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“[S]ometimes a debtor is liable for fraud that she did not personally commit,” held the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 22, 2023, when the debtor’s business partner had deceptively obtained money by fraud, thereby making the innocent partner liable for a nondischargeable debt under Bankruptcy Code (Code) §523(a)(2)(A) (“any debt from money “obtained by … fraud” not dischargeable and survives debtor’s bankruptcy). Bartenwerfer v. Buckley, 2023 WL 2144417 (Feb. 22, 2023). Unanimously affirming the Ninth Circuit and resolving “confusion in the lower courts,” the Court explained that the common law and precedent precluded an innocent debtor from discharging a debt obtained by the fraud of the debtor’s agent or partner. Id. at *8. The innocent debtor here thus could not use bankruptcy to avoid liability. More important, the decision has practical significance for corporate officers and others in an agency or partnership relationship. The decision also may have serious consequences for corporate Chapter 11 debtors whenever a “domestic governmental unit” is a creditor.
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Lease Terminations As Fraudulent Transfers
By Michael L. Cook
Is an insolvent debtor’s pre-bankruptcy termination of a commercial lease a fraudulent transfer? The circuit courts seem to be split, however a close reading of cases in the Third and Seventh Circuits shows that the reasoning of both courts can be reconciled on their facts.
The Role of Third-Party Releases In Successful Chapter 11 Reorganizations
By John J. Rapisardi and Jacob T. Beiswenger
Part Two of a Two-Part Article
In Part Two, we continue the analysis by evaluating two constitutional issues arising from third-party releases: whether creditor consent to be bound by a third-party release is required to satisfy the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; and whether bankruptcy courts have constitutional authority to issue final orders granting third-party releases in a plan of reorganization under Stern v. Marshall.
Fourth Circuit: Corporate Subchapter V Debtors Subject to Discharge Exceptions Under Bankruptcy Code
By Lawrence J. Kotler and Elisa Hyder
In a matter of first impression not yet addressed by any circuit court, the Fourth Circuit addressed whether the discharge exceptions under Section 523(a) apply to corporate debtors under Subchapter V of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Appellate Court Reverses Chapter 11 Confirmation Order Based on Faulty Tax Ruling
By Michael L. Cook
The Northern District of California recently issued two blistering opinions on appeals by the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board from a bankruptcy court’s Chapter 11 plan confirmation order and a tax determination order.