The Am Law Daily reported this month on new bankruptcy fee rules that large firms will be held to beginning on November 1, after the Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee Program conducted an 18-month long review of how attorneys in large corporate bankruptcies are compensated.

Bankruptcy rules that require the public disclosure of fees paid to professional advisers have helped shed light on the billing practices and rates of many Am Law 100 and 200 firms, as recently noted by sibling publication The National Law Journal, which examined the fees earned by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in the ongoing Chapter 11 case of Eastman Kodak. (Sullivan & Cromwell, which landed its first debtors’ counsel role representing Kodak, has also reaped big fees in the case.)
The lucrative world of big bankruptcies—whose volume has continued to fall in recent years, according to federal data—has fostered fierce competition for some of the few high-profile assignments that do arise. But two firms have recently found themselves bounced from a pair of notable cases due to alleged conflicts.
Last week a bankruptcy judge disqualified Winston & Strawn from doing any additional work on the California city of San Bernardino’s Chapter 9 proceedings due to the firm’s hire of five lawyers from K&L Gates who had previously advised pension giant CalPERS, according to sibling publication The Recorder.
The Am Law Daily reported last month on White & Case’s bid to represent struggling Los Angeles-based electric carmaker Coda Holdings after it filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on May 1. But the U.S. trustee’s office filed an objection to Coda’s proposed retention of White & Case on the grounds that the company’s former general counsel, Christopher Rose, joined the firm last year as a corporate partner in Palo Alto last year.
A Delaware bankruptcy judge ruled in late May that White & Case could not serve as lead counsel to Coda, although an order entered in the case this week shows that the firm will serve as special counsel to the debtor instead. Court records also show that White & Case first began advising Coda in 2010 and continued to serve as outside counsel to the company and its new general counsel John Wilson after Rose joined the firm in September. (White & Case began providing restructuring counsel to Coda in October.)
A declaration by White & Case restructuring partner John Cunningham in the Coda bankruptcy shows that the firm was paid more than $1.4 million by the automaker in the year prior to its Chapter 11 case and has agreed to waive other outstanding legal bills. White & Case partners are billing between $885 to $950 per hour for their services, counsel between $530 and $850, and associates at rates ranging from $395 to $730, according to a court filing by the firm.
Fox Rothschild, which has received a $25,000 retainer for its services as local counsel to Coda, will now serve as cocounsel to Coda through restructuring partner Jeffrey Schlerf. A declaration by Schlerf, who joined the firm in 2009 from Delaware shop Bayard, shows that Fox Rothschild partners are billing the debtor between $350 and $795 per hour and associates at hourly rates ranging from $150 to $440.
Fox Rothschild has also grabbed a role advising two affiliates of Coda—Lio Energy Systems Holdings and Miles Electric Vehicles Ltd.—that filed for bankruptcy this month and are seeking to have their respective Chapter 11 cases consolidated with Coda’s proceedings.
Below are some of the latest corporate bankruptcy filings and their lawyers of note. As usual, hourly billing rates are in parentheses, when available.
Carbon Motors Corp.
After skipping town in April, a Connersville, Tennessee-based maker of cool-looking police cars with BMW engines found itself in bankruptcy this month. Carbon Motors began liquidation proceedings on June 7 in Indianapolis, listing a mere $18,977 in assets against $21.7 million in debt.
Henry Efroymson, cochair of the bankruptcy and financial restructuring group at Ice Miller in Indianapolis, is advising Carbon Motors in its Chapter 7 case. Efroymson states in a court filing that Ice Miller has been paid $20,000 for its services to the debtor.
Court filings show that Carbon Motors owes $214,464 to Baker & Daniels, $162,008 to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and more than $1.3 million to Bryan Cave, all for legal fees. Baker & Daniels merged with Faegre & Benson on January 1, 2012. FaegreBD Consulting, an affiliate of the combined firm Faegre Baker Daniels, has handled lobbying work for Carbon Motors, according to U.S. Senate records.
Steven Spinner, a former U.S. Energy Department official-turned-technology investor and executive, is owed $20,000 by Carbon Motors for consulting work. Spinner, the husband of Wilson Sonsini corporate partner Allison Spinner, was in the news two years ago for his ties to bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, according to our previous reports. The Energy Department denied a $310 million loan to Carbon Motors in 2012.
Dalton Sprinkle, who was hired by Carbon Motors in 2010 as its chief legal officer, left the company last year. Three other former Carbon Motors executives sued the company in May for unpaid wages.
Exide Technologies
One of the country’s largest makers and recyclers of automotive and industrial batteries, Milton, Georgia–based Exide Technologies filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on June 10, listing nearly $1.9 billion in assets against debts of more than $1.1 billion. Reuters reports the company is seeking to slash its debt and implement a restructuring plan to better compete with rivals like Johnson Controls.
Kenneth Ziman, deputy practice leader of the restructuring group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, is leading a team from the firm advising Exide that includes Wilmington office managing partner Anthony Clark, senior corporate partner Peter Atkins, banking cohead Sarah Ward, restructuring partner J. Eric Ivester, and counsel James Mazza Jr.
Court filings by the firm show that Skadden partners are billing between $840 and $1,220 per hour, counsel between $845 and $930, and associates at rates ranging from $195 to $325. Skadden has received a $1.2 million retainer for its services by Exide, of which $468,790 currently remains. Skadden has also been paid roughly $6 million by Exide “since beginning the restructuring engagement,” according to a declaration by Ziman.
Laura Davis Jones, a name partner at national bankruptcy boutique Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, is serving as special conflicts counsel to Exide. The firm, along with Kirkland & Ellis (and ex-Kirkland partner Matthew Kleiman), advised Exide when it last filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Exide emerged from Chapter 11 two years later after slashing $1.3 billion in debt.
Pachulski Stang partners are currently billing Exide between $575 and $995 per hour for their services, of counsel between $475 and $875, and associates at hourly rates ranging from $425 to $555, according to court filings. A declaration by Jones states that Exide has paid her firm a $50,000 retainer.
Randolph Visser, head of the global climate change team at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, is serving as special environmental counsel to Exide along with finance and bankruptcy partners Richard Brunette Jr. and Carren Shulman. Court filings show that the firm was paid $700,996 by Exide in the 90 days prior to its Chapter 11 case and is owed another $393,778 for its services. Sheppard Mullin partners are billing between $550 and $925 per hour, while the hourly rate of associates is ranging from $295 to $675.
According to a list of Exide’s 20 largest unsecured creditors, the company owes nearly $1.4 million to Jones Day, which has handled a variety of litigation and transactional matters for the debtor over the past few years. U.S. Senate records also show that David Spooner, a former top aide at the Department of Commerce who joined Squire Sanders in 2009, has handled lobbying work for Exide. Squire Sanders received $30,000 for its efforts over the past two years, according to public records.
Exide’s general counsel is Barbara Hatcher, while Brad Kalter serves as the company’s deputy general counsel and corporate secretary. Kenneth Rosen, Sharon Levine, and Gerald Bender, partners in the bankruptcy group at Lowenstein Sandler, have been retained to advise an official committee of unsecured creditors in Exide’s Chapter 11 case.
Fenwick Automotive Products / Introcan

