Indifference to Indignation - A Sea Change in the Treatment of Third-Party Releases in Chapter 11 Cases

May 11, 2022

Dear constituency list members of the Insolvency Law Committee, the following is a case update written by Wendy W. Smith, a partner in Binder & Malter, LLP, analyzing a recent decision of interest:

Indifference to Indignation - A Sea Change in the Treatment of Third-Party Releases in Chapter 11 Cases

Two recent opinions, one from the 11th Circuit in the case of Jackson v. Le Ctr. On Fourth, LLC (In re Le Ctr. On Fourth, LLC) 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 33845 (11th Cir. 2021), and the second from the Eastern District of Virginia in the case of Patterson v. Mahwah Bergen Retail Grp. Inc. (2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7431) (E.D. Va 2022), express opposite views of Chapter 11 third-party releases. The first opinion was decided just before the ruling in In re Purdue Pharma, LP, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 242236 (S.D.N.Y. 2021), which reversed the Chapter 11 plan releases of the Sackler family by finding there is no statutory authority for them. The second opinion was decided a month after Purdue.

The court in Jackson focuses on whether the individual appellant received adequate notice of the third party release. It accepts without discussion both that the bankruptcy court had the jurisdiction to approve the releases and that they were appropriate in the case. The opinion substantively ignores the 11th Circuit's own strict standards for third-party releases in SE Pro. Holdings, LLC v. Seaside Eng'g & Surveying (In re Seaside Eng'g & Surveying), 780 F.3d 1070 (11th Cir. 2015).

In stark contrast to Jackson, the opinion in Patterson, like the one in Purdue, is fueled by intense indignation over the excesses of third-party releases in recent chapter 11 plans, and it provides a rigorous analysis of why they must be limited. Where Purdue focused on the statutory authority for third-party releases, Patterson focuses on the bankruptcy court's constitutional jurisdiction and the denial of due process when using "opt-out" release notices.

Whether the Jackson opinion reflects the 11th Circuit abandoning its previously strict limitations for third-party releases, or whether it will be considered an outlier in light of the positions argued in Purdue and Patterson remain to be seen; the differences are striking:

Jackson v. Le Ctr. on Fourth, LLC (In re Le Ctr. on Fourth, LLC) FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Jackson, a paraplegic, arrived at an Embassy Suites hotel driving a car with modified hand controls; he left the car with a hotel valet. When Mr. Jackson approached the hotel in his wheelchair the access ramp was blocked, forcing him to proceed in the street in his wheelchair. The valet lost control of the car and hit Mr. Jackson. He suffered severe injuries, and he and his wife sued the valet and the valet company.

Before being named as a defendant, the company "Le Ctr. On Fourth, LLC" (the "Debtor"), which owned the property, filed Chapter 11. Jackson obtained limited relief from stay to pursue the Debtor's liability insurance and agreed to limit his claim against the Debtor to insurance proceeds. Jackson amended the complaint to add various parties not in bankruptcy that were related to the Embassy Suites hotel. These included the "Master Tenant" to which the Debtor had leased the property under a long-term lease and a management company ("AJS"), which managed the hotel. The Master Tenant was owned through various tiers of subsidiaries by US Bank. The agreements between the Debtor, the Master Tenant and AJS each contained indemnification provisions that, under certain circumstances, could lead to a claim against the Debtor.

The Release

The Debtor's first amended plan included a release and related injunction, providing that a person who abstained from voting for the plan would be "deemed to fully, completely, unconditionally, irrevocably and forever release the Release Parties from any claims that the person might have against these parties." (p.7). The released parties were listed as including the Debtor and ASJ, but did not list the Master Tenant. While the opinion is less than clear, it appears that the releases included claims held by third-parties against non-debtors that were based on independent obligations. For example, here it included a claim by Mr. Jackson against the hotel management ASJ and the Master Tenant, who may have had independent duties to Mr. Jackson.

The Notice and Disclosure

The disclosure statement contained a bold statement that creditors were "ADVISED AND ENCOURAGED TO READ THIS DISCLOSURE STATEMENT AND THE PLAN IN THEIR ENTIRETY BEFORE VOTING TO ACCEPTING OR REJECT THE PLAN" (p. 7). The Debtor issued a second amended disclosure statement and plan, which included the same disclaimer and information regarding the Released Parties.

