Wolf v. Weinstein

PETITIONER: Irving J. Wolf et al.
RESPONDENT: Arnold A. Weinstein et al.
LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DOCKET NO.: 70
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 372 US 633 (1963)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1963
DECIDED: Apr 15, 1963

ADVOCATES:
Alex L. Rosen - for respondent Nazareth Fairgrounds & Farmers' Market, Inc.
Harold Harper - for respondent Jerome Fried
Melvin Lloyd Robbins - for the petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Wolf v. Weinstein

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1963 in Wolf v. Weinstein

Earl Warren:

No. 70, Irving J. Wolf et al., petitioners, versus Arnold A. Weinstein.

Mr. Robbins.

Melvin Lloyd Robbins:

Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is here on certiorari to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to review two companion cases, which were argued below and decided together in November 1961.

Now both cases arise out of proceedings for the reorganization of the corporation under Chapter 10 of the Bankruptcy Act.

The Veteran reorganization is Nazareth Fairgrounds and Farmers' Market, Inc, a Pennsylvania Corporation.

The proceedings began in September 1953, when the debtor filed a voluntary petition for reorganization in the Southern District of New York.

The petition was approved.

No trustee was appointed.

The debtor was continued in possession under his former management and the proceedings were referred to Judge Sugarman of the District Court and Judge Sugarman has tried all the matters that are before the Court here.

Now the first case designated No. 27000 in the Court of Appeal, presents an Erie v. Tompkins question to the Court.

In this case, the Court has non-diversity jurisdiction and this is the wrinkle in the Erie situation.

The Rules of Decision Act provides that a Federal Court in any civil action apply state rules of decision, except where a Federal Statute or a Federal Policy supervenes.

We submit that in this case on the substantive questions in No. 27000, there is no Federal Statute and no Federal Policy that even touches those substantive matters.

That case involved [Inaudible]

Melvin Lloyd Robbins:

Yes sir, who owns the stock in this debtor.

Now there is no plan of reorganization pending, there is no creditor problem.

In this case, the debtor is solvent in the bankruptcy sense; its assets have exceeded his liabilities from the day this petition was filed.

There is no question of priority among the stockholders; there is a single class of common stock.

The problem really is that there was an over issue of stock in 1953, before the reorganization began.

The articles of incorporation authorize an issuance of 200 shares and the man who ran this show before the reorganization, issued 316 at least.

[Inaudible]

Melvin Lloyd Robbins:

Oh!

Yes sir, certainly.

[Inaudible]

Melvin Lloyd Robbins:

Yes sir.

There is no question of jurisdiction Your Honor.

The question is, what rules of decision does the Bankruptcy Court, this Federal Court, regardless of jurisdiction use to decide who those stockholders are.

In effect, it's my contention, the petitioners submit, that it's a matter of pure accident of fortuity that the case is in the Bankruptcy Court.

It's a matter of convenience.