Bankruptcy Law Insights

Commentary & Analysis on Current Events & Issues in Large & Mid-Market Chapter 11 Cases

Latest from Bankruptcy Law Insights

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali recently ruled in the Chapter 11 case of Pacific Gas & Electric (“PG&E”) that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) has no jurisdiction to interfere with the ability of a bankrupt power utility company to reject power purchase agreements (“PPAs”). Although this question has divided courts which have considered it, Judge Montali made clear that he would not allow FERC to limit either PG&E’s rights under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,…
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But does that age-old maxim apply to a bankrupt customer offering to pay you 100% of your unsecured claim through a “prepackaged” bankruptcy or under a critical vendor program? The answer can be complicated. Partner Eric Wilson and senior associate Maeghan McLoughlin were featured in the Credit Research Foundation’s CFR News with their article which explores what it means to be “unimpaired” and paid…
The Supreme Court this week resolved a long-standing open issue regarding the treatment of trademark license rights in bankruptcy proceedings. The Court ruled in favor of Mission Products, a licensee under a trademark license agreement that had been rejected in the chapter 11 case of Tempnology, the debtor-licensor, determining that the rejection constituted a breach of the agreement but did not rescind it.  The decision means that a holder of rights under a trademark license…
Few issues in bankruptcy create as much contention as disputes regarding the right of setoff. This was recently highlighted by a decision in the chapter 11 case of Orexigen Therapeutics in the District of Delaware.  Judge Kevin Gross denied a motion to allow a “triangular” setoff, whereby a corporate parent sought to have an obligation that it owed to the debtor applied against a claim owed by the debtor to the parent’s subsidiary. (Kelley Drye…
The judicial power of the United States is vested in courts created under Article III of the Constitution. However, Congress created the current bankruptcy court system over 40 years ago pursuant to Article I of the Constitution rather than under Article III.  The Supreme Court has long held that Article I courts are limited to territorial courts, military tribunals, and courts created to hear cases involving “public rights” (e.g., cases involving claims of citizens against…
Southeastern Grocers (operator of the Winn-Dixie, Bi Lo and Harvey’s supermarket chains) recently completed a successful restructuring of its balance sheet through a “prepackaged” chapter 11 case in the District of Delaware. As part of the deal with the holders of its unsecured bonds, the company agreed that under the plan of reorganization it would pay in cash the fees and expenses of the trustee for the indenture under which the unsecured bonds were issued. …
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc. has appropriately drawn significant attention.  The Court, by narrowing the “safe harbor” provision of Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code, has opened the door for representatives of bankruptcy estates to use the avoidance powers of the Bankruptcy Code to seek to unwind a wider range of pre-bankruptcy transactions and recover value for the benefit of creditors.  Most of the focus…
The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a patent dispute case, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC.  Although the case has nothing to do with bankruptcy law, its outcome could have a substantial impact on bankruptcy practice and litigation. Oil States Energy concerns the limits of Congress’s ability to create courts pursuant to Article I of the Constitution rather than under Article III, and therefore raises separation of power issues…
In December 2015, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Laurie Silverstein of the District of Delaware confirmed a plan of reorganization in the Millennium Lab Holdings chapter 11 case that included the non-consensual release of certain claims against various non-debtor third parties.  Earlier this year, ruling on an appeal from that decision, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Stark remanded the case to Judge Silverstein and directed her to consider whether the grant of the releases exceeded…
The Supreme Court two years ago ruled in Baker Botts v. Asarco that bankruptcy professionals entitled to compensation from a debtor’s bankruptcy estate had no statutory right to be compensated for time spent defending against objections to their fee applications.  Since then, “estate professionals,” i.e., those retained in a bankruptcy case by a trustee, debtor in possession or an official committee of creditors, have sought ways to limit the potentially harsh impact of that decision.…