No notice was given in accordance with Bankruptcy Rule 2002(c). This rule requires that, when a plan includes an injunction beyond one that is included in the Bankruptcy Code, a separate notice must be given to those affected which must contain information regarding the scope and nature of the additional injunction.

The disclosure statement recited that the releases were justified because the released parties were affiliates of the current members and managers of the debtor and that a suit against them would be "in essence a suit against the Debtor." (p. 8). It also stated, apparently without explanation, that Bankruptcy Code Section 105(a) permitted such releases. Though not discussed in the opinion, the release apparently did not exclude claims for gross negligence or intentional torts, and the plan had no opt-out provision for the release and no basis for paying the released claims. The opinion also does not reveal the nature of the plan, whether there was an ongoing business, or whether any of the released parties had contributed to the plan, all critical issues in the guidelines for third-party releases in SE Pro. Holdings.

On the day of the confirmation hearing, the Debtor again amended the Chapter 11 plan to add the U.S. Bank as a released party along with "its parents, subsidiaries and affiliates," which included the Master Tenant (p. 8). While the Jacksons' attorneys had received the second amended plan and disclosure statement, neither they nor the Jacksons received a copy of the new plan with the expanded release.

The Jacksons did not appear at the confirmation hearing or object to the plan.

Plan Is Confirmed and Released Parties Move to Dismiss Jackson's State Case

As summarized in the 11th Circuit opinion, the Bankruptcy Court in the confirmation hearing repeated the conclusory statements from the Debtor's disclosure statement that the court could approve the third-party releases "because they were integral to [the debtors] re-organization" and that "the failure to include such [release] provisions would seriously impair if not preclude the Debtor's ability to confirm a consensual plan." (p. 11, internal quotations removed). The opinion does not state whether the bankruptcy court considered any evidence to support the conclusion.

After the plan was confirmed, the Debtor, AJS and the Master Tenant moved to dismiss the claims against them in the Jacksons' state court action, arguing that the claims were barred by the confirmation order. Jackson then moved the bankruptcy court to clarify that they were not enjoined from nominally asserting claims against the released parties as these were brought to recover only against the insurers. The Jacksons also argued that the third-party releases in the confirmed plan violated their due process as the Debtor had not sent the Jacksons the notice regarding additional injunctions that is required by Bankruptcy Rule 2003(c). Such notice must include conspicuous language that the plan proposes an injunction, describe the nature of the injunction, and identify the entities that would be subject to the injunction.

The bankruptcy court concluded that because the Jacksons' attorneys had received notice of the hearing on the plan and disclosure statement, they had an opportunity to be heard but failed to exercise that option, and that no due process violation existed. (p. 12) The bankruptcy court also determined that the Jacksons could not proceed with the nominal claims against the released parties as it could result in claims for indemnification against at least one other released parties, and that would interfere with the implementation of the plan. The opinion does not reveal the nature of such interference or the likelihood of such a claim being made.

The Jacksons appealed, and the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision. The circuit court also affirmed the bankruptcy court's ruling.

REASONING

The opinion limits its due process discussion to considering first whether due process required the Jacksons to receive notice in compliance with the requirements of Bankruptcy Rule 2003(c)(3), specifically describing the nature of the injunction in the plan and the parties affected. Second, the opinion considers whether the information in the disclosure statement and plan received by the Jackson's attorneys was adequate to meet due process requirements. Relying on the Supreme Court case of United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 130 S. Ct. 1367, 176 L. Ed. 2d 158 (2010) , the court holds that the notice requirements of Rule 2002(c)(3) are procedural, and that the plan-proponent's failure to comply with them has no effect.

Espinosa addressed the discharge of interest on a student loan in a chapter 13 plan. The lender claimed that, because the debtor did not bring an adversary proceeding to determine the dischargeability of the interest portion of the claim, the bank's due process rights were violated. The Supreme Court held that the debtor's failure to comply with procedural rule requiring a separate adversary proceeding did not, by itself, result in the lack of due process. It found that the creditors had actually received the plan describing the discharge of the student loan interest and had an opportunity to object but failed to do so, thereby forfeiting their arguments against the plan.

