Detroit

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

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.