FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Casa Casuarina LLC, the former mansion of designer Gianni Versace from which the trustee in the separate Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the former law firm of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler (RRA) sought to recover what he said were fraudulent transfers, on July 1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. VM South Beach LLC, which is not a creditor in RRA's bankruptcy, says it holds a valid and perfected first mortgage on Casa Casuarina and moved immediately for appointment of a Chapter 11 trustee (In Re: Casa Casuarina LLC, No. 13-25645, Chapter 11, S.D. Fla. Bkcy.).
GALVESTON, Texas - A Texas federal judge on June 27 found a real estate firm's declaratory claims related to its insurer's possible future claims denial to be speculative and, as such, premature, granting in part the insurer's motion to dismiss (Triyar Companies LLC, et al. v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 3:12-cv-294, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90633).
SAN FRANCISCO - A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 28 ruled that a bankruptcy judge who refused to recuse himself from a bankruptcy proceeding did not abuse his discretion when he presided over both the bankruptcy of Vickie Lynn Marshall, also known as Anna Nicole Smith, and that of another potential heir to the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, his son J. Howard Marshall III (Elaine T. Marshall v. J. Howard Marshall III $(In the Matter Of: J. Howard Marshall III$), No. 09-55573, Chapter 11, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13398).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 denied a petition for writ of certiorari in the appeal of a lawsuit asking the high court to revisit its decision in Feres v. United States (340 U.S. 135 $(1950$)), in which the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) was found to deny military personnel the ability to recover for injuries caused by negligence of federal employees (Linda Lanus, as personal representative of the Estate of Eric K. Lanus v. United States, No. 12-862, U.S. Sup.; 2013 U.S. LEXIS 4923).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 struck down as unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife for purposes of all federal statutes. The decision means that same-sex couples married in states that recognize same-sex marriage as legal cannot be denied federal benefits under federal laws in which marital or spousal status is addressed (United States v. Edith Windsor, executor of the estate of Thea Spyer, No. 12-307, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 21 ruled that a subcontractor was entitled to post-petition interest on a judgment it was awarded against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) despite the fact that the DOE is a creditor in the bankruptcy of another contractor, finding that the award did not jeopardize the ability of creditors to collect on their claims against the bankruptcy estate (Ground Improvement Techniques Inc v. The Plan Committee $(In The Matter Of: Washington Group International Inc.$), No. 11-17447, Chapter 11, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 12772).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A creditor of bankrupt Revstone Industries LLC on June 21 filed a brief in bankruptcy court objecting to Revstone's motion seeking approval to sell the assets of its subsidiary Contech Castings LLC on grounds that the assets are not part of the bankruptcy estate and the issue is "not ripe for adjudication" (In Re: Revstone Industries LLC, No. 12-13262, Chapter 11, D. Del. Bkcy.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is not entitled to $41,860 in attorney fees in a case in which the jury found for the plaintiff but awarded no damages, a Florida federal court judge said in an opinion filed June 4, affirming a magistrate judge's recommendation that the company's $10,000 settlement offer was not made in good faith (Oliver Pickett Jr., as Personal Representative of the Estate of Oliver Pickett Sr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 3:09-cv-10116, M.D. Fla., Jacksonville Div.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78244).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - An errors and omissions insurance provision was secondary to the agreement between a real estate and broker and thus not unlawfully sold, a California appeals court held June 3 in affirming dismissal of California unfair competition law (UCL) claims (Marshall S. Griffith v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Co., No. G047506, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After finding that evidence submitted by the purchaser of a house that allegedly contained mold created a genuine issue of fact as to the scope of a settlement agreement between the parties, a Missouri appeals court on May 28 reversed a trial court's decision to grant summary judgment for the seller of the house and a real estate company (Deborah McIntire v. Glad Heart Properties, et al., No. WD75674, Mo. App., Western Dist., Div. 2; 2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 656).
SHERMAN, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on May 24 stayed a company's wrongful seizure lawsuit against the Texas insurance commissioner and the deputy receiver of an insolvent insurer because the claims potentially involve assets belonging to the insurer's estate and should be decided by the receivership court (Providence Holdings Inc. v. John Doak, individually, and in his official capacity as insurance commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Insurance, and Mark Tharp, individually, and in his official capacity as deputy receiver for Imperial Casualty and Indemnity Co., No. 12-556, E.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73605).
