Federal Bar Association 16th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium – November 22, 2019

You can access the program brochure here.


Hon. Victoria S. Kaufman, United States Bankruptcy Court
Hon. Scott C. Clarkson, United States Bankruptcy Court
J. Scott Bovitz, Bovitz & Spitzer
Stella Havkin, Havkin & Shrago
Arthur Margolis, Margolis & Margolis LLP
Jim Selth, Weintraub & Selth APC
John Sheller, Esq.
Cathy Ta, SulmeyerKupetz APC
M. Jonathan Hayes, Resnik Hayes Moradi LLP

• Common ethical traps for bankruptcy practitioners
• Bankruptcy Lawyer Trip Ups: Law Firm Technology; Less Than Perfect Law Firm Practices; and The Very Best of
Those Gosh Darn Solicitations That Land in My In Box Every Single Morning
• Day One: Retainers, Trust Accounts and Getting Started on the Right Foot

Program Chair: Joseph Boufadel, Salvato Law Offices

2019 Lazarow Awards – November 14, 2019

Email from Barbara Sanchez

Hi Jon,

I hope you and yours are doing well.

The Debtor Assistance Project is hosting the Lasarow Awards Reception at the Roybal Building on Thursday, November 14, from 6-8 p.m. Each of the Central District’s Self-Help Centers will honor an outstanding volunteer. I hope you will join me for this free event with Central District Judges and court staff, representatives from the Self-Help Clinics, attorneys, volunteers, and supporters.

Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County is proud to present the 2019 Lasarow Award to longtime volunteer Patricia Said, in recognition of her exceptional pro bono service. In addition, Public Counsel will be honoring Judge Zurzolo for his work over the past 20 years in advocating to make the courts more accessible to their clients.

Please see below for information about the 2019 Lasarow Awards Reception, and a link you can use to register.  I would appreciate your responding to me, as well.

With your help, the San Fernando Valley Self-Help Desk has assisted more than 10,000 visitors. Together, we are changing lives. Thanks so much for your support!

Best regards,



You can register at: surveymonkey.com/r/lasarow

Save the date: cdcbaa annual Calvin Ashland Awards Dinner – November 7, 2019

2019 Calvin Ashland Awards Dinner: Join us for a Night of Celebration to Honor Howard M. Ehrenberg- Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7pm

The L.A. Grand Hotel 333. South Figueroa St. Los ANGELES, CA. 90071

Howard M. Ehrenberg is this years’ Calvin Ashland Trustee of the Year!

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019
Location: The L.A. Grand Hotel DTLA (Pacific Ballroom)

Time: Reception and No-Host Bar-6p | Dinner & Awards 7p
Entertainment: Jazz Trio featuring Bruce Campbell

RSVP by October 23, 2019 (online or mailing in reservation form)

cdcbaa MEMBERS: 2019 cdcbaa annual membership fee includes one free ticket to this dinner.  Members must RSVP prior to October 23, 2019 to attend the dinner.  Please complete the form and indicate your meal preference.
$125 for on-time non-members and guests with RSVP and payment received by 10/23/19
$150 non-member and guests RSVP and payment received after 10/23/19
$175 at the door*
JUDGES/GOV’T: No charge for Judges to attend and $100 for Law Clerks/ Government Employees

Bankruptcy filings increase in September, 2019 – a little

Filings for September, 2019 were a little lower than August but a little higher than September 2018.

2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Jan 2,745 2,741 2,839 2,872 3,364 4,704
Feb 2,754 2,708 2,795 3,299 3,829 4,574
March 3,481 3,363 3,782 3,923 4,496 5,430
April 3,631 3,277 3,209 3,584 4,486 5,364
May 3,347 3,226 3,384 3,484 3,971 5,500
June 2,967 2,981 3,252 3,545 3,966 4,386
July 3,270 3,057 2,953 3,239 3,731 4,701
Aug 3,274 3,337 3,387 3,543 3,544 4,540
Sept 2,934 2,772 3,071 3,168 3,493 4,317
Oct 3,259 3,170 3,235 3,751 4,554
Nov 2,821 3,004 3,025 3,531 3,642
Dec 2,419 2,416 2,902 2,718 3,733
Total 28,403 35,961 37,262 39,819 44,880 55,445

We are actually about 3.5% ahead of 2018 through September – 28,403 compared to 27,462 for 2018.

