramifications for Chapter 11 reorganizations could not be greater,” said Rob Nies, a bankruptcy attorney with Wolff & Samson.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

Bank seeks to undo plan allowing Chapter 11 debtor to keep property

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A Chapter 11 plan that allows a debtor to retain partial ownership of her medical practice should not have been confirmed because an unsecured creditor will receive payments for only part of its claim, a bank argues in a federal appellate court brief.

The plan “violates the absolute-priority rule as it permits [the debtor] to retain certain non-exempt assets while not paying her unsecured creditors in full,” unsecured creditor Heritage Bank says in March 5 brief filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

(Westlaw Next users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)  (more…)

Washington federal judge won’t let boiler assembler out of meso case

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., has refused to dismiss Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. from a mesothelioma lawsuit, finding a fact dispute on whether the company and the U.S. Navy failed to warn a Navy seaman about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

“This is significant because of the role Fraser’s Boiler Service played at civilian shipyards in the Seattle in the 1960s and 1970s,” said plaintiff’s attorney Brian F. Ladenburg of Bergman Draper Ladenburg Hart.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

Federal judge finds Tennessee’s post-petition tax ‘penalty’ unconstitutional

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled a Tennessee law that imposed a 6 percent “penalty” on delinquent property taxes cannot be enforced, finding it unconstitutionally circumvents federal bankruptcy law.

In a Feb. 26 opinion U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Randal S. Mashburn of the Middle District of Tennessee held that the 6 percent in additional fees tacked on to the 12 percent interest already being assessed was indeed an impermissible penalty under the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)