and a platform to voice their concerns
was an important part of the process.
The case that I found most gratifying
was when I represented some out-of-state parents who were seeking to
adopt children. The adoption agency
filed bankruptcy in Texas. It appeared
that there may not have been birth
mothers and children, despite the
fact that the prospective parents were
paying for expenses and getting
updates. It was just a very sad case.
I remember being at the (U.S. Bankruptcy
Code Section) 341 meeting where a
gentleman I wasn’t representing just
broke down and was asking all the “why”
questions and “What can we do?” None
of them could afford legal representation
because they had spent most of their
savings on the fees for adoption. I agreed
to represent a group of parents at a very
small retainer, flat rate, to just see what
we could get. They wanted the owners to
be personally liable or at least have their
fancy house be part of the estate assets.
Ultimately we were able to achieve that
simply by deposing the owner. I don’t
know if I was perceived as aggressive,
but within a couple of questions she
was cursing me on the record. The
deposition alone was enough to get her
to settle. We were able to get the house
sold, with the proceeds to fund the estate,
and the parents received some recovery.
It was more of an emotional win than
a financial win, but it was gratifying
to see people who had been screwed
over at one of the most emotional
times in their lives at least get some
recovery, which you don’t always
get in bankruptcy, obviously. I had to
follow up with the trustee a couple
times and do some digging around to
get him to even pursue the claim. But
once we got the trustee to pursue it, it
just took one Rule 2004 examination
and she was willing to settle.
Q How many clients did you have in that case?
I represented four couples,
so eight parents.
Q Were they from all over the country?
Some were from England,
Jersey, and Pennsylvania—all out-of-state.
Q Had the adoption agency ever been legitimate?
It had been. It just seemed
that they were in financial arrears toward
the end. One couple had actually
adopted through that agency before and
had no reason to believe otherwise. But
when I heard this guy at the 341
(meeting), to me it was just transparent
that they were being misled.
You can’t say that to anybody in that
position. But it ratified my concerns,
so I dug a little more, got into the
financials, and when I questioned
the owner, it was quite apparent that
she was just using people she knew
to promote this and was taking in as
much revenue as she could in that last
90 days or so. She seemed to know
she’d be closing down and was trying to
bring in as much revenue as possible.
Q That was an interesting case. Do any others come to mind?
To me, “gratifying” is when
we’ve made a difference, and those are
the two cases that really stand out. There
was a private school where I represented
the secured creditor. It became a nasty
PR battle as well, where the owner was
Applications accepted through June 12, 2017.
Nominate a teacher who has changed the outcome of
students’ lives and their communities.
Excellence in Teaching Awards
Nominate a teacher today at turnaround.org/awards | Contact Maura Sage at firstname.lastname@example.org