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Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Bankruptcy Case Due to Lack of Corporate Authority to File (and provides a blueprint for veto powers over bankruptcy filings?)

On June 14, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a revised opinion that held that Federal law does not prevent a bona fide shareholder from exercising its right to vote against a bankruptcy petition just because it is also an unsecured creditor. In re Franchise Servs. of N. Am., Inc., 891 F.3d 198, 203 (5th Cir. 2018), as revised (June 14, 2018).

Franchise Services of North America, Inc. (“FSNA”) was once one of the largest rental car companies in North America. Id. at 203.  In 2012, FSNA desired to purchase Advantage Rent-A-Car and enlisted an investment bank, Macquarie Capital (U.S.A.), Inc. (“Macquarie”), to assist. Macquarie created a fully-owned subsidiary, Boketo, LLC (“Boketo”), to make a $15 million investment in FSNA.

In exchange for the capital infusion, FSNA gave Boketo 100% of its preferred stock in the form of a convertible preferred equity instrument.

Clear Error They Say! Supreme Court Opines On Standard Of Review For Determining Non-Statutory Insider Status

Pictured:  Reno Nevada’s The Villages at Lakeridge, a great investment for non-statutory insiders, or for anyone else!!

 

Last April, we updated you that the Supreme Court had granted review of In re The Village at Lakeridge, LLC, 814 F.3d 993 (9th Cir. 2016). Our most recent post is here.

On March 5, 2018, the Supreme Court held a clear-error standard of review should apply to a review of a determination of non-statutory insider status. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n v. Vill. at Lakeridge, LLC, No. 15-1509, ___ S. Ct. ___2018 WL 1143822, at *2 (U.S. Mar. 5, 2018).

As a refresher, in Village at Lakeridge, in exchange for $5,000, an insider (Bartlett) transferred a $2.76 million claim against the debtor to an individual (Rabkin) who was not a statutory insider. 

Supreme Court Grants Cert on, of all Things, the Standard of Review for Determining Non-Statutory Insider Status

Last December, we updated you that the Supreme Court was considering whether to grant review of In re The Village at Lakeridge, LLC, 814 F.3d 993 (9th Cir. 2016). Our original post is here.  On March 27, 2017, the Supreme Court granted review of Village at Lakeridge, but only as to one question presented, the most boring one in our view.  (Seems like after giving us bankruptcy professionals a thrill with a deep, insightful, and important ruling like Jevic, the Supreme Court is going back to bankruptcy matters that range from the esoteric to the downright irrelevant; oh well.)

In The Village at Lakeridge, a non-statutory insider acquired a $2.76 million claim against the debtor from an insider for $5,000.  Id. at 997.  The debtor attempted to confirm its plan (which included a cramdown of U.S. Bank’s claim) by arguing that the assignee

Tenth Circuit Joins Missouri River to Divide Kansas City Over What Constitutes A Stay Violation

On February 27, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit joined a minority approach followed by District of Columbia Circuit:  failing to turn over property after demand is not a violation of the automatic stay imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 362.  WD Equipment v. Cowen (In re Cowen), No. 15-1413, — F.3d —-, 2017 WL 745596 (10th Cir. Feb. 27, 2017), opinion here.

In Cowen, one secured creditor (WD Equipment) repossessed a vehicle in need of repairs for which the debtor (Cowen) could not pay.  Id. at *1.  Another secured creditor (Dring, the debtor’s father-in-law who is likely no longer welcome at Thanksgiving) repossessed a separate vehicle through the use of false pretenses, a can of mace, and five goons helpful colleagues:

“Mr. Dring lured Mr. Cowen under false pretenses to his place of business to repossess the Kenworth [truck].  Mr. Dring asked Mr. Cowen,

Supreme Court Weighs Granting Cert on Bankruptcy Issues Involving Surcharge and Voting Rights of Assignee of Insider Claim

December 5, 2016

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The Supreme Court is considering whether to grant review of two bankruptcy cases.  On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file briefs expressing the views of the United States.  Because the Supreme Court’s justices normally give significant weight to the federal government’s recommendations regarding interpretations of federal statutes (here, the Bankruptcy Code), the Solicitor General’s forthcoming briefs could influence whether the Supreme Court grants cert. on the two notable bankruptcy cases.

