U.S. Supreme Court issues opinions in two cases

On January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued rulings on two cases, Ritzen Group Inc. v. Jackson Masonry and Retirement Plan Committee of IBM v. Jander.

In the case Ritzen Group Inc. v. Jackson Masonry, Ritzen Group and Jackson Masonry both claimed that the other party breached contract after a sale of property fell through. A lawsuit Ritzen filed against Jackson in Tennessee state court was stayed after Jackson filed for bankruptcy. Ritzen filed a motion to lift the stay, which the bankruptcy court denied. Ritzen then filed a claim against Jackson in bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court found Ritzen, not Jackson, breached the contract. On appeal, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s ruling. On appeal again, the 6th Circuit affirmed the judgments of the district court and bankruptcy court.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, ruling unanimously that a bankruptcy court’s order unreservedly denying relief from the automatic stay constitutes a final, immediately appealable order under §158(a). Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the court.

In the case Retirement Plan Committee of IBM v. Jander, Larry Jander invested in IBM’s retirement plan. After IBM sold its microelectronics business at a loss and shares fell, Jander alleged the IBM retirement plan committee violated their fiduciary duty of prudence to the pensioner under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Jander’s claim. On appeal, the 2nd Circuit reversed and remanded the case. The retirement committee petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing the 2nd Circuit “subverted [a] pleading standard” established in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer.

The Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case in a per curiam decision. A per curiam decision is issued collectively by the court. The authorship is not indicated. Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a joint concurring opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch also filed a concurring opinion.

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Additional reading:
Ritzen Group Inc. v. Jackson Masonry
Retirement Plan Committee of IBM v. Jander
Supreme Court of the United States