Category Archives: Bankruptcy

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In the Strangest Year Ever, We’re Very Thankful and Wish You a Happy Thanksgiving

As everyone steps away from their (home) office to celebrate Thanksgiving, we wanted to count our blessings as we review this truly remarkable and unusual year. In addition to frontline healthcare workers, good WI-FI, food delivery services, and finally finding a mask that is comfortable, we are also thankful for the following: 1. The CARES … Continue Reading

Pre-Pandemic Chapter 13 Defaults Received CARES Act Modification Protection in the Middle District of Alabama

In a notable decision interpreting the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Alabama held that Chapter 13 debtors behind on their payments before March 2020 may seek modification of their plan if they suffered from COVID-19 related financial distress. In In re Fowler, … Continue Reading

Certain “Nunc Pro Tunc” Relief May Still be Available in Bankruptcy

Translating to “now for then,” nunc pro tunc orders grant backdated relief. Such orders are common in bankruptcy cases. For instance, bankruptcy courts often enter orders retroactively approving retention of professionals, and in certain cases even granting retroactive relief from the automatic stay. In February 2020, the Supreme Court held in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Agrees with the Fifth Circuit – Private Student Loans May be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

The 10th Circuit has joined several circuit courts holding that private student loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy. In McDaniel v. Navient Solutions, a case of first impression in the 10th Circuit, the court concluded that an educational loan does not constitute “an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit” under Section 523(a)(8)(A)(ii) of … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Holds Bankruptcy Trustee May Relinquish Derivative “Asset Plundering” Causes of Action for Creditors to Pursue

Recently, in Artesanias Hacienda Real S.A. De C.V. v. North Mill Capital, LLC; Leisawitz Heller, the Third Circuit held that creditors can pursue claims of the bankruptcy estate that have been abandoned by the trustee. Although the plaintiff, Artesanias, had Article III standing to pursue certain claims, because these claims were derivative of harm to … Continue Reading

Individuals Can Restructure Personal Guaranties of Defunct Business’s Debt in New Bankruptcy Subchapter V

Earlier this year, Chapter 11’s new Subchapter V became a part of the Bankruptcy Code when the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA) became effective. Very shortly thereafter, the CARES Act expanded the debt limits for a business or individual to qualify as a debtor under the SBRA. In the wake of these new … Continue Reading

Alabama Bankruptcy Court Substantially Reduces Award of Attorney’s Fees

In practice, it is not uncommon for bankruptcy debtors to file suit against creditors or debt collectors for stay and discharge injunction violations. Often, they will do so before making any meaningful attempt to communicate with the creditor or debt collector to request that they stop their improper collection efforts. The Bankruptcy Court for the … Continue Reading

Pre-Bankruptcy Automatic Stay Waivers – More Valuable Than Ever These Days?

In the very unusual period in which we find ourselves today, it seems to be common wisdom that an avalanche of commercial loan defaults is coming. As such, it is a good time to take a fresh look at the terms and provisions used in commercial workout documents, whether in a simple agreement that extends … Continue Reading

Individual Employs New Small Business Bankruptcy Law to Modify Mortgage

Small businesses often struggle to reorganize in bankruptcy. To address this issue, Congress passed the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (the SBRA). The SBRA took effect in February 2020 and makes small business bankruptcies faster and less expensive. The recent case of In re Ventura, 2020 WL 1867898 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 2020) addresses many … Continue Reading

Southern District of Texas Enters Temporary Restraining Order Extending PPP Loan Benefits to Debtor in Bankruptcy

In a potentially ground-breaking decision, Judge David R. Jones of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas temporarily enjoined the Small Business Administration (SBA) from denying a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to Hidalgo County Emergency Service Foundation due solely to its status as a Chapter 11 debtor in bankruptcy. While … Continue Reading

Having Trouble with CARES Act Forbearances in Ch. 13 Bankruptcy? You’re Not Alone!

