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The Delaware Bankruptcy Insider is a premier blog designed to bring its readers a comprehensive analysis of the latest Delaware corporate bankruptcy news and rulings.  Brought to you by Ashby & Geddes, P.A.

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Showing 15 posts in Employment, Retention, Appointment & Compensation.

Delaware Bankruptcy Court Permits Attorneys’ Fees in Fee Defense, Distinguishing ASARCO and Boomerang Tube

In re Nortel Networks Inc., No. 09-10138 (KG), 2016 WL 932947 (Bankr. D. Del. Mar. 8, 2017)

In the Nortel family of cases, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court sustained, in part, an objection to the attorneys’ fees sought by the Nortel Networks Capital Corporation Bonds Indenture Trustee (the “Indenture Trustee”), slashing its attorneys’ fee request by almost one million dollars.  However, the more noteworthy ruling came when Judge Gross permitted the Indenture Trustee’s attorneys’ fees for defending their fees, distinguishing the Supreme Court’s ruling in ASARCO and the Delaware Bankruptcy Court’s recent ruling in Boomerang Tube.  The Court held that the indenture explicitly provides for the payment of the Indenture Trustee’s attorneys’ fees, and clearly falls outside the circumstances of ASARCO and Boomerang Tube. Read More ›

Committee Professionals’ Carve-Out in DIP Financing Order Not Per Se Limit on Fees

In re Molycorp, Inc., No. 15-11357(CSS), 2017 WL 56703 (Bankr. D. Del. Jan. 5, 2017)

In this Opinion, Judge Sontchi found, among other things, that an unambiguous carve-out provision of a debtor-in-possession financing order (the “DIP Financing Order”) did not cap the professional fees and expenses of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (the “Committee”) given that a plan of reorganization was confirmed.  Moreover, because the Committee’s professional did not agree to different treatment, its fees and expenses were administrative expenses that must be paid in full. Read More ›

UPDATE – Insider’s Scoop: Recently Appointed Equity Committee’s Professional Fees Preliminarily Capped by Bankruptcy Court

In re Horsehead Corp., No. 16-10287 (Bankr. D. Del. June 20, 2016) (CSS) [Transcript Ruling]

In the Horsehead family of cases, Judge Sontchi ruled, in the context of considering the equity committee professionals’ retention applications, that a preliminary reasonable global cap of $1.75 million on the equity committee’s professional fees was warranted.  See generally Hr’g Tr. 24:17-29:17.  Our previous blog post analyzing the appointment of the equity committee in these cases can be found here.  The Court had stated at a telephonic discovery conference held just a few days prior that it had “serious concerns that the equity committee is overstepping its charge.” Read More ›

Insider’s Scoop: Bankruptcy Court Grants Motions to Form an Official Equity Committee Due to Dramatic Adjustments to Valuation Over a Short Period of Time

In re Horsehead Corp., No. 16-10287 (Bankr. D. Del. May 2, 2016) (CSS) [Transcript Ruling]

In a packed courtroom, full of shareholders appearing pro se, Judge Sontchi granted motions to appoint an official equity committee.  Acknowledging that he was going “out on a limb here from the standpoint on where the law puts me”, Judge Sontchi cautioned that “something doesn’t smell right to the Court.”  Hr’g Tr. 100:17-19, 100:25-101:1.  The Court based its ruling on His Honor’s experience and the “unusual circumstances” attendant to the Debtor’s valuation, which had decreased drastically since shortly before the filing of the bankruptcy case.  Horsehead Corporation and four affiliates (the “Debtors”) filed bankruptcy petitions on February 2, 2016. Read More ›

The Insider’s Scoop: Boomerang Tube is the Law in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court

In re Magnum Hunter Resources Corp., Case No. 15-12533 (KG) (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 26, 2016)

In re Newbury Common Assocs., LLC, Case No. 15-12507 (LSS) (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 29, 2016)

On February 26, 2016, the Honorable Kevin Gross of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court was asked to weigh in on the attorneys’ fees issue recently addressed in Judge Walrath’s Opinion in Boomerang Tube. Read More ›

The Insider’s Scoop: “Unwise” to Approve Retention of Dechert LLP As Debtors’ Counsel Due to Actual and Potential Conflicts of Interest

