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In re Transwest Resort Properties, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 25, 2018

In the Matter of Transwest Resort Properties, Inc., Debtor,
v.
Transwest Resort Properties Incorporated; SWVP La Paloma LLC; SWVP Hilton Head LLC, Appellees. JPMCC 2007-C1 Grasslawn Lodging, LLC, Appellant,

          Argued and Submitted October 25, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona Raner C. Collins, Chief District Judge, Presiding D.C. Nos. 4:12-cv-00024-RCC 4:12-cv-00121-RCC

          David M. Neff (argued) and Eric E. Walker, Perkins Coie LLP, Chicago, Illinois; Dean C. Waldt, Ballard Spahr LLP, Phoenix, Arizona; for Appellant.

          Donald A. English (argued) and Christy I. Yee, English & Gloven APC, San Diego, California; Susan G. Boswell and Brad D. Terry, Quarles & Brady LLP, Tucson, Arizona; for Appellees.

          Before: J. CLIFFORD WALLACE, MILAN D. SMITH, JR., and MICHELLE T. FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[*]

         Bankruptcy

         The panel affirmed the district court's affirmance of the bankruptcy court's order approving a Chapter 11 "cramdown" reorganization plan of five related debtors.

         The debtors had previously acquired two resorts. A lender, whose claim was undersecured, elected to have its entire claim treated as secured pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1111(b)(2). The plan restructured the lender's loan to a term of 21 years and included a due-on-sale clause requiring the debtors to pay the lender the outstanding balance of the loan if the resorts were sold. The due-on-sale clause did not apply if the debtors were to sell the resorts between years five and fifteen.

         The panel held that an election under § 1111(b)(2) does not require that a due-on-sale clause be included in a reorganization plan.

         The panel also held that § 1129(a)(10), which requires that at least one impaired class accept a "cramdown" plan, applies on a "per plan" basis, rather than a "per debtor" basis.

         Concurring, Judge Friedland agreed that § 1111(b)(2) does not require that a bankruptcy plan include complete due-on-sale protection for the creditor and that § 1129(a)(10) applies on a "per plan" basis. She wrote separately to acknowledge the argument of the lender that it was unfairly deprived of the ability to object effectively to reorganization of two of the debtors, despite being their only creditor. Judge Friedland wrote that any unfairness resulted not from the interpretation of § 1129 challenged by the lender, but instead from the fact that the reorganization treated the five debtor entities as if they had been substantively consolidated-something the lender did not object to in the bankruptcy court.

          OPINION

          M. SMITH, Circuit Judge.

         JPMCC 2007-C1 Grasslawn Lodging, LLC (Lender) objected to the Chapter 11 plan of five related entities (collectively, Debtors) who previously acquired two hotels. Despite these objections, the bankruptcy court approved a "cramdown" reorganization plan. The Lender appealed to the district court, but the district court concluded that the Lender's appeal was equitably moot. In 2015, we reversed the district court's equitable mootness determination, and remanded to the district court for consideration of the Lender's appeal on the merits. See In re Transwest Resort Props., Inc., 801 F.3d 1161 (9th Cir. 2015) (Transwest I).

         On remand, the district court evaluated the merits of the Lender's appeal, and concluded that (1) an election under 11 U.S.C. § 1111(b)(2) does not require that a Chapter 11 plan contain a due-on-sale clause; and (2) 11 U.S.C. § 1129(a)(10) applies on a "per plan, " not a "per debtor, " basis. This appeal is limited to the construction of 11 U.S.C. § 1111(b)(2) and 11 U.S.C. § 1129(a)(10).[1] Based on the plain language of both statutory sections, we affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In 2007, the Debtors acquired the Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa and the Westin La Paloma Resort and Country Club (collectively, the Resorts). The Debtors were composed of: Transwest Hilton Head Property, LLC, and Transwest Tucson Property, LLC (Operating Debtors);

         Transwest Hilton Head II, LLC, and Transwest Tucson II, LLC (Mezzanine Debtors); and Transwest Resort Properties, Inc. (Holding Company Debtor). The Holding Company Debtor was the sole owner of the Mezzanine Debtors. The Mezzanine Debtors were, in turn, the sole owners of the two Operating Debtors, who owned and operated the Resorts. The acquisitions were financed by (1) a $209 million mortgage loan to the Operating Debtors from the Lender, secured by the Resorts (the Operating Loan); and (2) a $21.5 million loan from Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP (Mezzanine Lender), secured by the Mezzanine Debtors' interests in the Operating Debtors (the Mezzanine Loan).

         In 2010, the Debtors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The five cases involved were jointly administered, but not substantively consolidated.[2] The Lender filed a claim in the bankruptcy proceeding for $298 million, based on the Operating Loan. The Mezzanine Lender filed a $39 million claim based on the Mezzanine Loan. The Lender subsequently acquired this claim from the Mezzanine Lender.

         The Debtors filed a joint Chapter 11 reorganization plan (the Plan), whereby third-party investor Southwest Value Partners would acquire the Operating Debtors for $30 million, thereby extinguishing the ...


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