Two companies affiliated with Torrance, California–based Motorcar Products of America— Fenwick Automotive Products and Introcan— filed for Chapter 7 on June 10 in Delaware with plans to liquidate their assets. Motorcar itself took an $84.7 million loss on its investment in Fenwick, which it struggled to integrate into its operations after acquiring the Toronto-based company for $5 million in stock two years ago, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Business reorganization partners Michael Nestor and Sean Beach from Delaware’s Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor are representing Fenwick and Introcan in their Chapter 7 cases. A court filing reveals that the firm has agreed to accept $514,435 for its legal services in the matter. Michael Umansky, a former partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and the founder of the firm’s Los Angeles office, has served as general counsel of Motorcar since 2004.
OnCure Holdings
The Englewood, Colorado–based operator of cancer clinics filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on June 14, blaming cutbacks in federal Medicaid and Medicare payments for its demise. OnCure lists in its Chapter 11 filing more than $179.3 million in assets against nearly $250.4 million in liabilities.
Latham & Watkins, which has previously handled work for OnCure, is advising the company in its bankruptcy case through financial restructuring partners Paul Harner and Keith Simon in New York. Daniel DeFranceschi of Delaware’s Richards, Layton & Finger is serving as local counsel to the debtor. Neither firm has yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court.
OnCure’s CEO is Bradford Burkett, a senior managing director and founder of financial advisory firm Match Point Partners and a former M&A partner at Kaye Scholer. Russell Phillips Jr. served as chief compliance officer and general counsel for OnCure until last year.
Orchard Supply Hardware Stores
Four months after Orchard Supply Hardware hired restructuring advisers for turnaround talks with lenders represented by Dechert, the San Jose–based home improvement retailer filed for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware on June 17, listing assets of $441 million against more than $480.1 million in liabilities.
Founded in 1931, Orchard Supply plans to sell at least 60 of its stores in a bankruptcy auction to rival Lowe’s Companies, which has made a $205 million bid for the assets. Richard Chesley ($965/hour), the cochair of DLA’s restructuring practice in Chicago, and Stuart Brown ($765), the managing partner of DLA’s Wilmington office, are leading a team from the firm advising Orchard Supply.
Brown was part of a 10-lawyer team that joined DLA in March 2011 from Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. Chesley was one of five restructuring lawyers hired by DLA in January 2011 from Paul Hastings, where he was a founder and head of the firm’s Chicago office. A declaration by Chesley states that DLA corporate and finance partner Jamie Knox ($855) and corporate and securities partner Eric Wang ($805) are also advising Orchard Supply in its Chapter 11 case.
Michael Fox serves as general counsel and corporate secretary for Orchard Supply, which was spun-off from retail giant Sears in 2011. Court filings show that the debtor paid nearly $3 million to DLA in the one-year period prior to entering bankruptcy. Orchard Supply paid about $1.5 million of that sum in the 90 days prior to its Chapter 11 case, and DLA’s prepayment retainer has been increased to $250,000, according to court records.
Hunton & Williams bankruptcy partner Gregory Hesse in Dallas is representing Mooresville, North Carolina–based Lowe’s on its stalking-horse bid to buy 60 of Orchard Supply’s 91 stores. The proposed deal by Lowe’s, the second-largest hardware store in the U.S. behind market leader The Home Depot, could have ramifications for its expansion efforts abroad, according to The Canadian Press.
Last year Lowe’s pulled a $1.8 billion hostile takeover offer for Canadian counterpart Rona after running into regulatory opposition in Quebec. Hunton and Stikeman Elliott advised Lowe’s on an initial bid that was rejected by Rona, which relied on the counsel of Norton Rose Fulbright and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, according to Bloomberg.
Primcogent Solutions
Apparently the Zerona laser does not work when it comes to trimming debt load. Primcogent Solutions, a Dallas-based company that held a license to sell the Zerona fat-melting laser machines, filed for bankruptcy in Fort Worth on May 20. The Wall Street Journal reports that Primcogent stopped making payments to Erchonia Corp., maker of the incision-free liposuction lasers, after finding the devices unprofitable.
Paul Silverstein, cochair of the bankruptcy and restructuring practice at Andrews Kurth and a member of the firm’s executive committee, is advising Primcogent in its Chapter 11 case along with partner Michelle Larson and of counsel Jason Thelen.
According to a list of Primcogent’s 30 largest unsecured creditors, the company owes $850,502 to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, $182,492 to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, $117,943 to Jackson Walker, and $26,325 to Thompson & Knight for legal services. Chicago-based executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles is listed as being owed another $64,000.
Dallas’s Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal and Arizona’s DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy are advising Erchonia in its dispute with Primcogent. Erchonia is seeking $3.5 million in product contracts and royalties from the debtor.
Triad Guaranty
Residential mortgage insurer Triad Guaranty sought Chapter 11 protection in Delaware on June 3, citing losses related to the U.S. housing crisis and economic downturn. Bloomberg reports that the Birmingham-based company, which could be liquidated if it doesn’t find a buyer, lists assets of more than $100 million against debts of less than $50,000 in its petition.

