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The Delaware Bankruptcy Insider is a premier blog designed to bring its readers a comprehensive analysis of the latest Delaware corporate bankruptcy news and rulings.  Brought to you by Ashby & Geddes, P.A.

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Showing 83 posts by Karen Skomorucha Owens.

Bankruptcy Court Fails to Find Wholesaler-Debtor Constructively Received Goods Delivered to Third Parties Twenty Days Before Bankruptcy; 503(b)(9) Claim Reclassified

In re ADI Liquidation, Inc., No. 14-12092 (KJC), 2017 WL 2712287 (Bankr. D. Del. June 22, 2017)

In this Opinion, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court examined whether a debtor, formerly known as Associated Wholesalers, Inc. (“AWI”), constructively received goods that were ordered by and delivered to its customers from claimant, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. (“BBU”) during the twenty day period prior to AWI’s petition date (the “Twenty Day Goods”).  While the goods were never in AWI’s physical possession, AWI’s customers remitted payment for the goods to AWI, which then remitted payment to BBU after retaining a percentage.  BBU filed a large section 503(b)(9) claim on account of the Twenty Day Goods, to which AWI objected.  The question for Judge Carey was whether AWI constructively received the Twenty-Day Goods given its substantial involvement in facilitating the sales transactions between BBU and AWI’s customers.  If the answer was yes, the Court would have expanded the meaning of constructive receipt beyond the customary situation in which a third party recipient is a bailee for the debtor.  The Court, however, answered no and in doing so, drew parallels to “drop-ship transactions.”  A “drop-ship transaction” is a transaction in which a buyer purchases goods from a middleman, who in turn forwards the purchase order to a third party, who then fulfills and ships the order directly to the buyer.  In these situations, courts have found that the middleman does not take constructive possession of the goods.  And while the Delaware Bankruptcy Court found the AWI-BBU transaction similar, it also found the situation a step further removed given that AWI’s customers ordered their goods directly from BBU.  Accordingly, AWI never received the goods nor made the sales.  For those reasons, the Bankruptcy Court sided with AWI and permitted the reclassification of BBU’s section 503(b)(9) claim to a general unsecured claim. Read More ›

Creditors Committee Suing on Behalf of Estates Is Unable to Invade Debtors’ Attorney-Client Privilege Without a Showing of Insolvency

Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of HH Liquidation, LLC v. Comvest Grp. Holdings, LLC (In re HH Liquidation, LLC), No. 16-51204 (KG), 2017 WL 1906585 (Bankr. D. Del. May 8, 2017)

This adversary proceeding was commenced derivatively by an Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (the “Committee”) against the Haggen, Inc. debtors’ officers, directors, and non-debtor affiliates (collectively, the “Defendants”) for, among other things, fraud and fraudulent transfers.  During the course of discovery, the Committee filed a motion to compel production of over 2,000 documents withheld by the debtors and the Defendants based on attorney-client privilege (the “AC Privileged Documents”).  Importantly, one law firm jointly represented the debtors and the Defendants at the time of the communications.  While the Honorable Kevin Gross of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court recognized the odd scenario presented, one in which the Committee was suing non-debtor entities on behalf of the debtor but was without access to the very documents the debtor would use if pursuing the action, the Court would not compel the production of the AC Privileged Documents. Read More ›

Insider’s Scoop: An Rare Examination of Challenge Period and Release Provisions in a Final DIP Order

In re Outer Harbor Terminal, LLC, 16-10283 (LSS) (Bench Ruling, May 5, 2017)

In issuing this Bench Ruling, the Honorable Laurie Selber Silverstein of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court had the unusual opportunity to analyze and parse challenge period and lender release provisions contained in a final DIP order.  Examining the plain language of the provisions in light of the entire context of the DIP documents before it, the Court concluded that a creditors committee’s investigation period expired long before it was formed by the United States Trustee.  Her Honor also held that the general releases granted to the DIP lenders in all their capacities did not extend to claims the debtor may have against affiliates of the DIP lenders that were separate and apart from the DIP lender’s relationship with the debtor despite the fact that those affiliates were included as released parties. Read More ›

