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Kenneth A. Listwak, left, and Francis J. Lawall, right, of Pepper Hamilton.

The bankruptcy plan confirmation process typically requires intensive negotiations involving numerous creditor groups and other parties-in-interest. As a result, the scope of the releases embedded within a plan is subject to multiple reviews by such parties and then approval by the bankruptcy court. Even after all of that review, however, as was shown in a recent U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware opinion, the final releases may not accurately reflect the intentions of the parties, much to the disappointment of the drafters. Nevertheless, as Judge Brendan Shannon has now made clear—words matter—and you may be strictly held to those in the release, even if the result was not intended.

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