Thursday, April 23, 2009

Silver State Update

Patience is a virtue. Have you heard that one before? The Silver State Helicopters case is definitely one that has required both action and patience on my behalf and on behalf of all of my clients. For my Citibank clients, I have already achieved 100% success. For all others, the work continues.

Right on Citibank

When Citibank first offered to forgive 100% of my Citibank clients’ SSH student loan debt in all states except California in exchange for an assignment of the clients’ proofs of claim in the SSH bankruptcy, there were a few skeptics. Some suggested that there must be a catch. They said that perhaps Citibank would sell the loans to a third party that would then try to collect. They asked if the students would be sent a 1099 and incur debt settlement income. They wondered aloud if the client’s credit would be trashed. Here is the reality of what has happened:

1. The Citibank offer was expanded and extended to all former SSH students with took out student loans from Citibank to attend SSH, including all of my California clients with Citibank loans.

2. All of my clients with Citibank loans took my advice and accepted Citibank’s offer of 100% loan forgiveness.

3. Citibank did not resell the loans to any third party.

4. Citibank did not send 1099s to any of my clients.

5. Citibank kept its promise to completely remove all reference to the Citibank loans from its credit reporting to all credit reporting agencies.

6. Now, in an unprecedented development, Citibank has agreed to refund all of the money that one of my Citibank clients paid on his Citibank loan prior to receiving Citbank's 100% debt forgiveness offer.

I think it is fair to say that I was right on Citibank. In saying this, I acknowledge the role of Andrew August and Kevin Rooney of the Pinnacle Law Group in helping to achieve this result.

Still Waiting on SLX

On February 18, 2009 I wrote a post on this blog entitled "SLX is Next" in which I stated my belief that SLX would be the next lender to settle with my SSH clients and told my clients with SLX loans to "look for an announcement in the next 30 days." 64 days later, we are all still waiting for this settlement offer that I can recommend to my clients. As I have stated before on this blog, settlement negotiations with SLX are covered by a written confidentiality agreement. This prevents me from discussing the settlement negotiations and the proposed terms of the settlement offer. I will use my best efforts to resolve any remaining differences and to get each and every one of my SSH clients with SLX loans the best possible settlement offer. All Plaintiffs' counsel are cooperating on this matter. Counsel for SLX is the Los Angeles office of Sidley & Austin, with attorney Jennifer Landau acting as lead counsel for SLX. I will e-mail all of my SLX clients with the details of this settlement offer as soon as the offer is made public.

Come On, KeyBank

KeyBank is firmly in last place when it comes to settling with its clients that obtained student loans to attend SSH. Nixon Peabody LLP is counsel for KeyBank on the SSH matter, with Scott O'Connel of the Manchester, New Hampshire branch of the firm serving as lead counsel. Although there have been general discussions and an unsuccessful mediation, there has not been any reasonable settlement offer from KeyBank and its counsel. KeyBank seems to want to wait and see what happens with Citibank and SLX first. With Citibank resolved and SLX well on its way, I am hopeful that real progress will be made soon with KeyBank. On a more positive note, KeyBank continues to honor its no payment while this matter is in dispute offer and has not sued any of my clients. For that matter, I have not received any reports of any lawsuit by SLX against any of my clients either.

Still Out of the Money in the SSH Bankruptcy Case

On November 4, 2008, I wrote that "For now, it appears that the SSH bankruptcy estate is administratively insolvent. This means that there is no money to pay to unsecured creditors and that administrative creditors may receive less than full payment on their claims." 1,620 separate pleading have been filed in the SSH bankruptcy since it was filed on February 5, 2008, but my analysis remains the same: There is no money to pay to unsecured creditors. There has been no indication of when, if ever, a distribution will be made to the unsecured creditors. This is true even for my clients who have made part of their claims priority claims that get paid ahead of general unsecured creditor claims. So far, the best thing that I have been able to do with my clients' proofs of claim against SSH is to trade them to the lenders in exchange for loan forgiveness, as we did with Citibank. Efforts continue on a daily basis to bring additional assets into the bankruptcy estate. If and when I believe that there will be a distribution to my clients from the bankruptcy estate, I will post further information on this subject.

Is Delay Good For You?

It's better than losing. It's better than being sued. It gives the FBI and the State Attorney Generals more time to investigate and develop a case. Public opinon and government pressure can help us. Banks that take government money may be held accountable to the government. In my opinion, delay is better than accepting anything less than the best offer that I can get for you.

Continuing Bankruptcy Legal Education

Every month of the year, I take classes, seminars and programs in bankruptcy law. Every week, I read bankruptcy journals and newsletters. I go far beyond the minimum requirements for continuing my status as a Specialist in Bankruptcy Law, Certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California. On March 13,2009 I participated in an all day program put on by the American Bankruptcy Institute in Beverly Hills, California entitled, “Bankruptcy Battleground West.” Subjects covered included emerging real estate issues in bankruptcy, selling assets in bankruptcy proceedings, and the economic forecast for 2009. Many prominent bankruptcy attorneys from across the Country attended, as did the United States Trustee for Region 16 and 5 of the bankruptcy judges from the Central District of California.

On Saturday, April 11, 2009 I attended the Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Association program on Tax Issues in Bankruptcy at Southwestern Law School.

On May 15-17, I will be attending the California Bankruptcy Forum Conference at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, California. Every bankruptcy judge in California is invited to attend this program free of charge for both the judge and a guest, including the cost of resort lodging, food and all programs. In return, the judges help to teach the attending bankruptcy attorneys about recent developments in bankruptcy law. Most of the Judges in the Central District of California where I practice accept this offer every year. Past year’s events that I attended in Napa and in Palm Desert allowed me not only to further my bankruptcy education, but also to get to know more of the judges on a personal level. This event is always both educational and fun.

We Do Loan Modifications Too

Loan Modification is a hot topic now. Many firms throughout the country are offering loan modification services. Often, the attorney who solicits the business is a front for others or there is no attorney involved whatsoever. They take on any client who can pay their fee, with little or no regard for the likelihood of success. Many of the firms collect illegal up front fees, do little or no work, and leave a trail of consumer complaints in their wake.

At my law office, all loan modification work is done by me and by the Senior Associate Attorneys that work for me. We do not take cases that we think are unlikely to succeed. As with our bankruptcy work, we offer a free consultation to anyone and everyone who is interested in receiving our help.

Our fee structure is simple: $2,500.00 for the first loan on any property and $1,250.00 for any second or third loan on the same property. Unlike other loan modification firms, we offer a full range of bankruptcy services when needed. Sometimes the elimination of debts in a bankruptcy proceeding can increase the likelihood of a successful loan modification after the bankruptcy case is concluded. Other times, a successful loan modification can avoid the need for a bankruptcy altogether.

Boston Marathon 2009

My running friends know that I am a regular participant in the Boston Marathon. On Monday, April 20, 2009, I completed my 6th Boston Marathon, finishing in a time of 3:39:36. In addition to competing as an individual, I was part of a Men’s Masters Team for Track Club Los Angeles (“TCLA”).

The race was exciting as always and the crowd support was fantastic. The woman’s race was decided by one second. I had the pleasure of meeting many of the top finishers in the race, including the female winner of this year’s Boston Marathon Salina Kosgei, and the 2 top finishing Americans, Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall (both finished third). Shown above are some photos of me and my new friends.