In The News

Ropes & Gray Argues Key Bankruptcy Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

Practices: Appellate & Supreme Court, Business Restructuring

On April 1, 2015, Ropes & Gray business & securities litigation partner Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, head of the firm’s appellate & Supreme Court practice, argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that will have significant implications for appellate jurisdiction in bankruptcy cases. The case Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, will decide whether litigants can appeal a bankruptcy judge’s denial, with leave to further amend, of a proposed bankruptcy restructuring plan. Ropes & Gray represents Blue Hills Bank, formerly known as Hyde Park Savings Bank.

Our client, the mortgagee, opposed the debtor’s proposed plan on the ground that it did not comply with the Bankruptcy Code. The bankruptcy judge upheld the object, but directed the debtor to file a revised proposal. The debtor then sought to appeal, thus delaying confirmation of a plan and distribution to creditors. Before the Supreme Court, the case presents the question whether denial of the debtor’s preferred plan terminates a bankruptcy “proceeding,” allowing immediate appeal as of right, when the bankruptcy judge’s order specifically contemplates further proceedings on an amended plan. The issues involve the intersection of traditional civil procedure rules regarding appealability with the complex, multi-party and multi-dispute nature of a bankruptcy case. Although this specific case involves a chapter 13 consumer debtor, the Court’s holding is likely to apply to business restructurings in chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.

In addition to Mr. Hallward-Driemeier, the Ropes & Gray team included business restructuring partner Ross Martin and associate Joshua Sturm, government enforcement associate Jonathan Ference-Burke, and business & securities litigation associate Erin Macgowan.

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