In Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, trustees are typically entitled to receive compensation for their services, which is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court. These fees can vary but are typically determined based on the complexity of the case and the extent of the trustee’s responsibilities. To ensure fairness and transparency, the Bankruptcy Code sets certain guidelines and fee caps to prevent excessive compensation. If a party involved in the case feels the fees are excessive, however, they can object. Their objection will only be considered if they have standing, however, as demonstrated in a recent California case. If you cannot pay your debts and are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is smart to talk to a California bankruptcy lawyer.
Factual and Procedural Background
It is reported that the debtor, a renowned Los Angeles restaurant chain known for its historic menu and celebrity endorsements, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016 when faced with a $3.2 million judgment in a racial discrimination lawsuit. A committee of unsecured creditors, chaired by the Creditor, was appointed to oversee ECF’s activities. The bankruptcy court later appointed the Trustee for ECF. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan was approved, guaranteeing full payment to creditors, including the Creditor, with interest secured by ECF’s assets and contributions from its founder.
Allegedly, the Trustee filed a final fee application seeking the maximum allowable fee in excess of $1 million under the Bankruptcy Code’s fee cap. This amount included the lodestar plus a 65% enhancement for exceptional services. The Creditor objected to this fee request. The bankruptcy court awarded the trustee the statutory maximum fees, which the Creditor appealed. The district court upheld the bankruptcy court’s decision, and the Creditor appealed again.