J. Ellsworth Summers, Jr.

J. Ellsworth Summers, Jr.

Rogers Towers

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Supreme Court Further Clarifies Stern v. Marshall

As we have previously discussed, the Supreme Court held in Stern v. Marshall that Congress did not have the authority under the Constitution to empower bankruptcy judges to decide legal claims that are based entirely on state...more

7/3/2015 - Article III Bankruptcy Code Bankruptcy Court Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison Judges Jurisdiction SCOTUS Stern v Marshall Wellness International Network v Sharif

Stripping Off Junior Mortgages Now Barred in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases

The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that debtors are prohibited from stripping off junior mortgage liens in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Lien stripping is where a bankruptcy court relieves a debtor of his second mortgage...more

7/1/2015 - Bank of America Bank of America v. Caulkett Chapter 13 Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy Debtors Lien Stripping Liens Mortgage Lenders SCOTUS Secured Lenders Senior Lenders Unsecured Creditors

Deepening Insolvency: A Viable Theory of Damages in the Eleventh Circuit

“Deepening Insolvency” is a developing theory of law in cases brought by bankruptcy trustees, litigation trust trustees, receivers, reorganized debtors, or some other plaintiff “standing in the shoes” of an insolvent company....more

6/17/2015 - Commercial Bankruptcy Debt Financial Institutions Insolvency Trustees

Holder of Equity Interest in Bankrupt Company not Entitled to Become Shareholder in Reorganized Entity

A recent Eleventh Circuit case examines equity shareholders’ role (or lack thereof) in a reorganized entity. Vision-Park Properties owned an equity share of Seaside Engineering & Surveying, Inc. Seaside filed for Chapter 11...more

3/24/2015 - Chapter 11 Commercial Bankruptcy Equity Securities Reorganizations Shareholders

Two Sides of the Same Coin: Chapter 11 Reform in the House and Senate

As we discussed in our previous post, in the wake of the financial crisis that began with large financial institutions failing in 2008, practitioners and politicians alike have been calling for Bankruptcy Code reform. Both...more

3/4/2015 - Bankruptcy Reform Chapter 11 Commercial Bankruptcy FDIC Financial Institutions Legislative Agendas

Commission Calls for Overhaul of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Code

On Monday, December 8, 2014, the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Chapter 11 Reform Commission, which is tasked with recommending reforms to the nearly 40-year-old bankruptcy regime, released a report which found that the...more

1/30/2015 - American Bankruptcy Institute Banking Sector Bankruptcy Code Bankruptcy Reform Banks Financial Institutions

Ms. McNeal Goes to Washington

For those of you who have followed our blog since its inception, you will know that one of our most discussed opinions is that of In re McNeal, in which the Eleventh Circuit held that a debtor may strip a wholly unsecured...more

1/9/2015 - Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy Lien Stripping Mortgages SCOTUS Underwater Homeowners Unsecured Debt Unsecured Loans

Written Document Retention and Destruction Policy Saves the Day (Again)

As we mentioned in our previous posts regarding document preservation, establishing a written document retention and destruction policy is essential to any company, large or small. As with the Pradaxa case out of the Southern...more

10/21/2014 - Document Destruction Document Retention Policies Litigation Hold Pleading Standards Spoilation Twombly/Iqbal Pleading Standard

Detroit Bankruptcy Update: Settlements and Feasibility

In Detroit’s ongoing restructuring effort, the city cleared a major hurdle last week by settling with its largest adversary, Syncora Guarantee, a New York based bond insurer. The settlement was negotiated just a week into the...more

9/18/2014 - Chapter 9 Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy

Non-Dischargeable Tax Debt Not Special Class of Unsecured Creditors

In numerous previous posts, we have noted that the purpose of the Bankruptcy Code is to help the “honest but unfortunate debtor.” Like gerrymandering, certain “creative” debtors have attempted to classify their...more

8/27/2014

Discharging the Brunner Test: Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy

Twenty-seven years ago the Second Circuit was faced with a debtor who proposed to use the Bankruptcy Code to avoid her student loan debt – only five months after graduation. The Second Circuit came down harshly on Ms. Brunner...more

8/13/2014 - Consumer Bankruptcy Popular Student Loans Undue Hardship

Detroit Bankruptcy Update: Restructuring the Restructuring Plan

On Friday July 25, 2014, the City of Detroit released a revised restructuring plan that provides for a reserve fund that may enhance the recovery for certain classes of unsecured creditors. The plan also creates a...more

8/1/2014 - Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy Restructuring

Detroit Bankruptcy Update: Sixth Circuit Throws Wrench into Restructuring Timetable