Battle Between Prepetition Lender and Consignor Over Inventory Continues – Bankruptcy Court Holds Parties Cannot Contract to Subject Relationship to UCC

TSA Stores, Inc. v. M J Soffe, LLC (In re TSAWD Holdings, Inc.), No. 16-50364 (MFW), 2017 WL 892329 (Bankr. D. Del. Mar. 6, 2017)

Prior to the petition date, consignment vendor M J Soffe, LLC (“Soffe”) sold approximately $5.4 million of goods to the Sports Authority debtors (the “Debtors”) pursuant to a Pay by Scan Agreement.  That agreement expressly provided that the arrangement between Soffe and the Debtors qualified as a “consignment” as such term is defined in section 9-102(a)(20) of the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”).  During the bankruptcy proceedings the Debtors sold the Disputed Goods, and litigation arose between Soffe and the Debtors’ prepetition secured creditor, Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB (“WSFS”), over entitlement to the proceeds.  On one hand, WSFS asserted that it had a superior security interest in the Disputed Goods under Article 9 of the UCC because Soffe failed to properly perfect a security interest.  On the other, Soffe argued that Article 9 of the UCC was inapplicable because the facts underlying the relationship between itself and the Debtors did not satisfy the definition of a “consignment” under section 9-102(a)(20) of the UCC and, in the absence of a governing UCC, applicable state law entitled it to the superior interest.  WSFS moved for partial judgment on the pleadings, relying in part on the express language of the Pay by Scan Agreement, but the Bankruptcy Court denied its motion, finding that a disputed issue existed as to the applicability of Article 9.  According to the Bankruptcy Court, the UCC expressly permits parties to opt-out of the UCC and vary the effect of its provisions by agreement but it does not permit parties to contract around defined terms.  Parties may limit their legal relationship but such limitations are not without their boundaries.  Changing the UCC’s definitions – i.e. changing the meaning of the statute’s terms – is only appropriate for legislatures.  And while WSFS argued that Soffe’s arguments should be estopped and that the Court’s holding would render the Pay by Scan Agreement’s UCC provision superfluous and thus inconsistent with contractual interpretation canons, the Court was not persuaded, noting that it cannot enforce a contractual term inconsistent with or prohibited by the UCC. Read More ›

The Supreme Court’s Answer is Simply “No”—Structured Dismissals Cannot Deviate From the Code’s Priority Rules Without Consent of Affected Creditors

Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., 580 U.S. ___ (2017)

In Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors v. CIT Group/Business Credit, Inc. (In re Jevic Holding Corp.), 787 F.3d 173 (3d Cir. May 21, 2015), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals examined structured dismissals and whether the distributions provided for therein can deviate from the Bankruptcy Code’s priority distribution scheme.  It held that they could but only in the “rare case.”  Almost two years later, the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue, disagreeing with the Third Circuit and holding that a bankruptcy court cannot approve a structured dismissal that provides for distributions deviating from the ordinary priority rules established by the Bankruptcy Code without affected creditors’ consent.  Op. at 11. Read More ›

Trustee’s Claims Against Insiders For Their Action (or Inaction) in the Face of Insolvency Survives Motion to Dismiss Despite Exculpation, Business Judgement, and Deeping Insolvency Defenses

Stanziale v. Versa Capital Mgmt., LLC (In re Simplexity, LLC), Case No. 14-10569 (KG), 2017 WL 65069 (Bankr. D. Del. Jan. 5, 2017)

