More Than One Iron In The Fire

If you have run out of shows to binge-watch during the pandemic, we’ve got a recommendation for you. Milwaukee Blacksmith aired on the History Channel back in 2016 and is available to stream on Amazon. The show follows the Knapp family as they work on building their blacksmith business into something that can be passed on to the next generation. 

Throughout the series, the Knapps are always working on multiple projects. This creates challenges that drive the show’s narrative forward. Although some of the drama was probably amped up in order to make compelling reality television, it resonated with us. Most of our clients have more than one iron in the fire. 

Multipl Issues in Bankruptcy Are Common

Very rarely are the Milwaukee area businesses we assist face a single issue that is driving them toward bankruptcy. Oftentimes, several small issues have snowballed to the point that addressing them individually becomes impossible. By the time many business owners seek our advice on whether bankruptcy may provide a path forward, they are already facing several lawsuits. 

One of the benefits of filing for bankruptcy is that it is like hitting a giant pause button on all other pending litigation. Some of those cases will then get pulled into the bankruptcy case, while others are simply paused until the bankruptcy case is resolved. The official term for this legal timeout and shuffling of suits is an automatic stay. 

How Pushing Pause Keeps Things Moving Forward 

There are two reasons why stays are important from a public policy perspective. 

The first is the idea that nobody who has a claim against the debtor should be treated any better than others who are similarly situated. Pulling pending lawsuits into the bankruptcy case ensures that all creditors — instead of just the first to file — will get some sort of compensation. This also incentivizes settlement because those with a claim against the debtor get more information about the debtor’s full financial situation, and may discover that getting something through the bankruptcy process is better than getting nothing afterwards. 

The second reason the automatic stay is important is that it gives the debtor some breathing room. When a business is trying to use the bankruptcy process to restructure, pausing other legal actions is all but necessary. Creditors and those with claims against the debtor that will survive the bankruptcy have a better chance of getting something if the debtor can continue operations, so pausing things for a bit is really a win-win.

Milwaukee Bankruptcy Lawyers That Can Help You Hammer Things Out

Hanson & Payne, LLC is a trusted advisor to businesses, creditors, and commercial lenders in the Milwaukee area. Our experience working for these various parties gives us a keen insight into the negotiating that can be done while an automatic stay is in place. If you are looking for counsel that can help you strike while the iron is hot, we would be honored to take your call. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

How Long Does It Take To File For Bankruptcy?

It’s been almost two years since the Wisconsin-based retail chain Shopko filed for bankruptcy, but some lingering issues related to its Chapter 11 filing are just now being resolved. Thankfully, most bankruptcy cases do not last this long. 

What’s Going On With Shopko? 

Shopko filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2019. Their plan was to use the tools offered by Chapter 11 to downsize, reorganize, and regroup while remaining in business. However, it was unable to do so and ultimately had to shut down completely. The chain closed its doors in June 2019. 

Now, almost two years after its initial filing, and well over a year since it ceased operations, Shopko’s bankruptcy is still making headlines. The company has just reached a settlement with thousands of former employees who filed a class-action lawsuit seeking severance payments they allege they were promised but never received

“Shopko denies that it owes any severance pay. Nevertheless, Shopko has reached an agreement with the Class Representatives to settle the asserted claims for the entire class of similarly situated former employees,” reads the class action settlement announcement.

$3,018,434.78 will be distributed to the employees who are part of the class action and their attorneys. If any of the checks are not cashed within 180 days after issuance or returned as void, the funds will go to Brown County United Way and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Is This Typical? 

What is going on with the Shopko bankruptcy is not typical, but it is not unheard of. 

Businesses that file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 are often successful at reorganizing and staying in business. If a business wants to shut down, or finds that it must shut down, it typically files under Chapter 7 or converts its Chapter 11 case to a Chapter 7 case. 

Most Chapter 11 cases wrap up within 6 months to 2 years. Shopko is still within that 2-year window, but it is pushing it. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in dragging out the case, but Shopko has also faced some unique challenges. Its reorganization plan was rejected by the bankruptcy court, it shifted from reorganizing to shutting down, and it has been dealing with the class action lawsuit discussed above. 