The 11th Circuit concludes that, because Jacksons' attorney received the disclosure statement and plan that generally described the releases, the due process requirement was met. After stating its conclusion, the court acknowledges that the notice of the hearing on confirmation did not comply with Bankruptcy rule 2002(c)(3) as it did not set forth the scope of the release and the parties to be affected. The court also acknowledges that the purpose of the rule was to prevent creditors from having to "sort through hundreds of pages of a bankruptcy reorganization plan to determine whether their rights are affected by a non-standard injunction." (p.12). Nonetheless, the court finds that providing the disclosure statement and plan provided adequate notice. The court dismisses the fact that neither the Jacksons nor their attorneys received any notice that the U.S. Bank (and thus the Master Tenant) was released by the third amended plan, stating that the issue hadn't been raised in the appeal below and thus would not be considered.

The court then considers whether the bankruptcy court abused its discretion by not amending the confirmation order to allow the Jacksons to proceed nominally against the defendants to recover insurance proceeds. The bankruptcy court found that, even with a nominal claim, the otherwise-released party might make an indemnity claim against the debtor, and that theoretical risk was sufficient to deny the Jacksons the ability to proceed against insurance. The 11th Circuit did not find an abuse of discretion.

AUTHOR'S COMMENTS

The 11th Circuit does not question whether the third-party releases in the debtor's plan were appropriate or permitted, but simply states that the bankruptcy court determined that it could approve the releases. In a footnote, the opinion asserts without discussion that "the law is clear that a bankruptcy court can issue non-debtor releases in bankruptcy restructuring plans." (p. 20, fn. 4).

The opinion supports this sweeping statement with a reference to SE Prop.Holdings, LLC v. Seaside Eng'g & Surveying, Inc. supra, 780 F.3d 1070, 1076-79, but that case hardly provides a blanket permission for such releases. Rather it states they should be reserved for "unusual cases" in which such an order is necessary for the success of the plan. It requires, among other things, that the non-debtor released parties contribute substantial assets to the reorganization, that the impacted class vote overwhelmingly to accept the plan, and that the bankruptcy court make a specific record of factual findings to support its conclusion. The 11th Circuit opinion in Jackson gives no indication that the bankruptcy court made the findings necessary under SE Prop.Holdings .

If the facts had been reviewed through the lens of Patterson --described next--the outcome would have been vastly different.

Patterson v. Mahwah Bergen Retail Grp., Inc.

Judge David J. Novak of the Eastern District of Virginia issued his opinion in Patterson on January 13, 2022, just a month after the opinion in Purdue . Judge Novak sets the theme of the opinion with a discussion of the importance of the right to due process and proceeds with a withering description of the abuse of third-party releases in chapter 11 plans generally. He summarizes the views of the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, and Eleventh circuits, which, while allowing such releases, insist that they be rarely used and only when meeting strict requirements. (pp. 3-6).

Judge Novak observes that, despite the limitations set out in the extensive opinions, the bankruptcy court here--the Richmond Division of the Eastern District of Virginia--regularly grants third-party releases. He notes that the Richmond Division, along with a handful of other districts around the country had become the venue choice for "91% of the 'mega' bankruptcy cases" (p. 6). The court notes that the ubiquity of third-party releases in the face of the clear limitations set forth in the controlling cases demands even greater scrutiny.

The scrutiny of review is fueled by Judge Novak's condemnation of the "sheer breadth of the releases. . . that can only be described as shocking," as they release claims of "at least hundreds of thousands of potential plaintiffs not involved in the bankruptcy, shielding an incalculable number of individuals associated with the Debtors. . .for an unspecified time stretching back to time immemorial." (pp. 6-7) The court then observes that, notwithstanding the breadth of the releases, the "bankruptcy court - acting with its limited Article I powers - extinguished these claims with little or no analysis." (p. 8)

The opinion proceeds with a dense discussion of why, in light of the limited jurisdiction of a bankruptcy court and the right of due process owed to those whose rights are to be released through a chapter 11 plan, such releases must be severely limited.

FACTS

The bankruptcy consolidated the cases of 64 companies that, before Covid, operated over 2800 women's retail stores, serving more than 12.5 million customers annually. In March, 2020, the debtors had to temporarily close all of their stores due to the pandemic. The Debtors tried to renegotiate their secured debt, which was the basis of the original chapter 11 filing. That deal failed, and the Debtors liquidated their assets for a price of approximately $652 million. After the sale, the Debtors filed the plan for reorganization.

Before the bankruptcy, several investors filed a securities class action suit against the Debtors and several individuals, including two former officers of the parent company. The class had not been certified by the time the bankruptcy was filed.

