Related Professionals: Sara A. Lima Michael I. Lurie Matthew L. Setzer

PHILADELPHIA (August 5, 2016) – The Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO) has filed an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to hear in Delaware v. Pennsylvania, a case that could change the entire field of unclaimed property law. Counsel of record on UPPO’s brief is Sara Lima of Reed Smith LLP. Lima is joined on the brief by Michael Lurie and Matthew Setzer of Reed Smith; John Coalson and Ethan Millar of Alston & Bird LLP; and Diann Smith of McDermott Will & Emery.

In the brief, UPPO urges the Supreme Court to hear a dispute between Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin over whether unclaimed “official checks” should be escheated to the state where the check’s issuer was incorporated (in this case, Delaware), or to the state where the check was purchased (Pennsylvania or Wisconsin). As a controversy between states, only the Supreme Court has the power to decide this case. The last time the Supreme Court addressed unclaimed property was in its 1993 decision in Delaware v. New York.

“UPPO is in a unique position to provide the holders’ perspective to the Supreme Court,” said Lima. “The states’ focus is on which state receives unclaimed property, without considering the dilemmas faced by holders in the face of conflicting state claims.”

Lurie added, “Since the Court last addressed unclaimed property in 1993, the states have increasingly relied on unclaimed property to shore up their budgets. This increased reliance on unclaimed property has led to aggressive audits and strained interpretations of Supreme Court precedent.”

“This case provides the Court with an ideal opportunity to clarify the federal common law rules governing unclaimed property,” added Lima. “Earlier this year, in Taylor v. Yee, Justice Alito wrote that he was waiting for a ‘future case’ to examine the ‘constitutionality of current state escheat laws.’ This case presents a clean vehicle for the Court to reexamine unclaimed property law, without the ‘convoluted history’ that concerned Justice Alito in Taylor.”

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