Former bankruptcy debtors sued their trustee, alleging that he failed to sue an insurer who could have satisfied many creditors’ claims. The district court dismissed because the plaintiffs did not first get leave from the bankruptcy court that appointed the trustee, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed under Barton v. Barbour, 104 U.S. 126, 128 (1881) (an opinion by the otherwise unmemorable William Burnham Woods, right).
The debtors contended that Stern v. Marshall implicitly overruled Barton, in part, because the bankruptcy court would lack final adjudicative authority over their state law tort claims. The Fifth Circuit disagreed, holding that under Barton: “If a bankruptcy court concludes that the claim against a trustee is one that the court would not itself be able to resolve under Stern, that court can make the initial decision on the procedure to follow. Once a bankruptcy court makes such a determination, this court can review the utilized procedure.” Villegas v. Schmidt, No. 14-40423 (May 28, 2015).