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice bankruptcy partners Francis Monaco Jr. ($640) and Matthew Ward ($470) in Wilmington are serving as lead counsel to Triad Guaranty, along with corporate partner Jeffrey Howland ($575) in Winston-Salem. Court records show that Womble Carlyle has received a $100,000 retainer for its services in the case, and that lawyers from the firm are billing between $190 and $700 per hour. Prepetition fees incurred by the debtor are $78,571, according to a declaration by Monaco.

Morrison & Foerster tax cochair Thomas Humphreys ($1,200), insolvency and restructuring partner Anthony Princi ($1,025), restructuring of counsel Kathleen Schaaf ($815), tax partner Remmelt Reigersman ($775), and bankruptcy of counsel Jordan Wishnew ($720) are serving as special counsel to the debtor on tax and insurance insolvency matters. In its application for employment to the bankruptcy court, MoFo states that it has received $208,377 from Triad Guaranty for prepetition services.

MoFo also requests “a success fee of 2.5 [percent] of the gross proceeds of certain transactions involving the creation and realization of value” for certain Triad Guaranty assets, according to the filing, which notes that the “proposed fee arrangement would permit the debtor to credit any fees paid to [MoFo] in excess of $150,000 paid on account of postpetition services.” As a result, MoFo has agreed to a reduced retainer of $50,000, according to a declaration by Princi.

Earl Wall served as general counsel for Triad Guaranty until late December, when the company cut ties with him and several other executives, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.