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 28 reversed and remanded a bankruptcy court's ruling and determined that a creditor was entitled to have a $226,000 judgment she owes set off by her claim against the debtor's bankruptcy estate (Sally Ogden v. Ronald Ian Chorches $(In Re: Bolin & Co. LLC$), No. 12-1310, Chapter 7, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10614).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The reorganized version of The Tribune Co. on May 24 filed a series of briefs objecting to assorted claims against the bankruptcy estate, most notably arguing that a $20 million claim asserted by the estate of Parren Mitchell, a former Maryland congressman, had expired (In Re: Tribune Company, No. 08-13141, Chapter 11, D. Del. Bkcy.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama on May 22 ruled that a couple could pursue a claim that Bank of America N.A. and its loan servicing arm BAC Home Loans violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) for their alleged failure to respond to qualified written requests (QWRs) for information about their loan but dismissed the remainder of the plaintiffs' lawsuit for failure to state a claim (Gregory Collins, et al. v. BAC Home Loans, et al., No. 12-cv-3721-LSC, N.D. Ala.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71466).
SHREVEPORT, La. - A divided Second Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal panel on May 22 affirmed summary judgment against a plaintiff in a declaratory judgment action seeking to affirm ownership of a mineral estate in a land sale (Claudia Simone Franklin v. Camterra Resources Partners Inc., et al., No. 48,021, La. App., 2nd Cir.).
NEWARK, N.J. - The conveyance of mortgages to certain parties was "a transfer of assets made with an actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud" the unsecured creditors of a limited liability company alleged to have operated a Ponzi scheme, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled May 20, granting summary judgment in favor of the receiver of the company (Michael P. Pompeo v. The Estate of Oscar Hudson, et al., No. 11-6899, D. N.J.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70930).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and the trustee in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of former law firm Howrey LLP on May 20 moved in bankruptcy court for permission to prosecute and settle various pending causes of action that are potential assets of the bankruptcy estate (In Re: Howrey LLP, No.11-31376, Chapter 11, N.D. Calif. Bkcy.).
DENVER - The evidence shows that an auto insurer properly attempted to settle all matters related to claims against its insured's estate, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 16, affirming a lower court's finding of no bad faith on the insurer's part (Tara Berendes v. GEICO Casualty Co., No. 12-4136, 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 9806).
DENVER - A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 14 affirmed a bankruptcy court's ruling and said that a debtor's transfer of real property less than a year prior to filing her bankruptcy petition was not a fraudulent transfer because the property would not have been part of the bankruptcy estate even if the transfer had not taken place (Ginger D. Goddard v. Anna Helen Heldt $(In Re: Anna Helen Heldt$), No. 12-6027, Chapter 11, 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 9675).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appeals panel on May 3 reversed a ruling entering default judgment against a community center that was named as a defendant in a soil and groundwater contamination suit and ordered the judge presiding over the matter to consider the defendant's defenses, including whether it caused contamination at the site (Ponzio's Kingsway Real Estate LLC v. Glenn Mark, et al., No. A-4710-11T2, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1032).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The federal bankruptcy judge presiding over the case of Nortel Networks Inc. on May 7 called "frivolous" the appeal lodged by the joint administrators of the bankruptcy estate pertaining to the allocation of $7.5 billion in assets. Specifically, the bankruptcy judge said that arbitration, which the joint administrators sought to compel, was not warranted (In Re: Nortel Networks Inc., No. 09-10138, Chapter 11, D. Del. Bkcy.).
NASHVILLE - A Tennessee federal magistrate judge in the Aredia/Zometa multidistrict litigation on May 3 recommended that a plaintiff and his attorney be sanctioned with dismissal of their case with prejudice after finding that the attorney willfully failed to take steps to ensure that the widower of the original plaintiff was timely and properly named as the representative of her estate (In Re: Aredia and Zometa Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1760, No. 3:06-md-1760, Jean L. Speise, et al. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., No. 3:06-858, M.D. Tenn., Nashville Div.).
PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on May 3 conditionally certified as a collective action a lawsuit filed by real estate agents alleging that they were denied minimum wage and overtime (Patricia Anderson, et al. v. Ziprealty, Inc., No. 12-332, D. Ariz.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63817).
LAKE CHARLES, La. - The Third Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal on May 1 overturned summary judgment for the defendant in a medical malpractice action, calling the trial court's decision "premature" (The Estate of Willie Walters v. West Louisiana Health Services Inc., No. 12-1457, La. App., 3rd Cir.; 2013 La. App. LEXIS 852).
TAMPA, Fla. - In a suit in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as the receiver for a failed bank, alleged that a law firm committed malpractice and breached its fiduciary duty to the bank in relation to a real estate acquisition, a federal judge in Florida on May 1 denied the firm's motion to exclude as improper expert testimony by the FDIC's expert, in part because the defendants' arguments are moot (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg P.A., et al., No. 11-2831, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63709).