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Indiana funds want SCOTUS review

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Three Indiana pension and construction funds are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to reconsider their objections to the Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings that earlier this year resulted in the sale of most of the American automaker's assets to an Italian company.

Filing a 42-page writ of certiorari with the nation's highest court on Thursday, the Indiana State Police Pension Trust, Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund, and the Indiana Major Moves Construction Fund are jointly arguing that the justices should decide whether bankruptcy proceedings similar to Chrysler should be allowed in the future. The goal is not to stop what's already been put in motion.

"We are not asking for the bankruptcy sale of Chrysler to be reversed, which is legally impossible, but the losses to our funds are very real. I can't cease to act in gaining equitable treatment that is consistent with longstanding bankruptcy law. From the beginning, I have consistently stated that the federal government must follow the law and that is why the appeal was filed," Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock said in a written statement.

In June, the Supreme Court initially stayed the bankruptcy sale but then allowed it to proceed, extinguishing all claims from Indiana and other secured creditors. That move to block the automaker's sale came after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York had given it the green light. However, the high court at that time did not consider the merits of the opponents' arguments and left the door open for this certiorari request.

With this week's petition, Indiana officials are claiming the sale unfairly favored Chrysler's unsecured stakeholders like the United Auto Workers ahead of the secured debt holders like the pension funds.

At a minimum, Indiana's funds lost $6 million in value during the bankruptcy sale, according to the state treasurer's office.

The question presented is whether Section 363 of the bankruptcy code may freely be used as a "side door" to reorganize a debtor's financial affairs without adherence to the creditor protections provided by the Chapter 11 plan confirmation process.

The case is In re: Chrysler LLC, Debtor, Indiana State Police Pension Trust, et al., v. Chrysler LLC, et al. Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher is lead counsel in the case, since it involves the treasurer's office - a statewide elected position and client of the Indiana Attorney General's Office. The treasurer's outside counsel, Thomas Lauria with White & Case in Miami, Fla., is also listed along with Glenn Kurtz, who is based in the firm's New York office.

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