Phillips & Thomas is one of the very few firms that gives serious consideration to various alternatives to bankruptcy for financially distressed businesses and individuals. Most, if not all, firms simply have a “boilerplate” mentality when it comes to these types of problems.
One recent decision from the 10th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel highlights the interplay between a confirmed Chapter 11 plan, the persistence of the automatic stay, and the closing of a case. The case also brings into focus the need for caution before opting to close a case without awareness of the consequences. The case in question is In Re Rael, B.A.P. No. WY-14-048, decided February 27, 2015.
The case in question was an individual Chapter 11 case. The debtors filed an individual Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in 2008, and their plan was confirmed in January 2010. The plan provided they would not receive a discharge until they completed all payments under their plan. About a year after their plan was confirmed, they filed a final report and motion for final decree, seeking to close their case to avoid paying the United States Trustee’s quarterly fee assessments. Over objections by both the United States Trustee and Wells Fargo, the bankruptcy court entered a Final Decree and Order Closing Case in 2011.