The New York State Court of Appeals is poised to hear oral argument in a case about the financing of a luxury, residential tower on Sutton Place in Manhattan—but some not-for-profits are saying that the outcome could have broad implications for indigent debtors in need of access to the federal bankruptcy courts.
At first glance, the case, Sutton 58 Assoc. LLC v. Pilevsky (No. 2019-00028), seems to have little to do with equitable access to the courts, economic and racial justice, and the economic pain being unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Robert Smith, a former Court of Appeals judge, has argued on behalf of the Sutton 58 defendants that a ruling for the plaintiff could make it harder for the poor to seek bankruptcy protection. Several not-for-profits that provide free legal services to the underserved are echoing that view. The court will hear the case on Oct. 15.
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