SCOTUS: New Bankruptcy Decisions

The Court released four new bankruptcy decisions following arguments during the October 2014 Term.

All cases are to be cited as 575 U.S. ___ (2015).

Harris v. Viegelahn, 14-400:  Upon conversation from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, may a Chapter 13 Trustee distribute the accumulated wage payments to creditors as the Chapter 13 plan required, or must payments be remitted to the Debtor? Holding:  A Debtor who converts to Chapter 7 is entitled to receive any post-petition wages not yet distributed by the Chapter 13 Trustee. (Unanimous.)

Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett, 13-1421 : Whether a debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding may void a junior mortgage under 11 U.S.C. 506(d) when a senior mortgage exceeds the value of the property? Holding: No.  Relying on the construction of the term “secured claim” set forth in Dewsnup v. Timm, 502 U.S. 410 (1992). (No Dissent filed.)

Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, 14-116:  Whether an order denying confirmation of a Chapter 13 plan of reorganization is a “final” order that can be immediately appealed. Holding: No, an order denying confirmation is not final, so long as it leaves the debtor free to propose another plan. (Unanimous.)

Wellness International Network, Ltd. v. Sharif, 13-935: Whether, upon the consent of all litigates, Article III of the Constitution allows bankruptcy judges, to adjudicate claims which parties would otherwise be constitutionally entitled to have heard by Article III judges? Holding:  Article III is not violated when the parties knowingly and voluntarily consent to adjudication by a bankruptcy judge.

…and if the above was not enough, Baker Botts, LLP, et al. v. ASARCO, considering the availability of attorney fees for the defense of fee applications is expected in the near future.  Check back regularly for updates.