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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Detroit's bankruptcy case in court

Detroit's bankruptcy case in court

Abandoned automotive plant, Detroit The decline of car making in Detroit is behind the city's financial trouble
A federal judge will start hearing arguments on Wednesday as to whether the city of Detroit should be granted protection from its creditors.
With $18bn (£11bn) of liabilities Detroit's case is the biggest municipal bankruptcy filing in US history.
Union and pension fund representatives will argue against the bankruptcy filing as they want to preserve payments to former city workers.
They say that city officials have not properly negotiated with creditors.
Good faith
According to the unions and pension funds, Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, did not hold formal negotiating sessions before filing for bankruptcy.
They are also likely to argue that the city is not bankrupt and has assets that can be sold, including pieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts.
City managers say they have negotiated in good faith and bankruptcy is the only way to manage Detroit's $18bn (£11bn) in debts and liabilities.
Half of the city's liabilities result from payments to retired staff, which includes healthcare and pension obligations.
"There are only so many things they can fight about," said John Pottow, a University of Michigan professor who specializes in bankruptcy law.
"They can fight about the solvency and they can fight about the negotiating in good faith."
Lawyers from both sides will present evidence and call witnesses before the federal bankruptcy judge, Steven Rhodes.
He has allotted 10 days for hearings over the next three weeks, although the hearings could take less time than that.
He will then decide whether Detroit merits protection from its creditors under Chapter 9 of the US bankruptcy code, which would allow the city to reorganise its debts.