According to the Chapter 7 Trustee of Simplexity, LLC (“Simplexity” and together with its affiliated debtors, the “Debtors”), numerous insiders of Simplexity (the “Defendants”) breached their fiduciary duties by refusing to seek bankruptcy protection for Simplexity when faced with actions by Simplexity’s lender, including the threat to sweep all available funds, thereby failing to preserve the value of the Debtors and exposing Simplexity to employment related claims.  In this Memorandum Opinion, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court resisted the Defendants’ arguments to dismiss the Trustee’s claims. Read More ›

Delaware Bankruptcy Court Tackles Challenges to Email Privacy

In re Irish Bank Resolution Corp. (In Special Liquidation), 559 B.R. 627 (Bankr. D. Del. 2016)

Late last year, the foreign representatives (the “Foreign Representatives”) of chapter 15 debtor Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited (“IBRC”) were forced to get creative after their more traditional efforts to obtain discovery from a Yahoo! email account failed.  In connection with IBRC’s liquidation, significant international litigation is on-going related to the repayment evasion of billions in loans advanced by IBRC to companies owned or controlled by the Quinn Family.  In the course of that litigation, the Foreign Representatives discovered various email accounts believed to be connected to the Quinn Family and their attempts to conceal assets, including a Yahoo! email account maintained by a mysterious “Abdulla Rasimov” (the “Rasimov Account”).  The whereabouts of Mr. Rasimov are unknown, service of process has gone unacknowledged, and the Rasimov Account was closed during the proceedings described herein.  Accordingly, when their attempts to obtain the contents of the Rasimov Account through a Bankruptcy Rule 2004 order and an order to compel failed, the Foreign Representatives obtained from the Delaware Bankruptcy Court an order making them the “subscriber” of the account (the “Subscriber Order”).  With the Subscriber Order in hand, the Foreign Representatives then sought turnover of the account’s contents under sections 542(a) and 542(e) of the Bankruptcy Code from Yahoo! Inc. (“Yahoo”).  A maneuver Yahoo opposed. Read More ›

Applying New York Law, Third Circuit Holds That Acceleration Clauses Do Not Negate Make-Whole Redemption Provisions Absent Clear Contractual Language

Delaware Trust Co. v. Energy Future Intermediate Holding Co. (In re Energy Future Holdings Corp.), 842 F.3d 247 (3d Cir. 2016)

Disagreeing with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held in this Opinion that New York law requires the Energy Future debtors (“EFIH”) to pay redemption premiums (or a “make-whole”) to their first and second lien noteholders under the terms of governing indentures.  In doing so, the Court reversed the district court decision affirming the Delaware Bankruptcy Court’s ruling (discussed here) that the make-whole payments were not due. Read More ›

Commencing an Involuntary Just Got Riskier – Petitioning Creditors May Face State Law Damages in Addition to Those Under Bankruptcy Code Section 303(i)

Rosenberg v. DVI Receivables XVII, LLC, No. 15-2622, 2016 WL 4501675 (3d Cir. Aug. 29, 2016) 

In this federal preemption Opinion, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that section 303(i) of the Bankruptcy Code does not preempt state law claims by non-debtors for damages based on the filing of an involuntary bankruptcy petition.  The Court did not, however, opine on whether section 303(i) preempts state law claims brought by debtors. Read More ›

Insider’s Scoop: Judge Sontchi’s Decision to Confirm Horsehead’s Plan Was One of His Honor’s Most Difficult and Closest Calls in Ten Years on the Bench

In re Horsehead Holding Corp., No. 16-10287 (CSS) (Bankr. D. Del. Sept. 2, 2016) [Transcript Ruling]

Following a three day confirmation trial, which attracted scores of shareholders and running commentary via live tweets from the courtroom, Judge Sontchi confirmed the second amended plan of reorganization (the “Plan”) proposed by Horsehead Holding Corp. and its affiliated debtors (“Horsehead”) over the objection of the official committee of equity holders (the “Equity Committee”), holding that the Plan was proposed in good faith and satisfied the absolute priority rule.  His Honor described the decision as one of the most difficult and closest calls that he has had to make during his time on the bench. Read More ›