Ninth Circuit Extends “Barton” Doctrine to Bar Suit Against Creditors’ Committee Members Without Authorization from the Bankruptcy Court

In Blixseth v. Brown (In re Yellowstone Mountain Club), 841 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir 2016), the Ninth Circuit extended the Supreme Court’s holding in Barton v. Barbour, 104 U.S. 126 (1881), requiring a plaintiff to first obtain the bankruptcy court’s permission before suing a court appointed officer in another court, to apply to suits against the members of a creditors’ committee.  In finding that “creditors have interests that are closely aligned with those of a bankruptcy trustee, there’s good reason to treat the two the same for purposes of the Barton doctrine,” the panel concluded that Barton applies to committee members who are sued for acts performed in their official capacities.  This is the first circuit level opinion extending such protection to committee members.

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