June 24 As if it's not bad enough that Detroit
acknowledges it owes its creditors $18 billion, another batch of
would-be creditors says the city owes them much more, for
garbage trucks worth $150 million to nuclear research materials
valued at an alleged $1 trillion.
The city disputes those claims - along with several others
scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday before U.S. Judge Steven
Rhodes, who is presiding over Detroit's bankruptcy.
The biggest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history is
chock full of more customary creditors: city unions and pension
funds, bondholders and businesses. But on Wednesday, Detroit's
attorneys will ask Judge Rhodes to disallow claims from
creditors who have not provided evidence to back up their
For example, Albert O'Rourke of Oceanside, California, in
February filed the claim for $1 trillion. He claimed the city
had lost or destroyed "Manhattan Project" nuclear research
materials housed in property he owns in Detroit. The amount is
based on the price tag for building various nuclear weapons and
devices related to the missing materials, O'Rourke's filing
City lawyers have no choice but to take such claims at face
value and respond in sober, lawyerly prose.
"Based on the information in the claim and response, the
city cannot even determine what the materials are, whether they
exist, where they are located and if they exist, who owns them,"
Detroit said in a June 20 court filing objecting to O'Rourke's
A claim filed by Rickie Allen Holt on behalf of the
Aboriginal Indigenous Peoples wants $7 billion in damages
because Detroit failed to secure the peoples' "expressed
permission" to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in July
Detroit resident Lucinda Darrah in February claimed the city
owes her $150 million for the purchase of garbage trucks so
residents can manage their own trash disposal. In a hand-written
response earlier this month to the city's objection to her
claim, Darrah increased the demand to $450 million, to
compensate her for harmful pollution from a city incinerator.
Not all of the claims run to the hundreds of millions of
dollars and beyond. One filed by Detroit resident Edward
Gildyard seeks a tidy $2 million for "services performed,"
Adam Woodberry wants $1 million because the "city took real
property without paying just compensation."
Wednesday's hearing comes as Detroit's case heads toward the
Aug. 14 start of hearing during which the city will defend the
fairness and feasibility of its plan to exit bankruptcy after
adjusting $18 billion of debt.
Or perhaps considerably more than that amount, depending on
how Judge Rhodes rules.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by David Greising and Dan