Colt Defense Bankruptcy

Colt Defense, LLC, a maker of firearms for 179 years has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware. Officials say they plan to financially restructure as to allow for an “accelerated sale” of business operations in the U.S. and Canada.

Financial Woes

According to Bloomberg, the firearms maker has been struggling financially due to delays in government and foreign sales, as well as a change in the demand for sport rifles and commercial handguns. One of the chief suppliers of M4 rifles to the U.S. Military for decades, they lost their contract with the military in 2013 and the company has never recovered.

Problems in quality were a contributor in the demise of the company. Soldiers who relied on the M4 criticized the guns for malfunctioning once they got dirty, as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the gun came in dead last in a comparison “extreme dust test” in 2007, the Pentagon declared their support for the Colt model. However, special operations and other special forces who had more money began selecting other guns more often for their use before the Pentagon finally broke off their contract with Colt.

Other Challenges

Another trouble that Colt faced was the rejection by many law enforcement agencies of their 1911 gun, citing a long line of complaints about the gun jamming, and selecting Glock pistols as sidearms instead. And still other problems stemmed from the corporate structure, divided between military and private gun owner interests, that prevented them from taking advantage of a surge in gun sales that coincided with the election of President Obama in 2008.

Stirred by NRA-fueled rumors that the Democratic President would soon heighten gun control, many rushed to buy guns, sweeping gun dealers’ shelves of ammo and weaponry. While many better-prepared gun manufacturers were able to see a rise in profits, Colt had to sell their rifles to the manufacturing arm of the company, and then get the rifles to the distributors, an extremely slow process.

The Company Will Remain Open

Though the company is declaring Chapter 11 in its bankruptcy proceedings, it will still remain open to restructure the company financially. The company took out an emergency $70 million loan from Morgan Stanley to pay interest in November of 2014, but they were not able to meet their first interest payment in June. It also took a $33 million restructuring deal with a hedge fund agency this year to free up more of its liquid assets.

The company currently plans to restructure financially and keep their commitments to consumers, vendors, suppliers, and staff. The manufacturer will stay open, and has selected a “stalking horse bidder” of Sciens Capital Management, LLC for their assets and liabilities and will keep Colt’s current management team.

Though their consumer confidence and their ability to meet consumer manufacturing demands is fragile, there is optimism that the restructuring of the company will help the company keep their production and financial commitments.

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Supreme court rejects second lien stripping

In an unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, a decision was passed down that prevents a debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding from voiding a junior mortgage (or second mortgage) if the debt on a senior (or first) mortgage exceeds the current value of the home or collateral. This is in effect when the claim by the creditor is secured with a lien and allowed in the code.

This means that the junior mortgage is not considered an “unsecured” loan, and will not be permitted to be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. This will primarily benefit commercial lenders, and will allow junior lien holders to collect on loans in the event that a debtor files for bankruptcy.

In its decision, the court ruled for Bank of America against two debtors – Edelmiro Toledo-Cardona and David Caulkett – who wanted to pay off their junior loans out of the money borrowed in second loans. The ruling by the Supreme Court reverses a 2014 decision that would allow the stripping off of the second mortgages where the first mortgage is under-secured at the time of the bankruptcy. The lien holders argued that the 2014 decision would allow debtors to void certain liens on their homes.

Judge Clarence Thomas wrote that this interpretation on the code would be difficult to apply to the framework of bankruptcy, given the fluctuating state of the real-estate markets. Justice Thomas writes, “Given the constantly shifting value of real property, this reading could lead to arbitrary results.”

Tension Between First and Second Mortgage Holders

While voiding a junior lien can make it easier for a primary mortgage holder to sell a property it can be a great economic worry for junior lien holders. A decision against the second mortgage holder could inflate the prices of credit across much of the economy.

With many housing markets on the upswing after the doldrums of the 2008 slump, houses need only appreciate a few thousand dollars for many second mortgages to be in the money. Simply discharging those loans would make it more difficult for future consumers to acquire second mortgages, as they would be considered too high a risk for lenders to take.

What This Means For Future Bankruptcy Cases

If you declare bankruptcy and have a senior and junior loan, and you declare bankruptcy, you may not be able to discharge a second mortgage, even if the collateral is not worth the amount left on the loan. You may only prevail if the lien holder is not secured according to the rules of the court, since in that case, the value of the lien to the bank would be zero.

However, in most junior or second mortgages, the loans are secured and cannot be stripped or made void in a bankruptcy proceeding.

This only seems to be in effect for Chapter 7 proceedings as it has been stated that this ruling does not effect Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

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The Fine Line Between Success and Bankruptcy

The beginning of any new startup company is an optimistic time. After the fundraising, vision-creating, and product building, any founder or team member would hope that things would go smoothly from then on. However this is not always the case.

The “patient stage” is a trying time in many startup businesses, requiring a great deal of patience and perseverance to get through. This is what that often looks like: Perhaps after fundraising and a few product delays, a product gets put into the market…and doesn’t do very well. Maybe it performs marginally, or maybe it’s just a flat-out disappointment.

Even if the development team knows what needs to be fixed, and does so, it might still not be “good enough.” This process can repeat again and again, and frustrations can run high as they run through team members and new hires to fix whatever the problem is.

