As the years dragged on, Omaha house framer Steve Nelson's expectations of how much he'd recover from the Benchmark Homes bankruptcy dropped.
He filed a claim in 2006 with the bankruptcy court seeking about $70,000 for unpaid framing work he had done for Benchmark. About a year or two ago, he said, he received a check for $5,000. Nearly half of that went to his attorney's fees.
It wasn't what he had hoped.
“But, I just moved on,” said Nelson of TSN Inc. “I think that's what a lot of the other subs did too.”
Now, 74 months after Benchmark filed bankruptcy, the court-appointed trustee's final account and distribution report has been certified and filed in court. Once the Omaha area's third-largest homebuilder, the company's bankruptcy followed the suicide of its founder.
Trustee Thomas Stalnaker said Benchmark was a big and complicated case, and that creditors and vendors were paid throughout the course of the six years. Still, it stands as an example of how another high-profile Omaha homebuilder's bankruptcy played out.
According to the court's final account, $41.8 million in claims were asserted but less than half of those were allowed. Of $3.4 million in net receipts from the liquidation of Benchmark assets, about $2 million went to administrative expenses and the rest to claimants.
Nelson said he learned a lot about the hierarchy of payments in the bankruptcy world. He also learned that he should have worked for several builders and not put all his “eggs in one basket.”
By luck or fate, he said, he does not have any claims tied up in the ongoing HearthStone Homes case.
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