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Lamie v. United States Tr.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 10, 2003, Argued ; January 26, 2004, Decided

No. 02-693

Opinion

 [*529]   [**1027]  Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court. 1

Section 330(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 330(a)(1) [11 USCS § 330(a)(1)], regulates court awards of professional fees, including fees for services rendered by attorneys in connection with bankruptcy proceedings. Petitioner, a bankruptcy attorney, sought compensation under the section for legal services he provided to a bankrupt debtor [****8]  after the proceeding was converted to a chapter 7 bankruptcy. His application for fees was denied by the Bankruptcy Court, the District Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Each court held that in a chapter 7 proceeding § 330(a)(1) does not authorize payment of attorney's fees unless the attorney has been appointed under § 327 of the Code. See 11 USC §§ 327 and 701 et seq. [11 USCS §§ 327 and 701 et seq.] Petitioner  [***1031]  was not so appointed, and his fee request was denied. Having granted the petition for certiorari to review this holding, we now affirm.

In 1994 Congress amended the Bankruptcy Code. Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 (Act), 108 Stat 4106. The subject of professional fees was addressed and comprehensive changes were made. See 3 Collier on Bankruptcy P 330.LH, pp 330-75 to 330-76 (rev. 15th ed. 2003). Most of the changes served to clarify the standards for the award of professional fees; but various courts disagree over the proper interpretation of the portion of the statute relevant to this dispute, concerning attorney's fees.

The Act replaced the predecessor section to the one in issue here. Compare 108 Stat 4130-4131 (§ 224(b) of the Act was not so appointed, amending 11 USC § 330(a) [11 USCS § 330(a)]), with 11 U.S.C. § 330(a) (1988 ed.)  [11 USCS § 330(a) (1988 ed.)]. Before the 1994 Act,  [****9]  § 330(a) had read as follows:

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540 U.S. 526 *; 124 S. Ct. 1023 **; 157 L. Ed. 2d 1024 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 824 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4152; Bankr. L. Rep. (CCH) P80,038; 50 Collier Bankr. Cas. 2d (MB) 1299; 42 Bankr. Ct. Dec. 122; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 119

JOHN M. LAMIE, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES TRUSTEE

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.

United States Tr. v. Equip. Servs. (In re Equip. Servs.), 290 F.3d 739, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 10563 (4th Cir. Va., 2002)

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

professional person, deletion, ambiguous, legislative history, appointed, authorization, courts, inadvertently, surplusage, words, court of appeals, scrivener, awards, drafting, changes, missing

Bankruptcy Law, Retention of Professionals, Compensation, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Examiners, Officers & Trustees, Appointment, Compensation, Case Administration, Debtor's Attorney, Professional Services, Federal Government, US Congress, Debtors in Possession & Trustees