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Bankruptcy Commercial Litigation Landlord Tenant Law Regulation

Fifth Circuit Ruling Gives Commercial Lessees Likely Protection In Bankruptcy Court Free and Clear Asset Sales

The Fifth Circuit signaled that it would not approve in later cases a bankruptcy court asset sale of real property that summarily cuts off the rights of the debtor’s lessees.

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A bankruptcy court gave “unnecessary and likely incorrect” reasoning to support its “excessively broad proposition that sales free and clear under [Bankruptcy Code (“Code”)] Section 363 override, and essentially render nugatory, the critical lessee protections against a debtor-lessor under [Code] 365(h),” said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Feb. 16, 2022. In re Royal Bistro, LLC, 2022 WL 499938, *1-*2 (5th Cir. Feb. 16, 2022). The court still denied the lessees’ “motion for a writ of mandamus” for a “stay pending appeal” from a bankruptcy court order authorizing the trustee’s sale of “the debtor’s real property … free and clear” of the lessees’ interests. Id. at *1. In essence, though, the Fifth Circuit signaled that it would not approve in later cases a bankruptcy court asset sale of real property that summarily cuts off the rights of the debtor’s lessees.

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