New opinions — one on bankruptcy dischargeability, one on Medicare hospital-reimbursement

In re Bocchino — bankruptcy — affirmance — Van Anterwerpen

A stockbroker made two abysmal investment choices for his clients for which he pocketed big commissions. Here’s one of them, from today’s opinion:

The first investment involved an entity known as Traderz Associates Holding, Inc. (“Traderz”). Bocchino learned from a superior that Traderz “might go public” and that the endeavor was supported by “some commitment” from a
popular fashion model. Based solely on these facts, and without any other independent investigation into the quality of the entity, Bocchino immediately sought investment from clients. Bocchino received over $40,000 in commissions from Traderz sales.

Traderz “turned out to be a fraudulent venture” and “the anticipated value of the investments vanished.” So the SEC sued him and he ended up with $178,000 judgments against him. He then declared bankruptcy under Chapter 13, but the SEC argued that much of the judgment amounts were non-dischargeable. The bankruptcy court sided with the SEC, as did the district court, and today the Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the debts were nondischargeable because the broker’s gross recklessness established scienter and he proximately caused his clients’ losses.

Joining Van Antwerpen were Chagares and Krause. The case was decided without argument.

Geisinger Community Medical Ctr. v. Secretary HHS — agency — reversal — Fisher

To the health-law diehards out there, my apologies. The key law in this case is 42 U.S.C. 1395ww(d)(8)(E)(i). That cite alone is a pretty decent hint that interest in this case is apt to be narrow. A sophisticated grasp ruling eludes me, I must confess, but it has something to do with how Health & Human Services classifies hospitals when it decides how much to reimburse them for Medicare-treatment costs. The hospital won, and an HHS regulation failed Chevron, that much I know.

Joining Fisher was Chagares; Cowen dissented. Arguing counsel were Joseph Glazer for the hospital challenging its classification and Tara Morrissey for the government.