New opinion — bankruptcy reversal

When a federal court interprets a state statute, how much deference does it owe to an intermediate state court’s interpretation of that statute? That was a key issue in an appeal decided today. The district court criticized the state court ruling but treated it as binding. Reversing, CA3 disagreed: “a federal court interpreting a state law may discount state appellate decisions it finds flawed, if it predicts the state supreme court would reach a contrary result.”

The case is In re: Makowka. Opinion by Hardiman, joined by Sloviter and Barry. It’s a published reversal without oral argument, unusual but not unheard-of.