Southwest Securities v. Segner

The first case under consideration is Southwest Securities v. Segner (In re Domistyle, Inc.), 811 F.3d 691 (5th Cir. 2015).  At the commencement of this case, the trustee believed the debtor possessed equity in certain real property that could benefit unsecured creditors.  Id. at 693-94.  The property was encumbered by Southwest Securities’ lien.  After marketing the property for a year, the trustee was unable to sell the property and ultimately abandoned it

ASARCO’s Revenge: Do Estate Professionals Now Have to Charge the Same Fees to an Estate or Committee that They Would Charge a Similar Client in an Out-of-Court Matter?

Either from our prior posts here and here, or from the great posts from Stone and Baxter’s Plan Proponent blog or from Bracewell’s Basis Points blog, we all know the Supreme Court’s holding in ASARCO[1]/: a strict interpretation of Section 330(a) of the Bankruptcy Code[2]/ allows professionals to charge for the preparation of a fee application per Section 330(a)(6).  But as there is no express statutory authority to charge the estate for defense of a fee application, the “American rule” prevails, requiring professionals to bear their own defense costs if a third party objects to the fees.[3]/

The cases following Asarco have all been sad days for bankruptcy professionals.  As we have written, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court has rejected all arguments that Section 328 of the Bankruptcy Code, which allows the Court to approve reasonable contractual terms, could allow a contractual term

Delaware Bankruptcy Court Holds, Twice: “ASARCO is Here to Stay” (But Your Authors Have Hatched Another Plan; Read Below!)

You may recall the holding and analysis of ASARCO [1]/ from Jay’s previous post, here. At bottom, ASARCO  followed a strict interpretation of Section 330(a) of the Bankruptcy Code,[2]/ holding that professionals are allowed to charge certain fees for the preparation  of a fee application per Section 330(a)(6). But as there is no express statutory authority to charge the estate for defense  of a fee application, the “American rule” prevails, requiring professionals to bear their own defense costs if a third party objects to the fees.[3]/

The efforts to get around ASARCO  are well underway, primarily in the venue of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court. So far, the score is ASARCO  (two wins), to frustrated estate professionals (zero). And, even as your authors were writing this post, there is another means underway, using the “upcharge” principal – the hourly rates will be $x if

Supreme Court Rules No Fees for Defending Fee Applications

July 20, 2015

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The Supreme Court of the United States recently addressed whether estate professionals could recover fees expended in defending fee applications. Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, 576 U.S. _____ (2015). A divided court ruled that the plain language of 11 U.S.C. § 330(a)(1) allowed compensation only for “actual, necessary services rendered[,]” and that to allow fees for defending fee applications would be contrary to the statute and the “American Rule” that each litigant pay her own attorneys’ fees unless a statute or contract provides otherwise. Procedural Background

In 2005, ASARCO, a copper mining, smelting, and refining company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. ASARCO obtained the Bankruptcy Court’s permission to hire two law firms, Baker Botts L.L.P. and Jordan, Hyden, Womble, Culbreth & Holzer, P.C. Among other services, the firms prosecuted fraudulent-transfer claims against ASARCO’s parent company and ultimately obtained a judgment against it worth between $7 and $10 billion.

Managing Property Managers — A Guide for Lenders

Lenders are frequently confronted with questionable lender-liability claims not only from borrowers (usually in connection with collection or foreclosure procedures) but also from property managers unable to recover from borrowers. Claims property managers assert directly against lenders include those for breach of oral or written contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment (particularly if the lender has foreclosed its interest in the borrower’s property). Lenders can hedge against the risk of claims by property managers through a variety of methods, both pre- and post-borrower default.

 

As part of origination (or any subsequent review of the borrower’s property management agreement), the lender should ensure that the property management agreement clearly defines that the property manager can turn solely to the borrower for satisfaction of the property manager’s fees and expenses. Thorough property management agreements will also cap expenses the property manager is allowed to incur absent approval, which can help avoid successful

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