Receiver to stay with Hermitage

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BURLINGTON — Judge Collen Brown of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Vermont granted Berkshire Bank's motion to keep the state court-appointed receiver in place at foreclosed Hermitage Club properties during a bankruptcy case.

Alan Tantleff of FTI Consulting, Inc. will continue to preserve and protect the Hermitage's private ski resort at Haystack Mountain, nearby golf course and inns. He is to maintain the properties' business viability, report regularly to courts and pay necessary bills. His budget will not change from what had previously been approved in Windham Superior Court, Civil Division in Newfane.

Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Company LLC "submits that the continued retention of the state court receiver is the appropriate measure to maintain the status quo and preserve the estate assets during the gap period," wrote Hermitage attorney Douglas S. Skalka of Neubert, Pepe & Montheith of New Haven, Conn., in a court filing.

Skalka said the Hermitage would file a motion to transfer venue from the Vermont court to one in Connecticut. But federal bankruptcy courts in Connecticut and Vermont agreed to stay bankruptcy proceedings in Connecticut.

The holding company and Hermitage Club LLC filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in Connecticut on May 28. Three creditors — a former chief financial officer, a membership sales contractor and a bank that lent money for snowmaking equipment, who claim to be collectively owed almost $700,000 — filed involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions against HIREHC in Vermont on May 22.

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"It appears, under the federal rules of bankruptcy procedure, and applicable case law in the Second Circuit, that the proper court to determine the appropriate venue of the Hermitage Inn proceeding is the court that first obtained jurisdiction over this debtor, which is the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Vermont," Brown and Judge James Tancredi of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut wrote in an order issued Wednesday.

"Such deference to the court in which the first case was filed is without prejudice to the right of the debtors', creditors, and parties in interest to articulate the circumstances and arguments they believe should inform the court's determination ... In order to avoid duplicative litigation, wasting of judicial resources, and the potential for conflicting court decisions, the Connecticut cases are hereby stayed, unless relief is accorded for an emergency or other good cause, for a period of 10 days or as provided in further order of this court."

Brown said the stay would "facilitate the hearing and deliberations of the Vermont Bankruptcy Court of the currently pending motions, including, but not limited to, Berkshire Bank's motion for an emergency hearing to retain" the receiver.

"HIREHC and the club intend to pursue an expedited reorganization process in the Connecticut bankruptcy cases," Skalka said in the filing regarding keeping the receiver. "It has negotiated benchmarks with its DIP [debtor-in-possession] lender that would require confirmation of a plan of reorganization within six months of the petition date. HIREHC and the club intent to pursue an expedited course to reorganize their businesses for the benefit of their creditors and estates."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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