Filings year-to-date by chapter in the Central District.

Non-Comm’l Commercial Chapter 7 Chapter 13 Chapter 11
25,891 2,325 22,100 5,840 276
91% 8% 78% 21% 1%


Small Business Task Force – Central District

Email from Chief Judge Maureen Tighe:

Dear Bar Advisory Board members:

As I mentioned at our last meeting, I am seeking nominations for members of a small business task force I am setting up for January 2020.  You may send nominations to the email address below.  The task force will be in furtherance of the court’s goal to be as accessible as possible to business cases.  We will focus in the task force on the small family businesses and other small businesses in the district.  The group will define the term “small business” more as part of its work, but the total liabilities are likely under $3 million.  I will be selecting a broad range of people from around the entire district and encourage you to nominate people with connections to various communities and small business groups in the district, whether or not they have bankruptcy experience.  There will be monthly meetings and community outreach, discussion and report writing involved, so it should be someone able to commit sufficient time to the project.  If you could tell me a little bit about anyone you nominate, that would be helpful.  To give your more guidance, I list the goals of our soon to be final strategic plan below:  Outreach for Businesses. Ensure that businesses know how to appropriately access bankruptcy resources


- Have sufficient outreach and public education to ensure that businesses in financial distress are aware of bankruptcy laws, referral resources, and bankruptcy-related fraudulent schemes
- Investigate and identify barriers that prevent small businesses from accessing court resources
- Maintain and develop relationships with a diverse range of organizations, community groups, and bar associations
- Study the existing business bankruptcy procedures to see whether there are barriers to business access

The recently enacted Small Business Reorganization Act will be considered as part of this task force, as we would like to see that word gets out about this new law and that the court implement it well.  The scope of the task force is broader than the new law, however.  Because the task force likely will not complete its work until late 2020, the Rules Committee we will be addressing separately and much sooner whether any new rule or form changes are required before the Act goes into effect in February.  Judge Scott Clarkson, Chair of the court’s Rules Committee, is currently gathering suggestions from the bar of any changes you believe are required for any of the recently enacted bankruptcy legislation. Please send your comments directly to him at Scott_Clarkson@cacb.uscourts.gov. And send nominations for the Task Force to Email address: CACB_SBTF@cacb.uscourts.gov

Maureen Tighe, Chief Bankruptcy Judge United States Bankruptcy Court,Central District of California

San Fernando Valley Bar Assn program this Friday on 9th Circuit BAP opinions.

Email from Steve Fox:

Dear All:

The bankruptcy program we present on Friday will look at recent, relevant and riveting Ninth Circuit BAP opinions.  Our panelists are the Honorable Deborah Saltzman, Jessica Bagdanov  and Roksana Moradi-Brovia.  The materials are good, really gook, 26 pages of detailed briefs, case by case.  So what are the topics?

  • Violation of the discharge injunction via post-discharge letters.  Where is the boundary between permissible and non-permissible communications?
  • Examining an oft-overlooked requirement of Section 523(a)(6) – the required subjective motive to inflict the injury or that the debtor believed that injury was substantially certain to occur.
  • Is jewelry property of the estate when, as of the petition the jewelry was is in the possession of a pawn shop and the redemption period had passed?
  • The really uncomfortable case where the attorney for a debtor asserts a position for the client (and exemption) without performing an adequate legal analysis and what happens to the attorney.
  • Student Loans.  The BAP considers the good faith prong of Brunner where the debtor’s financial condition was self-inflicted.
  • Chapter 11 Confirmed Plan.  This opinion considers whether an order granting a motion for reconsideration of a chapter 11 plan resets the deadline to file a complaint seeking to revoke the confirmation order?
  • We have had considerable discussion in the bankruptcy section about attorneys’ fees in bankruptcy litigation.  Here the BAP discusses the timing of seeking attorneys’ fees for “enforcement of a judgment”.
  • Here is another attorneys’ fees issue.  Is a bankruptcy court judgment that a contingent deb is nondischargeable sufficient to establish “prevailing party” for purposes of recovering attorneys’ fees where the underlying state court action has not yet concluded?
  • Where a debtor is under the influence of prescription medications which impairs his ability to give testimony at a deposition, does not take the medications the day of the depositions and then refusing to answer questions about his medical diagnosis, and the side effects of his medications, all citing a psychotherapist-patient privilege, what is a court to do?
  • A neat opinion on the interplay in chapter 11 between retention of exempt property post-confirmation and the absolute priority rule.
  • And so much more.

