KSL Bankruptcy Saga Continues

Back in 2009 it took auto giant Chrysler less than two months to file for bankruptcy and reemerge with a new ownership structure and operating plan and General Motors maybe a little bit longer in its separate bankruptcy case. 

Three and a half years after filing for bankruptcy, the trustee for the estate of defunct media agency KSL Media is still winding down the shop’s tangled and messy affairs. 

The trustee, David Gottlieb, continues to negotiate payment settlements with the agency’s numerous creditors. He also continues to pursue agency founder Kal Liebowitz and several other former KSL executives in a separate suit charging them with gross negligence in the running of the agency. 

In recent weeks Gottlieb has agreed to settlement terms with NBC Universal and Google. NBC will eventually receive a little under $5 million, per a court approved settlement, and Google will pay the estate about $468,000. The estate had tried to claw back $2.5 million from Google, which it had received from KSL within 90 days of the filing of the agency’s bankruptcy petition. That made the entire payment fair game for the estate to try to recapture but the two parties came to a settlement that has also been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in California that’s overseeing the case. 



Sources also indicate that at least some of the employees who were left hanging when the agency suddenly closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 11, 2013 have finally received back pay that was due them. 

Agency founder Kal Liebowitz filed for personal bankruptcy protection a few years back but was also sued separately by Gottlieb for gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty while running the media shop. Gottlieb also named Harold “Hank” Cohen, the former KSL CEO and Russell Meisels, its former CFO, as parties to that suit, trying to recover a minimum of $6 million from each of the executives. 

A U.S. District judge in California tossed that suit late last year, but the three executives aren’t off the hook yet. Gottlieb is appealing the case in the U.S. Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit. Gottlieb’s opening brief is due at the end of the month.


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