Chapter 9

Orrick’s Marc Levinson Compares Chapter 9 to Chapter 11 for the Federal Judicial Center Website

 

Orrick Restructuring Senior Counsel Marc Levinson is one of the chapter 9 experts assisting in the preparation of a chapter 9 manual for bankruptcy judges and court clerks that has been posted on the website of the Federal Judicial Center, an arm of the United States Courts which educates federal judges.  Among other things, the manual will discuss the differences between chapter 9 and chapter 11 bankruptcies. The below video comparing chapter 9 v. chapter 11 was prepared at the FJC’s request that Marc draw upon his experience representing the cities of Stockton and Vallejo, California, in their chapter 9 cases. It has been posted on the FJC’s website, but note that access to the video on that website is restricted to judges. READ MORE

Sixth Circuit Finds Bankruptcy Court Cannot Force City to Provide Services in Chapter 9

On November 14, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that courts in chapter 9 cases lack authority to order a municipal debtor to provide services to its constituents. Affirming the bankruptcy court’s dismissal of customers’ claims arising from the termination of their water service by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the Sixth Circuit held that section 904 of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits a chapter 9 court from entering orders that “interfere” with a municipality’s “political [and] governmental powers.” In re City of Detroit, Mich., No. 15-2236, 2016 WL 6677715 (6th Cir. Nov. 14, 2016). READ MORE

Orrick’s Marc Levinson Publishes Chapter 11 v. Chapter 9 Checklist in Practical Law

 

In a recent article for Practical Law Bankruptcy, Restructuring Senior Counsel Marc Levinson prepared a comparison chart providing an overview of the major facets of a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy and comparing them to those of a traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Chart examines, among other crucial issues, commencement of the case, eligibility requirements, case administration, preference actions and plans. To read the full chart, please click here.

First Circuit Rules Bankruptcy Code Preempts Puerto Rico’s Recovery Act

On Monday, July 6, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the February 6, 2015 order and injunction of the Puerto Rico District Court and held that section 903(1) of the Bankruptcy Code preempts the Puerto Rico Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act (the “Recovery Act”).  Franklin Cal. Tax Free Trust, et al. v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, et al., (1st Cir. July 6, 2015) (Case No. 15-1218): On February 10, 2015, we reported on the district court’s decision holding that the Recovery Act was unconstitutional.

As a result of amendments to the Bankruptcy Code in 1984, Puerto Rico, unlike states, may not authorize its municipalities, including its public utilities like PREPA or PRASA, to seek federal bankruptcy relief under chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code. In considering the appeal of the district court’s order, the Court first confirmed that it had jurisdiction to consider the bondholders’ claims of preemption, that those claims were ripe and that they had become ripe immediately upon adoption of the Recovery Act. The Court then ruled that the Commonwealth’s effort to allow its public corporations to restructure their debt by enacting the Recovery Act is expressly preempted by the federal Bankruptcy Code. Rejecting the Commonwealth’s arguments that the 1984 amendments made the preemption provisions of section 903(1) of the Bankruptcy Code inapplicable, the Court stated that “§ 903(1) has applied to Puerto Rico since the predecessor of that section’s enactment in 1946. The statute does not currently read, nor does anything about the 1984 amendment suggest, that Puerto Rico is outside the reach of § 903(1)’s prohibition. Op. at 4. Because the Court affirmed the district court’s order and injunction, the Court declined to consider the Commonwealth’s appeal of the district court’s order denying motions to dismiss the bondholders’ Contracts Clause and Takings Claims. Op. at 21.

READ MORE

Rep. Pierluisi Introduces Bankruptcy Code Amendment to Permit P.R. Municipalities to File Under Chapter 9

Just days after the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico struck down the Commonwealth’s efforts to pass its own insolvency regime, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi introduced the “Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015” into the U.S. House of Representatives last week.  The bill, which is substantively similar to one introduced in 2014, would allow the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to authorize its insolvent public corporations to file a chapter 9 petition; they currently are not able to do so.  The bill, H.R. 870, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on February 26th.  H.R. 870, 114th Cong. (1st Sess. 2015)

READ MORE

Detroit Confirms Chapter 9 Plan of Adjustment

Approximately 16 months after filing the largest chapter 9 bankruptcy in history, Detroit received approval November 7 of its chapter 9 plan of adjustment.  Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes of the Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy Court, confirmed the plan at a several-hour hearing where he read into the record an “oral opinion.”  Judge Rhodes held that the plan “meets the legal requirements for confirmation” and lauded the plan, describing it as an “extraordinary accomplishment in bankruptcy and an ideal model for future municipal restructurings.”  In re City of Detroit, Case No. 13-53846 (Bankr. E.D. Mich., November 7, 2014).  Read More.

Following Chapter 9 Plan, Monoline Insurer Must Continue to Make Payments on Old Bonds

Earlier this month, Judge Judith J. Gische of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Judicial Department found that ACA Financial Guaranty Corporation, as bond insurer, must make future, post-confirmation principal and interest payments on municipal bonds issued pre-bankruptcy.  The Court required these payments despite the fact that the bonds were exchanged for new bonds and cancelled under the municipality’s chapter 9 plan.  The Court held that “neither the plan of debt adjustment nor the discharge of the bond debt in the bankruptcy proceeding changed the obligations under the parties’ contracts of insurance.”  This decision is an unequivocal win for holders of distressed municipal bonds wrapped by monoline insurance policies and makes clear that insurers must continue to extend coverage to bondholders after a municipal issuer files for chapter 9 and obtains a discharge of the bond debt in bankruptcy.  This outcome may impact negotiations and potential resolutions in Detroit’s chapter 9 case and other recent municipal bankruptcies and distressed scenarios, such as Puerto Rico.    See Oppenheimer Amt-Free Municipals v. ACA Fin. Guar. Corp., 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5688, at *4 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t Sept. 3, 2013).  Read More.