To bankrupt or not to bankrupt… Yes, it is a little cliché, but that was the question faced by CEO of Edison International, John Bryson, during the California electricity debacle. Now Bryson, has been nominated for the Secretary of Commerce. The full LA Times article can be found here.
Defendant owned companies forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but was not a debtor in the proceedings. The plan was confirmed and prohibited suits against the bankruptcy professionals and certain litigation against pre-bankruptcy creditors. Years later defendant sued plaintiff, pre-judgment creditors, and the bankruptcy professionals in an Indiana state court, based on Indiana law. The creditors removed the suit to bankruptcy court (28 U.S.C. 1452(a)) rather than asking the bankruptcy judge to enforce his order. The statute authorizes removal of any claim of which that court would have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1334, which confers on the district courts original jurisdiction of all civil proceedings arising under the Bankruptcy Code, or “arising in or related to cases under” the Code. The bankruptcy judge determined that the suit against the bankruptcy professionals was barred. Defendant filed an amended complaint eliminating all defendants except plaintiff and stating that the only claims arose from alleged violations of confidentiality agreements. The bankruptcy judge ruled that, as amended, the complaint was unrelated to the bankruptcy and ordered the suit remanded to the state court. The district judge affirmed. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the dismissal was not subject to review.
According to the Bankruptcy Mortgage Project’s homepage:
The National Consumer Law Center created the Bankruptcy Mortgage Project as a resource for courts, consumers, trustees, mortgage servicers, attorneys, academics, and others in the bankruptcy community. It organizes and provides access to numerous local rules, forms, general orders, and court opinions addressing a variety of mortgage issues in consumer bankruptcy cases.
Wisconsin smelting plant owed more than $1.3 million in delinquent utility charges to the local municipal utility when it filed for Chapter 11. Months later, despite the Automatic Stay, a utility company implemented a process pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes and Local Ordinances 66.0809 and 66.0627 by which the plant’s unpaid utility bills became a lien against the Debtor‘s property. Both the Bankruptcy and District Courts found that none of the exceptions to the Automatic Stay applied to make their actions. They were, in fact, a violation of the Stay. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that no exception to the Stay applied and the offending utility company creditor did not obtain a pre-petition security interest in the plant’s property by providing services or by giving notice in the form of billing. Finally, the 7th Circuit agreed with the District Court that the utility bills produced did not amount to a “tax or special assessment” that would have exempted them from the operation of the Stay.