In re: Licking River Mining, LLC, No. 17-6310 (6th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Mining’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding allowed it to continue operating with the goal of restructuring. Its Lenders asserted liens on assets, including cash collateral, 11 U.S.C. 362(c), but consented to the use of cash collateral for operating funds. A “Cash Collateral Order” granted the Lenders super-priority claims and adequate protection liens; it authorizes the use of cash collateral for the costs and expenses of administering the bankruptcy case. The agreement included a "Carve-Out" to give attorneys and other professionals hired for the reorganization priority for payment from cash collateral in case of insolvency. Restructuring failed. The Lenders moved to terminate the use of cash collateral. the bankruptcy court ordered amounts to be budgeted for professional fees to complete asset sales. The Lenders supported asset sales rather than immediate conversion to Chapter 7, agreeing that the cash collateral budgets would be modified to ensure that professionals working on those sales would be paid. The case was converted to Chapter 7. The professionals filed Final Fee Applications for approximately $2.5 million, citing the Carve-Out. The Lenders argued that the sums comprising the Carve-Out did not extend to Lenders’ prepetition liens and cash collateral, but could come only from post-petition liens now that the case had converted. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's rejection of their arguments. The Lenders’ reasoning is not supported by the terms of the cash collateral order, their conduct during the proceeding, or precedent.