Recent Developments in Bankruptcy Law October 2017

By Richard Levin (Jenner & Block LLP)

The bankruptcy courts and their appellate courts continue to explore issues of interest to practitioners and academics. This quarterly summary of recent developments in bankruptcy law covers cases reported during the third quarter of 2017.

The Second Circuit adopted the use of a market rate to determine cram-down interest rates in a chapter 11 case. It also disallowed a secured lender’s make-whole, although without deciding whether a make-whole should be generally disallowed as unmatured post-petition interest. (In re MPM Silicones (Momentive)) In contrast, the Houston bankruptcy court allowed a make-whole in a solvent case, but also without reaching the post-petition interest issue. (In re Ultra Petroleum)

The Delaware bankruptcy court clarified its jurisdiction to approve a third-party release in a settlement implemented through a confirmed chapter 11 plan, holding that plan confirmation is a core proceeding, so Article III limits do not apply. (In re Millennium Lab Holdings II, LLC) The Delaware bankruptcy court also reconsidered, and disallowed, a merger agreement termination fee after termination of the agreement. (In re Energy Future Holdings, Inc.)

Bankruptcy courts increasingly approve of the idea that under section 544(b), the trustee may use the longer reachback periods of the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act (In re CVAH, In re Alpha Protective Services). And the Ninth Circuit has ruled that for the trustee to pursue an avoidance claim against the United States, section 544(b) does not require a separate sovereign immunity waiver. (In re DBSI, Inc.) 

Finally, the courts have been sympathetic to attorneys in allowing their fees. (In re Stanton; In re Hungry Horse, LLC; In re CWS Enterps., Inc.) Less so for investment bankers. (Roth Capital Partners)

The full memo, discussing these and other cases, is available here, and the full (900-page) compilation of all prior editions is available here.

Recent Developments in Bankruptcy Law, April 2017

By Richard Levin (Jenner & Block LLP)

The bankruptcy courts and their appellate courts continue to explore issues of interest to practitioners and academics. This quarterly summary of recent developments in bankruptcy law covers cases reported during the first quarter of 2017.

Cases of note include the Supreme Court’s decision in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., prohibiting a structured dismissal that includes priority-skipping distributions over the objection of holders of claims in the skipped class.

Two bankruptcy courts used various powers to impose harsh sanctions on two different banks for even harsher misbehavior. In re Sundquist imposed actual damages of $1 million and punitive damages of $45 million against Bank of America for a sustained campaign of stay violations, harassment, misinformation, and recalcitrance against homeowners who suffered serious medical and emotional damages as a result. In characterizing the bank’s action, the court began its opinion, “Franz Kafka lives.” Following a new concept in imposing punitive damages, the court directed $40 million of the award to various nonprofit institutions rather than to the homeowners. In In re Kraz, LLC, the court imposed actual and consequential contract damages for a bank’s repeated tendering of a false estoppel certificate (payoff demand) but denied punitive damages for lack of a tort to which to attach them.

In other cases of note, the Ninth Circuit clarified what is included in the section 502(b)(6) landlord damages cap (In re Kupfer) and refused to apply the automatic stay’s police or regulatory power exception to a Private Attorney General Act action (Porter v. Nabors Drilling), the Eleventh Circuit found “related to” jurisdiction in an action against a trustee for conspiracy to obstruct justice by hiring the judge’s fiancé but no appellate jurisdiction over a bankruptcy court’s report and recommendation (Wortley v. Bakst), and the New York district court applied the Rule of Explicitness in a non-bankruptcy priority dispute (U.S. Bank v. TD Bank),

The full memo is available here.

Recent Developments in Bankruptcy Law

By Richard Levin of Jenner & Block

The bankruptcy courts and their appellate courts continue to explore issues of interest to practitioners and academics. This quarterly summary of recent developments in bankruptcy law covers cases reported during the second quarter of 2016.

Cases of note include the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Puerto Rico’s homegrown restructuring statute and its surprising conclusion that an individual debtor’s debt to his corporation’s creditor might be nondischargeable for “obtain[ing] money or property” by “actual fraud” where the corporation transferred away property in an actual fraudulent transfer.

The Second Circuit upset GM’s 2009 bankruptcy sale by granting some ignition switch plaintiffs an exemption from the free and clear ruling because they didn’t have a chance to participate in sale process negotiations. The debate over whether the Code’s financial contracts safe harbor preempts creditors’ claims under state fraudulent transfer laws continues with a Delaware decision ruling against preemption.

A Delaware bankruptcy court (following a recent Illinois decision) invalidated an LLC agreement provision that allowed a creditor to veto a bankruptcy filing. In a boost for litigation funding, a Florida bankruptcy court found that communications with the funder might be subject to the common interest privilege.

And in a decision that should send shudders down the spine of every consumer bankruptcy lawyer, the Ninth Circuit BAP held that a chapter 7 trustee may reject a debtor’s prepaid retainer agreement with his lawyer to defend dischargeability litigation and recover “unused” fees.

The full memo is available here.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

 

We at the Bankruptcy Roundtable will take a break from posting for the next few weeks in August and hope that you too will be able to get away from your desk at work.  We’ll be back after Labor Day.

National Bankruptcy Conference Proposed Amendments to Bankruptcy Code to Facilitate Restructuring of Bond and Credit Agreement Debt

posted in: Workouts and Pre-Packs | 0

By National Bankruptcy Conference, Richard Levin, Chair

While chapter 11 facilitates prepackaged plans that substantially reduce the cost, expense, and disruption of an ordinary chapter 11 case, it can still be an expensive and cumbersome process compared to an out-of-court workout. Recent court decisions under the Trust Indenture Act (Marblegate Asset Mgmt. v. Education Mgmt. Corp., — F. Supp. 3d —, No. 14 Civ. 8584, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178707 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 30, 2014), and Meehancombs Global Opportunities Funds, L.P. v. Caesars Entertainment Corp., — F. Supp. 3d —, No. 14 Civ. 7091 (SAS), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5111 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2015), can be viewed as making out-of-court restructurings involving bonds covered by the TIA by a less than unanimous bondholder vote more difficult than previously thought by requiring affected lenders’ unanimous consent to an out-of-court workout.

The NBC has prepared proposed legislation that would facilitate court supervision of bond restructurings under a new chapter 16 of the Bankruptcy Code. The proposal is a result of the NBC’s Committee to Rethink Chapter 11, a project that the NBC initiated in 2009 to examine how chapter 11 could be modernized to accommodate substantial changes in finance, economics, and law since it was first adopted in 1978. Chapter 16 proposes a middle ground, preserving both the flexibility of chapter 11’s collective action and super-majority voting rules for a workout involving only borrowed money and court supervision of the process to protect the minority while reducing the expense and complexity of using chapter 11’s prepackaged plan process.

For the full proposal, see here.