Chapter 9, Title 11, United States Code

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Chapter 9, the United States Code is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, available exclusively to municipalities that assists them in the restructuring of debts. On July 18, 2013 Detroit, Michigan became the largest city in the history of the United States to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection. Jefferson County, Alabama in 2011 and Orange County, California in 1994 are also notable examples. ("Municipality" under the Bankruptcy Code includes many types of governmental units besides cities.)[1]

History[edit]

Recent Chapter 9 filing counts
YearFilings
20065
20076
20084
200912
20106
201113
1st half 20127

From 1937 to 2008 there were fewer than 600 municipal bankruptcies.[2] As of June 2012 the total was around 640.[3] In 2012 there were twelve chapter 9 bankruptcies in the United States, and five petitions have been filed in 2013.[4] Since 2010 thirty six petitions have been filed.[5]

Previous to the creation of Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the only remedy when a municipality was unable to pay its creditors was for the creditors to pursue an action of mandamus, and compel the municipality to raise taxes.[6] During the Great Depression, this approach proved impossible, so in 1934, the Bankruptcy Act was amended to extend to municipalities.[7][8] The 1934 Amendment was declared unconstitutional in Ashton v. Cameron County Water District.[9]

However, a revised act remedying the constitutional deficiencies was passed again by Congress in 1937 and codified as Chapter X of the Bankruptcy Act (later redesignated as Chapter IX).[10] This revised act was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in United States v. Bekins.[11]

Chapter IX was largely unchanged until it was amended in 1976 in response to New York City's financial crisis.[12] The changes made in 1976 were adopted nearly identically in the modern 1978 Bankruptcy Code as Chapter 9.

In 1988, Chapter 9 was amended by Congress to provide statutory protection from § 552(a) lien stripping provisions to revenue bonds issued by municipalities. This was addressed with the classification of these bonds as "special revenues" under the newly minted § 928(a) and § 922(d) exemption of special revenues from the automatic stay provisions of § 362.[13]

To prevent overlap with Chapter 11, § 101(41) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. § 101(41)) defines the term "person" to exclude many "governmental units" as defined in § 101(27), and "municipality" as defined in § 101(40).

Features of Chapter 9[edit]

While in many ways similar to other forms of bankruptcy reorganization (esp. Chapter 11),[14] Chapter 9 has a number of unique characteristics. Because municipalities are entities of State governments, the power of the bankruptcy court is limited to some extent by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[15]

Collective bargaining[edit]

Municipalities' ability to re-write collective bargaining agreements is much greater than in a corporate Chapter 11 bankruptcy[16] and can trump state labor protections,[17] allowing cities to renegotiate unsustainable pension or other benefits packages negotiated in flush times.[18]

Authorization for filing of municipal bankruptcies[edit]

Section 109(c) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides that a municipality may be a debtor in a Chapter 9 bankruptcy case only if the municipality is specifically authorized to be a debtor by State law, or by a governmental officer or organization empowered by State law to authorize the municipality to be a debtor.[19] Municipalities in 26 states must seek enactment of a specific statute particular to it authorizing the filing.[20]

New Jersey, Connecticut, and Kentucky simply give a state appointed official or body the power to approve a filing.[21]

Notable Chapter 9 bankruptcies[edit]

Partial list of municipal bankruptcies[edit]

Note: Larger bankruptcies are in bold

Municipalities placed under receivership[edit]

The city of Central Falls, Rhode Island petitioned to be put into receivership in 2010, as Rhode Island does not generally permit Chapter 9 filings. The state appointed receiver or overseer assumed all financial responsibilities from the mayor. Rhode Island's receivership law was rewritten to allow the receiver the ability to file a petition for Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy and Central Falls has done that.[44]

Hospital and health care district Chapter 9 bankruptcies[edit]

A hospital or health care district is a governmental entity, generally with taxing authority, that owns and operates medical facilities. Some examples of health care district Chapter 9 bankruptcies are:

Other entities that declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy[edit]

Chapter 9 bankruptcy petitions that were filed but voluntarily dismissed[edit]