Most Bankruptcy Cases Do Not Last This Long

Even in the midst of the pandemic, most bankruptcy cases are resolved quicker than the Shopko case. Even seemingly complex commercial bankruptcies filed under Chapter 11 can be processed quickly if the reorganization plan is solid and creditors are on board with it or have filed a straightforward adversary proceeding that can be quickly resolved. Chapter 7 cases rarely take over a year to process. 

Hanson & Payne has years of experience helping businesses in the Milwaukee area navigate the bankruptcy process. We have represented companies filing for bankruptcy, creditors, and commercial lenders, and have a reputation for resolving cases quickly so everyone involved can move forward. If you are looking for a reliable and experienced legal team you can trust to swiftly guide you through what can be a complex and frustrating process, let’s talk

Adversary Proceedings: The L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Of The Bankruptcy World

L.O.L. Surprise! dolls are one of the hottest holiday gifts again this year. Kids are obsessed with collecting these cheap plastic dolls that come wrapped in layers upon layers of tissue paper which also hold little accessories, stickers, and secret messages. The unwrapping process mimics a YouTube unboxing video, which many kids are also obsessed with. 

Since there’s no way of knowing which doll you are purchasing based on the packaging, you can go from having a child who is wildly excited to extremely disappointed in a matter of minutes. For parents, that puts a whole different spin on the name L.O.L. Surprise! 

The emphasis on process and the semi-uncertainty surrounding the ending are entirely too familiar to those of us in the bankruptcy world. When a business files for bankruptcy you have a general sense of how things are going to work out in the end, but cannot predict exactly what will happen. 

Oftentimes the outcome of a business bankruptcy here in the Milwaukee area is shaped by an adversary proceeding, which is a lawsuit filed within the bankruptcy case. The Hanson & Payne team is frequently involved in adversary proceedings filed by creditors who want to protect their claims against a bankruptcy filer’s assets by preventing them from being discharged in the bankruptcy case. 

Examples of Claims in Adversary Proceedings

Some common examples of these claims include:

  • Creditors who want the court to determine whether their claim will be discharged in the bankruptcy or still stand after the case is closed in order to provide some certainty 
  • Claims arising from the debtor’s fraud or intentional misrepresentations 
  • A divorced spouse owed maintenance, or who is worried that their ex-spouse will not pay the debts assigned to them in the Marital Separation Agreement
  • Contractor theft claims, specifically in construction or development cases  
  • Claims arising from bad (bounced) checks
  • Claims between former business associates or affiliates
  • Claims against former employees for breach of a non-compete agreement or for theft/embezzlement
  • Actions taken by the bankruptcy trustee in order to recover gifts or transfers of property to friends or family members of the debtor in the 1-year period prior to the bankruptcy filing.

How these proceedings play out has a dramatic impact on the overall bankruptcy. For a debtor, an adversary proceeding may be the difference between coming out of bankruptcy with a clean slate or coming out still owing a significant amount of money to creditors. For creditors, the results of an adversary proceeding may play a big role in their own financial fate. As we often discuss on this blog, one bankruptcy may set off a chain reaction of bankruptcies as customers and suppliers see their own business disrupted. adversary-proceedings-the-lol-surprise-dolls

What determines the outcome of an adversary proceeding varies greatly from case to case. In fact, the list of claims that are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 cases is even different from the list of claims that are not dischargeable in Chapter 13 cases. If you have a specific question about a potential adversary proceeding, the best thing to do is contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney, like those of us on the Hanson & Payne team. We offer representation in all adversary matters and represent an equal share of debtors and creditors in such matters. 

Eating Good in the Neighborhood Despite Bankruptcy Filing

On October 14, Wisconsin Apple LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company owns 29 Applebee’s Grill and Bar locations across Wisconsin, and it claims all of them will remain open despite the company’s financial troubles. How is this possible? 

Chapter 11 Provides Flexibility 

It is possible because Chapter 11 bankruptcies help business owners work on reorganizing and retooling rather than forcing liquidation and shutdown. Under Chapter 11, a business may renegotiate debts, terminate certain contracts, sell off assets, and downsize or shut down portions of its business while continuing to operate. This flexibility is designed to help struggling businesses turn things around and get back on track. 

