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The Eleventh Amendment preserves the rights of states to assert immunity from suits in federal courts. However, the sovereign immunity states enjoy is not absolute. The exceptions to that immunity generally fall into three categories: a state can expressly consent to suit in federal court by voluntarily invoking jurisdiction of the federal courts; Congress can abrogate states’ immunity from suit by unequivocally expressing its intent to do so per valid constitutional authority; and, by ratifying the U.S. Constitution, the states consented to certain waivers of their sovereign immunity. Section 106 of the Bankruptcy Code sets forth a listing of bankruptcy actions that are not subject to a state’s assertion of the sovereign immunity defense. Until Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356, 378 (2006), issues relating to sovereign immunity of states in bankruptcy cases were generally addressed under the second exception of statutory abrogation. In Katz, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the third exception to sovereign immunity could encompass the bankruptcy clause found in Article I of the U.S. Constitution and held that the waiver extends to property of the debtor and the in rem jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court.
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By Michael L. Cook
A Chapter 11 corporate debtor’s monetary penalty obligation owed to the FCC, resulting from “fraud on consumers,” survived the debtor’s reorganization plan discharge, even when the FCC “was not a victim of the fraud,” the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently held.
By Andrew C. Kassner and Joseph N. Argentina Jr.
A supplier’s receipt of payment under a critical vendor order does not bar the debtor or trustee from pursuing a preference claim to recover amounts paid prepetition to the vendor, according to a recent ruling from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
By Rudolph J. Di Massa Jr. and Drew S. McGehrin
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico recently ruled that any attempt to avoid preferential or fraudulent transfers must be supported by evidence that the avoidance will benefit the debtor’s estate and the debtor’s creditors — not just the debtor itself.
By Amanda Bronstad
A bankruptcy filing allows Johnson & Johnson to shift legal liability over its talc-based baby powder into a potential $2 billion compensation program for cancer victims, but not without a big fight from the plaintiffs bar.