On November 22, 2021, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York announced a modification to its judge-assignment scheme for “mega chapter 11 cases.” Under the new Local Bankruptcy Rule 1073-1(f), which took effect on December 1, 2021, mega chapter 11 cases will be randomly assigned among each of the district’s
Zachary Denver is counsel in Herrick’s Litigation Department and a member of the Restructuring & Finance Litigation Group.
Zachary’s practice concentrates on bankruptcy, restructuring, financial services litigation, and business litigation matters, where he represents debtors, creditors, lenders, distressed investors, official and unofficial committees, bondholders, brokers, financial institutions, and third parties in both in-court and out-of-court proceedings.
While attending law school, Zachary was an editor of the NYU Journal of Law and Liberty and a board member for the Suspension Representation Project. Before law school Zachary was a Teach for America corps member in the New York City public schools which taught him to remain calm under pressure and to help people meet their goals by overcoming unique challenges.
Prior to joining Herrick, Zach was an associate at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he focused on litigation and dispute resolution matters.
The House of Delegates for the American Bar Association recently passed Resolution 512 urging Congress to amend the Bankruptcy Code to permit student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy without proving “undue hardship” as is currently required. The resolution was co-sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division, the Law Student Division and the Standing Committee on Paralegals. The Young Lawyers Division submitted a report in support of the resolution (the “YLD Report”) which discussed the history of student loans and borrowers’ ability to discharge them bankruptcy.
There is no question discharging student debt in bankruptcy is a hot political topic worthy of ABA attention. The Biden administration has forgiven over $9 billion in student debt and many congressional leaders call for complete student debt forgiveness. Since March 27, 2020, pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, repayment of federal loans has been frozen. The freeze was extended several times and will not expire until at least January 31, 2022. We also wrote about the recent Second Circuit decision—Homaidan v. Sallie Mae, Inc.—which will make it easier for borrowers to discharge certain student debt in bankruptcy, even under existing law. The YLD Report explains how young lawyers are particularly affected: the average debt for law school graduates is around $145,000 (although the default rate for law school grads is traditionally better than the pre-freeze 11% figure for all student loan borrowers).
Continue Reading Discharging Student Loan Debt: The ABA Takes a Stand
Student loans are a big issue in the United States. According to the most recent data by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there is currently $1.57 trillion in outstanding student debt, up from just $0.26 trillion 17 years ago. Before the CARES Act suspended payments and interest accruals from August 2020-January 2022, student debt holders were also the most likely borrowers to be 90+ days delinquent, hovering around 11% from 2012 – 2019. Current bankruptcy law makes the discharge of most student loans extremely difficult; the borrower has to establish “undue hardship,” a term not defined in the Bankruptcy Code, but which has been interpreted very strictly against student borrowers. The stratospheric rise in total student debt has many causes, but the exemption from discharge in bankruptcy for student debt is one of the more contentious. After a recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the extent of that exemption may be narrowing.
Continue Reading Discharging Student Loan Debt – Private Loans Are Not Always Exempt
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.
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”
On March 11, 2021, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved a plan of liquidation for Cred Inc. and debtor affiliates, a collection of cryptocurrency investment firms that filed for Chapter 11 protection on November 8, 2020. So how exactly did a cryptocurrency investment firm go bankrupt in Fall 2020? In November 2019, Bitcoin was trading between $7,000 and $9,500 per coin. By November 8, 2020, the price of BTC had doubled, hitting a high of $15,637. Just four months later, on March 13, 2021, BTC closed over $61,000. And it wasn’t just Bitcoin. Ethereum is up 970% since November 8, 2019; BinanceCoin is up 1,361%; and Cardano is up 2,814%. Even Dogecoin is up 2,111% since November 8, 2019. Anyone remotely involved in the cryptocurrency business should have had an historic year. So what was the problem for Cred Inc.?
Continue Reading Cryptocurrency Investment Firm’s Liquidation Plan Approved—Wait, What?
Because of the unprecedented winter storm that clobbered Texas in February 2021, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., was forced to file for chapter 11 in response to staggering increases in energy prices around the time of the storm. According to the first day declaration, Brazos was financially stable and bankruptcy “was unfathomable.” But in response to rotating outages across Texas, the Public Utility Commission of Texas instructed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) to raise rates far beyond expectations for more than four straight days. ERCOT also imposed tremendous fees on energy use. After seven days of swelled energy prices, Brazos was presented with a bill for around $2.1 billion—due in mere days.
Continue Reading Texas Deep Freeze Spurs Chapter 11 Filing for Waco Based Energy Company
Greylock Capital Associates, LLC, a New York-based hedge fund founded in 2004, recently filed for chapter 11 protection under subchapter V for small businesses. Assets under management for Greylock have halved since 2017 and the hedge fund has cut its staff from 21 people to just nine now. Greylock filed to reject its $100,000 per month Madison Avenue lease that the hedge fund no longer needs. Greylock leased the 11,400 square foot premises in 2014, but when the fund’s growth stalled after its height in 2017 there was no need for such a large office in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
Continue Reading Greylock Capital Associates, LLC May Preview A Rash of Filings To Reject New York City Leases