“We have had to make the difficult decision to file bankruptcy, which directly impacts a small number of restaurants in a limited area, following some aggressive actions by our lender,” Wisconsin Apple owner Seenu Kasturi said in a statement. “We will continue to adhere to the high standards our guests expect from us when they visit us and expect that there will be minimal impact on our team members.” 

An Applebee’s spokesperson stated the company expects to continue welcoming guests throughout the process.

An Incentive to Work Things Out 

Wisconsin Apple’s creditors have an incentive to work with the company to find a profitable path forward because the alternative is seeing the debtor convert the bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 and wind down operations. In that scenario, creditors are less likely to get repaid any of the debts they are owed, or may only get pennies on the dollar. 

Such conversions are not unusual. Many businesses that file under Chapter 11 and continue to struggle, even after taking advantage of the benefits that the bankruptcy law provides, end up converting to Chapter 7 and winding the business down completely. A recent example is Toys R Us, which could not find a path to profitability or a buyer, and no longer exists.

Chapter 11 Is Not for Everyone 

While there are many benefits to filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, it does not work well for every business that wants to attempt to reorganize. It is a complex and expensive process. 

Recognizing this, Congress recently updated Chapter 11 by adding on a new section called Subchapter V. Subchapter V is designed to help small businesses go through a reorganization bankruptcy quickly and efficiently. To qualify, a debtor must be an individual, partnership, or corporation that: 

  • Is engaged in commercial or business activities;
  • Has no more than $2,725,625 of total debt; at least 50% of which must be from the business or commercial activities [note that this requirement has been altered due to the pandemic to allow more businesses to qualify, but it will supposedly snap back sometime in the future]; and
  • The debtor’s principal activity cannot be a single-asset real estate operation.

We are already seeing a number of small businesses in the Milwaukee area benefit from this new process. 

Milwaukee Bankruptcy Lawyers You Can Trust

Hanson & Payne, LLC is a trusted advisor to businesses in the Milwaukee area. We have a reputation for being business-minded in an industry that is often criticized for not understanding that legal action is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. If you are looking for legal counsel in this challenging time, we would be honored to take your call. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Federal Judges Order Buyer Of Bankrupt Dean Foods To Sell Off Assets

Earlier this year, we blogged about the bankruptcy of Dean Foods, and the unique legal situation the buyer of its assets was in. Now we’ve got a bit of an update to share, and it is going to impact every dairy product sold under the Dean name in the state of Wisconsin. 

Dean Bankruptcy Sends Shockwaves Through The Dairy Industry 

Last November, Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time, it was the largest milk processor in the country and the owner of significant assets here in Wisconsin. While there were concerns that the bankruptcy would cause a chain reaction of bankruptcies in America’s Dairyland, so far it does not seem like that is the case. (However, there are many things stressing the dairy industry at this time, and the Dean bankruptcy could be a contributing factor.)

The DOJ Steps In 

It has taken longer than normal to wrap up the Dean bankruptcy because the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Wisconsin Attorney General filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against the Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) after it purchased some of Dean’s assets out of bankruptcy. The government argued that DFA would have too much power over the milk market if it were allowed to purchase all of the Dean Food assets it desired. 

What’s happening now? 

The dispute has just now been resolved. The federal judge handling the case approved a final judgment requiring DFA to divest two plants it had purchased, one in De Pere, Wisconsin, and one in Harvard, Illinois (also known as the Chemung plant) to another buyer within thirty days.  

DFA is also required to divest the intellectual property associated with the De Pere plant, including the exclusive right to using the “Dean’s” name in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and licenses for the “TruMoo” and “DairyPure” brand names nationwide.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul agreed with the court’s decision, stating “this judgment will save critical Wisconsin jobs. Maintaining strong competition in Wisconsin’s dairy market is important for our state’s economy, especially as the economy continues to be impacted by the effects of the global pandemic.”

