On February 17, 2023, the hearing before District Court Judge Richard Andrews concluded. You can read the transcripts of the hearing here and here. Judge Andrews was very well educated about the Plan and asked very detailed and informed questions. The lawyers appearing before Judge Andrews were largely pleased with his reaction and knowledge of the Bankruptcy Court ruling. They believed he had already read all the material required to author an opinion in the case.
Attorneys are always “reading the tea leaves” when it comes to a judge’s reaction to various issues from the bench. For those that were present, they believe Judge Andrews is likely to confirm the plan and dismiss the appeal. They were a bit concerned about Judge Andrews’ view of third-party releases for unnamed charter organizations. However, that was the only issue they believe any appellant made any headway with. Importantly, the attorneys do not believe the objecting insurers scored many points.
Since our last update, the Settlement Trust Advisory Committee, of which Chris Hurley from our office is Chair, interviewed several individuals to serve the Trustee. Previously, a retired judge named Diane Welsh had been appointed to oversee the Claims Administrator side of the Trust. However, Judge Welsh determined she did not have the bandwidth to serve in that capacity and continue her mediation practice. After interviewing four potential replacements, the STAC reached a consensus to nominate Randi Roth as her replacement, which the Trustee accepted. We found Ms. Roth a compelling candidate that was very sympathetic to victims.
It is impossible for us to determine when the District Court will rule on the appeal. The Court did, however, acknowledge the importance of the case and ruling as quickly as possible. The Court recognized that many people have waited decades for justice and though he said it “would take some time,” the lawyers present are optimistic he will move quickly.