Bankruptcy experts gathered at Bloomberg headquarters in New York on October 23, 2015 to discuss the implications of the five bankruptcy decisions recently handed down by the Supreme Court.  The panelists spoke at an event called “A Supreme Court Review of Bankruptcy Cases,” sponsored by Bloomberg Law and The American College of Bankruptcy.




  • Richard Levin, Partner, Jenner & Block


  • Craig Goldblatt, Partner, WilmerHale 
  • Stephen Lubben, Corporate Governance Chair, Seton Hall University School of Law
  • Judge Cecelia Morris, Chief Judge, Southern District of New York 
  • Stephen A. Youngman, Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP 



Video 1


Judge Cecelia Morris of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York summarized the ruling in Harris v. Viegelahn, in which the Supreme Court concluded that funds held by a Chapter 13 trustee must be returned to the debtor upon conversion to Chapter 7.  Morris stressed that the money at stake in this case, which might seem relatively low when compared to the sums at stake in a Chapter 11 case, is a “huge amount of money” to Chapter 13 consumer debtors. She added that the stress levels Chapter 13 debtors experience when filing for bankruptcy can be comparable to losing a child, according to a study. 

Video 2

The panel discussed Bank of America v. Caulkett, in which the high court heavily criticized one of its prior decisions, Dewsnup v. Timm, but still elected to apply it rather than overturn it. Professor Stephen Lubben of the Seton Hall University School of Law compared the court's treatment of Dewsnup to a dentist who begins drilling in the wrong tooth, but just keeps drilling. Craig Goldblatt of WilmerHale, Washington, countered that he doesn't believe the court extended Dewsnup, it merely applied the precedent to which it was bound. 

Video 3

Stephen A. Youngman of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Dallas, summarized the controversial decision on attorneys' fees in Baker Botts LLP v. ASARCO LLC. Youngman said that bankruptcy professionals have been seeking court approval to redraft fee-related documents in response to Baker Botts, but that the U.S. Trustee has opposed this in every case. Lubben added that the U.S. Trustee has posted answers to frequently asked questions about attorneys' fees in the wake of Baker Botts, in which it indicated it would object to many of the ways attorneys might try to get around the ruling. Lubben said the decision in Baker Botts came out the way it did because “the vast bulk of the Supreme Court doesn't understand bankruptcy.” 

Video 4

Finally, the panel turned to Wellness Int'l Network, Ltd. v. Sharif and the thorny issue of the bankruptcy courts' constitutional power to adjudicate certain kinds of claims. Morris said that “Supreme Court groupies” should read the dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts in this case, in which Morris said Roberts espouses his view on his role in jurisprudence. Moderator Richard Levin of Jenner & Block, New York, said that he doesn't think the Supreme Court will return to the issues presented in Wellness for a “very, very long time.” 

Video 5
Full Panel  

Please view the program in its entirety here.  Feel free to pass this along to colleagues and peers.