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Phillips Murrah announces 48 attorneys named to 2020 Best Lawyers list

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that 48 of our attorneys have been named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2020 list in Oklahoma City.

2020 Best Lawyers – Lawyers of the Year

Douglas A. Branch – Venture Capital Law

Elizabeth K. Brown – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)

Susan E. Bryant – Securities Regulation

Michael D. Carter – Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Nicholle Jones Edwards – Family Law

Sally A. Hasenfratz – Land Use and Zoning Law

Dawn M. Rahme – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Mary Holloway Richard – Health Care Law

Jim A. Roth – Natural Resources Law

G. Calvin Sharpe – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

 

The Best Lawyers in America 2020

Jennifer Ivester Berry – Commercial Finance Law; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Real Estate Law

Douglas A. Branch – Securities / Capital Markets Law; Venture Capital Law

Elizabeth K. Brown – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Real Estate Law; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Susan E. Bryant – Securities Regulation

John M. Bunting – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law

Catherine L. Campbell – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Labor and Employment

A. Michelle Campney – Commercial Litigation

Michael D. Carter – Labor Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment; Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Rodney L. Cook – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law

Cody J. Cooper – Commercial Litigation

Bobby Dolatabadi – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Jason A. Dunn – Commercial Litigation

Joshua L. Edwards – Real Estate Law

Marc Edwards – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Commercial Litigation; Government Relations Practice

Nicholle Jones Edwards – Family Law; Family Law Arbitration

Juston R. Givens – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law

Mark E. Golman – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

Lauren Barghols Hanna – Employment Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment; Water Law

Sally A. Hasenfratz – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Construction Law; Land Use and Zoning Law; Real Estate Law

Terry L. Hawkins – Public Finance Law

Heather L. Hintz – Commercial Litigation

Patrick L. Hullum – Commercial Litigation

Clayton D. Ketter – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Timothy D. Kline – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Fred A. Leibrock – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation – Antitrust; Litigation – ERISA; Litigation – Real Estate

Candace Williams Lisle – Commercial Litigation; Financial Services Regulation Law

Mark Lovelace – Banking and Finance Law; Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Byrona J. Maule – Litigation – Labor and Employment

Melvin R. McVay, Jr. – Banking and Finance Law; Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Financial Services Regulation Law; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Real Estate

Andrew S. Mildren – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice; Real Estate Law

Jennifer L. Miller – Commercial Litigation

Cindy H. Murray – Real Estate Law

Robert O. O’Bannon – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Private Funds / Hedge Funds Law; Tax Law

Martin G. Ozinga – Commercial Litigation; Information Technology Law; Technology Law

Donald A. Pape – Banking and Finance Law; Financial Services Regulation Law

Michael R. Perri – Commercial Litigation; Energy Law; Natural Resources Law; Oil and Gas Law

William S. Price – Government Relations Practice

Dawn M. Rahme – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Mary Holloway Richard – Health Care Law

Jim A. Roth – Energy Law; Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Government Relations Practice; Natural Resources Law

G. Calvin Sharpe – Insurance Law; Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Robert N. Sheets – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Land Use and Zoning; Litigation – Real Estate

Ellen K. Spiropoulos – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

D. Craig Story – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)

Amy D. White – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Lyndon W. Whitmire – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Thomas G. Wolfe – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Oil and Gas Law; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Raymond E. Zschiesche – Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Avoid a clawback

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on September 13, 2018.


Clayton Ketter

Clayton D. Ketter is a Director and a litigator whose practice involves a wide range of business litigation in both federal and state court, including extensive experience in financial restructurings and bankruptcy matters.

By Phillips Murrah Director Clayton D. Ketter

A business owner learns that one of her customers has filed for bankruptcy. She rushes to check her books and breathes a sigh of relief after seeing that the customer paid all of their outstanding invoices just days before going bankrupt. Unbeknownst to the business owner, those payments may have to be paid back to the bankruptcy estate as a preference.

