364 F.2d 936 (5th Cir. 1966), 22652, Protective Committee for Independent Stockholders of TMT Trailer Ferry, Inc. v. Anderson

Docket Nº:22652.
Citation:364 F.2d 936
Case Date:August 12, 1966
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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364 F.2d 936 (5th Cir. 1966)



C. Gordon ANDERSON, Trustee, Appellee.

No. 22652.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Aug. 12, 1966

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Irwin L. Langbein, West Palm Beach, Fla., Malcolm S. Mason, New York City, Herman Ulmer, Herman Ulmer, Jr., John D. Corse, Jacksonville, Fla., for Florida Towing Co. et al.

Francis D. Wheeler, Jacksonville, Fla., and W. G. Troxler, Miami, Fla., for Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock.

William E. Gwatkin, III, Atty., Dept. of Justice, John W. Douglas, Asst. Atty. Gen., William A. Meadows, Jr., U.S. Atty., Morton Hollander, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for the United States.

Philip A. Loomis, Jr., Gen. Counsel, David Ferber, Sol., Paul Gonson, Sp. Counsel, Robert W. Cox and Theodore Sonde, Attys., S.E.C., Washington, D.C., Securities and Exchange Commission.

William P. Simmons, Jr., and C. C. Larimore of Shutts & Bowen, Miami, Fla., for C. Gordon Anderson.

M. James Spitzer, New York City, and Jackson L. Peters, Miami, Fla., for Trustees.

Before PHILLIPS, [*] RIVES and COLEMAN, Circuit Judges.

RIVES, Circuit Judge:

This is a proceeding under Chapter X of the Bankruptcy Act (11 U.S.C. 501 et seq.) for the reorganization of TMT Trailer Ferry, Inc. and certain of its wholly-owned subsidiaries (herein collectively referred to as 'the debtor'). This proceeding was initiated upon the filing of an involuntary petition by certain creditors on June 27, 1957, now more than nine years in the past. It has been before this Court on several prior occasions. 1

The Protective Committee for Independent Stockholders now appeals from an order entered on August 23, 1965, confirming an amended plan of reorganization of the debtor which excludes stockholders from any participation in the reorganized company and also appeals from five other orders. 2 The Securities and Exchange Commission is a party to the reorganization proceeding pursuant to Section 208 of Chapter X and supports the Protective Committee in certain contentions.

I. Prior Decision.

This is the second time that the Protective Committee with the support of the Commission has sought review by this court of what is called the Internal Plan of Reorganization of the debtor. Appeals from an order confirming the plan of reorganization taken by the both the United States and the Protective Committee were decided in 1964. United States v. Anderson, 5 Cir. 1964, 334 F.2d 111, cert. den., 1964, 379 U.S. 879, 85 S.Ct. 147; In re TMT Trailer Ferry, Inc., 1964, 334 F.2d 118. In the appeal by the United States, we held that the nontax claims of the United States exceeding $900,000 were entitled to priority. The record on that appeal showed that the Trustee had stated and the district court had found

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that the payment of even $635,000, for which the Government at one time had offered to settle, would have rendered the plan unfeasible.

In the appeal by the Protective Committee issues were presented inter alia as to whether those to whom stock of the debtor had been sold in violation of the federal securities laws were entitled to participate as creditors, and whether the plan should be rejected because the Trustee would become President of the reorganized company. The issue last stated was decided on that appeal in accordance with the decision of the district court. The cause was remanded for a determination as to the feasibility of the plan in the light of the Government's preferred position as established in the companion case. The Court stated that, 'In the light of the decision to remand this case, it is unnecessary to determine all of the several issues raised by the appeal.' On remand the district court took the position that 'the decisions of the appellate court sent the plan of reorganization back only for determining the feasibility of the plan in light of the preferred position of the government's nontax claims, and that by refusing to reverse this court's rulings on the issues referred to, the appellate court has in effect affirmed this court's decisions on those issues.'

We do not agree, but hold that this Court's reversal of the order of confirmation left open those issues not in terms discussed and decided. See Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York v. Hill, 1904, 193 U.S. 551, 553-554, 24 S.Ct. 538, 48 L.Ed. 788; Chas. Wolff Packing Co. v. Court of Industrial Relations, 1925, 267 U.S. 552, 562, 45 S.Ct. 441, 69 L.Ed. 785; Seagraves v. Wallace, 5 Cir. 1934, 69 F.2d 163, 164.

II. Stockholders as Creditors.

In the interest of clarity, we consider first the failure of the district court to hold hearings on the claims of the Protective Committee and of Irma S. Mason, one of the stockholders, asserting a claimed right of rescission of purchasers of stock based on violations of the federal securities laws and claiming that they and other stockholders holding such claims should rank as creditors in any plan of reorganization. The district court held these claims to be without merit on their face, stating its reasons as follows:

'The Stockholders' Committee also filed a PROOF OF CLAIM FOR RESCISSION on behalf of unnamed stockholders who purchased stock of the debtor on the open market. The facts stated in this document are insufficient to show that any stockholders as a class or individually have valid claims against the debtor. Furthermore, the claim is filed too late and is vague and indefinite as to who the claimants are and the extent and amount of their claims. It is too nebulous to delay reorganization at this stage.

'Likewise, the claim filed by Irma S. Mason, wife of a member of the Stockholders' Committee, seeking to rescind her purchases of TMT stock on the open market is...

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