The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware recently denied the US Trustee’s motion to compel post-confirmation quarterly fees from Paragon Offshore, plc under 28 U.S.C. § 1930.[1]

The court described the case’s facts as simple: Paragon (and some related entities) filed for Chapter 11 in early 2016. In June of 2017, its reorganization plan was approved. The plan established a litigation trust (the Paragon Litigation Trust) to pursue certain claims against third parties. The plan (and the litigation trust agreement) became effective in July of 2017, and the claims were transferred into the trust from July through September 2017 (without Paragon retaining any interest in or control over them). During that time, Paragon’s distributions exceeded $623 million, and Paragon paid the US Trustee the then-applicable maximum fee for those distributions under 28 U.S.C. § 1930.

In December of 2017, the litigation trust brought its claims against third parties. The case settled for $90.375 million (approved in February of 2021), and the settlement payments to the trust occurred in mid-March. The trust began distributing those payments to its beneficiaries, and the US Trustee moved to compel Paragon and the Paragon Litigation Trust to pay post-confirmation quarterly fees under Section 1930(a)(6) based on the trust’s payments to its beneficiaries. Continue Reading <i>Paragon Offshore, plc: </i> US Trustee Denied Quarterly Fees Based on Litigation Trust’s Payments to Its Beneficiaries

Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners LP, the bankrupt limited partnership that did business as Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia (“Foxwoods”), will not be able to recover the $50 million it paid to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a slot machine license. Foxwoods planned to open a sizable slot machine facility in Philadelphia and paid for the license in 2007 before its location was final. Neighborhood opposition forced substantial delays and when Foxwoods missed a series of deadlines the Board revoked the license in December 2010.

Foxwoods filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after it unsuccessfully tried to get the license back in state court. In bankruptcy court, it brought a fraudulent transfer claim against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to recover the payment it made for the revoked license. The claim was initially dismissed in 2016, remanded on appeal, and then dismissed by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on sovereign immunity grounds. Foxwoods appealed again, arguing it had a property interest in the revoked license. A sovereign immunity defense is not available in cases that further a bankruptcy court’s in rem jurisdiction. In other words, if Foxwoods had a property interest in the revoked license, the claim could move forward. Continue Reading Recovering a Fraudulent Transfer? A Slot Machine License Is No Safe Bet.

On May 22, 2020, amidst the deepest possible gloom about COVID-19’s impact on travel, the car rental giant, Hertz Global, filed for Chapter 11. According to reporting by Barrons,[1] during the reorganization, Hertz drastically cut the size of its fleet and closed locations. Like most shareholders of bankrupt companies, Hertz owners were likely to be wiped out. But the economy is improving: travel has returned, Hertz’s creditors are being paid in full, and according to reporting by Barrons, its shareholders are getting a package of stock, cash, and warrants. According to reporting by Barons, the 30-year warrants have an unusually long exercise period – and therefore particularly valuable.

Because of the improving economy, investors that bought Hertz shares in the first quarter of 2021 will see gross returns of 300-400% with greater potential upside on the warrants. According to reporting by Barrons, even with the run-up since April, there is still potential for investors buying the reorganized company’s shares. It’s rare for public stockholders to do so well after a bankruptcy, but it’s not unknown. Hertz looks similar to the General Growth Properties case arising out of the 2008 financial crisis. There, as in Hertz, the economy rebounded, General Growth’s business improved, and equity recovered in full.

For most public companies in Chapter 11, equity ends up with nothing. But in rare cases a debtor’s business can soar back, leading to spectacular returns for investors with an eye for value and the stomach to endure the bankruptcy process.

[1] Andrew Barry, Hertz Is About to Exit Bankruptcy. Why Its Stock is a Buy (Barrons) (https://www.barrons.com/articles/buy-hertz-stock-51624661301?tesla=y)

On June 3, 2021, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins ruled that ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes could not assert attorney-client privilege to block disclosure of her communications with Theranos’s former counsel, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, in connection with her upcoming criminal trial. Judge Cousins found that Holmes had not made it clear to Boies Schiller’s attorneys that she was seeking legal advice in her personal capacity, and as an executive of Theranos. As a result, her communications with Boies Schiller are protected only by Theranos’s corporate privilege, which the company had waived, and therefore could be used at trial against Holmes. Continue Reading Lessons from <i>US v. Holmes</i>: Limits of the Attorney-Client Privilege in Communications with Corporate Clients and their Executives

In re Concepts America, Inc., 625 B.R. 881 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2021), weighs in on a murky question: Can a creditor make an administrative expense priority claim because it made a substantial contribution in a case under chapter 7? The court answered no.

In Concepts America, creditor Galleria Mall Investors LP moved the bankruptcy court for allowance and payment of an administrative expense claim pursuant to sections 503(b)(3)(A), (b)(3)(D), and (b)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code.

