Federal Court Limits Tribe’s, Secretary’s Options When States Balk at Gaming Compact

A federal district court in New Mexico has issued a decision finding that the U.S.  Department of the Interior’s regulations permitting the Secretary of the Interior to adopt Class III gaming procedures for a tribe lacking a Tribal-State Compact are invalid and violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et. seq. (“IGRA”).  If upheld, the decision in New Mexico v. Dept. of Interior could be expected to shift the balance of power to the states in the negotiation of new compacts and renewed compacts.  The decision also may result in pressure on the Department of the Interior to exercise its role as trustee for tribes and sue states that fail to negotiate compacts in good faith.

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When Goods Are Shipped from Overseas, When Are They Considered “Received by the Debtor” for Purposes of Asserting a Section 503(b)(9) Administrative Claim?

A bankruptcy court in Pennsylvania recently held that trade creditors who supplied goods to a debtor prior to its bankruptcy filing were not entitled to administrative priority status under Bankruptcy Code section 503(b)(9) because the goods were “received by the debtor” at the time they were placed on the vessel at the port overseas more than 20 days before the debtor’s bankruptcy filing, although the debtor took possession of the goods within the 20 day period.  In re World Imports, Ltd. — B.R. —-, 2014 WL 2750258 (Bankr. E.D. Pa., June 18, 2014).

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U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community et al.

The U.S. Supreme Court (“Court”) issued a 5-4 decision today in a case with implications for Tribal-State relations and the resolution of disputes under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq. (“IGRA”).  The Court in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community[1] found that the sovereign immunity of the Bay Mills Indian Community (“Tribe”) barred a suit filed by the State of Michigan (“Michigan”) to enjoin Class III gaming on the Tribe’s Vanderbilt property, land the Tribe purchased in fee located 100 miles south of its reservation.  In making its decision today, a majority of the Court:

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Continuity of Enterprise is Enough for Successor Parties to be Liable

Successor liability is often a concern for the acquirer when purchasing substantially all of a seller’s assets.  While this risk is well known, the circumstances under which an acquirer will be found liable under the theory of successor liability are less clear.  The recent decision in Call Center Techs., Inc. v Grand Adventures Tour & Travel Pub. Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 29057, 2014 WL 85934 (D. Conn. 2014), sheds helpful light on this issue by defining the continuity of enterprise theory of successor liability.

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Dry Times: How to Deal with the Impact of California’s Drought on Critical Commercial Agreements

On January 17, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a “State of Emergency” in California due to the severity of drought conditions across the State.  Since then, the California drought continues to be severe and unprecedented in recent years, and is taking a pervasive toll on California residents, businesses, farm land, foliage and wildlife.  Despite recent rainfall, local water districts and the State have called for voluntary, and in some locales, mandatory reduction in consumption of water.  After considering the severe human toll, anyone doing business with an entity located in California (or other western states experiencing similar drought conditions) that requires water for any business purpose, particularly farmers in Northern and Central California where there are fewer alternative sources of water, must be concerned about inventory and the impact of the drought on its supply chain.  Can my California contract counterparty fulfill its obligations to produce sufficient quantities of produce, dairy products, steel, flowers, honey, etc., to meet my contract needs?  Waiting for a delivery that never arrives, is delayed or arrives in lower quantity or, worse yet, quality, is not a viable option.  The key is to be prepared to find an alternative supplier so that production goals can be timely met.  Successful navigation of these issues requires careful contract drafting and contemplation in advance of new agreements, and critical analysis of existing contracts.  This article highlights the pertinent legal mechanisms at work and options for your business.

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Dodd-Frank’s Intersection with the Bankruptcy Code Could Have Significant Impact for Unsecured Creditors

On February 11th, the three private plaintiff-appellants and eleven State plaintiff-appellants in State National Bank of Big Spring, et al. v. Jacob J. Lew, et al. filed briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in their appeal of the District Court’s decision that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010) (the “Dodd-Frank Act” or the “Act”).  The plaintiff-appellants challenged the “Orderly Liquidation Authority” granted to the FDIC under Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act on the basis that such authority supplants Chapters 7 and 11 of the Bankruptcy Codeand thereby strips the plaintiff-appellants of the statutory protections, amounting to property rights, afforded by the Bankruptcy Code to unsecured creditors.  Judge Huvelle found this argument insufficient to satisfy the standing requirement imposed by Article III of the Constitution,  stating that “[while] it is true that Dodd-Frank empowers the FDIC to treat creditors’ claims somewhat differently than they are treated in traditional bankruptcy proceedings…no one can know if this will ever happen.” The plaintiff-appellants argue that the challenged provisions are facially invalid, rendering the probability of harm test irrelevant, because “[f]or creditors of large financial institutions, Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act expressly ends one of the Bankruptcy Code’s core statutory rights: creditors’ express right to be repaid equally with other similarly situated creditors.”

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Interior’s Carcieri Opinion Means More Diligence for Trust Land Development Projects

The Office of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior has issued a legal opinion (the “Opinion“) to the Secretary of the Interior interpreting the statutory phrase “under federal jurisdiction” in the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. § 461 et seq. (1934), (the “IRA“).[1]  The Opinion is a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Carcieri v. Salazar, 555 U.S. 379 (2009) (hereinafter, “Carcieri”), which limited Secretarial authority to take land into trust for tribes to those tribes “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934. The Opinion advises the Department of the Interior (“Interior“) that a tribe may be considered “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934 if it can show:

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Attacking LBO Payouts as State Law Fraudulent Transfers

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Court”) in Weisfelner v. Fund 1 (In Re Lyondell Chemical Co.), 2014 WL 118036 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2014) recently held that the safe harbor provision of 11 U.S.C. § 546(e) did not bar unsecured creditors from seeking, under state fraudulent transfer law, to recover payouts made to former shareholders of a company acquired in a leveraged buyout.  This case highlights the limitations in section 546(e)’s so-called safe harbor provision, which protects settlement payments made to complete pre-bankruptcy securities contracts from later being attacked and avoided by the bankruptcy estate representative as fraudulent transfers.

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Showdown in the Richmond: The City of Richmond Threatens Eminent Domain on Underwater Loans

BREAKING NEWS: In a contentious 4-3 decision and amid more than 300 community members on both sides of the issue, the City Council for the City of Richmond voted to continue pursuing its eminent domain plan in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 11. The council also rejected two related measures, one that would withdraw the letters threatening eminent domain and another requiring Mortgage Resolution Partners, the firm providing financial backing for the City’s plan, to obtain insurance to insulate the city from legal liabilities.

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