This will also have a significant impact on consumers in Wisconsin, although it is unlikely many will notice a difference in who is producing items under the Dean name. 

A Milwaukee Bankruptcy Firm You Can Trust

As we said in our previous blog, the government’s interference in this bankruptcy is not unprecedented, but it is somewhat unusual. Most businesses going through bankruptcy do not need to worry about the government taking such a strong interest in who buys their assets. Typically, high dollar cases and ones where the sale of certain assets could reduce competition or create a monopoly are the only ones closely examined by the DOJ or the Wisconsin AG. 

If you own or operate a distressed business, and are concerned filing for bankruptcy will not be a smooth process, we may be able to help. Hanson & Payne is a business-minded bankruptcy firm with deep roots in the Milwaukee area. Business owners and commercial lenders from across the state rely on us to counsel them and guide them through the bankruptcy process. We would be honored to assist you during your time of need.

Chapter 128 Receiverships Are Wisconsin’s Unique Alternative to Bankruptcy

Pictures of packed hospitals and the makeshift treatment center being set up at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis have many people under the assumption that healthcare providers are doing gangbusters during the pandemic. However, many healthcare providers are actually struggling to make ends meet as the public delays routine care and cancels elective treatments. Advance Pain Management, which operates ambulatory surgical centers across the state, is one of the latest providers to announce it is closing its doors in response. 

The company plans to wind down operations and sell off its assets under the supervision of a court-appointed receiver. The company is taking advantage of Wisconsin’s unique alternative to bankruptcy, Chapter 128 receivership, as it works toward a closing. 

What is receivership?

A receivership is an alternative to bankruptcy that Wisconsin lawmakers crafted in order to assist with the quick closing, sale, or restructuring of a company. While bankruptcy is federal law and is handled in the federal courts, a Chapter 128 receivership is Wisconsin law, and the cases are handled in our state courts.  

A receivership is so named because the court appoints a receiver to take over the business and run it with the interest of the company’s creditors in mind. 

When a business is closing down, like Advance Pain Management is, the receiver will be in charge of managing the sale of company assets. Oftentimes the assets are heavily discounted in order to get the money needed to pay off financial obligations and wind down operations as quickly as possible. 

When the business is not closing, it is the receiver’s job to dig into the company’s financial records and take a look at its operations in order to determine if the business can be effectively restructured and turned back over to the current owners, or if it is better to sell the whole thing to new owners. 

If the receiver can find a way to dig the business out of debt and restructure it so that it can become profitable once again, he or she may do so. In order to make the process more efficient than bankruptcy, the receiver has much more flexibility than a bankruptcy trustee has when it comes to determining which assets can be sold off, what debts should be renegotiated, and how to move forward. 

A receiver may also be charged with the continued operation of the business while a new owner is sought. If the business is being sold as a going concern, the receiver may choose to appoint an operating agent who will be tasked with managing the day-to-day dealings of the business. 

Receiverships Are a Good Option When Speed Is Key

Compared to Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a Chapter 128 receivership may be a faster and cheaper way to resolve a business’s financial woes. They are definitely an option business owners in the Milwaukee area should consider if they are in financial distress. 

The Hanson & Payne team can advise any business owner of the pros and cons of receivership, and outline what choosing to go into receivership or file for bankruptcy would mean going forward. Please contact us today if you would like to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced attorneys.

Common Bankruptcy Mistakes

Deciding whether to file for bankruptcy is difficult. Not only can bankruptcy affect your life in numerous ways, but it’s a complicated and intimidating area of the law. However, once you’ve made the decision to file for bankruptcy, the last thing you should do is make avoidable mistakes. Mistakes during the bankruptcy process can cost you—big time. Therefore, if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Milwaukee, it’s imperative that you understand—and avoid—the following common bankruptcy mistakes. 

Avoid These Bankruptcy Mistakes

1. Failing to list all creditors

The bankruptcy process can be overwhelming and confusing—particularly for those debtors who fail to enlist the services of an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer. In this confusion, debtors sometimes fail to include all creditors in their bankruptcy filings. If you fail to list a creditor in your bankruptcy case, you may lose the opportunity to discharge the debt connected to that creditor.

