Posts Tagged 'bankruptcy'

Heller Ehrman Estate Sues Greenberg Traurig

Check out today’s article in The Recorder entitled Heller Estate Files Malpractice Suit Against Greenberg Traurig.

The Heller estate is seeking to recover monies on several levels including the litigation costs in defending itself against the employee lawsuit relate to the WARN Act.

As far as I’m concerned, Greenberg Traurig should be footing the bill for all the WARN Act costs and penalties because if it wasn’t for their role in creating this massive fuster cluck, then at the very least Heller could have wound down its business operations in a more sensible manner. One that at the very least respected its employees, especially its hard working staff.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Heller Ehrman Distributions Update

[Received today via e-mail from Blum Collins]

We are class counsel for the certified class of former Heller Ehrman employees seeking unpaid wages from the bankruptcy estate. This is an update on the upcoming additional distribution of money to former Heller Ehrman employees.

On September 12, 2011, the Court granted Heller’s motion asking the Court to approve paying out over $20 million to creditors (which includes employees). Heller’s motion included some general information about the claim percentages to be paid (i.e., 24 to 33 percent), but Heller now says the distribution will be 30 percent. Heller has filed the list of employees (and how much money each will get) under seal. This is to protect employee privacy. Heller has sent every employee a letter stating how much money that individual employee can expect to receive.

Heller had previously stated that it hoped to make the payments by September 15, 2011. We are trying to get updated information on the status of the payments.


Craig M. Collins
Blum Collins LLP

A Payout from the Heller Estate by September 15, 2011?

We received the following update from Blum Collins this evening (see below).  Everyone should read this post to make sure the bankruptcy court and all other parties have your current address.

We are class counsel for the certified class of former Heller Ehrman employees seeking unpaid wages from the bankruptcy estate. Here is what we currently know about the status of a possible additional distribution of money to former Heller Ehrman employees.

Late last week, Heller filed a motion asking the Court to give notice by publication of its plans to file a motion to make an interim distribution to unsecured creditors (which includes employees). Heller also filed a motion to seal the list of employees (and how much money each will get). This is to protect employee privacy.

The publication motion has some general information about the claim percentages to be paid (i.e., 24 to 33 percent). As we reported in our previous email, the bankruptcy estate has raised money by settling its cases against Bank of America and also against Covington & Burling. Heller has not yet determined how much the distribution will be, nor what any individual employee’s share will be. Heller will be sending you a letter with this information soon.

Based on these motions, we expect that Heller will make the payment by September 15, 2011.

If you like to read bankruptcy court documents, you can review the publication motion by clicking this link:

You can review the motion to seal by clicking this link:


Craig M. Collins
Blum Collins LLP

Future Settlement Money

With many ex-Hellerites receiving settlement payments this week, several questions arise.  Below are questions being asked by former Heller Ehrman employees along with answers formulated from court filings and the settlement agreement.

Will there be settlement checks in the future, besides what we just received?

The settlement checks recently received by members of the employee class as a result of our lawsuit against the shareholders constitute payment of each respective employee’s “priority wages.” Given that the Heller Ehrman estate is in bankruptcy, any payouts to the various creditors of Heller Ehrman, which number in the hundreds, must follow bankruptcy court rules. In general, a creditor in a bankruptcy matter has a right to secured, priority, non-priority (aka, unsecured) or subordinated payments, depending on the status of the creditor. Employee wages can be treated as a “priority” claim against the estate, but the amounts so treated as priority are capped in various ways. See, for instance, the three sample explanations located under Exhibit “D” in the fat “Disclosure Statement in Support of Joint Plan of Liquidation of Heller Ehrman LLP” that all members of the employee class should have received in May 2010.

In this regard, “wages” include such items as accrued but unused vacation time and WARN Act wages. See, again, the Disclosure Statement for details.

(Note that Heller Ehrman, like most private companies, did not have a policy to payout any accrued but unused sick time upon termination of employment. As a result, the settlement does not include any payment for accrued but unused sick time.)

