A creditor's committee met, and hard negotiating followed. But everyone was interested in making a deal, the lawyer said: "The question was, how do you divide the loss in a way that leaves Samy with a viable business and gives the creditors a fair return?"
The claims ranged "all the way from $5 to $560,000," Kamienowicz said. If the creditors had forced the company into bankruptcy, "we would have lost everything, and they would have lost everything. We're good customers, I think," he said, pointing out with pride that the firm has paid all its post-fire debts on time.
Under the proposal approved by the committee, Kamienowicz will pay creditors who are owed more than $10,000 a total of 60% of their claims over three years. Claimants owed between $1,000 and $10,000 will receive a single payment of half the debt. The smallest creditors, with claims of $1,000 or less, will be paid in full.
About two-thirds of the creditors have accepted the proposal, although a few large vendors have yet to vote, Kamienowicz said.
The Credit Managers Assn., which is tallying the votes and will distribute the payments, stands ready to help other riot victims, said Geoffrey L. Berman, manager of the group's adjustment bureau.
However, the Burbank organization hasn't been approached by anyone else, he said--partly because of the demographics of those who were looted and burned.
Many were very small businesses that suffered total losses and remain out of business, Berman said. They have no way to pay their creditors.
For now, Kamienowicz is working to rebuild business at his densely packed store. Although he has yet to settle with his insurance company, he is certain the carrier will pay enough to rebuild the old site. Indeed, Kamienowicz said he hopes to have the Beverly Boulevard location open within a year; he is considering architects for the job.
One outcome of all this: Samy's Camera has extended its hours, opening an hour earlier and closing two hours later during the week.
"Why?" Samy shrugged. "The customers like it."