||NEWS AND ANALYSIS
ABI LAUNCHES NEW ABI.ORG WEBSITE
ABI today introduced a new flagship website, http://abi.org/, to continue to deliver better services and online resources for members to meet their professional needs. The new website, which launched in beta today, provides a cleaner, more user-friendly layout for members to find the latest information on bankruptcy news and developments, register for ABI events and access other member resources.
We hope you will try out the new site and if you experience any glitches or are having difficulties, click the "feedback" button on the site or let us know at http://support.abi.org/. We look forward to your thoughts and feedback as we continue to improve our services to you through the new website.
BANKRUPTCY RULES ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL CHAPTER 13 PLAN FORM AT FRIDAY HEARING
The U.S. Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules will hold a hearing on Friday at 10 a.m. ET to hear testimony on a mandatory national plan for chapter 13. Alane A. Becket, Ronda Winnecour and Bankruptcy Judges Marvin Isgur, Brian Lynch, Rebecca Connelly are among those set to testify at the hearing on Friday. To read the comments and testimony submitted to date, please click here.
The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules has proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Official Forms, and has requested that the proposals be circulated to the bench, bar and public for comment. The public comment period opened on Aug. 15 for the proposed amendments to Bankruptcy Rules 1010, 1011, 2002, 3002, 3002.1, 3007, 3012, 3015, 4003, 5009, 7001, 9006, 9009 and New Rule 1012, and Official Forms 11A, 11B, 106J, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206Sum, 206A/B, 206D, 206E/F, 206G, 206H, 207, 309A, 309B, 309C, 309D, 309E, 309F, 309G, 309H, 309I, 312, 313, 314, 315, 401, 410, 410A, 410S1, 410S2, 416A, 416B, 416D, 424 and Instructions, and New Official Forms 106J-2 and 113. The public comment period closes on Feb. 17.
GRASSLEY WANTS BANKRUPTCY PROTECTIONS FOR FARMERS
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation today to further protect farmers during bankruptcy, IowaPublicRadio.org reported today. Grassley said that the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) made it clear that the IRS was not the top creditor during a farm's chapter 12 reorganization. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in Hall v. United States (10-875) 5-4 that the IRS must be paid before other creditors. "The Supreme Court screwed everything up by ruling that the law may have been changed in the Bankruptcy Code, but it was not changed in the tax code," Grassley says. Grassley is introducing the legislation with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). Read more.
ANALYSIS: CAESARS MOVE HIGHLIGHTS RISKS TO MULTIEMPLOYER PENSIONS
Caesars Entertainment Corp.'s move last week to seek chapter 11 protection for its biggest unit highlights the risk facing many of the 10 million Americans who are covered by multiemployer pension plans, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The nation's 1,400 such plans, run jointly by unions and employers, are negotiated through collective bargaining and typically financed by several companies. The plans cover a wide range of unionized employees in industries from retailing to trucking to ironworking. But as employers in these industries run out of money or downsize, this puts a bigger financial burden on their peers, sometimes threatening the solvency of the plans. Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. is at least the third major casino operator to seek protection from creditors since 2008, and the industry's ills could ripple through the federal agency that ensures that retirees receive a portion of their benefits if their employers can't. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s own odds of going bust within nine years are the same as those of a coin toss, according to a PBGC official. "This is not rocket science to detect. We said we have a $42 billion deficit in the multiemployer program, and we are getting roughly a billion dollars per decade in premiums; so even if you double a billion dollars per decade in premiums, that doesn't make a big dent," the official said. Caesars told a bankruptcy judge it will keep contributing to employees' pension and health care funds, and that the pension benefits are "protected under the law," according to a statement by Unite Here, a union that represents many casino workers. Read more. (Subscription required.)
CREDIT LINE RESET LOOMS OVER CASH-STRAPPED OIL DRILLERS
Oil and gas companies have April circled on their calendars as their lenders will recalculate the value of properties that energy companies staked as loan collateral, Bloomberg News reported today. With those assets in decline along with oil prices, banks are preparing to cut the amount they are willing to lend, crimping the ability of U.S. drillers to keep production growing. "This could start a downward spiral for some of these companies because liquidity will dry up," said Thomas Watters, managing director of oil and gas research for Standard & Poor’s in New York. "They'll start burning right through cash." More than 20 U.S. exploration and production companies have used at least 60 percent of their credit lines, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Spencer Cutter. The energy industry is facing a cash squeeze as U.S. oil prices have fallen 60 percent since June. Drillers have already cut spending to conserve cash. If credit lines are cut, the most indebted producers will be left scrambling to raise money elsewhere. Read more.
