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Bankruptcy Legal Malpractice Litigation

Appellate Courts Split On Bankruptcy Ownership of Malpractice Claims

Judicial hair-splitting, when applying state law to federal bankruptcy cases, creates only uncertainty.

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The debtors’ legal malpractice claim was “not property of their bankruptcy estate,” held a split Ninth Circuit on June 30, 2020. In re Glaser, 816 Fed. Appx. 103, 104 (9th Cir. June 30, 2020) (2-1). But the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota one week later affirmed a bankruptcy court judgment that “the [debtor’s] estate was the proper owner” of such a claim. In re Bruess, 2020 WL3642324, 1 (D. Minn. July 6, 2020). Most recently, the Sixth Circuit held that the debtors’ malpractice claim was their property “and not the bankruptcy estate.” In re Blasingame, 2021 WL 245300, 1 (6th Cir. Jan. 26, 2021).

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