A trial to determine the city of Detroit's eligibility for bankruptcy began Wednesday. Judge Steven Rhodes has been given the unenviable legal task of deciding whether or not Detroit city officials have taken the necessary measures to wipe its slate clean with Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
Union and pension fund representatives are pitted against Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr, in a case that could make history as the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. with $18 billion of debt.
But many argue Detroit won't make that kind of history since city officials have yet to follow the mandatory steps required to declare bankruptcy, which includes negotiating with creditor's to whom they owe money.
While the unions and pension funds admit to having discussed the amount owed, they allege the city has no intention of actually negotiating and working out a means to pay the bills they owe.
Evidence will support unions' claim that Orr "planned to file bankruptcy long before the purported negotiations had run their course, confirming that the 'negotiations' were no more than a check-the-box exercise on the way to the courthouse," Babette Ceccotti, an attorney with the United Auto Workers, said in a court filing according to AP News.
AP reports another attorney representing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Sharon Levine, saying Detroit spent months ""mapping out its path to Chapter 9," rather than look for a serious solution.
But the city officials pointed out that just because negations were unsuccessful does not mean they did not attempt to resolve the debt.
But another element of declaring bankruptcy requires Detroit officials to prove the city to be solvent, a case that bankruptcy expert Jim Spiotto told AP News, is "virtually impossible" for Detroit to substantiate.
The hearing has an allotted 10 day time span, but could easily end before the 10 days is over, BBC reports.