For further analysis on distressed oil and gas companies, be sure to pick up a copy of ABI's When Gushers Go Dry: The Essentials of Oil & Gas Bankruptcy from the ABI Bookstore.
HOLDER ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO ASSET-FORFEITURE PROGRAM
Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday announced sweeping changes to a federal civil asset-forfeiture program that local law enforcement agencies have been able to use to seize property, the Associated Press reported. The asset-forfeiture practice has been criticized, including by civil liberties groups and members of Congress, because it enables law enforcement to seize possessions — such as cars and money — without an indictment or evidence that a crime has occurred. Under new rules announced on Friday, federal agencies will no longer be able to accept or "adopt" assets seized by local and state law enforcement agencies — unless the property includes firearms, ammunition, explosives, child pornography or other materials concerning public safety. Holder described the new policy as the "first step in a comprehensive review." The new policy does not affect asset seizures made under joint state and federal operations, and local law enforcement may still seize property under state laws. The program was developed at a time when most states didn't have their own asset-forfeiture laws and did not have legal authority to forfeit seized items, raising concerns that seized property might ultimately return to the hands of criminals. But Holder said that all states now have civil or criminal asset forfeiture law, so it's no longer as necessary for local law enforcement to turn over seized property to federal agencies. Legislation in Congress is planned to make additional changes in the area of civil asset forfeiture. Read more.
NEXT WEEK: BLOOMBERG BNA PROGRAM IN NEW YORK TO FOCUS ON FINAL REPORT OF ABI’S CHAPTER 11 REFORM COMMISSION
Two programs, sponsored by Bloomberg BNA in January and the American College of Bankruptcy (ACB) Fourth Circuit in February, will focus on the Final Report of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11. Both programs will feature an overview of the Report, and members of the Commission will address their recommendations aimed at modernizing chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Bloomberg BNA 2015 Outlook: "What's Ahead for Chapter 11 Reform?"
Bloomberg Headquarters, New York. January 29, 2015.
This free half-day program will take place at Bloomberg's headquarters in New York on Jan. 29 from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET. Bloomberg's Bill Rochelle and members of ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, including the official reporter, will present three panel discussions analyzing the key recommendations of the 400-page Report. Attendees have the opportunity to earn 3.25 hours of CLE credit. For more information on the free program, including speakers and registration, please click here.
ACB Fourth Circuit Program: "Considering ABI's Report on Chapter 11 Reform"
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. February 13, 2015.
The American College of Bankruptcy Fourth Circuit program, "Considering ABI's Report on Chapter 11 Reform," will be held on Feb. 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET on Capitol Hill. The free event will take place in Room 226 of the Rayburn House Office Building (House Judiciary Committee) and will feature discussion by ABI commissioners and bankruptcy experts on the Final Report's treatment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 363 sales, valuation and more. For more information and to register, please click here.
ORDER YOUR PRINTED COPY OF THE FINAL REPORT OF ABI'S COMMISSION TO STUDY THE REFORM OF CHAPTER 11!
Order your printed copy of the Final Report of ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11! The 402-page Final Report contains more than 200 discrete recommendations of chapter 11 policy reforms. ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 was established in 2012 with a mission to study and propose reforms to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code and related statutory provisions. After months of deliberations, the Commission unanimously adopted this report to provide to Congress. For the special price of $40, you will have all the testimony, studies and figures that went into compiling the recommendations at your fingertips! Click here to order.
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: POWERS V. CREDIT MANAGEMENT SERVICES INC. (8TH CIR.)
Summarized by Michael Cooley of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
The Eighth Circuit found that standard form complaints and discovery requests served on debtors by a consumer debt collector did not, on their face, violate the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and therefore were insufficient to support class certification under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b).
There are more than 1,500 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI's Volo website.
NEW ON ABI'S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON CLAIMS TRADING
A recent blog post takes a closer look at the recommendations on claims trading within the Final Report of the ABI's Chapter 11 Reform Commission.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
"Executoriness" should be dropped as a threshold requirement in § 365.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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BLOOMBERG BNA 2015 OUTLOOK: "WHAT'S AHEAD FOR CHAPTER 11 REFORM?"
Bloomberg Headquarters, New York, January 29, 2015.
ACB 4th Cir. Program on ABI Chapter 11 Reform Report
Feb. 13, 2015 Washington, D.C.