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A Lender’s Federal Post-Judgment Interest Quandary

Post-judgment interest is not something most lenders consider when making a loan. In fact, it is not ordinarily the subject of significant analysis even when litigation becomes necessary.  Where the United States District Court is the preferred venue, however, parties easily can fall into the quandary of being stuck with the federal statutory post-judgment interest rate, which is currently less than 1% per annum.

Pre-judgment, a lender often has solid rights to contract interest and potentially very high default interest rates, which often approach double-digits, added to a recovery when a solvent obligor is on the other side. But a final judgment may be a game-changer on the rate of interest a lender is able to receive.  Recent circuit court decisions are developing the law on post-judgment interest in a way contrary to the economic recovery of contracting parties, and lenders in particular.  It may be possible, however, to draft around this problem.

Current State of the Law

In cases pending before the United States District Court, “post-judgment interest is governed by federal law,” even where jurisdiction is based upon diversity, because post-judgment interest is viewed as a procedural issue. Citicorp Real Estate Inc. v. Smith, 155 F.3d 1097,

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Handy List of Basic Issues to Consider for the Transactional Workout

While significant energy here at the Bankruptcy Cave is devoted to substantive bankruptcy matters, not all aspects of a general insolvency practice are always fun and litigation.  Oftentimes insolvency lawyers add the most value by helping clients avoid a bankruptcy filing, or by successfully resolving a case through a consensual transactional restructuring.  Below are a few key issues diligent counsel for creditors and debtors should think through in connection with a transactional restructuring.[1]

1. Notice and Demand After Default. As anyone reading this knows, a lender often sends a notice of default and maybe even a demand for payment after its borrower defaults.  However, simply sending a notice of default and demand for payment may not always be sufficient or have the intended effect.  Most loan documents provide a cure period before a breach becomes an actionable default.  Some loan documents will only permit a lender to accrue default interest after specific notice is given to the borrower.  And sometimes no notice or demand is required at all.  While it is generally considered best practice for a lender to notify a borrower of a breach, demand repayment, and affirmatively elect to accrue default interest after a breach, a

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A Debtor’s Allegedly False Financial Statement Doesn’t, At All, Excuse a Lack of Lender Diligence

A decision rendered during the sometimes peaceful interlude between Christmas and New Year’s is worth reading, and heeding.  Hurston v. Anzo (In re Hurston), Adv. Proc. No. 15-2026 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. Dec. 27, 2016) is a helpful reminder to anyone representing lenders or creditors which are hell-bent-for-leather to pursue a non-dischargeability claim against a debtor that submits a false written statement (e.g., a personal financial statement) to obtain credit.  Often, in the fervor of the start of a bankruptcy case, the creditor (and its lawyer) will make great hay from the fact that a debtor may have lied in a pre-petition credit application, or forbearance agreement, or other written medium.  However, the facts of Hurston show that a creditor (and its lawyer) should pause, take a breath, and critically evaluate whether the creditor actually relied on the pre-petition writing from the debtor, and whether that creditor’s reliance was also, in fact, reasonable.  If not, then the creditor deserves a serious challenge from its own counsel on the wisdom of pursuing a expensive, and likely unsuccessful, non-dischargeability claim.

We don’t need to go in detail on the debtor’s alleged falsehoods – that is not the point of Hurston.  Instead, Judge Sacca of the Bankruptcy Court for the

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

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 to Southwest and moved to surcharge Southwest for the expenses paid in maintaining the property from the start of the case.  Id. at 694-95.  The Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas approved the surcharge over Southwest’s objection that the expenses were incurred to benefit unsecured creditors, and not Southwest.

To surcharge a

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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Obligations and Risks of Third-party Witnesses under Rule 2004 Examinations.

November 27, 2016

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Two recent Bankruptcy Court cases both remind and illustrate the power and risks presented by discovery of facts and documents under Bankruptcy Rule 2004, showing that it can compel third parties to provide information to support later litigation against them or cause them to lose their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

  • In re Great Lakes Comnet, Inc.[1]/ (a copy of the case is here: great-lakes-comnet-inc), the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan held that the Committee of Unsecured Creditors was entitled to conduct a Rule 2004 examination of a third-party company while explicitly recognizing that the intent of the examination was to prepare for and inform the committee regarding later litigation against the third-party.
  • In re Mavashev[2]/ (a copy of the case is here: in-re-mavashev), the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York held that a third-party witness would not be prejudiced by any self-incrimination in the act of producing a document central to what was very likely a criminal transaction in association with the debtor, and further that such witness had waived his privilege against self-incrimination by prior, limited testimony in the Rule 2004 examination.