Earlier this month the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the appeal of Syncora Guarantee Inc. must be heard by the lower federal district court before the bankruptcy court may conduct its trial on the city’s proposed...more

7/8/2014 - Chapter 11 Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy Popular Restructuring

Eleventh Circuit Doubles Down on Lien Stripping

When the Fourth Circuit handed down its opinion in the case of In re Davis, which permitted lien stripping in “Chapter 20” proceedings, the stage was set for the Eleventh Circuit to expand debtor’s ability to escape from...more

6/30/2014 - BAPCPA Chapter 13 Chapter 20 Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy Junior Lenders Lien Stripping Liens Mortgage Loan Originators Mortgages

Supreme Court Clarifies Stern v. Marshall

Not even Nostradamus could have predicted the profound effect that former Playmate Vickie Lynn Marshall (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith) would have on the landscape of U.S. bankruptcy court jurisdiction. Nevertheless, two and a half...more

6/13/2014 - Article I Article III Commercial Bankruptcy Jurisdiction SCOTUS Stern v Marshall

Detroit Bankruptcy: The Next Step in the Grand Bargain

On Tuesday, June 2, 2014, the Michigan state senate passed a number of important bills, all of which are aimed to help lift Detroit out of its $18 billion bankruptcy. Approval by Governor Rick Snyder is all but guaranteed, as...more

6/6/2014

A Grand Bargain? Detroit Defends Restructuring Plan

Over the Memorial Day weekend, while many around the country were enjoying beautiful weather, the lawyers for the city of Detroit were busy filing a lengthy defense to their proposed restructuring plan, which is slated to be...more

6/4/2014 - Bonds Debt Restructuring Detroit Institute of Art Municipal Bonds Municipalities Pensions Public Employees Restructuring

A Lesson On What Not To Do In A § 363 Auction

For numerous corporate Chapter 11 debtors, the sale of some or all of the company’s assets may be the only way to reorganize the company’s debt. Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code sets forth a specific procedure wherein the...more

5/30/2014 - 363 Sales Chapter 11 Commercial Bankruptcy

Effect of Automatic Stay in Quasi-Criminal Proceedings

The automatic stay of § 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code is one of a debtor’s most powerful tools and protections, because it stays all proceedings and collection efforts. Under § 362(b), however, a debtor may not use the...more

5/1/2014 - Automatic Stay Consumer Bankruptcy

Eleventh Circuit Holds Replacement Value - Applies to Surrender of Collateral in Chapter 13 Plan

On March 27, 2014, the Eleventh Circuit (the “Court”) issued a ruling, which will have a major impact on how Chapter 7 and 13 debtors are able to treat claims of secured creditors. The issue in In re Brown, 13-13013, 2014 WL...more

4/3/2014 - Chapter 13 Commercial Bankruptcy

Recent Decision Caps Secured Creditor’s Credit Bid in §363 Sale to Purchase Price of Acquired Debt

It is well-settled that secured creditors are ordinarily entitled to credit bid their allowed secured claim in a sale pursuant to § 363 of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Code”). In Radlax Gateway Hotel, LLC v. Amalgamated Bank,...more

3/11/2014 - Bids Chapter 11 Commercial Bankruptcy Credit Bids Creditors Secured Creditors

Settling Pre-Petition Claims During a Pending Bankruptcy Proceeding

As we have discussed in previous posts, when a plaintiff or defendant in a pending civil lawsuit files for bankruptcy, the suit becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. Further, under § 541 of the Bankruptcy Code, the trustee...more

2/25/2014 - Consumer Bankruptcy Settlement

Paying Attorney’s Fees Not Reason to File Chapter 13

Of the three most common chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, Chapter 7 offers an insolvent individual the freshest of starts; yet it is not without its pitfalls. Under Chapter 7 a debtor is not permitted to pay his attorney in...more

2/19/2014 - Attorney's Fees Chapter 13 Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy

Caveat Debtor: Disgorging Inheritance in Chapter 13 Cases

A recent case out of the 9th Circuit, In re Dale, revives a controversial subject for Chapter 13 debtors: whether an inheritance received more than 180 days after commencement of the case is part of the bankruptcy estate. ...more

2/11/2014 - Chapter 13 Chapter 7 Consumer Bankruptcy Disgorgement Inheritance

Dirt-for-Debt Buries Creditor with Risk and Uncertainty

In order to confirm a chapter 11 plan of reorganization, a debtor must satisfy all the provisions of §1129(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, except for §1129(a)(8). Section (a)(8) requires that each class of creditors either (i)...more

2/7/2014 - Chapter 11 Commercial Bankruptcy

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