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The Bankruptcy Court has the inherent power to impose civil contempt as a sanction for a violation of the discharge injunction. 11 U.S.C. §105. Even though these inherent powers derive from civil contempt, courts have fashioned their own standards for violators of the discharge injunction. The majority of circuits applied an objective standard akin to strict liability to discharge injunction violations. But the Ninth Circuit concluded that a “creditor’s good faith belief” that the discharge order “does not apply to the creditor’s claim precludes a finding of contempt, even if the creditor’s belief is unreasonable.” This circuit split resulted in the Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Taggart v. Lorenzen, 139 S. Ct. 1795, 1799 (2019), which rejected both bankruptcy court approaches. Instead, the Supreme Court decided that “[a] court may hold a creditor in civil contempt for violating a discharge order if there is no fair ground of doubt as to whether the order barred the creditor’s conduct.” Id. at 1799. Although this standard appears to be new, it is more than a century old and “brings the old soil” from civil contempt with it.
By Mark Page
Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC
The question is whether a debtor’s rejection of its agreement granting a license “terminates rights of the licensee that would survive the licensor’s breach under applicable nonbankruptcy law.”
By Theresa A. Driscoll
With increasing frequency, Chapter 7 trustees are looking to insolvent parents as well as colleges and universities to avoid and recover for estate creditors payments made by insolvent debtors for the benefit of the debtors’ dependents. These cases are premised on the theory that the tuition payments being made by insolvent parents for the benefit of their children are avoidable as constructively fraudulent transfers because the parents do not receive reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the payment of such tuition. Courts are divided as to whether the payment of a child’s tuition provides reasonably equivalent value to the insolvent parents.
By Michael L. Cook
A bankruptcy court decision recently detailed how courts applying Bankruptcy Code §303(i) can sanction creditors who “abuse … the power given to [them] … to file an involuntary bankruptcy petition.” The decision shows why the filing of an involuntary bankruptcy requires careful pre-filing legal judgment.
By Rick Antonoff
Courts Are Divided on the Issue of Whether the Fraudulent Transfer Recovery Provision Applies Extraterritorially
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued an opinion concluding that trustees can pursue recovery from foreign subsequent transferees who received property in transactions that occurred entirely outside the United States. The opinion reversed two lower court rulings and arguably conflicts with Supreme Court precedent on extraterritoriality of U.S. legislation.