Premier Van Lines, Inc., the moving and storage company in Rochester, NY, that was storing his property. He wanted to resolve a billing issue and find out the current name of the insurance carrier. Mr. Palmer assured him that his property was safe at the Jefferson Henrietta Warehouse. Its manager, Mr. David Dworkin, did likewise and even billed Dr. Cordero for the monthly fees. (A:353-1&2) After Mr. Palmer became unreachable, Mr. Dworkin kept assuring Dr. Cordero that his property was safe and that he would find out the name of its insurer. Only much later did Mr. Dworkin reveal to him that Premier had gone bankrupt and was already in liquidation!
9. As it turned out, more than a year earlier, on March 5, 2001, Mr. Palmer had filed a voluntary petition for Premier’s bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. Chapter 11 (In re Premier Van Lines, Inc., no. 01-20692, WBNY, docket at A:565; nywb.uscourts.gov/; hereinafter Premier). His case had landed before Bankruptcy Judge John C. Ninfo, II, WBNY. Soon thereafter Mr. Palmer failed to comply with the obligations of his bankruptcy and even stopped appearing in its proceedings. Hence, on December 28, 2001, Trustee Kenneth Gordon, Esq., the Standing Trustee for liquidations under Chapter 7, was appointed to liquidate Premier. (A:572/63)
10. Trustee Gordon’s performance was so negligent and reckless that he failed to find out that Mr. James Pfuntner owned a warehouse in Avon, Rochester, where Premier had stored its clients’ property, such as those of Dr. Cordero. To begin with, just as Mr. Palmer failed to inform Dr. Cordero of his filing for bankruptcy protection for Premier, the Trustee did not inform Dr. Cordero of his liquidation of it; consequently, Dr. Cordero was deprived of his right to file a claim as creditor of Premier. By failing thus to inform Dr. Cordero, the Trustee also deprived him of the opportunity to decide what to do with his property. Moreover, Trustee Gordon could have found out the possibility of such property being in Mr. Pfuntner’s warehouse by just examining Premier’s docket (A:567/13, 17, 19, 21, 23; 571/52), not to mention through diligent examination under 11 U.S.C. §704(4) of Premier’s financial affairs and its business records, to which he had access (A:109 ftnts-5-8; A:45, 46, 352).
11. As a result, Trustee Gordon failed to discover the income-producing storage accounts that belonged to the estate or to act timely (A-575:94; cf. A:46-48; A:575/87, 89). So he closed the case as “No distribution” (A:577/107 & entries for 10/24/2003), although he had not only classified it as an “Asset case” (A:572/70, 573/71; 575/94, 95), but had also applied for authorization to Judge Ninfo and received it to hire an auctioneer, Mr. Roy Teitsworth (A:576/97)…and then what happened? Where is the accountant’s report for which $4,699 was paid? (A:575/90) Nobody would answer, for these were job-threatening questions (28 CFR §58.6(7)) that no outsider was supposed to ask. (A:835§B7) Interestingly enough, a query on PACER of Kenneth Gordon as trustee returned that between April 12, 2000, and November 3, 2003, he was the trustee in 3,092 cases! How many of them did he handle as he did Premier?
12. Likewise, Mr. David Gene DeLano, Assistant Vice President for M&T Bank handled negligently and recklessly the liquidation of the storage containers that Mr. Palmer had bought with a loan from M&T in which the latter had kept a security interest. He assured Dr. Cordero that he had seen the storage containers holding his property at the Jefferson Henrietta Warehouse; that those containers had been sold to Champion Moving & Storage; and that he should contact and from them on deal with Champion concerning his property in those containers. (Tr.149/25-150/6, 101/17-19, 109/3-5, 111/9-24, 141/8-13) Dr. Cordero did so only to find out that Champion had never received such containers. Thus, he had to search for his property. Eventually he found out that the containers had never been at the Jefferson Henrietta Warehouse! Instead, they had been abandoned by Mr. Palmer at Mr. Pfuntner’s warehouse in Avon. (A:46; Pst:1285¶70)
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