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Bankruptcy in the Wake of COVID-19 APRIL 2020 GIBSONLAWGROUP.COM (817) 769-4044 DIVING DOWN WITH GLG
This is not the article I wanted to write this month. The original article was about the referrals we make to help our clients grow their networks and grow their businesses. Given that we now live in a world of social distancing and voluntary quarantines, where people bump elbows instead of shake hands, that strikes me as sadly ironic. I feel compelled to write this month about bankruptcy, which became a big part of our business when the world fell apart in 2008. I fear it may become a big part of our business again as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on businesses across the country. Although I pray that I am wrong, I fear that the pandemic’s effect on our economy will last much longer than it will on our health. Though if your health or the health of someone close to you is affected directly, you are, of course, in all our hearts. Today is March 19, the day our governor declared a statewide emergency, closing all Texas schools, bars, dine-in restaurants, and gyms. By the time this newsletter appears in your mailboxes, these businesses may be back open, and the worst may be behind us. If not, or if we are still in the thick of it, you may be wondering if business or personal bankruptcy is an option. If so, I want to share some hopefully good advice from having held a lot of clients’ hands through the last collapse. Bankruptcy should be a last resort, but it can be an economic lifesaver. collectively represent two different paths to recovery. Chapter 7 involves “liquidation.”This is what you file personally when you’re at the end of your financial rope. Your nonexempt assets are gathered up by a court- appointed trustee and sold, and your creditors are paid pennies on the dollar. You are “discharged,” and your now former creditors must leave you alone. You get to keep your house, your car, your pension, and most of your personal property. You have to part with your boat, your lake house, your rental property, and your weekend hooptie. Chapter 7 is a great option when your personal debts send your mind to dark places and keep you awake at night. Chapters 11 and 13 allow“reorganizations.” Chapter 11 is what businesses file; Chapter 13 is what people normally file. In a reorganization, we put together a “plan of reorganization” and submit it to the court for approval. Your creditors get to vote, but not all equally. The process is pretty complicated, but the goal is to literally reorganize your debts and force You’ve no doubt heard of Chapter 7, 11, or 13, which just refer to chapters of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. As a practical matter, they
your creditors to take less and be paid out over time. Property taxes, for example, are typically paid out over five years. Reorganization is what you file when you think you can save your business, or have personal assets that you do not want to lose, and have enough income to repay most of your debts over time. Obviously, there is a lot more to bankruptcy than what I have written about here, but it is a very real option for tens of thousands of people. Last year alone, 752,160 Americans filed for personal bankruptcy protection. The good news is that people survive bankruptcy, and most come out stronger. Bankruptcy really can offer a fresh start, and the stigma is not what it used to be, especially since 2008. Regardless of what happens with the pandemic, if you, your business, a family member, or a friend are at the end of the financial rope, please reach out. We do not charge for the initial consultation and would be honored to help you navigate an uncertain financial future.
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SOMETHING IN THE WATER WHY ROB BILOTT TOOK ON DUPONT
property provided water for all the cattle and wildlife in the area. Since the sale, the stream had become frothy and discolored, and the animals that drank from it were sick, malformed, or dead, including 153 of Tennant’s 200 cows. When Bilott stumbled upon a letter from DuPont to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the real horror story began to emerge — one that went far beyond the boundaries of Tennant’s farm and into the drinking water of every American. The letter mentioned a mysterious chemical called PFOA, and Bilott requested documentation from DuPont to find out more about it. However, the company refused, so Bilott requested a court order. Soon, dozens of disorganized boxes filled with thousands of 50-year-old files arrived at Bilott’s firm.
Rob Bilott never should have agreed to represent Wilbur Tennant’s case.
The cattle farmer had presented evidence of the strange malady plaguing his cattle to lawyers, politicians, and veterinarians in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but no one took Tennant’s case seriously.
in the mess of documents, but soon, his time as an environmental lawyer helped him see the bigger picture. It became clear that DuPont had orchestrated a massive cover-up regarding their use of PFOA. PFOA is used in the manufacturing of Teflon, and the company had knowingly exposed workers and the Parkersburg water supply to it. Bilott filed a class-action suit as a medical monitoring claim on behalf of the people of Parkersburg, and, as of 2011, a probable link between PFOA and six health conditions, including two types of cancer, has been found.
But when Bilott saw the evidence for himself, it was clear that something was wrong.
The videos and photographs Tennant had collected showed cattle with patchy fur, growths and lesions, white slime coming from their mouths, and staggering gaits. Tennant told Bilott that the abnormal behavior and physical deformities had started after his brother Jim sold his property to DuPont, a chemical company with a big presence in Parkersburg. Jim’s property bordered on Wilbur’s, and a stream running from Jim’s
He was worried he wouldn’t be able to find anything incriminating or even conclusive Because of the medical monitoring claim, plaintiffs can file personal injury lawsuits against DuPont. So far, 3,535 people have. If it weren’t for Bilott and Tennant, the public might have never known the dangers of PFOA. DOYOUR PART TO KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL And Maintain Green Living Spaces for Everyone
jogging and picking up litter, which takes care of your health and keeps your community clean. Anybody can do it: Just throw on your running shoes, grab a bag, head out the door, and pick up any stray bits of trash you see on your morning jog or evening walk.
to better the place you live in. Here are three ways to show your appreciation for a green America this month.