One of the principal policies underlying bankruptcy law is fairness to creditors, which attempts to ensure that similarly situated creditors are treated equally. To promote this goal, creditors in a bankruptcy are placed into classes, with members of each class sharing proportionally in distributions of a bankrupt debtor’s assets.

This policy can be hampered when a debtor pays a preferred creditor immediately before a bankruptcy, to the detriment of other creditors. To ensure that a debtor’s limited money does not disappear to creditors favored by the debtor, the Bankruptcy Code allows a bankruptcy trustee to claw back such payments.

A payment is considered a preference if it meets five criteria: It is made to a creditor; for a debt owed prior to the payment being made; while the debtor was insolvent; during either 90 days before the bankruptcy filing for ordinary creditors or one year for insiders of the debtor; which allowed the creditor to receive more than it would have received in distributions from the bankruptcy estate.

If a payment is a preference, it must be paid back to the trustee unless a valid defense can be established.

Several defenses are available to creditors, including for substantially contemporaneous exchanges. Typically, point-of-sale transactions and those that involve cash on delivery will meet this defense. Another common defense exists for payments made in the ordinary course of business, which analyzes the typical transactions between the parties and in the relevant industry. If it is common for a debtor to pay invoices within 60 days of delivery, for example, those payments may meet the ordinary course defense.

Businesses can take steps to shield payments received from financially troubled customers from being subject to preference liability. The most effective means is to require prepayment, COD, or point-of-sale transactions only. Businesses can also strategically apply payments to invoices in a manner designed to fit within preference defenses.

To recover a preference, the bankruptcy trustee must commence a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case, typically preceded by a demand letter. Any business that receives such a letter should consult with bankruptcy counsel to determine whether they have valid defenses to the claim. Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney is also advisable prior to entering into sizable business transactions with a financially troubled company to attempt to eliminate preference risk. Doing so can help reduce the risk that a business gets embroiled in a bankruptcy, and worse, has to repay money that it was owed.

Clayton D. Ketter is a litigation attorney at Phillips Murrah P.C. who specializes in financial restructuring.

Phillips Murrah announces 44 attorneys named to 2019 Best Lawyers list

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that 44 of our attorneys have been named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 list in Oklahoma City.

2019 Best Lawyers – Lawyers of the Year

Douglas A. Branch – Venture Capital Law

Susan E. Bryant – Securities Regulation

Terry L. Hawkins – Public Finance Law

Michael R. Perri – Natural Resources Law

Thomas G. Wolfe – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

 

The Best Lawyers in America 2019

Jennifer Ivester Berry – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Real Estate Law

Douglas A. Branch – Securities / Capital Markets Law; Venture Capital Law

Elizabeth K. Brown – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Susan E. Bryant – Securities Regulation

John M. Bunting – Insurance Law

Catherine L. Campbell – Commercial Litigation

Michael D. Carter – Labor Law – Management; Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Rodney L. Cook – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law

Bobby Dolatabadi – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Jason A. Dunn – Commercial Litigation

Joshua L. Edwards – Real Estate Law

Marc Edwards – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Commercial Litigation; Government Relations Practice

Nicholle Jones Edwards – Family Law

Juston R. Givens – Commercial Litigation

Mark E. Golman – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

Sally A. Hasenfratz – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Construction Law; Land Use and Zoning Law; Real Estate Law

Terry L. Hawkins – Public Finance Law

Heather L. Hintz – Commercial Litigation

Patrick L. Hullum – Commercial Litigation

Clayton D. Ketter – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation

Timothy D. Kline – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Fred A. Leibrock – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation – Antitrust; Litigation – ERISA; Litigation – Real Estate

Candace Williams Lisle – Commercial Litigation

Mark Lovelace – Banking and Finance Law; Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Melvin R. McVay, Jr. – Banking and Finance Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Real Estate

Andrew S. Mildren – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice; Real Estate Law

Jennifer L. Miller – Commercial Litigation

Cindy H. Murray – Real Estate Law

Robert O. O’Bannon – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Tax Law

Martin G. Ozinga – Commercial Litigation; Technology Law

Donald A. Pape – Banking and Finance Law

Michael R. Perri – Commercial Litigation; Energy Law; Natural Resources Law; Oil and Gas Law

