In Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., potentially the most important of the Supreme Court’s recent bankruptcy cases, the court appears to be on the verge of rejecting priority-skipping structured dismissals as a means of resolving Chapter 11 cases. Today’s argument was broad-ranging and the court was clearly intellectually engaged by the case. Repeated questions from Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, regarding the scope and implications of a reversal in this case suggested that the court, although rejecting priority-deviating structured dismissals, will tread carefully in framing its opinion to avoid a categorical prohibition on all pre-plan deviations in priority.
John “The Relist Man” Elwood reviews Monday’s relists.
There are classic blunders that Relist Watch readers would never commit: Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Don’t punch a kangaroo in the face. But only slightly less well-known is this: Don’t go in against a relist when cert is on the line. That was certainly illustrated Friday, when the court immediately snapped up seven of the nine new relists on a range of scintillating topics from the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act to the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.
The argument in Life Technologies v. Promega seemed to go well for the petitioners, Life Technologies, who argued that the statutory phrase “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” cannot refer to a single component of an invention, especially if that one component is merely a common commodity that has several non-infringing uses. Many of the justices’ questions seemed to be directed towards deciding not whether, but how, the decision below should be reversed.
Today the court hears oral argument in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., a case involving a challenge to the use of structured dismissals to resolve Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Daniel Bussel previewed the case for this blog. Michele Korkhov and Anna Marienko provide a preview for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute.
The petition of the day is:
Issue: Whether a state court may, consistent with the due process clause, effectively disregard the separate existence of a subsidiary corporate entity by treating the decision to form the subsidiary as a vehicle for investing in the state as itself providing minimum contacts giving rise to personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state parent.
Tuesday morning brought us the court’s first decision from its November argument session, in State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. United States ex rel. Rigsby. The opinion has a familiar texture – resolving a circuit conflict by rejecting a categorical rule calling for mandatory dismissal in favor of a rule that leaves matters in the sound discretion of the district court. I admit that my opening hook was pretty vague. But if I’d started off by telling you the case was about the False Claims Act, most of you would have moved on to the next entry without even clicking to “continue reading.” I thought maybe some of you would read a little further if I softened you up before telling you the case interprets a 19th-century statute directed at fraud in government contracts.
The court said just about as little as possible in its opinion today in Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., in which it rejected the $400 million verdict Apple had won based on allegations that Samsung’s cellphones infringed design patents covering the original iPhones. In essence, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision to uphold a jury verdict and sent the case back to let the Federal Circuit define the appropriate legal standard.
The case involves an obscure statute not discussed by the Supreme Court in half a century, which grants protection for “design patents,” a type of intellectual property that is related to, but much easier to acquire than, the “utility patents” at issue in the Supreme Court’s most prominent intellectual-property cases of the last few decades. Apple had several design patents on the original iPhones, covering such things as the shape of the face (black and rectangular with rounded corners) and the grid of icons on the black screen. A jury concluded that the Samsung cellphone models sold shortly after release of the original iPhones infringed those design patents, and it awarded Apple all the profits Samsung made from the infringing phones.
The transcript in Life Technologies Corporation v. Promega Corporation is here.
Bassam Salman, a Chicago grocery wholesaler, received stock tips from a friend, who had in turn received inside information from Salman’s brother-in-law, an investment banker at Citigroup. Salman made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tips, but he was also charged with insider trading and sentenced to three years in prison. Today the Supreme Court upheld Salman’s conviction, rejecting his argument that he could not be held liable because his brother-in-law had not received any financial benefits in exchange for the inside information that he disclosed. The unanimous ruling – which came just over two months after the oral argument – was a big victory for the federal government, which had warned the justices that a ruling for Salman would lead to even more disclosures of confidential information by corporate insiders.