Gross negligence of bankruptcy trustee

An unsecured creditor contended that the gross negligence of a bankruptcy trustee allowed a key asset to escape the estate.  The court agreed and ordered payment from Liberty Mutual’s bond for the trustee.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding: (1) the relevant limitations period was set by a 4-year federal statute rather than a 2-year state one, (2) the finding of gross negligence was not clearly erroneous, and (3) expert testimony was not necessary to establish gross negligence in this situation: “While the precise course of action the Trustee should have taken may be subject to reasonable debate, it requires no technical or expert knowledge to recognize that she affirmatively should have undertaken some form of action to acquire for the bankruptcy estate the assets to which it was entitled.”   Liberty Mutual v. United States, No. 12-10677 (revised August 20, 2013).

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