William S. Price – Government Relations Practice

Dawn M. Rahme – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Mary Holloway Richard – Health Care Law

Jim A. Roth – Energy Law; Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Government Relations Practice; Natural Resources Law

G. Calvin Sharpe – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Robert N. Sheets – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Land Use and Zoning; Litigation – Real Estate

Ellen K. Spiropoulos – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

D. Craig Story – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)

Amy D. White – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Lyndon W. Whitmire – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Thomas G. Wolfe – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Oil and Gas Law; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Raymond E. Zschiesche – Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Why Weinstein’s creditors hired bankruptcy counsel

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on November 16, 2017.


Clayton D. Ketter is a Director and a litigator whose practice involves a wide range of business litigation in both federal and state court, including extensive experience in financial restructurings and bankruptcy matters.

By Phillips Murrah Director Clayton D. Ketter

Since the onslaught of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, his film studio, The Weinstein Company, has wasted no time in firing its founder. Yet, the namesake studio has been unable to distance itself from Mr. Weinstein’s bad press, and it is questionable how willing moviegoers will be to support anything associated with the toxic moniker. This has prompted speculation that a bankruptcy is looming.

While The Weinstein Company has not filed for bankruptcy, and denies any plans to do so, some of the company’s debtholders reportedly have already retained bankruptcy attorneys. Why? At first glance, it may seem odd for creditors to hire bankruptcy counsel before a filing is even initiated. However, there are strategic reasons as to why early retention makes sense.

Often, a company facing financial pressure will attempt, prior to filing, to work with its largest lenders to craft a strategy that is mutually beneficial to all parties. Cooperation among debtors and creditors increases the likelihood of a successful bankruptcy and can significantly reduce associated attorneys’ fees.

Even if the parties won’t work together, bankruptcy counsel can provide vital pre-bankruptcy assistance to a creditor. It is normal for the debtor to file a number of pleadings on the day the bankruptcy is commenced or shortly thereafter. These typically include mundane items such as authority to continue to use bank accounts, pay employees and employ legal professionals. However, it is also possible for significant relief to be requested as part of these first-day motions, including post-bankruptcy financing arrangements or even requests to liquidate assets. Having bankruptcy counsel at the ready and fully engaged allows a creditor to immediately respond to any such requests to ensure the creditor’s rights are protected.

Should The Weinstein Company file bankruptcy, it is likely to begin with a motion seeking to liquidate its highly portable assets, which include its film library, and movie and television development projects. Those assets could be acquired by a rival studio and washed of the Weinstein name, thereby increasing the potential value. The Weinstein Company’s significant creditors would want to ensure that they won’t get blindsided by a sudden bankruptcy filing and a first-day motion to sell. Their early retention of bankruptcy counsel will help prevent such a scenario from happening.

Clayton D. Ketter is a director and litigation attorney at Phillips Murrah P.C. who specializes in financial restructuring.

Workouts a good option: Companies in financial hardship have alternative to bankruptcy

This article was published in OIPA Wellhead, a publication produced by Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and distributed to its membership.

Phillips Murrah Directors Elizabeth K. Brown, Stephen W. Elliott, and Melvin R. McVay, Jr. present at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association Annual Meeting.

Phillips Murrah Directors Elizabeth K. Brown, Stephen W. Elliott, and Melvin R. McVay, Jr. present at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association Annual Meeting.

OIPA board member Elizabeth Kemp Brown and her fellow attorneys from Phillips Murrah PC presented a panel at the Annual Meeting discussing workouts and bankruptcies in the oil and natural gas industry.

Phillips Murrah’s Melvin McVay, Stephen Elliott and Clayton Ketter joined Brown, who is also CEO of E&P company The Gloria Corporation, on the panel.

Bankruptcies in the oil and natural gas industry more than quadrupled from 2014 to 2015, totaling almost $35 billion.

