Experts Examine Detroit’s Chapter 9 Filing and What Lies Ahead

Date: 
July 24, 2013
Issue: 

Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, listing more than $18 billion in debt, including $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Experts on an ABI media teleconference will examine some of the factors that led to Detroit's filing and what the path could look like for the city to emerge from financial distress.

Speakers: 

Hon. Christopher M. Klein, who is the Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento. Judge Klein is presiding over the chapter 9 case of Stockton, Calif., the largest city to file in California.

Speakers: 

Deborah L. Fish of Allard & Fish PC, who maintains her practice in Detroit and concentrates in the areas of corporate reorganization, bankruptcy litigation and creditors’ rights.

Speakers: 

Patrick Darby of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP (Birmingham, Ala.), who is a co-author of ABI’s recently released Second Edition of Municipalities in Peril: The ABI Guide to Chapter 9. Mr. Darby currently represents Jefferson County, Ala., (the largest chapter 9 case prior to Detroit’s filing), which has more than $4 billion of municipal debt

Moderator: 

Juliet M. Moringiello, who is a professor at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pa., where she teaches bankruptcy, commercial law, cyberspace law and property law. ABI's Spring 2010 Robert M. Zinman Resident Scholar, Prof. Moringiello writes on the subjects of bankruptcy and electronic commerce, and she is a frequent speaker on the financial distress of Harrisburg, Pa. (which filed for chapter 9 protection, but the case was dismissed).

Background: 

Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, listing more than $18 billion in debt, including $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The city, which has been experiencing decades of population declines in addition to mounting pension obligations, faces a challenging path as it tries to emerge from financial distress.

The filing was immediately challenged in state court, and last week a judge ruled that the governor’s approval of the filing violated the state’s constitution, specifically a provision that accrued pension benefits of government employees may not be impaired or diminished.

The experts on the teleconference will examine the factors that led to Detroit’s chapter 9 filing and what legal and practical lie ahead for the city as it works its way through the rarely used municipal bankruptcy reorganization process. For more information on chapter 9, the second edition of Municipalities in Peril: The ABI Guide to Chapter 9 is available in the ABI Bookstore.

Audio: 
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