Monday, December 15, 2008
Supreme Court to Hear Asbestos-Related Suit
The Supreme Court granted cert today on whether a federal bankruptcy court can block private suits seeking damages for injury and death caused by asbestos. The consolidated cases are Travelers Indemnity v. Bailey, et al. (08-295) and Common Law Settlement Counsel v. Bailey, et al. (08-307). SCOTUSblog has links to the Second Circuit's opinion and the petitions for certiorari. The question presented is:
Whether the court of appeals erred in categorically holding that bankruptcy courts do not have jurisdiction to enter confirmation orders that extend beyond the "res" of a debtor's estate, despite this Court's recent ruling that "[t]he Framers would have understood that laws 'on the subject of Bankruptcies' included laws providing, in certain respects, for more than simple adjudications of rights in the res," Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356, 370 (2006), and whether the court of appeals compounded this error by: (a) failing to apply as written a federal statute (11 USC §§ 524(g) and (h)), by limiting the scope of relief in a manner that is contrary to the express terms and purposes of that statute; (b) failing to give effect to the Supremacy Clause and holdings of this Court that federal bankruptcy relief cannot be overridden by rights alleged to have been created under state law; and (c) failing to respect important principles of finality and repose, and the express provisions of § 524(g), by failing to approve a federal court's enforcement of a confirmation order that was affirmed over two decades ago on direct appeal.