If the settlement award to any given employee included payouts in addition to his or her priority award, subsequent “non-priority” payouts are expected to be made in various installments over a period of several years. With regard to these non-priority payouts, we will be in the same bucket as hundreds of other non-employee creditors, such as landlords, Williams Lea, etc. How much of our respective non-priority awards will eventually be received by us will be determined by how much money the unsecured creditors’ committee is successful at obtaining from various entities who owe money to the Heller Ehrman estate.

Because of the multi-year process of liquidating the Heller Ehrman estate, make sure you keep your address current with the Bankruptcy Court.

Are there ongoing efforts by Blum Collins to collect the interest, penalties and any other Warn Act fees due to us?

Blum Collins’s role in this matter concluded with the adoption of the settlement. And note that bankruptcy court rules do not permit the payment of interest.

With regard to the payment of waiting-time penalties, the settlement does allocate $7 million in waiting-time penalty awards to the employee class, but this is treated as a subordinated payout. As a result, it is unlikely that the Heller Ehrman estate will have any funds left to pay any waiting-time penalties.

It just seems like such a lot of fees paid to counsel for such a small return for the class. Thoughts?

Note that the employee class likely will eventually receive several million dollars in wage payments from the Heller Ehrman estate once the multi-year installment payouts conclude.

The fees paid to Blum Collins were paid by the Heller Ehrman estate, not out of the employee-class awards directly. With regard to the appropriateness of the amount of those fees ($950,000, which covers both fees and Blum Collins’s expenses), that is a subjective matter, a full discussion of which is beyond the scope of this reply.

Likewise, with regard to the appropriateness of how the settlement was structured, that also is a subjective matter beyond the scope of this reply, other than to note that the employee class needed to vote on accepting the proposed settlement, and in so doing, did accept the proposed settlement by a margin well in excess of the required super-majority percentage.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

IMPORTANT – Creditor Change of Address Form


Also see UPDATE 5:20PM below

We’ve just been informed that if your address has changed since you filed a claim with the Bankruptcy Court, you must complete a Creditor Change of Address Form.

In a previous communication from Blum Collins, it was stated that you could Development Specialists, Inc. with your change of address.  THIS IS INCORRECT.

The message from Heller Ehrman who is ready to distribute checks is as follows:

You may have sent to us some time in the past a change of address; however, we have recently learned that we are prohibited from sending court distributions (such as the Biggers settlement checks) to addresses that are not on the Bankruptcy Court record.

If you have changed your address at any time since filing your claim and did not update the court, you must fill out and mail to the court the attached Change of Address form as soon as possible in order to receive court distributions in a timely manner.  Distributions are due to be sent in early September.

Update at 5:20 PM PDT

In addition, John Fiero of Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl & Jones which is representing the Heller estate, highly recommends that you also send a cc of the form to the address at the bottom of the form.  The court may take a long time to do so so it is in your best interest to take this extra step.

Creditor Change of Address Form

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Settlement Agreement Update

The following update was received from Blum Collins today:

We are happy to report that the Bankruptcy Court has, with regard to payments to class members, approved the settlement between the Heller Ehrman bankruptcy estate and the certified class of former employees.

The Court held a hearing to review the settlement on July 8, 2010, and issued its order on July 16, 2010.

The Plan of Liquidation Is Set for Hearing on August 9, 2010

The Court still needs to review and approve the proposed Plan of Liquidation that will fund the settlement. This is now scheduled for a hearing on August 9, 2010.

When Will the Employees be Paid Their Priority Claims?

If the Court approves the Plan of Liquidation on August 9, 2010 (instead of continuing the hearing again), it is possible that payments could be made within 30 days thereafter. We’ll know more on August 9, 2010.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Plan of Liquidation Ballot

The following communication has been received from Blum Collins in regards to the Plan of Liquidation packets which we mailed to all class members this week.  Please read the contents of the message below for instructions on how ballotting works.

