This article appeared in The Bankruptcy Strategist, featuring the strategies and techniques devised by the country’s top bankruptcy lawyers and reports on innovative procedural techniques, legislative developments and recent judicial rulings — plus what they mean for you and your clients.

A secured lender’s “mere retention of property [after a pre-bankruptcy–repossession] does not violate” the automatic stay provision [§362(a)(3)] of the Bankruptcy Code (Code), held a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 14, 2021. City of Chicago v. Fulton, 141 S. Ct. 585, 589 (Jan. 14, 2021). Reversing the Seventh Circuit’s affirmance of a bankruptcy court judgment holding a secured lender in contempt for violating the automatic stay, the Court resolved “a split” in the Circuits. Id. The Second, Eighth and Ninth Circuits had agreed with the Seventh Circuit. Seee.g.In re Weber, 719 F.3d 72, 79 (2d Cir. 2013) (by retaining possession of collateral, lender “was ‘exercising control’ over” debtor’s property). But the Third, D.C., and Tenth Circuits, had reached the right result in other cases. In re Denby-Peterson, 941 F.3d 115 (3d Cir. 2019) (secured creditor has no “affirmative obligation under the automatic stay to return a debtor’s [repossessed] collateral” to estate “immediately upon notice” of debtor’s bankruptcy filing); In re Cowen, 849 F.3d 943, 950 (10th Cir. 2017) (only “affirmative acts” to take “possession of, or to exercise control over” debtor’s property “violate” automatic stay); United States v. Inslaw, Inc., 932 F.2d 1467, 1474 C.D.C. Cir. 1991) (“Nowhere in [Code §362(a)] is there a hint that it creates an affirmative duty ….”). As shown below, the Supreme Court effectively held that the Code’s automatic stay provides no automatic turnover of a lender’s collateral. The Code’s turnover provision (§542) is also not automatic.


This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]