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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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By Jeffery Lula
In today’s volatile economic climate, companies need to be more creative to find ways to mitigate risk. Litigation finance is one of those out-of-the-box solutions that can provide benefits.
By Michael L. Cook
The Second Circuit, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, further remanded to the district court the key issue of whether the Chapter 11 debtor gave “adequate assurance of future performance of” a commercial real property shopping center lease “as required by [Bankruptcy Code] §365(b)(3)(A),” after the debtor’s assignment of its lease.
By Lawrence J. Kotler and Ryan Spengler
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By Francis J. Lawall and Brenden S. Dahrouge
In upholding the bankruptcy court’s determination that the payment of insurance proceeds could be such a transfer, the Fifth Circuit underscored the complex interplay between state law, bankruptcy law and the rights of creditors in bankruptcy proceedings.