In re Newbury Common Assocs., LLC, Case No. 15-12507 (LSS) (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 12, 2016) [Transcript Ruling]

In a bench ruling, Judge Silverstein denied Newbury Common Associates, LLC’s (and its affiliated debtors, the “Debtors”) application to retain and employ Dechert LLP (“Dechert”) as its bankruptcy counsel.  The Court held that Dechert’s prior representation of certain individuals—William Merritt and Thomas Kelly (the “Individuals”)—in a matter related to the Debtors’ bankruptcy, no matter how short in duration or extent, created an actual conflict of interest.  To the extent there was not an actual conflict, the Court held that it was within its discretion to find that numerous potential conflicts warranted disqualification. Read More ›

The Insider’s Scoop: Boomerang Tube Decision Already Endorsed in Delaware

In re Samson Resources, Corp., Case No. 15-11934 (CSS) (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 8, 2016) [Letter Ruling]

[Update - The Honorable Brendan Linehan Shannon has also followed suit, issuing a letter ruling in In re Gulf Resources, LLC.  Therein, His Honor agreed with Judge Walrath's holding in Boomerang Tube "including comments contained in Footnote 6 of the Opinion applying its rationale to the retention of debtor's counsel."]

The Boomerang Tube decision has already been followed by one other Delaware bankruptcy judge.  In a letter ruling in In re Samson Resources Corp., Judge Christopher S. Sontchi agreed with, endorsed, and applied Judge Walrath’s ruling to deny fee defense provisions in retention applications for debtors’ counsel. Read More ›

Fee Defense Provisions Held Impermissible for Estate Professionals Under Section 328; Argument for Contract Based Exception to ASARCO Rejected

In re Boomerang Tube, Inc.,Case No. 15-11247 (MFW), 2016 WL 385933 (Bankr. D. Del. Jan. 29, 2016)

In this case, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court addressed a question remaining in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ASARCO opinion:  Although fees incurred by debtors’ attorneys in defending challenges to their fees are generally not permitted under section 330 of the Bankruptcy Code, may such fees be approved if they are provided in the attorneys’ retention application under section 328(a)?  See Baker Botts LLP v. ASARCO LLC, 135 S.Ct. 2158 (2015).  In a succinct Opinion, Judge Mary F. Walrath ruled that they may not.  After ASARCO, Her Honor held no “contract exception” remains for fee defense provisions under section 328 even if such provisions would have previously been permitted under Third Circuit precedent. Read More ›

Consummated Plan Based Upon Qualified Bid for Equity Received Pursuant to Sale Process Not “Sale Transaction” for Purposes of Investment Banker’s Retention Agreement

In re Hipcricket, Inc., Case No. 15-10104 (LSS), 2015 WL 5728552 (Bankr. D. Del. Sept. 29, 2015)

In this Memorandum Order, Judge Silverstein approved Canaccord Genuity Inc.’s (“Canaccord”) success fee for its work as an investment banker to Hipcricket, Inc. (the “Debtor”) over an objection of Hal L. Baume (the “Distribution Trustee”).  By the terms of Canaccord’s retention, a success fee was due to it unless a proposed buyer provided debtor in possession financing as part of “a contemplated sale transaction” and such sale transaction was consummated.  In this case, the Distribution Trustee asserted that the consummated plan, which was based upon a qualified bid received for the Debtor’s equity during an approved bidding procedures and auction process and which included debtor in possession financing, invalidated Canaccord’s right to a success fee.  A dispute thus arose over the Canaccord retention agreement’s meaning of a “sale transaction.” Read More ›

Who Has Standing to Raise a Potential Conflict of Interest and an Objection to a Firm’s Retention?

Hofmeister v. Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors (In re Revstone Indus., LLC), No. 13-565 (SLR), 2015 WL 5618890 (D. Del. Sept. 24, 2015)

In this Delaware District Court Memorandum affirming the decision of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court to permit the retention of counsel (“Committee Counsel”) to the Revstone debtors’ official committee of unsecured creditors (the “Committee”), the Court addressed who may object to a retention application and press an asserted conflict of interest. Read More ›