Bankruptcy Case Information

Bankruptcy Case Basics      

Federal bankruptcy cases are filed and heard in federal bankruptcy courts before a bankruptcy judge.  The federal bankruptcy court is an "arm" or an extension of the federal district court.  Bankruptcy court rulings may be appealed to the district court and subsequently to the federal appellate court. 

The day of filing is known as "the petition date" and is an important marker of time in the course of a bankruptcy case because the petition date establishes how a debt, owed by the company, should be treated during the bankruptcy case.

Prior to the petition date, case preparation activities related to the yet to be filed bankruptcy case or to the conduct of business transactions are known as "pre-petition" and pre-petition debts may be treated or paid out according to a plan of reorganization over the course of time. 

Upon the filing of the chapter 11 bankruptcy case with the federal court or the petition date, all activities related to the bankruptcy are known as "post petition".  Debts incurred post petition may be treated differently than pre-petition debts.

Federal bankruptcy cases typically involve multiple companies, all legally related to a parent company, which is filed for chapter 11 protection at the same time.  As each company is filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, it becomes known as a "debtor" and receives its own federal bankruptcy case number and court docket.   

In an effort to save costs and streamline access to court filings, courts typically permit all related debtor companies to file all pleadings on a single debtor company or "lead debtor case" pursuant to a pleading known as the "joint administration order".  The lead debtor court docket contains the majority of all court filings which include, but are not exclusive of:

  • Bankruptcy specific pleadings: DIP financing, employee wages and benefits, cash management, customer programs, critical vendors, insurance financing, tax operations, retention of professionals, pro hac vice retention, notices of appearance, relief from stay, 2004 document production, equity trading pleadings, claims trading.   
  • Business operation initiatives: sales of assets, assumption or rejection of contracts, retention of non-bankruptcy professionals, internal operations.
  • Case administration information: objection deadlines, court dates, court docket numbers, hearing dates, response deadlines, contact information for attorneys and case administration orders.
  • Certificates and affidavits of service related to legal notices.
  • Court orders for all bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy filed pleadings.

For pleadings or specific case information, you will most likely find it located on the lead debtor case court docket.  

For example, if you would like to determine if a company is a debtor, involved with the lead debtor case, review the joint administration order as filed on the lead debtor court docket.  To find the joint administration order, first find the court, then the case or court docket.  Once you find the specific court docket, you can search any docket by typing on the "control" key and "F" key on your keyboard. 

For information on searching for a federal bankruptcy case, please refer to our search for a chapter 11 case webpage. 

For information on understanding bankruptcy pleadings, please refer to our understanding bankruptcy pleadings webpage.  

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