Tuesday, September 15, 2015

After Woerner, Courts Look for "Good Gambles"

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
--Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

After the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Barron & Newburger, P.C. v. Texas Skyline Ltd. (Matter of Woerner), 783 F.3d 286 (5th Cir. 2015), lawyers for bankruptcy estates breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that they could still be compensated for “good gambles” gone awry.   However, how would the courts measure a “good gamble” in the context of a case that didn’t quite work out?   Two decisions issued on the same day help answer that question.    In Case No. 13-33264, Digerati Technologies, Inc. (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 8/21/15), a highly contentious case resulted in a confirmed plan but only after an initial plan proposed by management was rejected.   In Case No. 10-11365, In re Woerner(Bankr. W.D. Tex. 8/21/15), the Bankruptcy Court that ruled in the case that was eventually reversed by the en banc Fifth Circuit reconsidered its ruling following remand.   In both cases, debtor’s counsel received some but not all of the fees requested.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Texas Judges Explore State Law on Liens and Homestead Exemptions

Much state law regarding liens and property rights emerges from the Bankruptcy Courts because they are frequently the first to confront novel issues.   Two recent opinions from the Western District of Texas bankruptcy judges confirm this trend.   In one case, Judge Tony Davis found that an option to acquire a leased homestead could be claimed as exempt, No. 14-11006, James Wayne See (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 7/14/15), while in the other, Chief Judge Ronald King rejected an attempt to void a judgment creditors' lien under the Texas Property Code, Studensky v. Buttery Company, LLP,  Adv. No. 15-6001 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 7/2/15).