Anyone doing business with Tacoma real estate developers Tom Price and Hyun Um should know that the men shouldn't negotiate without the involvement of their bankruptcy trustee, a judge said Tuesday.
During a telephone status hearing, federal bankruptcy judge Paul Snyder made clear that while his court prepares to hear arguments about whether the trustee can actually take over Prium Cos., the debtors need to tread carefully.
"If Price and Um are negotiating leases, I want the trustee involved too," Snyder said. "Don't do anything that would look bad in hindsight."
The hearing stemmed from a request by the trustee, Eric Orse, to have Snyder put his stamp of approval on the trustee taking over Prium Cos. Ordinarily there wouldn't be any question about this, as a bankruptcy trustee has broad powers. But Price and Um's minority partner William Stegeman has made clear recently that he intends to fight the trustee's ability to actually run the business.
So Orse asked the court to make it official, and to do it quickly.
The reason, according to Orse's attorney Diana Carey: Several Prium properties have tenants whose leases are coming due, and they've approached him to negotiate them.
"We have gotten, I cannot tell you, how many phone calls from other parties saying 'we're looking forward to working with you,'" Carey said during a phone hearing on Tuesday. "There's a lot of confusion out there. which is why we wanted to get this moving. People are saying, 'I want to buy this property. What about this property?'"
Stegeman's attorney said people likely think there's a fire-sale situation, and that the trustee needs to slow down.
"Rather than have more disarray, and the people watching wonder what's going on, a smooth transitoin is in the best interest of everyone," said Mark Waldron. "We want to have Mr. Orse get up to speed, but not in this way."
Snyder ordered Price and Um to turn over all their real estate ownership documents to Orse by the end of the week. He scheduled arguments in two weeks over the Prium takeover.