When Congress passed the CARES Act last year, it included changes to the Bankruptcy Code that helped individuals and businesses. Many of these provisions expire on March 27, 2021 even though the economy has not yet returned to normal. The COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, which has not passed yet, would extend the

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

Earlier this month, three student loan borrowers filed an involuntary Chapter 11 petition under 11 U.S.C. § 303(b)(1) for Navient Solutions LLC, a student loan servicer. Three or more entities who each hold a claim against an involuntary debtor can file an involuntary bankruptcy petition on that debtor’s behalf if each claim is neither a contingent liability nor the subject of a bona fide dispute as to liability or amount. The borrowers alleged that Navient is insolvent and wrongfully collected about $45,000 in loan repayments from the petitioners after their loans were discharged in bankruptcy. On February 17, 2021, Navient filed an expedited motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that it was frivolous and filed in bad faith by petitioners’ counsel: for an advantage in other Navient suits and to harm Navient’s reputation. Navient asserted that the petitioners failed to allege specific facts or provide documentary evidence supporting the debtors’ right to file under section 303(b)(1).
Continue Reading Navient’s Expedited Motion to Dismiss Student Loan Borrowers’ Involuntary Chapter 11 Petition

When Congress passed the Small Business Reorganization Act (“SBRA”) in August 2019, we lived in a different world. The SBRA added a “Subchapter V” to the Bankruptcy Code for small business debtors, responding to longstanding criticism of the Bankruptcy Code’s costs and complexities on small businesses trying to reorganize. The SBRA became effective exactly one year ago, on February 19, 2020, and when many businesses in the United States shut their doors in March 2020, many thought that the timing of the SBRA was just right to serve the needs of the small business community. On the paper anniversary of the SBRA’s effective date (the first wedding anniversary is colloquially referred to as the paper anniversary), we have looked at how the SBRA has helped small business debtors and how Congress modified Subchapter V this year to further help struggling small businesses. We are also highlighting a few issues coming out of Subchapter V so far.
Continue Reading Subchapter V: The Paper Anniversary

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

On January 28, Judge David Jones of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas sanctioned BP after finding that its conduct in an arbitration proceeding involving the Seadrill debtors amounted to a “willful, knowing, and intentional” violation of the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provisions. Judge Jones also sanctioned BP by awarding Seadrill their attorneys’ fees and costs in bringing the motion.

Seadrill brought an emergency motion to enforce the automatic stay pursuant to Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code in connection with a post-petition order issued by an arbitration tribunal that required Seadrill to post a $1.7 million bond should it lose the arbitration. If Seadrill did not post the bond, the arbitration would not continue.
Continue Reading Seadrill Bankruptcy Court Sanctions BP For Willful Violation of Automatic Stay in Arbitration Proceeding

The Outlook

A recent string of high-visibility hotel chapter 11 filings  has led investors and lenders to wonder what to expect for 2021. Recent filings include:

  • Martinique Hotel, a 165-key property in Brooklyn – September 2020
  • Tillary Hotel, Brooklyn, a 174-key boutique property in Brooklyn – December 2020
  • Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites, a 777-key property in Orlando, Florida – January 2021
  • Wardman Park Hotel, a 1,152-key property in Washington, D.C. – January 2021
  • Eagle Hospitality REIT, filed chapter 11 petitions for 18 properties, including the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California – January 2021

In New York City, there have been many hotel closures in addition to bankruptcy filings. According to the New York Post, 2020 data released by the Department of City Planning showed 146 of the city’s 705 hotels have closed —20%. The closures account for 42,030 of the city’s 128,000 hotel rooms. Analysts cited by the Post said the hotel industry won’t fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.
Continue Reading Hotels 2021: Restructurings on the Horizon?

On January 15, 2021, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in City of Chicago v. Fulton that a secured party in possession of a debtor’s collateral does not violate the automatic stay by passively retaining possession after a debtor commences a bankruptcy case. When a debtor files a bankruptcy case, the Bankruptcy Code protects the debtor by imposing an automatic stay on efforts to collect prepetition debts or “any act . . . to exercise control over property” of the bankruptcy estate.
Continue Reading Recent Supreme Court Ruling Provides Important Protection for Secured Creditors

Herrick congratulates its Restructuring & Finance Litigation Group on the success it has enjoyed over the last two years. The team, which now has 18 members and counting, has grown substantially while taking on a variety of complex litigation matters and Chapter 11 Restructurings. Below is a small sampling of our recent work.
Continue Reading Herrick’s Restructuring & Finance Litigation: 2019-2020 In Review

Introduction

In In re VP Williams Trans, LLC,[1] Judge Michael Wiles of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed that a secured creditor may make an election under section 1111(b) of the United States Bankruptcy Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”) in a proceeding under subchapter V of the Bankruptcy Code for small business debtors. Judge Wiles’s decision appears to be the first decision on this issue in this Circuit since subchapter V of the Bankruptcy Code came into effect this year.
Continue Reading Bankruptcy Court Affirms Availability of 1111(b) Election in Subchapter V Cases