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The maker of the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, Girls Gone Wild Brands LLC, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an attempt to restructure its legal affairs and shield assets from creditor reach.   “GGW Magazine and GGW Events also filed for protection.”

The Chapter 11 was filed on the heels of high-profile lawsuits.  Girls Gone Wild founder, Joe Francis’ most high-profile “L” was to “casino mogul Steve Wynn [in the amount of] $10.3 million, including a $7.5 million slander award last year and a disputed $2 million gambling debt.”  Formerly, a St. Louis woman was awarded $5.8 million, in her lawsuit against the company” after claiming someone exposed her breasts in a bar for the Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy series.”  Other suits have been filed by women asserting that they were exploited in videos; one even asserts being exploited while she was underage. A company attorney has clarified, however, that none of the judgments are against the Girls Gone Wild entities.

Comparing the bankruptcy to those of American Airlines and General Motors, the company attorney has said that the Girls Gone Wild parent company is still strong financially, and plans to go forward with business as usual.

Spring Break, here they come!

Sources:

Quotations from Michael Winter, ‘Girls Gone Wild’ goes bankrupt to dodge legal awards, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/28/girls-gone-wild-bankruptcy/1954419/, Feb. 28, 2013.

Susanna Kim, ‘Girls Gone Wild’ Files for Bankruptcy, ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2013/02/joe-francis-girls-gone-wild-bankrupt/, Feb. 28, 2013.

Girls Gone Wild Files for Bankruptcy, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/girls-gone-wild-bankruptcy_n_2782645.html, Feb. 28. 2013.

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Actually, for me, it was a Suzy Q.  You see, I had a “friend” that I frequently shared lunch with in elementary school.  She bought the school lunch and I packed my lunch (except Thursdays–pizza day!).  My parents filled our lunches with healthy, nutritious foods.  But, occasionally, we received a treat in our lunches as well.  When my mom brought home that Suzy Q, I lost it.  Oh, the decadence.

Well, by “lost it,” I don’t mean that I jumped for joy, or sang my mom’s praises.  I sat down on the steps leading from our kitchen to our family room and burst into tears.  I just couldn’t bare to share my delectable treat.  So, I spilled all the beans.  Finally, my mom understood why I was so hungry after school.  Half of my lunch had been someone else’s midday nourishment.  That stopped the very next day.  MY Suzy Q gave me the power to take back all of my lunch!

Similar to my tale, the current news on the Hostess Brands, Inc. financial demise, mediation and imminent liquidation has sparked up nostalgia.  Across the country (and likely the world), people are remembering their favorite Hostess treats, with several reclaiming them in hoards at local stores last week.  Suzy Qs are even being sold on eBay!  I haven’t had a Hostess treat in years, but I remember the taste well.

It’s been said that Twinkies have a shelf life of 20 years or more–a common urban legend, I suppose.  Our Twinkies survived the days of being tossed in paper sacks or metal lunch boxes with the likes of ET, Care Bears, GI Joe or Barbie gracing the outside.  They were kept in our paper lunch sacks or boxes, with a collection of other lunches, in our classrooms or classroom coat rooms.  There was no refrigeration for our lunches or cold packs to keep them at the right temperature until the school bells signaled the start of the lunch hour.  Indeed, the closest thing we had to a cold pack was a thermos that frequently allowed us to carry warm soup to school for lunch, or better yet, “lukecold” milk.

So, if our Twinkies could survive all of that, I am certain they will survive this.

What was your favorite Hostess treat?

A) Twinkies

B) Ding Dongs

C) Crumb Cakes

D) Ho-Hos

E) Other

Be sure to follow current events on the Hostess Brands, Inc. bankruptcy under the Roll Call tab.