2. Hiding assets

Debtors sometimes attempt to hold on to assets by hiding them from the bankruptcy court. Not only can this jeopardize an entire bankruptcy proceeding, but’s it’s also illegal, and it can result in prison time and fines. When you file for bankruptcy, you must disclose all your assets to the bankruptcy court.

3. Repaying family members or creditors before filing for bankruptcy

Debtors sometimes attempt to pay family members and creditors back prior to filing for bankruptcy. However, when a debtor pays back a family member or creditor before filing for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court may view such payments as preferential, thereby requiring the family member or creditor to pay the money back to the court.

4. Running up credit cards before filing

Some debtors purposely run up their credit cards immediately prior to filing for bankruptcy under the mistaken belief that the additional debt will be discharged. This is wrong. If you make large credit card purchases immediately prior to filing for bankruptcy, the court may force you to pay for them.  

5. Waiting too long to file for bankruptcy

Anyone considering filing for bankruptcy knows that debt can get out of control. However, debtors often wait too long to file for bankruptcy after realizing they can no longer pay their bills. All this does is make the problem worse. If your debt has gotten out of control, you should at least discuss the possibility of filing for bankruptcy with a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer

6. Failing to contact a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer

The biggest mistake you can make when filing for bankruptcy in Milwaukee is failing to contact a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer. Without a bankruptcy lawyer on your side, you are bound to make mistakes. Therefore, in order to avoid the pitfalls inherent in the bankruptcy process, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible. At Hanson & Payne, our bankruptcy attorneys will help you avoid the pitfalls inherent in the bankruptcy process while doing everything in our power to ensure a successful result in your bankruptcy case. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Pros and Cons of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you’re having financial troubles, you may be considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Depending on your circumstances, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can either be a great idea or something to avoid. Therefore, before deciding, you should familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy: the pros

A fresh start: Chapter 7 eliminates most unsecured debts. By erasing most unsecured debts, Chapter 7 bankruptcy gives you a fresh financial start. 

You get to keep certain assets: Bankruptcy law allows you to exempt some personal property. This means that, despite filing for bankruptcy, you’ll likely get to certain assets, such as your vehicles and retirement accounts. 

No repayment plan: In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors must pay back their debts. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however, your debts are eliminated, allowing you to start anew.

You get to keep your tax refund: Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to keep your tax refund after you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

It’s fast: The typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case takes approximately four months. In addition, after you file for bankruptcy, your creditors can no longer contact you.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy: the cons

Your credit takes a hit: It takes ten years for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to drop off your credit report. This lowers your credit score and can make it difficult for you to obtain certain types of loans. 

Not all debt is forgiven: Certain debts remain even after you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include debts like alimony, child support, student loans, and taxes. 

You may lose your home: If you’re behind on your mortgage payments when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there’s a good chance that your mortgage company will pursue a foreclosure of your home.

You may not qualify: Not everyone is eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. People who have little to no disposable income are the best candidates for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to determine whether you qualify, the court will perform a means test, which is an examination of your income.

You may lose valuable assets: After filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll probably have to liquidate nonexempt personal property to pay off your secured creditors. For example, if you own your home free and clear, the court may decide to sell it to account for secured debt. 

Contact a Milwaukee Bankruptcy Lawyer 

If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Milwaukee, you need an experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer on your side. At Hanson & Payne, we offer bankruptcy and debt negotiation services for Milwaukee and all of southeast Wisconsin. In addition, our attorneys understand that filing for bankruptcy is a big decision, so we are committed to giving you the information and guidance necessary for you to make an informed decision. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: What’s the Difference?

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the two types of bankruptcy available to individual filers. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, your income will primarily determine whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, there are differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy other than income requirements. Below are the main differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most unsecured debts. Common unsecured debts include credit cards and medical bills. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor must meet specific income requirements. A debtor who makes too much money must file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

When a debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an order called an automatic stay immediately stops most creditors from continuing collection efforts. The bankruptcy trustee then sells all nonexempt property to pay back the debtor’s creditors. If a debtor has no nonexempt assets, his or her creditors receive nothing.

