REPORT CITES BANK OFFICIALS IN CHURN OF FORECLOSURES
Managers at major banks ignored widespread errors in the foreclosure process, in some cases instructing employees to adopt make-believe titles and speed documents through the system despite internal objections, according to a wide-ranging review by federal investigators, the New York Times reported today. The banks have largely focused the blame for mistakes on low-level employees, attributing many of the problems to the surge in the volume of foreclosures after the housing market collapsed and the weakened economy in 2008. However, the report by the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development concludes that managers were aware of the problems and did nothing to correct them. The shortcuts were directed by managers in some cases, according to the report. Read more.
FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT WORKLOAD INCREASES IN FISCAL YEAR 2011, APPELLATE AND BANKRUPTCY COURTS FALL SLIGHTLY
Caseloads for fiscal year 2011 (12-month period ending Sept. 30) increased in the district courts and in the probation and pretrial services system, while falling slightly in the appellate and bankruptcy courts, according to the 2011 Judicial Business of the United States Courts, released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Bankruptcy filings fell 8 percent to 1,467,221 in fiscal year 2011. This was the first decline in filings since 2007, when filings fell dramatically after enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Eighty-seven of the 90 bankruptcy courts reported fewer filings in 2011. Only three courts reported increased filings: the District of Utah (up 6 percent), the Middle District of Louisiana (up 1 percent) and the Central District of California (also up 1 percent). Three districts had reductions of 20 percent or more: the Western District of New York (down 20 percent), the Southern District of West Virginia (down 24 percent) and the District of Vermont (down 26 percent). Total civil and criminal filings in the district courts rose 2 percent to 367,692 in FY 2011, according to the report. Click here for the full report.
SOLYNDRA IS BLAMED AS CLEAN-ENERGY LOAN PROGRAM STALLS
More than $16 billion in loans authorized five years ago by Congress to develop fuel-efficient vehicles has yet to be disbursed, with applicants for the money complaining that the Energy Department is crippling plans for greener cars and trucks at a time of rising gas prices, the New York Times reported today. Some companies contend that the loans, administered by energy officials, have dried up because of a political firestorm that followed the bankruptcy last year of the solar panel company Solyndra, which had received a federal loan from a related program. "Since Solyndra became politicized last fall, the Department of Energy has failed to make any other loans," said William Santana Li, chief executive of Carbon Motors, which last week dropped its $310 million application to build police cars with diesel engines that use 40 percent less fuel than current models. Echoing other companies that were denied loans or have withdrawn their applications, Li said that in recent months federal officials had repeatedly altered the terms of the possible loans. Last month, Chrysler withdrew its application for $3.5 billion in loans — after three years of negotiations — because the government kept raising the amount of collateral required, company officials said. Read more.
MARCH MADNESS: TEXAS WINS 20TH ANNIVERSARY DUBERSTEIN MOOT COURT COMPETITION
A team from the University of Texas School of Law won first place at the 20th Annual Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, sponsored by ABI and St. John’s University School of Law. The University of Texas team members shared the $5,000 first prize. Stetson University College of Law finished second and earned a prize of $3,000. The ABI Endowment Fund provided $12,000 in prize money.
A record 54 teams competed this year. More than two dozen bankruptcy judges served as judges of the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Texas previously won the event in 2010. Nearly 1,000 members of the New York Bankruptcy community attended the awards dinner last night at Pier 60 in Manhattan. Recently retired Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzales (S.D.N.Y.) was honored at the dinner.
MAKE SURE TO REGISTER FOR THE ABI "HOT TOPICS IN CONFIRMATION" LIVE WEBCAST ON APRIL 3 PROVIDED BY WEST LEGALEDCENTER - 1.5 CLE CREDITS AVAILABLE!
ABI's "Hot Topics in Confirmation" live webcast on April 3 at 11 a.m. ET will discuss applying section 1129(a)(10) to a joint chapter 11 plan for multiple debtors, credit-bidding before the Supreme Court, equitable disallowance of claims and the gifting doctrine after DBSD North America. Those purchasing the live webcast, provided through West LegalEdCenter, will receive complimentary access to the on-demand version for 180 days once it becomes available. Please note that the on-demand and podcast versions may or may not be accredited in your state. Click here to register.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: TECHNICAL AUTOMATION SERVICES CORP. V. LIBERTY SURPLUS INSURANCE CORP. (5TH CIR.)
Summarized by John Jones of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP
The Fifth Circuit declined to extend Stern v. Marshall's limitation on bankruptcy court jurisdiction to magistrate judges and held magistrate judge had authority under the Federal Magistrates Act to try and enter judgment in the state law counterclaim. As to merits, the court reversed and remanded the granting of summary judgment by the magistrate because he did not resolve issue of whether mutual mistake existed as to insurance policy and whether the policy should be reformed to expunge the disputed provision.
More than 400 appellate opinions are summarized on Volo. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: NEW CMBS MODEL SHOULD FOCUS ON OWNERSHIP
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. While much of the discussion surrounding “cures” to the CMBS (commercial mortgage backed security) model focuses on using “risk retention” as a consequence to the loan originator, a new blog proposes that the focus should be on the ownership of the borrower.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
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