Detroit Judge Creates Team to Help Mediate Bankruptcy Fights

Detroit’s bankruptcy mediator appointed a team of current and former judges to help him settle disputes between the insolvent city and creditors as the parties try to negotiate cuts in about $18 billion of debt.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen in Detroit added federal judges from Michigan, Oregon, Colorado and Illinois, he said today in a statement.

Three of the five new mediators are current or former judges who were appointed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton: Victoria Roberts is a federal judge who serves with Rosen on the bench in Detroit; David Coar is a former federal bankruptcy and district court judge from Illinois; Wiley Daniel is a senior federal judge from Colorado.

Rosen also named U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris of Oregon. Perris has been a court-appointed mediator for three California cities that also filed bankruptcy, Vallejo, Mammoth Lakes and Stockton. Stockton remains in bankruptcy.

The fifth new mediator is Eugene Driker, co-founder of the Detroit law firm Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker and a native of the city.

Detroit filed bankruptcy last month, saying it couldn’t afford to pay its debts after decades of economic decline had devastated the city’s finances. Public employee unions and pension funds have challenged the city’s proposals to cut their retirement benefits.

The case is City of Detroit, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

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