Addressing an issue of first impression, the Second Circuit held recently that bankruptcy courts have inherent authority to impose non-nominal civil contempt sanctions, including per diem sanctions and attorneys’ fees, arising out of an attorney’s failure to comply with the bankruptcy court’s discovery orders.
Lucas Kowalczyk is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the firm’s nationally recognized Appellate Practice Group, which has been named to the National Law Journal’s Appellate Hot List. Lucas has authored dozens of briefs in federal and state appellate and trial courts, and at the certiorari and merits stages in the Supreme Court of the United States, and has argued cases in state and federal appellate courts. He litigates cases in a wide range of subject areas, including antitrust, bankruptcy, healthcare, labor, employment, and constitutional law. He also co-authored chapters of the treatise Principles of Appellate Litigation: A Guide to Modern Practice, published in 2021 by PLI and revised annually.
Among his notable appellate representations, Lucas helped obtain a critical victory at the U.S. Supreme Court for the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico in an appeal concerning the Board’s sovereign immunity. Lucas also prevailed at the First Circuit for the Board in four related appeals seeking to overturn the $18-billion plan of adjustment for the Sales Tax Financing Corporation, a critical component of Puerto Rico’s historic fiscal recovery.
Lucas is also a member of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Group, focusing on government and internal investigations, and criminal and regulatory matters. Among other representations, Lucas helped secure a full release of nearly $20 million worth of interest in assets seized from the firm’s client by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Finally, Lucas is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice, and has successfully represented clients in high-stakes contractual disputes involving financial services, life sciences, consumer goods, telecommunications, and other industries in trial courts and arbitrations in a number of jurisdictions.
Lucas also maintains a diverse pro bono practice and has represented indigent clients in immigration, family, and appellate courts, and in death-penalty proceedings. Among his notable representations, Lucas prevailed in a Second Circuit appeal addressing the showing the government must make to justify the continued detention of a noncitizen in removal proceedings. In 2019, Lucas received the Legal Aid Society's Pro Bono Publico Award and Proskauer’s Golden Gavel Award for obtaining a critical victory for his client—an indigent grandmother acting as guardian for her two learning-disabled grandchildren—in an appeal, argued by Lucas, to the New York State Appellate Division, First Department. The court held that an amendment to New York’s Subsidized Kinship Guardian Program applied retroactively and required an award of benefits to the client’s grandchildren.
Lucas is a graduate of the National Trial Advocacy College.
The Seventh Circuit recently clarified an important distinction between offers of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 and non-Rule 68 offers of settlement, and explained the role rejection of such offers plays in reducing statutory attorney fee awards.
The Second Circuit recently held that a denial of a motion to dismiss a criminal indictment based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) is immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine but concluded that even if FSIA did provide immunity from criminal prosecutions, that immunity would not extend to a foreign sovereign’s or its instrumentality’s commercial activities.
The Second Circuit has recently held that the Government must account for rental income it denied a property owner during a period of illegal seizure even though the Government was able to establish probable cause at a post-seizure hearing. The appeal stemmed from a decades-long sanctions and civil forfeiture action in which the U.S. Department of Justice has sought to forfeit, among others, a 36-story skyscraper located at 650 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan co-owned by the Alavi Foundation, an entity accused of laundering money for Iran.