The number of energy insolvencies slowed significantly in 2017 as global oil prices started to rebound, but a trio of Chapter 11 filings in recent weeks shows that Big Law can still feel the pinch when the power goes out.
A dozen law firms alone are listed as unsecured creditors in the Dec. 5 bankruptcy filing of RDX Technologies Corp., a Scottsdale, Arizona-based energy services and water treatment provider formerly known as Ridgeline Energy Services Inc.
The company had previously sought bankruptcy protection in Canada, as well as initiated another U.S. bankruptcy case in December 2015 that was subsequently dismissed the following May at the request of CWT Canada II Limited Partnership. Bankruptcy Company News reports that CWT Canada had claimed that both bankruptcy filings were fraudulent.
J. Henk Taylor, a partner with Ryan Rapp & Underwood in Phoenix representing CWT Canada, did not immediately return a request for comment about the latest Chapter 11 filing by RDX.
Phoenix-based bankruptcy lawyer Mark Giunta is advising RDX in the current case. He also did not return a request for comment. Court filings show that RDX has paid $20,000 to Giunta, whose hourly billing rate is $425.
RDX owes more than $1.4 million to Greenberg Traurig in Washington, D.C., a claim that it lists as disputed in court records. Snell & Wilmer has two claims against RDX for $81,613.20 and $666, while Loeb & Loeb has another pair of claims, for $28,688.57 and $8,445. Blake, Cassels & Graydon and Borden Ladner Gervais, two leading Canadian firms, are also owed $32,349.61 and $20,000, respectively, according to court filings.
Other firms listed as being owed money from RDX include: Dorsey & Whitney ($162,371.07); Springfield, Missouri-based Taylor, Stafford, Clithero & Harris ($12,969.52); Morgan, Lewis & Bockius ($11,258.91); Manatt, Phelps & Phillips ($7,985.50); Shook, Hardy & Bacon ($1,745.24); Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear ($1,072.50); and Fort Smith, Arkansas-based Jones, Jackson & Moll ($520).
RDX is also listed as owing $116,778.15 in attorney fees to Squar, Milner, Peterson, Miranda & Williamson, although the Newport Beach, California-based outfit is not a law firm, but an accounting firm, bringing the number of professional advisers seeking payments from the debtor to more than a dozen. (The American Lawyer reported last year on a pharmaceutical company’s bankruptcy filing that resulted in more than 20 law firm creditors.)
A Dec. 4 bankruptcy filing in Manhattan by Level Solar Inc., a New York-based rooftop solar power company that closed down in September, also lists a pair of law firm creditors.
Court records show that Level Solar owes $163,023.57 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and a disputed claim of $32,921.25 to Waltham, Massachusetts-based technology boutique Faber Daeufer & Itrato. Akin Gump and Shipman & Goodwin are representing Level Solar in its Chapter 11 case. Neither firm has yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court.
Amfuel, a privately held company formerly known as American Fuel Cell and Coated Fabrics Co., filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 26 in Fort Worth, Texas. The debtor, advised by local bankruptcy boutique Forshey & Prostok, owes $129,007.08 to Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., and $88,712.76 to Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith in Los Angeles, according to court records.
And in August, Swiss lithium ion battery maker Alevo Group SA, founded by Norwegian entrepreneur Jostein Eikeland and backed in part by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, saw two U.S. units file for bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina, as part of a plan to liquidate assets. Court filings show that Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough received a $125,000 retainer to serve as lead bankruptcy counsel to Alevo USA Inc. and Alevo Manufacturing Inc. The firm also received $152,767 from the debtors prior to Chapter 11, as well as another $432,151.82 from Alevo itself.
Alevo USA and Alevo Manufacturing, both of which are based in Concord, North Carolina, owe another $33,047.50 to Latham & Watkins and $20,436.20 to Chadbourne & Parke, according to court records. W. Harrison Wellford, a retired Latham partner and former chair of the firm’s energy and international practices, serves as a member of Alevo’s board of directors. Chadbourne was absorbed by Norton Rose Fulbright last summer.
Lafayette, Louisiana-based Knight Energy Holdings LLC, the parent company of Knight Oil Tools, also sought Chapter 11 protection in August. Court filings show that the company, which is being advised in bankruptcy court by Heller, Draper, Patrick, Horn & Dabney, owes $251,331.92 to Jones Walker and $132,542.74 to San Antonio-based Schmoyer Reinhard.