Thomas C. Mitchell

Partner

San Francisco


Read full biography at www.orrick.com

Thomas Mitchell, a partner in the San Francisco office, is a member of the Restructuring Group. He concentrates his practice in the areas of bankruptcy, insolvency, creditors’ rights and commercial law.

He has represented secured and unsecured creditors, indenture trustees and others in bankruptcies and workouts in a variety of industries, including technology, rail transportation, air transportation, securities trading, commodities trading, supermarket, automobile sales, construction (including solar energy), retailing, convenience store, health care, telecommunications, film and television production, restaurant, home construction, real estate development, and equipment manufacturing.

He also has extensive experience in the structuring of asset securitization transactions to resolve bankruptcy and commercial law issues, representing issuers, underwriters, and credit enhancers with respect to many asset types, including mortgage loans (residential and commercial, U.S. and foreign), credit cards (secured and unsecured), trade receivables (U.S. and foreign), consumer and marketplace loans, property assessed clean energy (PACE), delinquent property tax receivables, tobacco settlement payments, attorneys’ fee payments in connection with the tobacco settlement, whole business securitization, home equity loans, auto loans, time share loans, excess servicing fees, manufactured home loans, aircraft leases, home relocation receivables, defaulted receivables, electric utility stranded costs, franchise loans, dealer floorplan loans, equipment leases, mutual fund fees, limited partnership interests, bank funds flows, annuity fees, health care receivables, insured student loans, repackaged securities, viatical loans, and insurance premium receivables. In addition, he has been responsible for commercial law and bankruptcy structuring of collateralized debt obligations, municipal derivatives, lease to service contracts, Indian tribe financings, and a wide variety of public finance transactions and project finance transactions. He also represents borrowers and lenders in secured transactions.

Posts by: Thomas Mitchell

Rep. Pierluisi Introduces Bankruptcy Code Amendment to Permit P.R. Municipalities to File Under Chapter 9

Just days after the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico struck down the Commonwealth’s efforts to pass its own insolvency regime, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi introduced the “Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015” into the U.S. House of Representatives last week.  The bill, which is substantively similar to one introduced in 2014, would allow the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to authorize its insolvent public corporations to file a chapter 9 petition; they currently are not able to do so.  The bill, H.R. 870, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on February 26th.  H.R. 870, 114th Cong. (1st Sess. 2015)

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Puerto Rico Debt Recovery Act Ruled Unconstitutional

On Friday February 6, the Puerto Rico Federal District Court ruled the Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act (the “Recovery Act”) unconstitutional.  Franklin Calif. Tax-Free Trust, et al. v. Comm. Of Puerto Rico et al., (D.P.R., Feb. 6, 20150)(Case No. 3:14-cv-01518-FAB).

The opinion is extensive and addresses each of the constitutional challenges raised by both Blue Mountain and the Franklin/Oppenheimer plaintiffs, and the Commonwealth’s request that the bondholder complaints be dismissed as being “unripe”, among other defenses.  The Court confirmed federal jurisdiction and ripeness of the bondholders’ claims of preemption, impairment of contracts and certain of the taking clause claims. The Court said that those claims became ripe immediately upon adoption of the Recovery Act. Most importantly, the Court has ruled that the entire act is preempted expressly by the federal Bankruptcy Code and is therefore void pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The Court further ruled that the Commonwealth is permanently enjoined from enforcing the Recovery Act.

A summary of the key findings by the Court is provided below. The Court also dismissed the claims against PREPA. The Court held that the mere fact that PREPA may commence an action under the Recovery Act at some future time is not sufficient to assert claims against PREPA. The Court noted that “if PREPA’s filing for debt relief pursuant to the Recovery Act were imminent, this could be a sufficient injury traceable to PREPA.”   (Decision at 26-27).

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Second Circuit Rules That Payments Made To Purchase Notes Are Exempt from Avoidance Under Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held, on June 10, 2013, that payments made by a company to purchase notes issued by an affiliate were transfers made in connection with a “securities contract,” and therefore, pursuant to Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code, could not be avoided as preferential transfers. In re Quebecor World (USA) Inc., No. 12-4270-bk. Read More.

General Motors Bankruptcy Court Applies the Brakes to Unauthorized Termination Statements

Last week, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York held that a UCC-3 termination statement is effective to terminate a financing statement under the Uniform Commercial Code only if the filing of the termination statement was authorized by the secured party whose security interest was terminated.1 This decision raises the bar on the level of diligence by potential creditors to confirm that any prior liens covering their prospective collateral were effectively terminated. As stated by the Court, “the fact that a termination statement has been filed does not by itself mean that the initial statement came to an end.” Read More.

FDIC Final Rule for “Safe Harbor” Protection

On September 27, the Board of Directors of the FDIC approved a Final Rule (the “Final Rule”) that governs the rights of the FDIC, as conservator or receiver of a failed insured depository institution (a “Bank”), over financial assets previously transferred by such Bank in connection with a securitization or participation transaction. The Final Rule sets forth the circumstances under which the FDIC will provide a “safe harbor” to investors by not repudiating contracts or reclaiming property and the circumstances under which the FDIC will provide investors with other, more limited, protections. The Final Rule should be considered in light of the provisions of the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the SEC’s proposed “Regulation AB II”, both of which cover certain of the matters that are also covered by the Final Rule. While the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and of Regulation AB II will be applicable to securitizations whether or not a Bank is involved, the requirements of the Final Rule should be applicable only to Bank transactions. Read More.