The Third-Party Releases

The opinion includes the full text of the release language in the plan-- taking up seven pages of the opinion (pp. 12-20)-and then summarizes it in a single sentence. It states: "any reasonable review. . . leads to a conclusion that the releases cover any type of claim that existed or could have been brought against anyone associated with the Debtors as of the effective date of the plan." (p. 20). Judge Novak observes that, notwithstanding the great breadth of claims being released and parties affected, the bankruptcy court focused only on the class action claims alleging securities fraud against the Debtor and its former officers.

The Notice

The bankruptcy court, focusing on the possible plaintiffs in the securities class action, required a notice of "non-voting status" to shareholders of the Debtor during the putative class period. It included straightforward language that if the recipient failed to "opt out" of the release by returning the provided enclosed form, they "would be deemed to have released whatever claims [they] may have against many other people and entities (including company officers and directors)" unless they returned the enclosed 'opt out form'. (p. 21). The notice was sent to approximately 300,000 potential members of the securities class action, but not to any other potential claim holder, such as employees, affiliates or creditors. The Debtors received less than 600 opt-out forms. The proposed lead plaintiff for the putative class attempted to opt out for the entire class, but the request was denied because the class had not yet been certified.

The lead plaintiffs in the securities class action appealed the ruling that they could not opt out for the whole class, nor object to the releases since they, individually, had opted out and thus were not affected by them. The Unites States Trustee appealed the confirmation order.

REASONING

Beginning with the standard of review, Judge Novak states that when the bankruptcy court rules on a non-core proceeding in which the parties have not consented to the bankruptcy court's jurisdiction, the bankruptcy court's decisions on both fact and law are reviewed de novo, citing Bankruptcy Rule 8018.1.

In the legal discussion, Judge Novak holds that approving the Third-Party Releases was beyond the bankruptcy court's jurisdiction, and thus reviews the decision as to the releases de novo.

Judge Novak swiftly dispenses with the appeal of the putative class representatives, confirming the bankruptcy court's ruling that, since the class had not been certified, the representatives could not opt out for the class or object on its behalf.

The Bankruptcy Court Did Not Have jurisdiction to Authorize the Third-Party Releases

Judge Novak provides a detailed discussion of the constitutional foundation of a bankruptcy court's jurisdiction, and whether that jurisdiction includes the authority to grant third-party releases without the consent of the affected parties. Finally, he considers whether, in this case, such consent had been granted.

Putting the Release in a Plan Does Not Create Jurisdiction for the Bankruptcy Court

Judge Novak observes that even when the disposition of claims is embedded in a plan of reorganization, the bankruptcy court must analyze and properly classify the claims before it, and so determine whether or not it has jurisdiction over particular claims, before ruling on the plan. He observes that a constitutionally "core" claim-over which the bankruptcy court has jurisdiction-- exists when it "stems from the bankruptcy itself or would necessarily be resolved in the claims allowance process." (p. 43, internal quotations omitted). Such claims must be integral to the restructuring of the debtor-creditor relationship.

Judge Novak observes that "the sheer breath of the Third-Party Releases renders [such claims review] a Herculean undertaking and underscores the constitutional questionability of the court's actions," (p. 45). He concludes by observing that the bankruptcy court clearly did not have jurisdiction over significant portions of the claims being released, since many of the claims between non-debtors would not be related, much less integral, to the restructuring of the debtor-creditor relationship. (p. 47).

Judge Novak rejects the Debtors' argument that the Bankruptcy Code Section 105 operates to create jurisdiction for the bankruptcy court to release third-party claims. That Section allows a bankruptcy court to issue orders "necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code." Judge Novak notes that if the jurisdiction is not tied to a specific statute, then it must be based on a bankruptcy court's inherent jurisdiction over the debtor's property. Judge Novak observes that third-party claims, as a general rule, do not involve the property of the debtor. "[A]s a general rule, a bankruptcy court has no power to say what happens to property that belongs to a third-party, even if that third-party is a creditor or otherwise is a party in interest." (p. 52, internal citations omitted). Judge Novak concludes that "Article III simply does not allow third-party non-debtors to bootstrap any and all of their disputes into a bankruptcy case to obtain relief." (p. 53)

A Releasing Party's Failure to "Opt Out" Does Not Result in Consent to Jurisdiction

