Recent Developments in Bankruptcy Law


The Bankruptcy Code allows for the setoff of “mutual debts” in a bankruptcy proceeding under 11 U.S.C. 553(a).  Section 553 makes no reference to non-mutual debts, which courts interpret to mean that non-mutual debts are not subject to setoff under the Bankruptcy Code.  Recently, in the SemCrude bankruptcy, the Honorable Brendan L. Shannon issued

Today in the PPI Holdings bankruptcy,  the PPI debtors presented their bid procedures motion which sought approval of the procedures by which PPI would sell substantially all of its assets.  PPI’s motion also sought approval of a break-up fee for the stalking horse bidder.  In support of the break-up fee, PPI cited the Third Circuit’s decision in Calpine Corp. v. O’Brien Envtl. Energy, Inc. (In re O’Brien Envtl. Energy, Inc.), 181 F.3d 527 (3d Cir. 1999). 

Given the increase in bankruptcies,  break-up fees will continue to be an issue for debtors and creditors alike.  The purpose of this post is to take a look at the O’Brien decision and consider when a break-up fee is appropriate, and the factors courts will consider in deciding to award such fees.

Continue Reading When Is The Stalking Horse Break-up Fee A Benefit To The Bankruptcy Estate: Another Look at Calpine v. O’Brien Environmental Energy


In a recent opinion issued by the Honorable Kevin Gross of the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware,  the Court addressed the issue of whether a debtor was solvent when it made allegedly preferential transfers to the Defendant.  The Court’s decision provides a helpful analysis of the less frequent "solvency" defense to a preference action.  Further, the decision provides guidance regarding the evidentiary issues that arise when a party raises this defense.


The Court issued its decision in Miller v. Barenberg, et al. (In re Bernard Technologies, Inc.), Adv. No. 06-51017(KG), slip op. (Bankr.D.Del. Dec. 5, 2008).  In Bernard Technologies,  George Miller, the chapter 7 Trustee and plaintiff, sought to recover pre-petition transfers paid to Bernard’s former CEO, Dr. Sumner Barenberg (the "Defendant").  As an alleged "insider," the Trustee sought to recover transfers made to the Defendant during the one year prior to Bernard Technologies (the "Debtor") filing for bankruptcy.  One of the defenses raised by the Defendant was that the Debtor was solvent during both the 90 day preference period, as well as the one year preference period applied to insiders.

Continue Reading Using the Solvency Defense in a Preference Action: In re Bernard Technologies


In a recent decision in the Distributed Energy Systems bankruptcy ("DES" or "Debtors"),  the Honorable Kevin Gross of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware provided a concise discussion of what is required for a debtor to assume and assign an executory contract.  DES filed a motion seeking to assume and assign contracts with ePower and Vestas Wind Systems to CB Wind Acquisition Corp ("CB Wind").  CB Wind previously purchased all of Debtors’ assets. Due to what Debtors’ termed a "scrivener’s error,"  the ePower and Vestas contracts were not included in the schedules to the original asset purchase agreement.

ePower objected to the assumption of its contract on several grounds.  First, ePower argued that DES failed to prove CB Wind could provide adequate assurance of future performance.  Next,  ePower claimed that its contract was not an executory contract and therefore not subject to assumption and assignment under section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Finally,  ePower argued that Debtors’ failure to include its contract in the sale motion evidenced its original intent to reject the agreement. 

Continue Reading Distributed Energy Decision Provides Analysis of Adequate Assurance and Executory Versus Non-Executory Contracts


In a decision that the Court deemed “one of first impression for this Circuit,” the Honorable Kevin Gross of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, declined to grant administrative claim status to employee WARN Act claims, instead finding that the employees’ claims vested prior to the commencement of the bankruptcy

Earlier this year, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware issued an important decision in American Home Mortgage, Inc. regarding the scope of the recently amended definition of a “repurchase agreement”.  Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Consumer Protection Act of 2005,  Congress broadened the Bankruptcy Code’s definition of  "repurchase agreement" to include the

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware recently approved a Trade Vendor Payment Program (the “Vendor Program” or “Program”) in the Linens N Things Center, Inc., et al.(“Linens”), bankruptcy . According to Linens’ Motion to Approve Trade Vendor Payment Program, Linens created the Program in order to encourage trade creditors