An all too typical fact pattern involves a small-time ne’er-do-well infringing on the rights of a much bigger corporation. When the corporation is forced to bring a lawsuit, the “little guy” infringer cries poverty and seeks a settlement. An oft-used tactic of corporations is to settle the matter quickly (and before too much in attorneys’ fees has been incurred) for a relatively modest sum (or even no money at all) while also including a mechanism by which any breach of the settlement agreement triggers the filing of an agreed judgment for a large sum of money.
Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof GmbH ("GKK"), based in Essen, Germany, is the second largest department store chain in Europe with 131 stores and 18,000 employees. As some may recall, this is not the first time things have gone badly for the department store chain. Back in the 2000s, under CEO Thomas Middelhoff, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2014 for 27 counts of embezzlement and tax evasion, the company's balance sheets were less than stellar.
The Italian Government has approved the Legislative decree no. 19 of 2 March 2023 (the “Decree”) implementing in Italy the Directive (EU) 2019/2121 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2019, amending the Directive (EU) 2017/1132 regarding, among other things, cross-border mergers, demergers and transformations.
In Re Touradji Private Equity Master Fund Ltd, the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands made a supervision order in respect of three funds in voluntary liquidation, following applications by certain aggrieved investors and the joint voluntary liquidators, and over the objections of the investment manager.
The U.S. Supreme Court does not like bankruptcy benefits for individual debtors. It really doesn’t.
An example from a couple years ago is Fulton v. City of Chicago, where the U.S. Supreme Court finds a way to declare:
Airlines throughout the world were unable to fully trade during the pandemic-related lockdowns and their subsequent travel restrictions, creating significant liquidity constraints during 2020–22. As a result, a number of major international airlines—including Aeroméxico, Avianca, LATAM, Norwegian Air Shuttle, SAS and Virgin Australia—were forced to file for bankruptcy protection or insolvency administration, and many airline lessors were forced to agree to defer lease rental payments from their airline customers.
In a unanimous decision Bartenwerfer v Buckley, No. 21-908, 598 U.S. (2023), the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the breath of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s discharge provision – and exceptions thereto – and held that a debt resulting from fraud (even where the debtor was not directly involved) is, nevertheless, nondischargeable. While the Court’s principles provide a roadmap for analyzing potentially nondischargeable claims, it also expands what was originally thought to be a “narrow” exception to discharge.
WithinIn re LTL Management, LLC, No. 22-2003 (3d Cir. Jan. 30, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its decision on the J&J “Texas –Two Step” bankruptcy saga. The Court’s decision complimented the parties and the lower court for their thorough analysis of the issues, but refocused practitioners on a basic bankruptcy principle:
[A bankruptcy filing] gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor…a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.
Once asserted, may a party alter it? Once claimed, may a party contradict it?
A party’s ability to abandon a previously taken position and champion its converse in a later case or proceeding often depends on one of the law’s more esoteric prohibitions: that kaleidoscopic smorgasbord of precepts collectively known as “judicial estoppel.”
What Is “Judicial Estoppel,” Precisely?
On February 13, 2023, Ultra Petroleum Corporation (“Ultra”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s October 2022 ruling that, in solvent-debtor cases, debtors must pay unsecured creditors applicable contractual make-whole premiums and postpetition interest at contractual default rates in order for such unsecured creditors to be considered unimpaired.