Petitions for Chapter 9 relief that were denied[edit]

Notable defaults that did not result in Chapter 9 bankruptcy[edit]

Notable bankruptcies that were declared ineligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 11 U.S.C. § 101(40) ("The term 'municipality' means political subdivision or public agency or instrumentality of a State.")
  2. ^ MuniNetGuide: Vallejo Bankruptcy Filing Garners Attention in Municipal Finance Circles
  3. ^ Wozniacka, Gosia (2012-06-27). "Stockton bankruptcy is hard hit for city retirees". Boston.com. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  4. ^ USAtoday, July 22, 2013, Page B1, "Detroit woes rattle muni bond market" by Matt Krantz
  5. ^ USAtoday, July 22, 2013, Page 4B, "Detroiters not giving up; neither should we" by Marisol Bello
  6. ^ Ashton v. Cameron County Water Improvement Dist., 298 U.S. 513, 534 (1936) (Cardozo, J., dissent)
  7. ^ Pub. L. No. 251, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., 48 Stat. 798 (1934).
  8. ^ Public Law Research Institute: Municipal Bankruptcy: State Authorization Under the federal Bankruptcy Code
  9. ^ 298 U.S. 513, 56 S. Ct. 892, 80 L. Ed. 1309 (1936).
  10. ^ An Act to Amend an Act Entitled An Act to Establish a Uniform System of Bankruptcy Throughout the United States,, Pub. L. No. 302, 75th Cong., 1st Sess., 50 Stat. 653 (1937).
  11. ^ 304 U.S. 27 (1938)(holding the Municipal Corporation Bankruptcy Act constitutional under both the Fifth and the Tenth Amendments)
  12. ^ An Act to Amend Chapter IX of the Bankruptcy Act to Provide by Voluntary Reorganization Procedures for the Adjustment of the Debts of Municipalities, Pub. L. No. 94-260, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (1976).
  13. ^ See Steven Lessard & Richard Ngo, Riding the Juice Train to Bankruptcy: Ch. 9 Eligibility After In re Las Vegas Monorail Company, NORTON JOURNAL OF BANKRUPTCY LAW & PRACTICE, Vol. 20, No.3, Article 4 (2011); see also An Act to Amend the Bankruptcy Law to Provide for Special Revenue Bonds and for Other Purposes, PUB. L. NO. 100-597 (1988); Municipal Bankruptcy Amendments, Pub L. No 100597 (1988); 4 COLLIER ON BANKRUPTCY ¶ 902.01A, 902-3 (15th ed. 1996)
  14. ^ Chapter 9 incorporates the provisions of numerous sections from other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. See Title 11, United States Code, Section 901.
  15. ^ John Knox & Marc A. Levinson (2009). Municipal Bankruptcy: Avoiding and Using Chapter 9 in Times of Fiscal Stress. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. pp. 21–22. 
  16. ^ In re City of Vallejo, 08-26813-A-9 (E. Dist. Calif.).
  17. ^ "Contracts Now Seen as Being Rewritable". The New York Times. 2009-03-31. 
  18. ^ By Pamela A. MacLean All Articles  (2009-03-17). "In a First, Bankruptcy Judge Rules Calif. City Can Void Union Contracts". Law.com. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  19. ^ See 11 U.S.C. § 109.
  20. ^ Bankruptcy Bloodbath May Hit Muni Owners: Joe Mysak (Update1)
  21. ^ Municipal Bankruptcy: State Authorization Under the Federal Bankruptcy Code, PLRI
  22. ^ HAMILTON CREEK METROPOLITAN DISTRICT v. BONDHOLDERS COLORADO BONDSHARES
  23. ^ a b Van Anglen, Jim; Condon, Bernard (November 9, 2011). "Alabama county files for largest municipal bankruptcy". CBS News (Montgomery, Alabama). Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  24. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  25. ^ a b Church, Steven; Selway, William; McCarty, Dawn (Wed Nov 09 23:46:41 GMT 2011). "Jefferson County Alabama Files Bankruptcy". Bloomberg.com (New York City: Bloomberg L.P.). Retrieved 2011-11-10.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ Analysis of Factors Associated with the Municipal Bankruptcy of Pichard, Alabama
  27. ^ The City of Desert Hot Springs filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy papers in late December, making it the first California city in at least 25 years to seek bankruptcy protection[dead link]
