Houston Astros owner James Crane won part of his request for federal bankruptcy Judge Thomas Bennett to limit Jefferson County, Ala.’s access to his lawsuit against JPMorgan.
Bennett initially granted the county unlimited access to records of Crane’s lawsuit, which alleged that JPMorgan violated the Texas Securities Act. Crane brought the case with regard to his January 2008 purchase of $35 million of the county’s auction-rate sewer warrants, which subsequently defaulted.
Crane’s suit was resolved Jan. 12 with a confidential settlement. Bennett is handling Jefferson County’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy case.
Crane asked Bennett to vacate his order, saying he had no knowledge of Jefferson County’s affairs and that the county sought personal financial records not pertinent to the bankruptcy case.
On Friday, Bennett restricted Jefferson County’s examination of the case to its relevancy with the bankruptcy. He ruled that Crane could issue a sworn statement if he had no personal knowledge related to the case, and that Crane’s personal and financial information are off limits.
Bennett also ordered all parties to “maintain the confidentiality of the information and documents” as required by Texas court order accepting the confidential settlement of the lawsuit.
In a separate order Friday, Bennett spelled out the schedule for considering whether to allow appeals of his orders, which have been filed by multiple creditors, including Bank of New York Mellon, the trustee for the county’s debt.
Creditors want to appeal rulings that limited their arguments and removed the state court-appointed receiver over the county’s sewer system. The judge would not exempt the receiver from the automatic stay that went into effect when the county’s bankruptcy petition was filed Nov. 9, which halted lawsuits and froze actions by others acting on the county’s behalf.
Jefferson County filed a motion seeking more time to decide whether to cross-appeal. Bennett gave the county until Feb. 24. Creditors have until Feb. 17 to file statements on the issues they will present regarding their appeals if Bennett allows them to go forward.