Bankruptcy is usually not the best choice for a company facing financial trouble, Ketter said.

“Before jumping into that you want to see if you can do an out-of-court workout,” he said.

Bankruptcy is the last resort for both borrowers and lenders, McVay said.

A consensual workout agreement is an agreement between parties to renegotiate the loan and stay away from bankruptcy. Workout measures can include extending the term of a loan, extending payments, or partial payments.

A workout allows the parties to have much more control, McVay said, and avoids public scrutiny and the stigma that is attached to bankruptcy.

“You file bankruptcy, and everything about your company is an open book,” McVay said. “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

He urged business owners to be proactive if the company is entering hard times.

Elliott said recent cases have seen a change to how bankruptcies have worked.

“Historically, secured creditors come in and assert their positions and everybody below them gets nothing,” he said. “That’s not what’s happening. What they’re generally doing is restructuring their debt, cutting in existing equity and leaving trade participants and trade creditors pretty much alone.

“It seems to be a realization that they can maximize value by keeping the industry participants and the relationships with them intact.”

Ketter said of the around 35 oil and natural gas bankruptcies that have been filed this year, few were filed in Oklahoma, even if the company was Oklahoma-based.

“You would think, a company that is headquartered in Oklahoma, has a lot of creditors in Oklahoma or even Texas, how is it that they can go to Delaware or the southern district of New York and file?” Ketter said. “The venue requirements under the bankruptcy code are pretty broad. They allow you to be creative in where you end up filing.”

The biggest cases tend to hire national counsel, Elliott said, and they practice more frequently in Delaware and New York and Texas than they do in Oklahoma.

“I think there’s also a perception that the courts in Delaware and New York may be more sophisticated,” Elliott said. “I personally don’t buy that. And if any of you were involved in the SEM Group case, you received decisions out of the Delaware judge that I don’t think were very compatible with your view of the world. So I think home filing would probably be a lot better for some of these folks than they realize.”

Brown said when dealing with a company that is having financial difficulties, reviewing existing contracts is vital.

“Make sure you have your ducks in a row,” she said. “Review back over those agreements … If you’ve done an acquisition, you need to make sure you have your assignments in hand, and you need to make sure those assignments have been actually executed and recorded.”  Take steps like making sure any liens are filed, and any other documents signed and recorded, so you understand your position, she said.  Brown said when providing services or products to a company with financial problems, options are to get a deposit, get a pre-payment or personal guarantee from the owner before providing additional products and services.

“It’s a good idea to evaluate where you are and then try to make sure that you’ve got your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed, and you’ll be in a much better position to be paid if the company ends up going into bankruptcy,” she said.

Phillips Murrah names four new Directors and Shareholders

Directors Melissa R. Gardner, Clayton D. Ketter, Patrick L. Hullum, and Bobby Dolatabadi.

Directors Melissa R. Gardner, Clayton D. Ketter, Patrick L. Hullum, and Bobby Dolatabadi.

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that we have expanded our group of Directors from 31 to 35, promoting Attorneys Bobby Dolatabadi, Melissa R. Gardner, Patrick L. Hullum, and Clayton D. Ketter to Shareholders.

Dolatabadi an experienced real estate attorney who represents his clients in a multitude of real estate transactions including acquisitions, divestitures, leasing, development and land-use.

Gardner represents both privately-owned and public companies in a wide variety of oil and gas matters, with a strong emphasis on oil and gas title examination.

Hullum a litigation attorney who represents individuals and public and private companies in a wide range of complex litigation matters and specializes in business litigation.

Ketter is a litigator whose practice involves a wide range of business litigation in both federal and state court, including extensive experience in financial restructurings and bankruptcy matters.

Phillips Murrah law firm forms new partnership

By M. Scott Carter

[ SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 – OKLAHOMA CITY ] The Oklahoma City law firm of Phillips Murrah P.C. is 25 percent bigger today – thanks to a new partnership with the Kline, Kline, Elliott and Bryant firm and other new additions.

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