Although Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for low-income debtors with few assets, it can also work for filers whose discharged debt exceeds the value of the property sold.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for debtors who have enough money left over every month to pay back at least some of their debts through a repayment plan. Although most Chapter 13 filers make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7, some debtors choose to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy due to the benefits it offers over Chapter 7.  

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor can keep all of his or her property. In exchange, the debtor must pay back all or a portion of his or her debts through a repayment plan. Typically, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for debtors who:

  • Fail to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but need debt relief;
  • Have debts that can’t be discharged, such as child support arrears or alimony that they’d like to pay off within five years; or
  • Have fallen behind on a car or house payment and want to catch up on missed payments and keep their property.

The bottom line

If your debt has gotten out of control, you may want to consider filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, before making a final decision, you should consult with a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer

Contact a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer 

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Milwaukee, you need a knowledgeable and experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney in your corner. At Hanson & Payne, we offer bankruptcy and debt negotiation services for individuals in Milwaukee and all of southeast Wisconsin. When you choose us to represent you in your bankruptcy case, we will do everything in our power to protect your interests and see your case through to a successful conclusion. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

The Bull Sells For $2.4 Million Post Bankruptcy

Earlier this year we blogged about the plight of the Sheboygan Falls-based golf course The Bull at Pinehurst Farms. Now we have an update. In late June, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the course, which had been saddled with a $4.2 million debt to Wisconsin Bank & Trust, for $2.4 million. 

According to the Sheboygan Press, the property, which is the only golf course in the state designed by Jack Nicklaus, was bought by John Dunfee and Randy Groth, both of Cedarburg: 

Dunfee and Groth — who have known each other their whole lives — have embarked on multiple business ventures together, including their current agricultural commodities trading group, LaBudde Group, but Dunfee said The Bull was really his brainchild.

 

Being an avid golfer, Dunfee has played the course and loved it for years. When he saw it was set for a second sheriff’s sale, he reached out to the bank’s attorney in early June.

 

Dunfee said after the previous failed bid of $2.2 million, he was told he would need to make an offer that was at least $200,000 higher. For him, the price was too good not to bid.

It is not often that the public gets this sort of inside information about a bankruptcy, so we wanted to highlight a few things. 

Timing Is Everything 

First, is the steep discount the buyers received. We have no doubt the creditor would have liked to see a purchase price closer to the $4.2 million it was owed, but the fact that the previous owners filed for bankruptcy, combined with the financial crisis pushed the purchase price way down. 

This is a great example of why we counsel our clients on the importance of timing as it relates to bankruptcy. While nobody could have predicted the current pandemic and resulting financial crisis, there are indications that golf is not as popular with Millennials and Gen Z. This could have a long-term impact on the golf market. 

Hanson & Payne is a very business-minded firm. We are always thinking about the broader business implications of the legal advice we give because we know that is important to our clients. And it is important to us as well. Our team has deep roots in the Milwaukee area, so we want to do what we can to help our clients thrive.  

The Role of the Courts

This sale also illustrates the role the bankruptcy court plays in managing the sale of distressed assets. The Bull was foreclosed on last October, and the property was set to be sold at a Sheriff’s sale. 20 minutes before the sale was scheduled to begin, it was cancelled because the course’s owners filed for bankruptcy. 

Next, a group of minority owners attempted to buy the course, but that fell through. Another buyer then offered $3.1 million for the course before pulling the offer. Shortly before Dunfee and Groth made their successful bid, an unnamed buyer attempted to purchase the course for $2.2 million. The bank rejected this offer and a second Sheriff’s sale was scheduled. 

That’s when Dunfee and Groth stepped in. The bank accepted their offer of $2.4 million, and the court approved the sale. In theory, the court could have demanded a higher purchase price, but that is unlikely in scenarios like this where it has taken months to find a buyer, and the main creditor accepts the terms proposed by a potential buyer. 

A Rare Peek Inside

It was interesting to see this case play out in the courts and in the local papers. Few bankruptcies draw this sort of attention, which is probably a good thing, but when they do it is important to follow along.