Consider this scenario:

Critical Vendor  (“Critical”) has been doing business with Great Expectations Theater of International Talent  (“GETIT”) for over 20 years.  Actually, Critical has been in the trenches with GETIT since its opening.  Over the years, Critical has supplied dance shoes (i.e. ballet slippers, tap shoes, jazz shoes), leotards, tutus (similar to the multitude of taffeta and mesh skirts trending now), stage make-up, lighting, props and music (on cassette, CD and MP3 formats).  There was never a time when Critical could not meet GETIT’s supply demands.  For the first 15 years of the business relationship, GETIT timely paid every invoice and used Critical for all theater and production-related needs.  GETIT provided Critical with so much business that GETIT was always Critical’s top customer and frequently its only customer.  The owners of each operation also became close friends and often took family vacations together.  Their children were around the same ages and attended the same schools.

The last five years, however, have not been as copacetic.  You see, with the combination of in-home entertainment, the nearly bottomed-out economy and sundry reality TV options, audiences were no longer flocking to GETIT’s productions.  Sales receipts and annual memberships were down.  GETIT went from nightly shows and matinees on each weekend day to three shows per week.  Then, eventually, one show per week.  During that phase, Critical’s owner donated supplies, heavily discounted bills and offered to invest in GETIT, all to save the company she essentially helped to build for 15-20 years.  Plus, she wanted to help her friend, to whom she attributed much faith and loyalty, and could not bare to see GETIT collapse.  Even in light of her willingness to help, Critical’s owner was still a “savvy” businesswoman and often felt foolish for financially helping a friend’s company.  She knew that could be a significant mistake and could negatively impact Critical.  But she did it anyway, while periodically asking GETIT’s owner if she was contemplating bankruptcy.  GETIT’s owner always shrugged off such inquiries, but offered a trifling bit of reassurance, saying, “If I do decide to file, you’ll be the first to know.”

Turns out, Critical’s owner was not the first to know.  Indeed, she did not learn of GETIT’s Chapter 11 filing until she received a copy of GETIT’s petition and schedules in the mail.  Critical was listed in GETIT’s schedules and a related motion as a critical vendor with a sizable prepetition unsecured claim.  Although the practical benefits of retaining a critical vendor in restructuring and reorganization proceedings is to avoid the disruption of the debtor’s business, Critical wanted out.  Critical’s owner knew that her prepetition unsecured claim could be zeroed out, or at best, receive only pennies on the dollar.  If GETIT’s motion was granted, Critical would have to continue to meet GETIT’s supply demands.

Therein lied the dispute.  Critical heavily objected to GETIT’s motion to approve its proposed critical vendor status, which led to thousands of dollars of motions practice and litigation.  Prideful and equally humiliated, the parties refused to speak during the contentious time, but eventually agreed to mediation.

The bankruptcy court-approved mediator worked diligently with the parties to guide them to a resolution.  Upon the parties’ impasse on several occasions, the mediator continued the mediation and followed up with the parties after the failed sessions, which brought the parties back to the table each time.  Frustrations, anger and even rising prejudices by Critical’s and GETIT’s counsel, stalled each attempted mediation session.  Not to be deterred, the mediator took one last shot at getting the parties to a potential resolution and pondered what method or tactic might work best.  Finally, she believed she knew the true basis of the contention.

She went into a caucus, or private meeting, with each party.  In the caucus with Critical’s owner and counsel, she looked Critical’s owner squarely in the eyes and said, “I think what you are seeking from this is something deeper yet more basic and personal than all of the legal issues you all have tossed back and forth for months.  Tell me what that is.”  Critical’s owner peered back at the mediator; her eyes revealed the competing emotions of perplexity, anger and relief.  Finally, she said, “All this time, I just wanted GETIT’s owner to apologize.  She never said, I’m sorry.  She drug me into this.  I asked many times if she was planning on a bankruptcy and she gave me no heads up.  She told me she would.  I took her word.  Now, my business is on the brink of collapse, and she never even said, ‘I’m sorry.'”

