American Bankruptcy Institute Update

October 4, 2005

In This Issue

Highlights

U.S. Trustee Program Announces Waiver of Credit Counseling Requirement in Areas Affected by Hurricane Katrina

The U.S. Trustee Program today announced a temporary waiver of the statutory requirements for credit counseling for bankruptcy filers in Louisiana and the Southern District of Mississippi due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, according to a news release this afternoon. The new bankruptcy law permits U.S. Trustees to waive the credit counseling requirement within a judicial district where approved credit counseling agencies are not reasonably able to provide adequate services to bankruptcy filers. The U.S. Trustee for Region 5 made this determination with respect to the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana, and the Southern District of Mississippi. The U.S. Trustee program does not have jurisdiction over the state of Alabama, another state affected by the disaster.

Leaders Seeking to Place Miers on Court by Thanksgiving

Senate Republican leaders aim to put President Bush's nomination of White House Counsel Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court on the same smooth path they used to confirm Chief Justice John Roberts last month, CongressDaily reported. They might also have the backing of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who praised her yesterday, although some moderates questioned whether Miers' record is too thin to adequately judge her qualifications. Miers is described as sharing President Bush’s philosophy in a Washington Post article today.

GAO Releases Report Identifying Bankruptcy and Pension Problems as Symptoms of Airlines’ Underlying Structural Issues

A new report from the GAO details the role of bankruptcy in the airline industry; whether bankruptcies are harming the industry; and the effect of airline pension underfunding on employees, airlines and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Read the full report.

U.S. Pension Woes Put Government Insurer Deeper in the Red

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (PBGC) already had a $23 billion deficit before the recent bankruptcies of Delta and Northwest Airlines. If those companies unload their pension obligations on the government in bankruptcy proceedings, as some observers expect, the PBGC's deficit could jump as much as 50 percent, Investor’s Business Daily reported Friday.

Legislation moving through Congress this fall is geared toward creating a better balance between the risk that the PBGC bears and the premiums paid by companies with defined-benefit pension plans. If the legislation is passed, it should eventually cut the PBGC's long-term funding deficit roughly in half. However, PBGC's finances will still get worse in the medium term. Read the full story.

Full or empty? GM Pension Dispute

The federal government contends that General Motors' pension fund is $31 billion short of what it owes its work force and retirees, a figure strongly disputed by the automaker, which argues its plans have $2 billion more than necessary to cover anticipated benefits, according to a published report, CNN/Money reported yesterday.

The New York Times reported that despite wide differences in the reading on the automaker's pension plans' strength, both estimates are within accepted accounting practices. The government's estimate is based on a snapshot of how current assets would cover promised benefits if the plans were terminated. The automaker's estimates assume the plans will continue to operate going forward. Read the full story.

Congress and Katrina – Op-Ed

What perfect timing: the bankruptcy law set to go into effect Oct. 17 is arriving just in time to inflict more pain on Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas residents who have been hit by the gulf hurricanes. They lost their homes, businesses and even loved ones and now may face financial ruin without the protection of bankruptcy.

Robert Lawless, a law professor at the University of Nevada, found in a forthcoming Nevada Law Journal study that bankruptcy filings rose about 50 percent faster in states affected by hurricanes than in those unaffected. That the Hurricane Katrina victims would suffer under the draconian new law is hard to swallow. Their plight also raises the question of whether anyone at all should be punished by this legislation. Read the full New York Times op-ed.

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Please join us for the Eleventh Annual Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference, to be held January 26–28 in beautiful downtown Denver, Colorado.

The educational program will provide attendees with an interactive learning experience led by a faculty of highly regarded bankruptcy judges and experienced practitioners. The roundtable format emphasizes discussion of relevant insolvency issues among the faculty and the participants.

This conference is an educational opportunity not to be missed! Up to 12 hours of CLE credit, including three hours of ethics, can be earned.

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ABI WORLD TUTORIAL HIGHLIGHTS DAILY NEWS AND BANKRUPTCY COURT UPDATES

Do You Know?

A new online tutorials shows you how to find daily news stories, information and bankruptcy opinions on ABI’s comprehensive Web site. The tutorial features a visual demonstration of how to locate these documents quickly and easily, and guides you through the navigation process. This is the fourth in a series of tutorials that will highlight the many resources and services available at ABI World.

PREPARE FOR THE CERTIFICATION EXAM

The new bankruptcy law provides that courts will take into account board certification when awarding attorney fees under §330. The American Board of Certification is offering its exams several times this fall. You can prepare for the exams with a handy and affordable CD-ROM prepared by board-certified ABI members [C.R. (Chip) Bowles, Greenebaum Doll & McDonald; Jason Gold, Wiley, Rein & Fielding; Dennis LeVine, Dennis LeVine & Associates; Gary Marsh, MeKenna Long & Aldridge; Shannon Nagle, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan; Daniel Sklar, Nixon Peabody; Kent Snyder, Snyder & Associates; David Sykes, Duane Morris; Mark P. Williams, Norman, Wood, Kendrick & Turner]. The CD includes materials on consumer bankruptcy, business bankruptcy, ethics and creditors’ rights. Sample exam questions and answers are also included. Member price is $195.

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Latest Job Postings at ABI Career Center

Check out the ABI Career Center. The Center is a one-stop site for job seekers and employers in the insolvency community. Career Center resources are available free to both employers and job seekers. New positions are featured daily. The latest listings include: