NACBA — Protecting Consumer-Debtors in Bankruptcy

Client
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)
Type of Engagement
Appeals
Subject Matter
Bankruptcy Code
Forum
Ninth Circuit -- en banc
Key Team Members
Daniel L. Geyser

The Challenge

Eliminate existing precedent that made it effectively impossible for bankruptcy debtors to seek relief for serious but routine violations of the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay.

The Engagement

NACBA retained Daniel Geyser of Stris & Maher to brief and argue the en banc case as amicus curiae. NACBA is the only national association of attorneys organized specifically to protect the rights of consumer-bankruptcy debtors.

The Result

In a resounding 10-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Congress authorized debtors to recover attorney’s fees in suits seeking relief for willful violations of the automatic stay. In so holding, the court of appeals overruled its own precedent, eliminated a circuit split, and restored the Bankruptcy Code’s protections for thousands of debtors. The court’s opinion significantly tracked Mr. Geyser’s arguments in briefing and oral argument, even citing his brief directly in the opinion itself.

Key Case Materials

In re Schwartz-Tallard (Ninth Circuit, en banc)

Opinion (October 14, 2015)

Oral Argument Video (June 17, 2015) (Mr. Geyser's argument starts at 35:55)

Media Coverage

Stay Violators Now Face Strict Liability In 9th Circ. (Law360, January 6, 2016) (subscription required)

Ninth Circuit Overturns Sternberg (National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center, October 15, 2015)