Around May 2011, the Galleria entered into a lease with a restaurant affiliated with Concepts America, which guaranteed the lease. The restaurant eventually breached the lease, and a Texas state court entered judgment against the restaurant and Concepts America.

The Galleria tried to collect its judgment for nearly a year. Eventually, on September 19, 2014, it joined two other creditors in filing an involuntary chapter 7 petition against Concepts America. About two months later, Concepts America consented to the entry of an order for relief under chapter 7. Continue Reading Illinois Bankruptcy Court Weighs In on Chapter 7 Substantial Contribution Claims

Brooks Brothers’ minority shareholders and unsecured creditors, TAL Apparel Ltd. (“TAL Apparel”) and its subsidiary Castle Apparel Ltd. (“Castle”), recently brought an action against the men’s retailer’s former owners, the Del Vecchio family. TAL Apparel and Castle allege bad faith and more than $100 million in damages for losses arising from the Brooks Brothers bankruptcy. TAL Apparel alleges that the Del Vecchio family did not engage “in good faith” with potential buyers in 2019, and “put their own financial interests ahead of the Company” by refusing to pursue bids for acquisition prior to filing for chapter 11 in 2020.  According to TAL Apparel and Castle, Brooks Brothers was sold for $325 million to SPARC group in 2020, “for a fraction of the price set forth in the 2019 bids.” This case will test the extent of protection provided to business owners who liquidate in chapter 11.

The case is Castle Apparel Ltd. et al. v. Del Vecchio et al., No. 1:21-cv-04406, (S.D.N.Y. 2021).

On May 11, 2021, Judge Harlin D. Hale dismissed the chapter 11 case filed by the National Rifle Association after finding that it was not filed in good faith. Judge Hale ruled that the case was “filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage” and to “avoid a state regulatory scheme,” which the Court found was “not for a purpose intended or sanctioned by the Bankruptcy Code.” Continue Reading Texas Bankruptcy Court Dismisses NRA Bankruptcy Cases, Finding They Were Not Filed in Good Faith

In an anomalous decision by the Bankruptcy Court in the District of Kansas, the court declined to enforce the voting provisions in subordination agreements that allowed the senior creditor to vote on behalf of a group of subordinated creditors. Reversing a trend of enforcing express voting restrictions in intercreditor agreements, the court invalidated the voting provision at issue, yet ultimately barred the subordinated creditors from participating in the confirmation process entirely. The decision bucks the trend of enforcing intercreditor agreements that limit the voting rights of junior creditors, but nevertheless, holds that such creditors can be precluded from exercising other rights to participate in a chapter 11 case.

The Debtor—Fencepost Productions Inc., a designer and distributor of outdoor clothing, together with its related debtors—filed for chapter 11 in late 2019. In 2018, the Debtors’ principal creditor, Associated Bank, N.A. (“Associated”), made a $14 million secured loan. At the same time, a group of unsecured creditors, BMS Management, Inc. and related individuals (collectively the “BMS Group”), entered into subordination agreements with Associated, under which Associated had the right to vote the claims of the BMS Group. Continue Reading Voting Rights Provisions in Intercreditor Agreements May Not Be Enforceable As Expected

In a recent appeal to the Second Circuit, Bronx Miracle Gospel Tabernacle Word of Faith (the “Church”), asks the Second Circuit for relief from the sale of its property by a bankruptcy trustee. The Church’s action seeks damages against the trustee and her counsel and the bankruptcy judge who approved the sale. The action claims that the Church’s religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) and the Constitution have been violated in the bankruptcy court. The Church’s appeal is the latest installment in a foreclosure battle that began with a mortgage loan in 2008. Although the Church has been largely unsuccessful in its years of litigation against its lender, this is nevertheless a cautionary tale about how a determined borrower can take advantage of the legal system to fight on for years to recycle previously dismissed claims and to promote claims of misconduct which lack substantiating evidence. Continue Reading Bronx Miracle Gospel Tabernacle: Lender’s Nightmare Continues

Despite a relatively strong 2020, New York Classic Motors, LLC, a unit of Classic Car Club Manhattan, filed for chapter 11 protection on April 9, 2021. Classic Car Club Manhattan is a private club where members can drive an impressive fleet of luxury vehicles both new and restored classics. Members are also entitled to attend a calendar of events and access the private clubhouse on the Hudson River. The clubhouse is located at Pier 76, 408 12th Avenue, near the Javits Center in Manhattan. New York Classic Motors holds the lease on the clubhouse and is a tenant of Hudson River Park.

In an interview, Classic Car Club Manhattan’s co-founder called the bankruptcy a “defensive move” to preserve its clubhouse space after Hudson River Park gave notice in January that it needed to vacate the space as part of a planned development even though the club had more than four years remaining on the lease. Because of the filing, the club will be able to continue operations at Pier 76 while the case is pending. The club has not filed a declaration or disclosure statement yet. Continue Reading Car Club Seeks Chapter 11 Protection Despite Growing Membership in “Defensive Move”