Based in Denver, Colorado, the Law Offices of Kevin S. Neiman, pc represents virtually every constituency in Chapter 11 (reorganization) business and individual bankruptcy cases, including business and individual debtors; secured, undersecured, and unsecured creditors; administrative expense claimants; and trustees, committees of unsecured creditors, and creditors on committees.
The Chapter 11 process is complicated, nuanced, and necessarily requires lawyers who have substantial Chapter 11 experience, knowledge, and abilities in order for clients to be meaningfully and adequately represented. Kevin has been counseling clients in Chapter 11 cases since 1996, initially in Miami, Florida, and now in Denver, Colorado, minutes from where the main Colorado bankruptcy courthouse is located.Call 303.996.8637
Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the U.S. Code (the Bankruptcy Code) is commonly known as the reorganization chapter for businesses and is one of the chapters that individuals can use to attempt to reorganize their debts and try to address certain types of other issues.
Like all filed bankruptcy cases, a Chapter 11 case begins with the filing of a petition for relief, whether voluntarily by the debtor or involuntarily by a petitioning creditor. Once filed and an order for relief is entered, the debtor becomes a “debtor-in-possession,” which means that the business or individual is in possession and control of its assets and operations. Typically, the debtor will likewise file, among other things, schedules setting forth its assets, liabilities, creditor information, and other related information, as well as a statement of financial affairs.
During the Chapter 11 process, creditors have many options to pursue if they are displeased with how the case is proceeding or otherwise want to further their interests. Examples include:
Effective February 2020, Congress amended the Bankruptcy Code to streamline the process by which small business debtors reorganize and rehabilitate their financial affairs. The intent of these changes is to allow small business debtors to file bankruptcy in a timely, cost-effective manner, and hopefully allow them to remain in business, which not only benefits the owners, but employees, suppliers, customers, and others who rely on that business. Among other things, the amendments modify confirmation requirements, provide for the participation of a trustee, alter several administrative and procedural rules, and likewise affect certain individual debtor chapter 11 cases. In March 2020, Congress further amended the Bankruptcy Code by temporarily increasing the debt ceiling for small business debtors to $7.5 million, enabling many more potential debtors to qualify for Chapter 11 relief if they so choose.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization was originally intended for businesses, but individuals are also eligible. Those who file usually have assets that they want to protect, thus making Chapter 7 liquidation not preferable. And Chapter 13 individual reorganization may not be available because the individual’s debts exceed that chapter’s eligibility limits.
A debtor is the business or individual that is the subject of a bankruptcy petition, usually filed voluntarily by the debtor, but sometimes filed involuntarily by a creditor or several creditors.
A secured creditor has a pre-bankruptcy claim against the debtor that is secured by a charge against or interest in property to secure payment of a debt or performance of an obligation – i.e., the creditor is secured by a lien.
An undersecured creditor has a pre-bankruptcy claim against the debtor that is secured by a charge against or interest in property to secure payment of a debt or performance of an obligation – i.e., the creditor is secured by a lien. However, the value of the property secured by the lien is not enough to fully satisfy the amount owed to the creditor. Thus, the creditor is partially secured and partially unsecured.
An unsecured creditor has a pre-bankruptcy claim against the debtor, but the creditor does not have any lien to secure payment of a debt or performance of an obligation. In bankruptcy, creditors can be unsecured, but also entitled to priority up to certain amounts over other unsecured creditors if their claim is of a particular type such as domestic support obligations; wages, salaries, and commissions; contributions to employee benefit plans; and specific types of money deposits. If a creditor is not entitled to any such priority, the creditor is sometimes called a general unsecured creditor.
An administrative expense claimant has a post-bankruptcy claim that, generally, helps preserve the debtor’s bankruptcy estate. Examples include wages, salaries, and commissions for services rendered after the commencement of the bankruptcy case; and post-bankruptcy taxes.
A Chapter 11 trustee can be appointed in a Chapter 11 case to replace the debtor’s management while the debtor is in Chapter 11, often when there is evidence of fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, or gross management in the affairs of the debtor by current management. Also, liquidating trustees can be appointed, usually through a confirmed plan of liquidation or similar mechanism.
A committee of unsecured creditors is a committee consisting of creditors that hold unsecured claims in a Chapter 11 case that generally look out for the interests of the unsecured creditor body as a whole. They have considerable powers, including rights related to consulting with the debtor or trustee concerning administration of the case, investigating any matter relevant to the case or to the formulation of a plan, and participating in the formulation of a plan.