The Other Chapters of Bankruptcy: Serial Petitions and “Chapter 20” and “Chapter 22” Petitions

June 22, 2012

Never heard of a “Chapter 20” or “Chapter 22” case?  You won’t find them in the Bankruptcy Code because they are just pseudonyms for successive or serial or consecutive bankruptcy petitions.  Over the first few months of 2012 there was a marked increase in the number “Chapter 22” cases.

A “Chapter 20” filing consists of “…a chapter 13 case brought while the ink on the debtor’s chapter 7 discharge is just barely dry.”  In re Cushman, 217 B.R. 470, 476 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1998).  A “Chapter 22” filing is where a company files a chapter 11 petition, and files a second chapter 11 petition after emerging from bankruptcy protection under the first petition.  Are there other combinations?  Yes. Filene’s Basement filed a “Chapter 33” filing in 2011—the company’s third chapter 11 petition in 12 years. 3/7/12 Thomson Reuters News & Insight: N.Y. 17:56:46.

Undoubtedly you heard about the Hostess bankruptcy?  (Journalists and reporters wondered if it would be the end of the Twinkie.)   Basically, Hostess’s bankruptcy is a “Chapter 22.” The company filed a chapter 11 petition in 2004 and emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. Hostess filed a second chapter 11 petition in January of 2012.  Other recent Chapter 22 filings include Buffets (a/k/a Old Country Buffet), TBS International (ocean shipping), and Fountain Powerboats Industries.  3/7/12 Thomson Reuters News & Insight: N.Y. 17:56:46.

Research References

When researhing these bankruptcy issues, keep these buzz words in mind:  Chapter 20, Chapter 22, successive, serial or consecutive filing, petition, or bankruptcy.  The Key Number for “simultaneous or successive proceedings” under the Bankruptcy topic is 2235 ( 51k2235), this will also be useful. These buzz words and this key number will help you avoid cases involving conversion of Chapter 7 cases to Chapter 13 cases.

On WestlawNext, I recommend running the search from the Bankruptcy topic page.  This way your results will be limited to the bankruptcy context and the search results will include cases, secondary sources, trial court filings, and briefs.  This will also enable you to filter cases and trial court documents, and briefs by jurisdiction, if you so choose. I ran the following terms and connectors search:

consecutive successive serial /4 petition filing bankruptcy

I would start with the Secondary Sources content set. You will notice that the majority of the first 20 secondary source results specifically address serial filings.  Other documents in the first 20 documents address dismissal and re-filing as opposed to serial filing.  Norton Bankruptcy Law And Practice 3d,  § 111:4. Serial filing is the second document on the list.  I would run “search within results” to narrow the cases to those involving two chapter 11 filings or a chapter 7  filing followed by a chapter 13 filing.  Try this search within results:

               (serial successive consecutive /7 “chapter 11”) (“Chapter 22”)

 The second case, Matter of Bouy, Hall & Howard & Associates, 208 B.R. 737, addresses a “Chapter 22” serial filing.   Not only that, as you are perusing the case law results list, you will see relevant secondary source references in the Related Documents column off to the right-hand side of the screen.  While viewing the Matter of Bouy opinion, you will see a “related topic” titled: Good Faith Motive; Debtor Successive Filing of Chapter Bankruptcy Petitions. This is another way to find cases on this subject.