Jack E. Karns


To better understand the impact of Patterson, as well as future debates regarding conflict between state and federal law in the Bankruptcy Code, this article will review the underlying case law that set the stage for this judicial showdown. Part II specifically analyzes the competing case lines which excluded pension plan benefits from the bankruptcy estate. Part III briefly summarizes those cases which concluded that plan benefits must be included in the estate but may be subject to exemption under state or federal law. Part IV reviews the Patterson opinion in detail, as well as the issues and analysis presented by the Court, and Part V addresses the open questions that remain after Patterson. Finally, some concluding remarks are offered to summarize the importance of Patterson in terms of its impact on uniform treatment of debtors regardless of jurisdiction, as well as the possibility of future conflicts over Bankruptcy Code language given the Supreme Court's reliance on the so-called "plain meaning" approach.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.