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Triskelion Contracts Are a Mass of Confusion

I received an email from a Triskelion author giving an update on the state of the bankruptcy. Apparently, the list of contracts provided to the court by Kristi Studts aka Triskelion was incomplete and inaccurate.

The schedules of contracts for sale that was issued by the bankruptcy court included contracts that were concluded (rights returned to authors) long ago and omitted contracts that were with Triskelion at the time of its bankruptcy filing.

This week the court issued a new list of expired and returned contracts but the wrongfully omitted contracts still were not included. This leaves authors in limbo if a sale goes through on the 15th. The bankruptcy filings are public information and anyone can see if she is included in the list of contracts for sale.

The authors have requested that the court release all of the contracts that were held by Triskelion after the sale whether formally mentioned but there is no response from court on that issue.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Jayne
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 06:40:48

    Okay, I hope this is straightened up before the sale but if not….what happens to those contracts that are still owned by Triskelion but not listed at the time of sale? Would they still be in with the general assets of the company?

  2. Angela James
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 07:34:02

    So those authors who have submitted their books elsewhere, citing that their books weren’t included on the court paperwork aren’t as free and clear as they thought. What a mess.

  3. Nora Roberts
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 08:35:15

    Headache and heartbreak rolled into one.

  4. M.
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 08:48:31

    This is nasty, they couldn’t even keep a simple three column list of contracts??? I feel sad for the authors.

  5. Becca Furrow
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 09:08:18

    Well, #@$*%! I just emailed a publisher this weekend saying I wasn’t on the list. Who knows what the list will be come Thursday?

  6. Jane
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 09:13:57

    Jayne – I’m thinking that the difference between the contracts that are listed for sale and those that were owned by Triskelion at the time of the filing is that those that are listed for sale will be released upon the sale of the contracts whereas the status of the other contracts wouldn’t be known until Trisk is discharged. Since it is a “going out of business” b-ruptcy v. a reorgnatization b-ruptcy, I can’t imagine that there would still be assets belonging to Trisk at the end of the b-ruptcy because at the end of the b-ruptcy, Trisk should be no more. I haven’t really thought about it though.

    Angela – I guess I don’t know the answer to that. I know that the b-ruptcy court has the right to go back and recapture assets even up to a year before the filing, but if the trustee doesn’t go back and recapture the assets, I would think that the rights to those would be waived. I haven’t looked at that language in a while. I would think that anyone dealing with a Trisk contracted book would want to consult with a lawyer.

  7. Shannon Stacey
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 09:29:07

    I was thinking about them this weekend while at Borders when I noticed the mass-market Trisk books were still on the shelves and was wondering whose job it is to recall them.

    This leaves authors in limbo if a sale goes through on the 15th.

    If the paperwork is missing and/or false, wouldn’t there be some kind of…injunction thing to halt the sale until it’s rectified? (Yeah, I watch too much TV.)

  8. Jane
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 09:31:24

    Updated Filings:

    1. The Trustee intends to abandon the inventory of books (approximately 13,165) located at drop shipper, Aero Corporation, in Saline, Michigan unless an objection is filed

    2. There is a hearing to be held on the issue of whether to extend the time to assume/reject author agreements has been rescheduled to November 20 at 10:00 am.

    3. There is a ad hoc committee of authors whose contracts will not be sold in the November 15 auction and the trustee was to get a new list of authors who would be included. The ad hoc committee of authors (represented by counsel) are arguing that their contracts are not the property of Trisk and should not be subject to sale.

  9. Leeann Burke
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 11:14:50

    Oh dear. My heart goes out to those authors. It has to be so frustrating to be in lingo like this.

  10. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 11:21:19

    What every author really needs now is a clarification of the bankruptcy clause in an author’s book contract.
    Triskelion’s was a fairly standard one and said in effect that if Triskelion closed or went into bankruptcy, the authors would get all rights back.
    But this doesn’t seem to be the case.
    Now if a big publishing house goes into liquidation (God forbid, but it’s always possible) it would take years to sort out the ramifications and all that time the authors would be stuck. So, IMO, it’s even more important for authors with big publishing houses to look into this matter. And agents, too.
    As I understand it, the contracts are currently frozen by the courts as part of the proceedings. Once the bankruptcy case is done, Triskelion will cease to exist and all contracts will be void.
    But nobody knows how long that will take. With a big house it could easily take years.
    The court doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing, with the wrong contracts listed and nobody who used to work for Triskelion contacted for their records. But it’s too late now for that. If the bankruptcy clause in an author’s contract isn’t enforceable, that could mean the writer’s whole body of work disappearing for years.
    There really needs to be some clarification by the legal system on this, so if there was ever a time to contact your professional bodies and organisations, this is it.

  11. Tess MacKall
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 11:34:13

    I do believe there is a time limit on the court itself to resolve the issue of bankruptcy. At least I have been told that. Maybe someone here knows more about this. I’ve also been told that the time limit varies based on the type of bankruptcy proceeding filed. Anyone?

  12. Ciar Cullen
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 12:00:12

    What a mess. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. That list sure as hell better not have a MacFarland on it, as I received my releases two years ago. I’ll bloody well go medieval. I’m so pissed for these authors.

  13. Robin
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 12:54:52

    The court doesn't seem to know what it's doing, with the wrong contracts listed and nobody who used to work for Triskelion contacted for their records.

    It’s actually not the responsibility of the bankruptcy court to do this — it’s partly (at least initially) the responsibility of the debtor and by extension the debtor’s counsel (new bankruptcy laws have placed a much higher burden on attorneys in filing so as to cut down on cases that will eventually be reclassified or dismissed as abusive). And it’s also the responsibility of the creditors, which in this case includes Trisk authors, to make a claim against the estate. In the same way a criminal court isn’t responsible for gathering evidence, neither is the bankruptcy court responsible for gathering assets. The Trustee has some role in this (primarily to get as much out of the estate as possible asset-wise), but it’s not the Trustee’s job primarily, either. The court is simply adjudicating a matter initiated by Trisk — why would the court do the plaintiff’s work for them?

  14. Robin
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 14:29:11

    I do believe there is a time limit on the court itself to resolve the issue of bankruptcy. At least I have been told that. Maybe someone here knows more about this. I've also been told that the time limit varies based on the type of bankruptcy proceeding filed. Anyone?

    IIRC Chapter 11 filings (reorganization) have a 180 day to plan confirmation timeline, but I don’t know of an actual time limit on which the court can rule, especially because so much depends on the nature of the case and on the process the Trustee makes in administrating the estate, etc. Also, I think there are cases where even after a dissolution ruling litigation on the allowability of claims has occurred. There are definitely timeframes within the bankruptcy proceedings related to filing, perfecting of property interests, reach backs, cram downs, creditor claims, etc., but I haven’t heard anything about a limit on how long the court actually has to rule on dissolution. Someone else may know more, though.

  15. veinglory
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 18:30:05

    The safest thing is just to know when your contract expires and wait til then. They ain’t got nothin’ on you after that.

  16. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 12, 2007 @ 18:35:00

    The trouble is, Emily, that when a company goes into bankruptcy, all its assets are frozen.
    So contract expiry dates aren’t valid until the bankruptcy courts release the assets, which could be years after your contract expired.

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