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Third Circuit Receives Two Bankruptcy Cases Sure to Draw Spotlight

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court located in Delaware recently got over being the venue for some high-profile bankruptcy cases. And though bankruptcy filing levels appear to be on a significant downswing, the court in the first state of the union will hear a pair of cases likely to gain their own widespread attention in the mainstream media.

“Pink slime” became a new phrase in the lexicon of America’s consciousness followed by fast-spreading stories, which gained intense notoriety through social media sharing, of the use of chemical-laden meat additive used widely by restaurants, especially fast food outfits. The public backlash caused a drastic reduction in orders and, thus, those in the meat additive industry are struggling.

As such, the first industry Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing—not expected to be the last—comes from AFA Foods, which cited media coverage and its impact on sales to explain an inability to pay debts owed to secured and unsecured creditors. Even the case’s judge, Mary Walrath, has expressed skepticism in its reorganization prospects. It has been reported that a quick company sale might be the most optimistic option.

From processed meat to another troubled industry, solar products development, yet another in a spate of filings came this week. Solar Trust of America LLC, began having liquidity problems stemming largely from issues at parent company Solar Millennium AG. The parent company, based in Germany, was trying to sell Solar Trust but could not finish the deal before filing its own bankruptcy in Europe.

The case is significant because Solar Trust owns development rights to the world’s largest solar power project, the Blyth Solar Power Project, in California. Just one year ago, it garnered a conditional loan from the U.S. Department of Energy exceeding $2 billion, almost ensuring the Republican Party will dredge up the issue as the presidential election approaches. The Obama Administration is still recovering from the hit it took when Solyndra, a company with deep ties to President Barack Obama being investigated for fraud, filed bankruptcy months ago. More than a half-dozen other solar-related companies have filed for some form of bankruptcy protection since late last summer, most of which tied to oversaturation in the U.S. market and an inability to compete on price with Asian manufacturers of solar products.

Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer