Saturday, January 16, 2021

NRA Filing Illustrates Venue Loophole for Chapter 11 Filers

The National Rifle Association likes guns. Texans like guns. Therefore, when the NRA decided to file bankruptcy, there was a certain logic to filing in Texas. Unfortunately, however, prior to November 24, 2020, the NRA had no legal right to file bankruptcy in Texas. This did not deter the gun rights advocates. They created one.

Let me explain how this works. Under the bankruptcy venue statute, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1408(a), a debtor can file bankruptcy in its domicile, residence, principal place of business or where its principal assets in the United States were located during the preceding 180 days. The NRA did not meet any of these tests. It is incorporated in New York. Its principal place of business and presumably principal assets are located in Virginia. However Sec. 1408(b) offers a loophole. A company can file in a district where a bankruptcy by one of its affiliates is pending. An affiliate includes a company owned by the debtor.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Supreme Court Rules That Passive Retention Does Not Violate Stay

 The Supreme Court decided that a creditor which passively retains possession of estate property does not "exercise control" over such property in violation of 11 U.S.C. Sec. 362(a)(3). The Court viewed the word "exercise" to require active measures.  Case No. 19-357, Chicago v. Fulton (1/14/21), which can be found here.

In the Fulton case, the City of Chicago impounded the Debtor's vehicle over failure to pay fees. The Debtors (there were multiple consolidated cases) filed chapter 13 and demanded return of their vehicles. The City refused. The Seventh Circuit held that the refusal to relinquish possession was a violation of the automatic stay.