Meghan Lombardo

Document Type

Research Memorandum

Publication Date




The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure provide that when an act is required … to be done at or within a specified period … the court for cause shown may at any time in its discretion… on motion made after the expiration of the specified period permit the act to be done where the failure to act was the result of excusable neglect. Rule 9006 grants a pardon for late filings that were caused by neglect. The Supreme Court has defined neglect as “‘giv[ing] little attention or respect’ to a matter or… ‘to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness’”. Congress’ purpose in formulating this rule was to give courts discretion, where appropriate, to accept filings submitted past their deadlines due to inadvertence mistake, or carelessness, as well as by circumstances beyond the party’s control. The excusable neglect standard applies in cases brought under chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”). The court in Pioneer determined that because Congress provided no guideposts for evaluating whether neglect is excusable, the analysis should be an equitable one that focused on the danger of prejudice to the debtor. Thus, the court created a four-factor balancing test to determine when prejudice to the debtor makes an attorney’s neglect inexcusable.

The Pioneer factors present a high burden to overcome. Indeed, there are very few cases in which a court allowed a creditor to file a late claim. This memorandum explores under what circumstances the court will allow a late file claim. Part I discusses the Pioneer case and analyzes the Supreme Court’s adoption and application of the four “Pioneer factors.” Part II examines a recent case in which a court applied the Pioneer factors, found excusable neglect, and allowed a creditor to file a late proof of claim. Part III addresses the Southern District of New York’s elaboration of each of the factors in In re Lyondell, in which the court gives a thorough analysis of each fact and its respective applicability.



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