Judge Novak provides a detailed discussion on what is required for a party to manifest consent to a bankruptcy court's jurisdiction when they are otherwise entitled to an Article III court adjudication . He rejects the argument that the releasing parties' failure to "opt out" of the release in the plan proved that they consented to the bankruptcy court's jurisdiction over their claims against third parties. Such consent must be "knowing and voluntary," according to the Supreme Court in Wellness Int'l v. Network Ltd. v. Sharif, 575 U.S. 665, 135 S.Ct. 1832 191 L.Ed. 911 (2015). And Judge Novak finds that the Debtors' evidence of mailing 300,000 "opt out" notices to potential securities claimants, without evidence that they were received, or that any other type of claimant received such notice, failed to meet the Supreme Court standard for accepting a bankruptcy court's jurisdiction.

On de Novo Review of the Evidence, Novak Finds the Releases Are Neither Appropriate nor Consensual

The bankruptcy court's lack of jurisdiction over the third-party releases meant that it could not enter a final order confirming the plan. Rather, it should have reported to the District Court with findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the releases. Such a report must "identify with specificity the claims and individuals released and provide detailed proposed findings…to ensure that the released claims are truly integral to the re-organization." (p. 63) Conclusory statements without supporting facts and referenced evidence are not adequate. Judge Novak then sets out a detailed discussion of evidence presented in confirmation trial, including extensive references to witness's testimony. He concludes that the bankruptcy court did not have adequate evidence for many of the findings in the confirmation order.

Finally, Judge Novak finds that the releases were not consensual. Just as the releasing parties did not consent to jurisdiction by failing to "opt out," they also did not consent to the releases themselves. Clearly the releasing parties who did not even get notice did not consent to the release. But Judge Novak finds that, even as to the putative class members, the Debtors did not provide evidence to the bankruptcy court to show that any of those who were sent the notices affirmatively consented to the release, or that they received anything of value for it.

Judge Novak also rejects the Debtors' arguments that contract law and class action law suggest that the releasing parties' consent could be implied by the failure to opt out of their release. For contract law, Judge Novak observes the standard rule that "silence cannot manifest consent." As to the rule that allows the settlement of a class action lawsuit, Judge Novak finds it cuts against the Debtors' position. Citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e), he notes that a court may only approve a class action settlement on finding that it is "fair, reasonable, and adequate." This requires finding that the class is adequately represented, the proposal is negotiated at arm's-length, the relief provided is adequate, and the proposed settlement treats class members equitably relative to each other. (p. 92) In contrast, Judge Novak observes that the releasing parties had no representation, no negotiation, and no compensation for the release.

Judge Novak Suggests Any Non-Consensual Third-Party Releases Based on an "Opt Out" Notice Should Meet the Rules for Class Action Settlement

In a separate discussion on the needs of due process, Judge Novak repeats his frustration with the failure of the Debtor to provide adequate notice to the releasing parties. He focuses on the Supreme Court's ruling in Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U.S. 797 (1985), which addressed how to provide due process to class members in a class action. The Supreme Court required that "a fully descriptive notice [be] sent [by] first-class mail to each class member, with an explanation of the right to 'opt out'." (p. 94). The notice must "be the best practicable, reasonably calculated, under all circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections," and must describe the action and the plaintiffs' rights in it. (p. 95). It also requires that the "named plaintiff at all times adequately represent the interests of the absent class members." Id.

Here, the bankruptcy court only found that the notice to the releasing parties was "sufficient," not the "best practicable," and did not "describe the action and the plaintiffs rights". And, as noted in the prior section, no one represented the releasing parties.

The Releases Do Not Meet the 4th Circuit Requirements of Behrmann v. Nat'l Heritage Found

Having found that the third-party releases were non-consensual, Judge Novak finds that the evidence at the confirmation trial did not support a finding that the releases meet the Fourth Circuit guideline governing such releases. These guidelines are set out in Behrmann v. Nat'l Heritage Found., 663 F.3d 704 (4th Cir. 2011). Judge Novak finds that the evidence did not support any finding of "identity of interests" between the Debtors and the released parties, such that the releases would be necessary to avoid what was essentially litigation against the Debtors. Judge Novak notes that the potential risk that the otherwise-released party might make an indemnification claim against the Debtors was not adequate to establish the "identity of interests" required in Behrmann .

