In 1980, Charles Holtkamp and Holtkamp Farms, Inc. (collectively, Holtkamp) (defendant) filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The filing was made five days before Holtkamp was scheduled to defend a personal-injury lawsuit brought against him by Ronald Littlefield (plaintiff). Holtkamp’s bankruptcy petition automatically stayed the trial. Littlefield sought an immediate hearing in the bankruptcy court for a lifting of the stay. The court granted Littlefield’s request but barred him from enforcing any judgment arising from the lawsuit. After a jury trial, Littlefield was awarded a $5,025,000 judgment. Holtkamp appealed the lifting of the stay.