Guest Author: Karlene A. Archer of Karlene A. Archer Law P.L.L.C. Consumers that have pending Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases undoubtedly suffered from financial hardship prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of those consumers, the pandemic may have exacerbated that hardship. The CARES Act’s mortgage forbearance provisions allow some breathing room for consumers that anticipate … Continue Reading

Congress’ Third Major Coronavirus Legislation Makes Bankruptcy Relief for Potential and Current Individual Debtors Easier

On Friday March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the third major piece of coronavirus-related legislation in the last several weeks – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The new law contains several amendments to the Bankruptcy Code. One of these amendments increases the maximum indebtedness for a “small business debtor” … Continue Reading

Federal Regulatory Agencies Offer Interagency Statement Regarding COVID-19-Related Loan Modifications and Status Reporting

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors issued an Interagency Statement on March 22 urging regulated financial institutions to work with borrowers affected … Continue Reading

Bankruptcy, Coronavirus (COVID-19), and How Retailers Can Brace for the Impact

The brick-and-mortar retail industry has been in a state of flux since online retailers such as Amazon started business in the mid-‘90s. Recent years have been particularly difficult for retailers: in 2018, retailers represented 5 of the 10 largest Chapter 11 bankruptcies. The pace of retail bankruptcies showed no signs of slowing in 2019, with … Continue Reading

HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac Suspend Foreclosures and Evictions for 60 Days

During a COVID-19 press briefing at the White House on March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will temporarily suspend “all foreclosures and evictions.” The president made this announcement to provide “immediate relief” to homeowners and renters struggling to make rent and mortgage payments. The president’s … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Ripple Effects Are Coming – Lenders Must Get Ready

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting businesses large and small. Now is the time for lenders to prepare for its effect on business borrowers. Industries Already in Distress In February, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report identified five industry sectors likely to see the greatest restructuring activity in 2020: Energy Retail Dining and food service Auto suppliers Specialty … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds That an Order on a Motion for Relief from Stay Is a Final, Appealable Order

In a unanimous opinion released last week, the Supreme Court provided guidance as to how to determine the finality of an order in a bankruptcy case for purposes of an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). The Court held that the adjudication of a creditor’s motion for relief from stay is properly considered a discrete … Continue Reading

Bankruptcy Court Rejects Brunner “Myth” and Discharges $220K in Student Loan Debt

Chief Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia Morris in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District recently reinterpreted Brunner’s “undue hardship” test and discharged over $220,000 in student loan debt. This opinion reflects a marked departure from a series of cases interpreting Brunner, a case that has guided the analysis of student loan dischargeability for over 30 years. … Continue Reading

First Circuit Holds that Parents’ Tuition Payments for Adult Children Are Fraudulent Transfers

Recently, the First Circuit held that a parent’s tuition payments on behalf of an adult child do not benefit the parent’s bankruptcy estate, and a Chapter 7 trustee may therefore claw the payments back as fraudulent transfers. The concept underlying fraudulent transfer law is that, if a person cannot pay his debts in due course, … Continue Reading

5th Circuit Joins the Growing Crowd Holding that Private Student Loans May be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

The Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Crocker v. Navient Solutions is a stark reminder to for-profit student lenders and servicers that bankruptcy caselaw continues to evolve relating to discharge. In Crocker, the Fifth Circuit joined the trend of cases holding that private student loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy. More specifically, the court affirmed a bankruptcy … Continue Reading

The Split Widens: Third Circuit Joins Minority View Regarding Whether Secured Creditor Has Affirmative Obligation to Return Collateral to Debtor Upon Bankruptcy Filing

The circuit courts continue to wrestle over the duties imposed by the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay on creditors concerning turnover of a debtor’s impounded vehicle. Is a creditor required to automatically turn over the vehicle as soon as the bankruptcy petition is filed, or can it retain possession while awaiting an order of the bankruptcy … Continue Reading

The Small Business Reorganization Act – A New Subchapter for Small Businesses

Since the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, small business debtors have continued to struggle to reorganize effectively under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. On Friday, August 23, 2019, President Trump signed the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 into law in an effort to address some of these issues. The act aims to … Continue Reading

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019: Will the Increased Debt Limit Lead to an Uptick in Chapter 12 Filings?

The United States Senate passed the “Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019” (H.R. 2336), which substantially increases the debt limit for agricultural producers seeking to file for relief under Chapter 12 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The bipartisan legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June and is expected to be signed … Continue Reading

Student Loans in Bankruptcy: What’s on the Horizon?

Federal law has long excepted student loans from discharge in bankruptcy in all but the rarest instances, recognizing the problems (and costs) associated with allowing borrowers to wipe out defaulted debts through a bankruptcy filing. However, as the issues of access to college and affordability become frequent topics in political discourse, new ideas for radical … Continue Reading
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