Whether the issue is a product, a business model, or a marketing channel, how you deal with the “patient stage” will determine if your company thrives or fails.

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Supreme Court Ruling – The Decision-Making Power of Bankruptcy Judges

In May of 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bankruptcy judges have the power of final judgments in certain legal disputes that arise from bankruptcy proceedings. This will boost the power of the Bankruptcy Court system.

A Question of Authority

This decision concerned an appellate court decision in the case of Wellness International Network Ltd. vs. Sharif, where it was decided that the bankruptcy court did not have the authority to decide if certain property remained with the bankruptcy estate, since the dispute involved state laws as well.

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Too Poor To File For Bankruptcy?

In the past, people who were struggling financially had the option of filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. While this option still exists, the increased costs of filing for bankruptcy has effectively removed this option from truly poor people, a new study has found.

A New Study

A study by The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“Insolvency after the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform”, by economists Stefania Albanesi of the New York Fed and Jaromir Nosal of Columbia University) has found that the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, originally passed to keep people out of bankruptcy court, has raised the cost of filing for bankruptcy significantly. This has prevented the people who need it most from filing.

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GM Won’t Face Lawsuits Because of 2009 Bankruptcy

One unexpected result of the car manufacturer’s 2009 bankruptcy is that now they cannot be held responsible for the ignition malfunction in cars recalled in 2014. The company faced over 130 lawsuits for accidents and vehicle loss. A federal bankruptcy court judge recently ruled in favor of GM, who said that the defects took place under “Old GM” and not “New GM.”

When the company restructured after the 2009 bankruptcy proceeding, the bankruptcy judge stated that all liabilities from “Old GM” would be discharged and the “New GM” would no longer be responsible for them.

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Bankruptcy Fraud in Florida

Though filing bankruptcy comes with fear attached on many occasions after the fear often comes a sigh of relief.  Although a vast majority of bankruptcy cases are lawful and done for legitimate reasons, there are some cases that involve fraud.  Bankruptcy fraud is often committed in tandem with other financial crimes such as filing in multiple states or stealing credit card numbers. It is, comparatively, a simple crime to commit.

Punishment for bankruptcy fraud is severe, and since all of the paperwork required contains exhaustive information regarding the types of fraud and the penalties for them, it is very difficult if not impossible to plead ignorance. Once a bankruptcy trustee suspects a client of fraud, that party is free to compel testimony from anyone at all.

Hiding or Concealing Assets

If you are caught transferring ownership of property of any kind to family or friends in an effort to hide assets, you could receive jail time. You must be accountable for all of them, and you can leave nothing out.

When a bankruptcy is filed, investigators search every asset you posses or will possess, and a full explanation is demanded from you. Hiding anything of any value in order to regain possession of it after the bankruptcy is finalized is illegal.

Credit Card Fraud

If you were thinking of getting a credit card just before you declare bankruptcy and fill it with purchases, believing it would be paid off with the bankruptcy, think again! Once bankruptcy is filed, all of your spending records are taken into account, and such irresponsible spending can lead to your request to be denied.

Alternatively, the charges you incur could be considered non dis-chargeable, which would mean that you would still have to pay the debt. Once bankruptcy proceedings are over, the bankruptcy trustees will tell you for what you may or may not spend money, and how bills will be paid.

Intentionally Filing Incomplete or Incorrect Forms

It is of the utmost importance that your forms be filled out honestly, thoroughly, and correctly. It is very important to have a good bankruptcy lawyer help you fill out forms, answer your questions, and tell you what financial information needs to be included in your documentation.

If there is a mistake on the form, it quickly becomes a red flag and an issue. There is also the possibility that you won’t be able to prove that the mistake was genuine. Giving false answers on any bankruptcy form could get you prosecuted for bankruptcy fraud so run everything by a bankruptcy lawyer before submission.

Filing Bankruptcy in Multiple States with False or Real Information

Whether you use genuine or false information, filing bankruptcy in multiple states is illegal and constitutes bankruptcy fraud. This crime carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, a heavy fine, or both. These multiple filings can slow down the court’s handling of a bankruptcy and the discovery of assets the debtor may be hiding. If you have ties to more than one state, consult your lawyer on the correct procedure to take.

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New Obama Executive Order Regarding Student Loan Discharge

Though traditionally, student loans have not been dis-chargeable in bankruptcy, that may soon change. On March 10th, 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive action that may make it easier to erase student debt for those who file bankruptcy.

New Ease in Eliminating Student Debt

Historically, student loans have only been dischargeable by those who are under extreme hardship, which is difficult to prove in bankruptcy courts. The proposed legislation by the President would make it easier for more people to eliminate their student debt. It is currently unclear how many debtors could be affected and what the new standards would be.

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David Cassidy Bankruptcy Case

It looks as if one time heartthrob David Cassidy has fallen on hard times. The 70s television star who has sold over 30 million records, has filed for bankruptcy in a federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He states that he has nearly $500,000 worth of debt that he is unable to pay back.

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Radio Shack Bankruptcy Case

After 94 years, what was once a staple of radio and stereo aficionados has filed for bankruptcy. Though they had managed to stay in business for many years more than expected, the company will be doing a massive restructuring and closing many stores.

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