Discovery of facts

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Preliminary Injunctions in Bankruptcy Courts: Can a Litigant Get a Second Opinion?

November 27, 2016

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District courts can hear an appeal from any interlocutory order, as long as they agree to accept the appeal.  28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(3).  Final judgments, orders and decrees are always immediately appealable.  28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1).  Certain interlocutory orders, such as orders increasing or reducing the exclusive time periods for a debtor to file and obtain acceptance of a plan for reorganization under Chapter 11 are also immediately appealable.  28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(2).  Other interlocutory orders are appealable only “with leave of the court.”  Preliminary injunctions are interlocutory orders that fall into the last category.

The timing and process for perfecting an appeal of a preliminary injunction is not certain.  Recently, Judge James Zagel in the Northern District of Illinois declined to grant leave to appeal a preliminary injunction entered in the bankruptcy court, finding the debtor had no automatic right to appeal.  Gilman v. Goldberg (In re Goldberg), Case No. 16 CV 6993 (N.D. Ill. October 17, 2016) (J. Zagel) (a link to the case is here: in-re-goldberg).  Generally, leave to take an interlocutory appeal is granted for the same reasons that an interlocutory appeal to the court of appeals may be taken from an order of

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Creditors Beware: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Expands Purview Of Potential FDCPA Violations And Furthers Circuit Split

October 23, 2016

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In Daugherty v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., No. 15-20392 (5th Cir. Sept. 8, 2016) the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently joined the circuit split interpreting the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in a way that further limits debts collectors.

Under the FDCPA the term “debt collectors” is not limited to those collecting debts for others –  certain creditors collecting debts directly owed to them can be bound by the FDCPA.   This statute prohibits debt collectors from using “false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.”  A debt collector who violates the FDCPA can be forced to pay actual damages, costs, reasonable attorney’s fees and up to $1,000 of additional damages if the plaintiff is an individual or up to $500,000 or one percent of the debt collector’s net worth in a class action.

In Daugherty, the Fifth Circuit considered whether a collection letter for a time-barred debt which contained a discounted “settlement offer” but which was silent as to the unenforceability of the debt and did not threaten litigation could mislead an unsophisticated consumer to believe that the debt could be enforceable in court and thus violate the FDCPA.

There,

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Executive Compensation Under Section 503(c) – The Sports Authority Story

October 18, 2016

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A recent, and highly publicized, decision from the case formerly known as Sports Authority, In re TSA WD Holdings, Inc. et al., Case No. 16-10527 (MFW), Bankr. D. Del. (Docket #2863, Aug. 31, 2016), allowed the defunct company to pay three unnamed senior executives $1.425 million in “incentive pay” to remain with the company and oversee its liquidation.[i]  Judge Mary Walrath granted Sports Authority’s[ii] Motion for Order (A) Approving Modified Executive Incentive Program and Authorizing Payments Thereunder and (B) Authorizing the Debtors to File the Unredacted Modified Key Employee Incentive Program Under Seal (Docket #2746) (the “EIP Motion,” a copy of which is here) over the strenuous objection of the U.S. Trustee (Docket #2809) (the “UST Objection,” a copy of which is here), and only after she had denied a similar from the Debtors request a month earlier.  More importantly, Judge Walrath authorized the incentive payments in a case where Sports Authority’s primary assets had already been liquidated, Debtors would almost certainly pay nothing to unsecured creditors, and the estate may or may not be administratively insolvent.  The Sports Authority example is informative for three reasons: 1) it demonstrates how a company that needs

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California Court Rejects “Sham Guarantee” Defense

Editor’s Note:  Bank Bryan Cave is going into its ninth year as one of the nation’s leading blogs on financial institution regulatory, M&A, securities, and litigation issues.  Here’s a recent post on Bryan Cave’s successful work for the California Bankers Association (“CBA”), headed up by Joseph Poppen of BC’s San Francisco office.

 

Bryan Cave LLP recently served as counsel for amicus curiae California Bankers Association (“CBA”) and helped score a victory in an important California appellate case of great interest to the banking industry, LSREF2 Clover Property 4 LLC v. Festival Retail Fund 1 357 N. Beverly Drive LP (Second District, California Court of Appeal case number B259937) (Link to the opinion is here).

The trial court had ruled that the guarantor of a commercial loan was excused from performance on the grounds that the guaranty was a “sham,” structured by the lender to circumvent California’s anti-deficiency laws.  The guarantor essentially argued that there was no legal separation between it and the borrower because it was the borrower’s “alter ego,” and as support they identified evidence that the two entities failed to observe basic corporate formalities.  According to the guarantor, it should be

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