Celotex Corp. v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 300, 3 (1995)

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302

CELOTEX CORP. v. EDWARDS

Opinion of the Court

from executing on the bond without the Bankruptcy Court's permission. We hold that respondents were obligated to obey the injunction issued by the Bankruptcy Court.

I

In 1987 respondents Bennie and Joann Edwards filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas against petitioner Celotex Corporation (and others) alleging asbestos-related injuries. In April 1989 the District Court entered a $281,025.80 judgment in favor of respondents and against Celotex. To stay execution of the judgment pending appeal, Celotex posted a supersedeas bond in the amount of $294,987.88, with Northbrook Property and Casualty Insurance Company serving as surety on the bond. As collateral for the bond, Celotex allowed Northbrook to retain money owed to Celotex under a settlement agreement resolving insurance coverage disputes between Northbrook and Celotex.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, issuing its mandate on October 12, 1990, and thus rendering "final" respondents' judgment against Celotex. Edwards v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc., 911 F. 2d 1151 (1990). That same day, Celotex filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida.1 The filing of the petition automatically stayed both the continuation of "proceeding[s] against" Celotex and the commencement of "any act to obtain possession of property" of Celotex.2 11 U. S. C. 362(a)(1) and (3).

1 For purposes of this case, we assume respondents' judgment became final before Celotex filed its petition in bankruptcy.

2 As of the filing date, more than 141,000 asbestos-related bodily injury lawsuits were pending against Celotex, and over 100 asbestos-related bodily injury cases were in some stage of appeal, with judgments totaling nearly $70 million being stayed by supersedeas bonds that Celotex had posted.

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