Come join us on Friday and learn what the BAP has been up to during the past year! Read more…

Judge Scott Clarkson website on Rembrandt van Rijn — Bankrupt Printmaker, Art, love and insolvency in the 17th Century

Judge Scott Clarkson has a great website you need to visit - Rembrandt van Rijn — Bankrupt Printmaker, Art, love and insolvency in the 17th Century.   As is said on the website, “Judge Clarkson’s hour-long lecture and PowerPoint presentation of the life and 1656 Bankruptcy of the Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn paints a unique picture of art, personality, the loves of his life, and his overwhelming financial successes and failures.  Scott will take his unique show to American University on November 1, 2019.

Take a look at the picture of the US Capitol that Scott uses for the background of the announcement.    The picture was taken by my son Desmond (who also created and maintains this blog for me).   Des and I were at the Space Museum late in the afternoon  a few years ago and we walked out and the sun was shining through on the capitol on what was otherwise a very gloomy day.  Thanks to Scott for thinking of Des.

Bankruptcy filings in the Central District of California – 2018

Reading the Central District Annual Report for 2018 on the subway.  What caught my eye was the filings by division for calendar year 2018.  Riverside filings are 71% of downtown filings – Riverside 11,191 to LA 15,670.  Riverside had more cases filed than Santa Ana, San Fernando Valley and Santa Barbara combined.   Filings in Santa Barbara are two-thirds the filings in the San Fernando Valley.

LA 15,670
SFV 3,243
Riv 11,191
SA 4,881
SB 2,207
Total 37,192

What portion you say of the total filings were chapter 13?

LA 15,670 3,767 24%
SFV 3,243 807 25%
Riv 11,191 2,373 21%
SA 4,881 882 18%
SB 2,207 418 19%
Total 37,192 8,247          22%

I would love to know what portion of those were confirmed.  This data tells us that Nancy Curry and Kathy Dockery split 3,767 cases (1,887 each); Rod Danielson got 2,373; Amrane Cohen, 882 and Liz Rojas, 1,225.

By the way, pro per filings were 16.4% of the total.  It was my impression that that number was much higher – in the 25-30% range.


Hard Money Loans in Chapter 11 – CLA Program

California Lawyers Association

Insolvency Law Committee
Hard Money Lending Issues in Bankruptcy
Presented by the Business Law Section Insolvency Law Standing Committee

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Earn 1 Hour of MCLE Credit. Includes legal specialization, Bankruptcy Law

Alston & Bird
333 S. Hope Street, 16th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Parking will be validated for cars arriving after 5:30 p.m.


Kit Gardner, Law Offices of Kit J. Gardner
Steven Kurtz, Levinson Arshonsky & Kurtz, LLP
Eve Karasik, Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Brill LLP
Honorable Scott H. Yun, United States Bankruptcy Court

Frequently, a business debtor will resort to private, unregulated lenders to finance its operations. The resulting credit facilities are usually easier to obtain than a traditional bank loan, but come with more strings attached. Moreover, the lender is usually far more active in monitoring and protecting its interest in these risky loans. Therefore, when a business files bankruptcy, the debtor is immediately confronted with a host of unique issues that may determine its future survival, and the lender is confronted with the possibility that it will not receive the full benefit of its bargain.

On Independent Contractors and Employees in California

The California Legislature has passed AB5 which seeks to clarify the difference between independent contractors and employees.  The key feature (edited a little for brevity) is:

Section 2750.3 is added to the Labor Code, to read:
2750.3. (a) (1) … a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), any exceptions to the terms “employee,” “employer,” “employ,” or “independent contractor,” and any extensions of employer status or liability, that are expressly made by a provision of this code, …, including, but not limited to, the definition of “employee” in subdivision 2(E) of Wage Order No. 2, shall remain in effect for the purposes set forth therein.

(3) If a court of law rules that the three-part test in paragraph (1) cannot be applied to a particular context based on grounds other than an express exception to employment status as provided under paragraph (2), then the determination of employee or independent contractor status in that context shall instead be governed by the California Supreme Court’s decision in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 (Borello).