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INTEREST AND BANKRUPTCY

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Till v. SCS Credit Corp. (US Sup Ct 05/17/04 – No. 02-1016) Four justices conclude that the “prime-plus” or “formula rate” best meets the purposes of the Bankruptcy Code’s cram down provision; because the proposed 9.5% interest rate is higher than the risk-free rate, it is sufficient to account for the time value of money, which is all 11 U.S.C. section 1325(a)(5)(B)(ii) requires.

WILL TILL APPLY IF INTEREST IS LOWER THAT PRIME? The Prime Plus Approach will still apply when the contract rate is lower than the prime rate. In Till, the original loan had an interest rate of 21.0% per annum. 541 U.S. at 470. The prime rate was significantly lower at approximately 8.0%. Id. at 471. Thus, after Till, courts began to question whether the Prime Plus Approach still applies when the contract rate of interest is lower than the prime rate; ultimately, however, they have concluded that the contract rate is irrelevant. See, e.g., In re Taranto, 365 B.R. 85, 90 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 2007)In re Tirey, 350 B.R. at 69; In re Soards, 344 B.R. 829, 832 (Bankr. W.D. Ky. 2006). Indeed, “[s]imply stated, where the plan proposes to pay the secured claim in installments over time, the Till rate of interest must be added to the payment to arrive at the present value of the claim and the contract rate of interest is irrelevant to the analysis.” In re Soards, 344 B.R. at 832.

Onink v. Cardelucci (04/12/02 – No. 00-56541) (9th Cir. April 12, 2002) Awards of post-petition interest to creditors are to be calculated using the federal judgment interest rate, and not the rate set forth in the parties’ contract or state law; use of federal rate promotes uniformity of law and fairness among creditors, and does not violate due process. Court concluded that 11 USC Section 726(a)(5) mandates the use of federal judgment rate, rather than contract interest rate. Federal interest rate is calculated pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1961(a). The issue is post-petition interest on a pre-petition judgment which was affirmed in the BK. Question – use judgment interest rate or BK (federal interest)?

In re Brown, 346 B.R. 246 (Bkrtcy.M.D.Ga. 2006) SECURED CREDITOR WITH PMSI FOR MOTOR VEHICLE IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT IN FULL IN CHAPTER 13 WITH INTEREST BECAUSE ANTI-CRAMDOWN PROVISION DID NOT AFFECT SECURED STATUS UNDER § 506: INTEREST WOULD BE NOT THE CONTRACT RATE BUT “TILL” FORMULA § 506, § 1325(a) Debtor proposed to pay PMSI claim in full but at 7% interest, and argued that language of § 1325(a) removed the claim from status as a “secured claim” as provided at § 506. Court held that § 1325 prohibits cramdown and does not remove the claim from status as a secured claim. Creditor argued interest rate should 19% as provided in PMSI contract; court rejected that argument and held that the proper interest rate is that calculated pursuant to Till v. SCS Credit Corp., 541 U.S. 465, 124 S.Ct. 1951 (2004).

Losing Momentive: A Roadmap to Higher Cramdown Interest Rates, explored how the judicial cramdown interest rate cap was not gaining widespread traction as feared by many in response to the 2014 Momentive bench ruling upheld in a 2015 decision by the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Advancing the “efficient market” approach beyond the Ninth Circuit roadmap for higher interest rates, the Second Circuit has now reversed the District Court order and joined the Sixth Circuit in adopting the “efficient market” approach to setting cramdown interest rates. Momentive Performance Materials Inc. v. BOKF, NA (In re MPM Silicones, LLC)

Authors: David L. Lawton and Shannon Wolf

Do creditors receive interest on their claims in bankruptcy?  It depends on several factors, such as: whether the claim is secured or unsecured, is the interest pre or post-petition (date of filing the bankruptcy), and whether the debtor is solvent or insolvent.

Unsecured creditors: are entitled to claim the interest owed as of the date the bankruptcy was filed, but not after that date, unless there is money left after all the allowed claims are paid.  In that rare situation interest will be paid at the legal rate. Usually interest paid on pre-petition debt is the contract rate, so long as that rate is enforceable under the applicable law.

Secured creditors: are usually paid pre-petition interest at the contract rate. The Bankruptcy Code provides for payment of post-petition interest to creditors if the debt is less than the value of the collateral “oversecured”. If the value of the collateral is less than the claim amount, the creditor is not entitled to post-petition interest “undersecured”.


Equitable Factors Result in Disallowance of Default Interest on a Fully Secured Claim

In re Family Pharmacy Inc., 18-60521 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. July 2, 2019) (8th Cir)  Chief Bankruptcy Judge Cynthia A. Norton of Kansas City, Mo., drew a roadmap telling subordinate creditors how to block a fully secured lender from collecting default interest. Conversely, her July 3 opinion is a tutorial advising secured lenders on tactics to improve the chance of being paid default interest.