Second, Judge Novak finds that the released parties did not make "substantial contribution of assets to the reorganization" as required by Behrmann . (p. 101). Rather, he found that former officers who were to be released from the securities litigation made no contribution and were not integral to the reorganization. Finally, the releasing parties were not to be paid anything, and as discussed, did not approve of the plan.

The District Court Can Sever and Disallow the Releases Without Triggering "Equitable Mootness"

Judge Novak rejects the Debtors' claim that the releases cannot be severed from the plan, and that its finding is equitably moot. As to severability, the only basis for the Debtors' argument appears to have been a "self-serving" term in the plan that, before confirmation, the Debtors could sever any term, but after confirmation no term could severed. Judge Novak finds that since there was no evidence that any essential party would withdraw their participation from the plan, or that any critical transaction would be undermined by severing the releases, the releases may be severed.

Judge Novak also rejects the claim that the court should dismiss the appeal on the grounds of equitable mootness. First, he notes that since the confirmation order does not constitute a final judgment under the Stern v. Marshall analysis, the equitable mootness doctrine does not apply as there was no final order. He also suggests that since the appeal is brought by the United States Trustee, it should be given more deference. He notes that "[a] finding of equitable mootness would preclude the trustee from fulfilling its duty of protecting the public interest and preventing abuse of the bankruptcy system." (pp. 122-123).

Finally, Judge Novak rejects the exculpation clause in the plan as being excessively broad including "all current and former employees, attorneys, accountants, managers, financial advisors and consultants of every party being exculpated." As with the releases, the exculpation clause did not meet the requirement that it be limited to the parties who have served the Debtors.

Judge Novak concludes by vacating the confirmation order, severing the third-party releases from the plan, and voiding them. He also finds that the exculpation provisions are overly broad as drafted but remands the case so that they may be re-drafted consistent with the opinion.

On remand, Judge Novak also directs the Chief Justice to reassign this case to a different judge outside of the Richmond division.

AUTHOR'S COMMENTS - WHERE RELEASES STAND AND WHERE THEY MIGHT BE GOING

In the Southern District of New York, as of last November, third-party releases are substantively prohibited, for under Purdue they have no statutory basis. And now, in the Eastern District of Virginia, with the opinion in Patterson, such releases, while not prohibited, are severely limited. If allowed at all, an estate third-party release can apply only to clearly-identified parties who have substantially contributed to the bankruptcy estate. Should the release be non-consensual, the notice would need to meet the requirements of a class action settlement in F.R.Civ.P. 23 and be determined by the District Court judge.

As Judge Novak observed in Patterson, these two districts have been venues of choice for very large cases. That may change.

In contrast, the 11th Circuit's opinion in Jackson brushes off that Circuit's previously strict requirements for third-party releases and might be read to have opened up the options in the 11th Circuit. It is notable, however, that the appellant in Jackson was a single personal-injury claimant, not a large class of plaintiffs as in Patterson, or multiple state governments as in Purdue . While the language used to describe the breadth of the releases is almost identical in the three cases, it is possible that the outcome in Jackson was the result of differences in advocacy and scale, or some other inherent bias. The 11th Circuit may well limit the opinion to its facts.

When the matter is before the Supreme Court, it is my opinion that third-party releases will not survive. The logic of Judge Colleen McMahon's argument in Purdue that there is no statutory authority will prevail. If not, a plan containing non-consensual third-party releases will need to comply with the rules governing class action settlements and will need to be decided by the district court. Given the recent order by the Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit to hear the appeal of the Purdue ruling on an accelerated basis, we will not have long to wait for the next turn of the wheel.

This review was written by Wendy W. Smith, a partner in Binder & Malter, LLP and a member of the ad hoc group. Editorial contributions were provided by Meredith Jury (U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, C.D. CA., ret.), also a member of the ad hoc group.

Best regards,

Insolvency Law Committee

Co-Chair
Christopher D. Hughes
Nossaman LLP
chughes@nossaman.com

Co-Chair
Cathy Ta
Reorg Research, Inc.
cta@reorg.com

Co-Vice Chair
Kit J. Gardner
Law Offices of Kit J. Gardner
kgardner@gardnerlegal.com

Co-Vice Chair
Aaron E. de Leest
Danning, Gill, Israel & Krasnoff LLP
adeleest@danninggill.com