Two recent decisions from Delaware illustrate somewhat divergent views from the bankruptcy bench on the proper procedures for obtaining non-debtor releases in confirmed plans of reorganization. In both In re Emerge Energy Services LP, et al.1 and In re Cloud Peak Energy Inc., et al.2 the debtors’ initial, and then certain subsequent, efforts at plan confirmation were stymied by proposed opt-out procedures. Ultimately, both debtors were able to confirm their plans after adjusting the applicable release provisions, as described below. Collectively, these decisions demonstrate how closely many courts will scrutinize non-debtor releases and the importance of designing procedures for obtaining consent to such releases that demonstrate that they are procedurally fair.

Continue Reading Recent Delaware Decisions Show Divergent Views on Third-Party Release Procedures

Law360 reports that Bar Louie secured approval for its sale procedures on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Judge Mary Walrath of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the sale procedures after cutting the stalking horse bidder’s breakup fee by $1.4 million and eliminating a 1% reimbursement fee intended to be paid

On December 19, 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held in In re Millennium Lab Holdings II, LLC1 that bankruptcy courts have the constitutional authority, well within the constraints of Stern v. Marshall,2 to confirm Chapter 11 reorganization plans containing nonconsensual third-party releases. This decision is notable not only because it is the first federal circuit court of appeals decision addressing (and overruling) a Stern challenge to a bankruptcy court’s authority to approve such releases but also because it was issued in a circuit where the ability of a plan to otherwise provide for nonconsensual releases of third-party claims is already generally recognized.3

Continue Reading Third Circuit Holds Bankruptcy Courts May Constitutionally Confirm a Chapter 11 Plan Containing Nonconsensual Third-Party Releases

The question of whether a debtor’s plan of reorganization can include non-consensual releases for non-debtor parties has been hotly contested for several years, with circuit courts oftentimes split.  In his recent decision on the topic in the Aegean case,  New York Southern District Bankruptcy Judge Michael E. Wiles explored the limitations on such releases even