Have you ever walked through a park and seen a plastic bottle or wrapper lying on the ground? If so, did you pick it up and properly dispose of it? You might not have realized it, but in that moment, you took a small step toward keeping your community — and, by extension, America — beautiful! April is Keep America Beautiful Month, and folks who celebrate aim to help each community in every state stay clean and green. Created by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, this holiday offers a perfect opportunity to roll up your sleeves and work
VOLUNTEER FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP.
IMPROVE RECYCLING THROUGH EDUCATION.
This event is one of America’s largest community improvement programs, with hundreds of thousands of people
An important goal during Keep America Beautiful Month is to spread awareness about recycling. There are various ways to educate those around you about recycling and encourage them to do their part. At work, for example, you can volunteer to lead a recycling initiative by printing off guides and fostering discussions on why recycling is so essential. At home, you can make a commitment with your family to fulfill the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. To discover more ways to participate in Keep America Beautiful month, visit their website at KAB.org today!
participating each year. In 2019, over 550,000 volunteers participated in the GAC to bring natural beauty back into their communities. 2020 marks this event’s 22nd year, and you can be a part of it this month! Volunteer your time with a local Keep America Beautiful affiliate or another community improvement program close to home. Do your part to clean up your parks and spread awareness today.
If you’re passionate about staying active and cleaning up your neighborhood, then this is the perfect activity for you! Plogging combines
TAKE A BREAK
Few things change faster than the internet, and how we connect with the internet is constantly evolving. When it comes to wireless capabilities, fourth-generation (4G) networks have been the norm for 10 years. But 4G couldn’t meet demands forever, and there’s already talk of a fifth-generation (5G) network taking center stage. So, what makes 5G different from 4G, and how will it affect consumers and their internet-enabled devices? Simply put, 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that enables mobile devices like cellphones and stationary devices like desktop computers to send and receive data without being physically connected to a network via cables. As technology improves and more connection points are established around the globe, new network generations are “released” to represent significant advancements in speed and reach. Consumers will notice the rise of 5G mostly with their smartphones. Apps and services that function using the internet will have fewer delays, faster loading times, more reliable internet access in remote locations, and more stable downloading and uploading capabilities. Experts predict that 5G will provide download speeds of up to 10,000 megabits per second, which is roughly 100 times faster than 4G. While it can take a 4G network upward of 15 seconds to download a simple 5-megabyte music file, a 5G network will be able to download an entire movie in less than two seconds. These network updates are all about speed, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to switch your cellphone over to 5G. Many providers are still testing the service with select markets, and a full rollout of 5G isn’t expected until later this year. Check with your network provider about the options they currently offer and get ready to connect with the world like never before. SO, WHAT IS 5G? A New Horizon in Wireless Technology WHAT ARE THE BASICS? HOW POWERFUL WILL IT BE? WHAT’S NEXT?
EASY DEVILED EGGS
While the kids hunt for Easter eggs in the yard, whip up this easy deviled egg recipe for a hearty snack that’s sure to satisfy any craving.
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
12 large eggs, hard-boiled
1/2 tsp dill weed
Fresh parsley, minced, and paprika for garnish
1/2 tsp fresh chives, minced
1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, parsley flakes, dill, chives, mustard, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. 2. Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks carefully to preserve egg whites. 3. In a small bowl, mash yolks. 4. Mix mashed yolks with mayonnaise mixture. 5. Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the egg whites. 6. Garnish with fresh parsley and paprika. Refrigerate before serving.
Inspired by TasteOfHome.com
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Bankruptcy in the Wake of COVID-19
The Lawyer Who Took on a Multibillion-Dollar Company Keep America Beautiful
Easy Deviled Eggs 5G Made Simple
The History of Libraries in America
THE OLDEST LIBRARIES IN AMERICA A STORY OF MANY FIRSTS
A FEW MORE FIRSTS
What’s the oldest library in America? It’s an easy question to ask, but it has an unexpectedly complicated answer. Before the Industrial Revolution generated greater interest in public services, a library’s function and purpose varied widely. Several libraries in the United States claim to be the country’s “first,” but for different reasons. Some believe Harvard University hosted the first library in the United States. Harvard was the first university in the United States, founded in 1636, and clergyman John Harvard seeded the library with a 400-book collection. Soon after, however, Thomas Bray, another clergyman, began establishing the first free lending libraries throughout the colonies to encourage the spread of the Anglican Church. Not surprisingly, most of the libraries’ holdings were theological. COLLEGES AND THE CLERGY
During the 1700s, a few more “first” libraries were established. In 1731, Ben Franklin and a few others started the first subscription library in the United States. Members of subscription libraries could pay to buy books or borrow them for free. In 1757, 60 men founded the Library Company of Burlington in New Jersey, and Thomas Rodman received a charter from King George II to operate the business in 1758. The library still operates under that charter today. The Library of Burlington was the first library to operate out of its own building after a prominent resident donated the land in 1789.
Hampshire, at a town meeting. It was the first tax-supported free public library in the United States and in the world. Not long after that, the Boston Public Library, known as the “palace for the people,” became the first municipal public library in the country. The Boston Public Library was also the first library to have a space specifically for children. Out of all the “first” libraries in the country, these are the most probable progenitors of most libraries today — even if they weren’t exactly “first.”
BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE
In 1833, just as the Industrial Revolution was picking up steam, the Peterborough Town Library was founded in Peterborough, New
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