  28. ^ California City files for bankruptcy protection[dead link]
  29. ^ Millport making a comeback
  30. ^ After 6 years, Los Osos CSD bankruptcy plan approved
  31. ^ Oklahoma: Speed Trap Town Goes Bankrupt
  32. ^ Bankruptcy filed, tiny town hopes to rise again
  33. ^ Vallejo's path to bankruptcy - Vallejo Times Herald
  34. ^ "Westfall, Pennsylvania Files For Bankruptcy Protection". Huffington Post. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  35. ^ Prichard files for bankruptcy protection again
  36. ^ Rhode Island's Central Falls files for bankruptcy
  37. ^ Selway, William (Fri Sep 16 17:41:31 GMT 2011). "Jefferson County’s Journey From Sewer-Bond Scandal to Settlement: Timeline". Bloomberg.com (New York City: Bloomberg L.P.). Retrieved 2011-11-10.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  38. ^ "Stockton, California files for bankruptcy". Reuters. June 28, 2012. 
  39. ^ "The Daily Docket: Mammoth Lakes Enters Bankruptcy". Wall Street Journal. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  40. ^ "Chapter 9 Bankruptcy". City of San Bernardino, California. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  41. ^ Dolan, Matthew. "Detroit Files Biggest U.S. Municipal Bankruptcy - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  42. ^ Davey, Monica; Walsh, Mary Williams (July 18, 2013). "Billions in Debt, Detroit Tumbles Into Insolvency". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  43. ^ Case no. 13-53846-swr, U.S. Bankr. Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit Div.).
  44. ^ Rhode Island city overseer starts by firing mayor
  45. ^ Hospitals file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy : North County Times - Californian
  46. ^ Rauber, Chris (2006-10-02). "Doctors Medical Center files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection". 
  47. ^ "Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Hits Hardeman County Hospital in Texas". Becker's Hospital Review. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  48. ^ "California Health Care District Files for Bankruptcy". The Bond Buyer. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  49. ^ SAN JOSE SCHOOLS CAN CUT PAY, U.S. BANKRUPTCY COURT RULES
  50. ^ VisionLand debt prompts Chapter 9 filing
  51. ^ Pierce County's low-cost housing filing for bankruptcy
  52. ^ Sarpy County SID Files For Bankruptcy
  53. ^ New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation Facts
  54. ^ Connector 2000 Association Files Chapter 9 Bankruptcy
  55. ^ In re Richmond Unified Sch. Dist., 133 B.R. 221, 224 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 1991)
  56. ^ "Bridgeport – Distressed but not Insolvent". Business-finance-restructuring.weil.com. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  57. ^ Letter requesting permission from the Governor of Michigan for Hamtramck to declare bankruptcy[dead link]
  58. ^ CORRECT: Michigan Forbids City To Seek Municipal Bankruptcy[dead link]
  59. ^ Judge throws out Ill. village's bankruptcy case
  60. ^ Judge denies Washington Park's bankruptcy bid
  61. ^ Boise County files for bankruptcy[dead link]
  62. ^ Judge rejects Boise County’s bankruptcy filing
  63. ^ Tavernise, Sabrina (12 October 2011). "City Council in Harrisburg Files Petition of Bankruptcy". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  64. ^ Judge Rejects Harrisburg Bankruptcy Move
  65. ^ Three Decades After Cleveland Defaulted on Its Debts, Cities Face Recession Budget Woes
  66. ^ Las Vegas Monorail Determined Ineligible for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy
  67. ^ Steven Lessard & Richard Ngo, Riding the Juice Train to Bankruptcy: Chapter 9 Eligibility After In Re Las Vegas Monorail Company, NORTON ANNUAL SURVEY OF BANKRUPTCY LAW, Vol. 20, No.3, Article 4 (2011).

External links[edit]