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Travelers Casualty v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Docket No.: 05-1429
Certiorari Granted: Oct 6 2006
Argued: January 16, 2007
Decided: March 20, 2007

Topics:

attorney fees, Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy Code

PartyNames: Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America v. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Petitioner: Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America
Respondent: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America
v.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
549 U.S. 443 (2007)
Background:

Petitioner and Respondent entered into a contract that included a provision that Petitioner is entitled to recover its attorneys' fees incurred in connection with the enforcement, protection, or litigation of its contractual and legal rights. Petitioner incurred attorneys' fees litigating its rights during the course of Respondent's bankruptcy case and sought to recover them from Respondent. Adhering to its prior decision in Fobian v. Western Farm Credit Bank (In re Fobian), 951 F.2d 1149 (9th Cir. 1991), the Ninth Circuit held that Petitioner could not recover its attorneys' fees because the relevant litigation in the bankruptcy court involved issues of federal bankruptcy law. The court reasoned that, as a matter of general federal common law, a party may not recover its attorneys' fees pursuant to a contract or state statute where the issues litigated involve matters of federal law because only federal law may authorize such a recovery.

Question Presented:

The question presented is: Should the Court grant certiorari to resolve a conflict among nine courts of appeals concerning whether a litigant may recover attorneys' fees under a contract or state statute where the issues litigated involve matters of federal bankruptcy law?

Question:

Can a litigant in a bankruptcy case involving federal bankruptcy law collect attorneys' fees that are granted by a contract or a state law?

Holding: judgment vacated and remanded
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By:
Read TRAVELERS CASUALTY V. PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC CO. opinion (PDF)

Read opinion

Other Resources for Travelers Casualty v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.:
resource.org
justia.com
wikipedia.org