William H. Schorling, a shareholder and Executive Committee member of the Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights Section at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's Philadelphia office, was quoted in a July 26, 2010, article published in The Legal Intelligencer. The article, titled "FJD Seeks Permission to Move Ahead on Family Courthouse," reported on attempts by the First Judicial District and the Philadelphia Parking Authority to move forward with a stymied family courthouse project.
As explained in the article, "The First Judicial District and the Philadelphia Parking Authority have asked a federal bankruptcy judge to lift an automatic stay in the bankruptcy filing by private developer Donald W. Pulver's Northwest 15th Street Associates and allow Philadelphia's stymied family courthouse project to move ahead. … The FJD said in its motion, filed Friday (July 23, 2010) afternoon, that the bankruptcy filing was done with a lack of good faith and so that Northwest could 'delay and hinder the project so that debtor can leverage a favorable resolution of the claims between the First Judicial District and debtor.'"
The article went on to report that "The original structure of the deal to build a family courthouse with $200 million in state capital funds at a site owned below ground by the Philadelphia Parking Authority and mortgaged aboveground by Northwest has unraveled in the wake of the revelation that Jeffrey B. Rotwitt, who was retained by the court system to search for building locations and as a tenant representative, ended up on the other side of the project by striking a fee-sharing deal with Pulver. Northwest was to have a role in building the courthouse and has now filed for bankruptcy protection."
Schorling, who is serving as the FJD's bankruptcy counsel, weighed in saying bankruptcy rules contemplate two hearings: a preliminary hearing within 30 days of the motions at which the court can grant relief and a final hearing at which courts can take evidence.
He also said that the court wants the family courthouse built more than any other party and that the courthouse can't be built with Northwest involved in the transaction.
Nearly two weeks later, on August 11 The Legal Intelligencer reported further on the case in an article titled, "FJD: Bankruptcy Stay Could Kill Family Court Project." As reported, "The First Judicial District said in a court filing Monday that keeping in place the automatic stay on the use of family courthouse architectural plans could be the 'death knell' for the project at 15th and Arch streets in Center City.
The article went on to cite the motion written by Schorling as well as Mark Pfeiffer — a senior attorney also in the Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights Section at Buchanan's Philadelphia office. As written in the motion, "Any delay in the project creates a risk that the funds earmarked by the Pennsylvania General Assembly for the project will be used elsewhere and will not be available for the project because the commonwealth's funds are limited. … As a result if the court were to grant the motion to strike, it could be the death knell for the project and the prospect of a modern family courthouse in Philadelphia."
In an interview with The Legal, Schorling explained that "even though Northwest said adversary proceedings should govern the outcome of determining who owns the architectural plans developed by architect EwingCole, motions to lift a stay are typically summary proceedings and counterclaims over Northwest's claim to a $1.6 million fee can be brought separately. … Under a summary proceeding, the court will either have to enter an order about the stay within 30 days of next week's hearing or delay making its decision under a higher standard than 'good cause,' which is 'compelling circumstances.'"