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Judge Gross Gets Warm Sendoff From Delaware’s Bankruptcy Bench

March 3, 2020, 7:51 PM

Retiring U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross entered his courtroom Tuesday for the final hearing of his career and found Chief Judge Christopher S. Sontchi standing at the podium.

Behind him in the front row sat the rest of the District of Delaware bench: Judges John T. Dorsey, Karen B. Owens, Brendan L. Shannon, Laurie S. Silverstein, and Mary F. Walrath.

“Everyone knows the amazing job you have done here,” Sontchi told Gross. “They don’t know all the things you do behind the scenes. I just wanted to take a few moments to thank you for that,” he said.

Gross, known for his sunny demeanor, responded warmly to his surprise judicial audience.

“It’s been a great pleasure for me to serve on this court,” he said before granting Sontchi and the five judges leave to file out of the courtroom.

The hearing Tuesday in Wilmington—a motion on insurance for residents and doctors of a bankrupt Philadelphia hospital—closed the 14-year run for Gross, who over the course of his career managed bankruptcies ranging from Nortel Networks to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He announced his upcoming retirement last April.

Andrew H. Sherman of Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., who argued the motion Tuesday on behalf of the committee of unsecured creditors, seemed almost apologetic.

“The last day your honor has to sit up on that esteemed bench after your storied career...” he trailed off at the end of one of his points.

The hearing came four days after what Gross said was his final written opinion, a ruling on competing lien rights of secured creditors in the Chapter 11 case of Philadelphia refinery PES Holdings LLC.

In a footnote he praised the “creativity, excellence, hard work and civility” of the professionals in his court.

“I thank you all for the honor and privilege of serving and wish you Shalom,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Leslie A. Pappas in Wilmington, Del. at lpappas@bloomberglaw.com; Daniel Gill in Washington at dgill@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com