You should receive your blue ballot this week for accepting the plan of liquidation of Heller Ehrman LLP. To fill it out, you will need some numbers from the Exhibit 1 notice which all class members should have received in the mail a few weeks ago (with the April 9, 2010 Notice to Plaintiff Class of Proposed Settlement). This is the Exhibit that explained your specific dollar amounts for the settlement of the employee class action. In bankruptcy, your vote is weighted in part by the dollar amount of your claims.

View a Markup of Exhibit 1

To view a copy of the exemplar Exhibit 1, along with our handwritten notes, please click this link (or paste it into the address bar of your internet browser):

Fill Out the Blue Ballot

On the reverse side of your blue ballot, write down the dollar figure from Line 11 of your Exhibit 1 into the blank on the blue ballot for “Class 7.” Your copy of Exhibit 1 will not contain line numbers, but you can figure out which line is Line 11 by comparing your Exhibit 1 with the exemplar linked to this email above.

Next, write down the dollar figure from Line 12 of your Exhibit 1 into the blank on the blue ballot for “Class 8.”

For now, you needn’t do anything with your Line 10 figure. This part of your claim falls in a different class that does not vote.

Check the “Vote to Accept” box next to the Class 7 and Class 8 lines, and then fill out the “Step C: Complete Balloting Information” on the blue ballot.

Finally, be sure to sign the blue ballot, and then mail it (no fax or email) to the address at the bottom of the blue ballot before June 16, 2010.

Vote in Favor of the Plan of Liquidation

The Plan of Liquidation must be approved if the class members are to be paid by this summer. We strongly encourage you to vote for the plan.

There are myriad legal issues involved in the approval of the plan of liquidation, and you can do your part by filling out and returning your blue ballot.

If You Need a Copy of Your Exhibit 1 or Blue Ballot, Request It

If you need a copy of your Exhibit 1 that contains your specific settlement information, which was mailed to the address on the Bankruptcy Court’s records for you on April 9, 2010 by the claims administrator for the Heller estate, or if you need your blue ballot, then the most direct way for you to get it is to request a copy from the claims administrator:

Kyle Everett
Development Specialists, Inc.
235 Pine Street, Suite 1150
San Francisco, CA 94104

415.981.2717 Phone
415.981.2718 Facsimile

The blue ballot is simply a form that you could instead download by clicking this link (or pasting it in the address bar of your browser):

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Remember the words of Rev. Frank Scott (Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure):

". . . sitting on our butts is not going to help us either. Maybe by climbing out of here, we can save ourselves. If you've got any sense, you'll come along with us."

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Terms of Service

Heller Highwater (
Last Modified: September 14, 2008

- Don't be a dill weed.

- Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

- Ladies and children first.

- This is a rescue, not a bitch session.

- Help don't harm.

- Save the snarks for the attorneys and Above The Law.

Heller Highwater is not:

- a place to practice viscious and vindictive "whisper down the lane" rumour-mongering;

- a place to bad mouth co-workers;

- a place for diatribes against specific people or specific incidents;

- a place to heap pity on poor Heller Ehrman staff by outsiders;

- a place that discriminates or sets margins noting who is outside and who is inside - we even welcome supportive Heller Ehrman attorneys!;

- meant to further the demise of Heller Ehrman, LLP.

Heller Highwater is:

- a place for support, a place of empowerment, a place of passion;

- a place to learn about job leads, resume preparation, skill building, training, new opportunities, and how to succeed in a new workplace;

- a place to keep up on the latest news as to how Heller Ehrman management intends to treat its support staff as it winds down its operations - will it be every woman for herself? or will it be "let me hold the door for you and is there anything else I can do for you"?

- a place of refuge.

Note: in no way, shape or form is Heller Highwater sanctioned, supported or even recognized, (but it is very likely monitored) by the management of Heller Erhman, LLP. The opinions represented here and on each and every page of Heller Highwater do not constitute the opinions of Heller Ehrman, LLP or its shareholders or its management. In addition, the comments left by visitors do not reflect the opinions of Heller Highwater.