At the end of the day, GETIT’s owner delivered the long-awaited words, “I’m sorry,” and the parties moved forward to an agreement.
So, what’s the moral of the story?  Sometimes, the legalities, the substantive law, bankruptcy code and rules are not enough.  Often, the “Golden Rule” wins out.  When faced with these types of circumstances as a mediator, or practitioner representing emotionally torn, humiliated and embattled parties, start with that rule first.  You’re likely to avoid the complexities of pride and prejudice.  Get it?

Let me know how you would you have handled this situation.

Did you know the following politicians, celebrities and athletes have filed bankruptcy?

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • PT Barnum
  • Buffalo Bill
  • Rembrandt
  • Samuel L. Clemens (“Mark Twain”)
  • Milton Hershey
  • Walt Disney
  • Toni Braxton
  • Lawrence Taylor (“LT”)
  • Dorothy Hamill
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Sheryl Swoopes
  • Marion Jones
  • Gaylord Perry
  • Gary Coleman
  • Corey Haim
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • Larry King
  • Mike Tyson
  • Benedict Arnold
  • Kim Basinger
  • George Best
  • George Clinton
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Jim Dooley
  • MC Hammer
  • Wayne Newton
  • Burt Reynolds
  • Henry Ford
  • H.J. Heinz
  • Michael Vick
  • Sinbad

This list is by no means exhaustive or in any particular order.  Looking at this list, it is apparent that some never recovered from their bankruptcies while others had major success after filing.  So, what is a “fresh start,” you ask?  It is one of the purposes of bankruptcy.  Rather than holding on to the medieval debtors’ prison for those unable to pay their debts, the modern Bankruptcy Act and Code, and more recently BAPCPA, embrace the idea of permitting individuals and entities to resolve serious financial troubles and disputes (i.e. become free of most debts as some cannot be discharged) in a forum where creditors can be repaid (although not always in an ideal amount or at all).

This prompts a couple questions:
What does a “fresh start” mean to you?

What have we learned from the foregoing list of celebrities who sought a “fresh start” through a bankruptcy?

First Follower!

Much thanks to Nathan Ishizaki (http://nate1969.wordpress.com/), my first follower!

Mediation Banca Rotta discusses issues and current events related to bankruptcy mediation.  The word bankruptcy is derived from Italian banca rotta, meaning “broken bench.”  Through this blog, I am inviting you to learn more about bankruptcy mediation, whether you are a mediator/neutral, bankruptcy practitioner or member of the public.  Mediation Banca Rotta includes the following pages: (1) Roll Call: Recent Cases/Pending Matters; (2) The Neutral: Tips for the Mediator; (3) Advocate’s Corner: Tips for the Practitioner; (4) Speaking Engagements; and (5) Quotable.

– A quote from my husband.

As a new blogger, it is hard to determine exactly what to write about, what to share and what to keep to yourself.  So, my husband offered his “two cents” to my thoughts, and I then pondered about what his freshly minted quote meant for me.

Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process run by a third-party, or neutral.

A mediator is one who “acts as a catalyst between opposing interests attempting to bring them together by defining issues and eliminating obstacles to communication, while moderating and guiding the process to avoid confrontation and ill will.”  Additionally, mediators “seek concessions from each side during the mediation process.” – JAMS

I have always been a listener and evaluator.  One of my greatest gifts is the ability to make others feel comfortable about themselves and their current situation—whatever it may be—without judgment or pretense.  In return, I have also been gifted with others’ stories, short-term enlightenment and life lessons.

After some spirited contemplation, I realized that I am endeavoring to do professionally what I have always done personally; that is to listen to others, including their problems, their joys, their insights, frustrations, epiphanies and, yes, some superfluous information, and then guide them to their own resolutions, discoveries, heightened understanding and clarity.

I am uncertain whether it is that the art of mediation is innate, or that I just possess some of skill sets that lend themselves to that art.  However, I choose to mediate, because through that process, I assist others with their own spirited contemplation and realization.

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My name is Nathan Ishizaki and this is the crazy fact about most of us, we find something we love to do and make it work I have all the time in the world and this is what my channel is about-

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