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Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcy

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When municipalities declare bankruptcy, the fate of public employees’ pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) are almost always one of the most contentious issues that need to be settled. This program takes a look at the effect Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code has on these questions in a discussion with Larry Larose, one of the country’s premier experts in this area.

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository

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Lawrence A. Larose, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright who leads the firm’s municipal restructuring practice, discusses municipal finance and how it differs from corporate finance from a bankruptcy perspective.

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository.

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Municipalities facing fiscal crisis often must make difficult choices, attempting to balance their financial obligations with obligations to deliver critical services, such as the provision of public safety, education, and health, as well as water, sewer, and transportation services. The primary objectives of Chapter 9—to provide a breathing spell to, and adjust the debts of, a distressed municipality—are familiar to bankruptcy professionals. The substance and process of Chapter 9, however, differ from other plan chapters under the Bankruptcy Code in meaningful ways. These differences, the unique circumstances of each Chapter 9 case, and the dearth of statutory and case-law guidance—all against Tenth Amendment considerations—can make navigating a Chapter 9 case challenging for all parties, including the judge and the clerk of court.

In June 2016, the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System determined that additional resources could help courts handling Chapter 9 cases and asked the Federal Judicial Center to develop this manual. In September 2016, a working group of judges, clerks of court, attorneys, financial professionals, and academics with Chapter 9 experience assembled at the Federal Judicial Center to talk about what information would be most helpful to the courts. This manual pools the knowledge of those Chapter 9 experts to provide a clearer path for all judges and clerks of court in handling large and small Chapter 9 cases that may be filed by a variety of debtors: cities, townships, and counties; medical-related entities, such as county hospitals and authorities; and political subdivisions, such as sanitary and improvement districts, water districts, and off-track betting authorities.

The manual is accompanied by an online repository of Chapter 9 reference materials.

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This repository of materials was developed as a companion to the manual, Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, to provide courts with examples of case documents and other resource materials related to issues likely to arise in Chapter 9 cases. Documents are included from cases filed by variety of debtors: cities, townships, and counties; medical-related entities, such as county hospitals and authorities; and political subdivisions, such as sanitary and improvement districts, water districts, and off-track betting authorities.

The materials have been placed into the following categories. Some documents relating to multiple categories have been placed in the most relevant categories and cross-references are made between the categories. Some significant documents have been put into more than one category.

We welcome suggestions about other materials that may be helpful to courts for inclusion in the Chapter 9 repository. Please send your ideas and materials to Beth Wiggins at ch9bankr_repository@fjc.gov.

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Three clerks of court share their courts’ experiences with Chapter 9 cases. In a practical and less formal manner, these commentaries supplement material presented in the Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code. Discussants are Susan Thurston (Bankr. D.R.I.), Dana McWay (Bankr. E.D. Mo.), and Katherine Gullo (Bankr. E.D. Mich.).

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository.

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Marc A. Levinson, a senior counsel in the Restructuring Group at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, discusses the differences between Chapter 9 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository.

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Judge Michelle Harner, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland (at the time of the recording, Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law), discusses reasons for the development of the manual, Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository.

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Judge Eduardo Robreno, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and member of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System, discusses the origin and development of the manual, Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Related videos are available in the Chapter 9 Online Repository.

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Section 923 of the Bankruptcy Code requires notice of (1) the commencement of the case, (2) an order for relief, and (3) any dismissal of the case. Section 923 further provides that such notice shall be given by publication “at least once a week for three successive weeks in at least one newspaper of general circulation within the district in which the case is commenced, and in such other newspaper having general circulation among bond dealers and holders as the court designates.”

This section includes the “Notice of the Commencement of the Case” from a variety of cases. That notice generally also includes the notice of the automatic stay and notice of the time for filing objections to the petition. It also may include notice and procedure related to other matters, such as the filing of proofs of claim and motion and hearing procedures.

This page also includes documents related to the required publication of notices and the use of websites for noticing purposes.

Notice and Websites is one of several Chapter 9 Online Repository categories.

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This page includes a variety of material that may be helpful in identifying other documents and cases of use to courts handling a Chapter 9 case. The map depicts visually the status of state authorization to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy and the location of the Chapter 9 filings from FY2008 to FY2015.  Tables 1, 2, and 3 present statistics about the location of the case filings and the number of judges involved in presiding over those cases. The list of Chapter 9 cases filed from FY2008 through FY2016 that is in Appendix B to the manual, Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, also is included here, as is a bookmarked PDF document of the docket sheets from those cases.

Statistics and Docket Sheets is one of several Chapter 9 Online Repository categories.

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