In Auriga Polymers, Inc. v. PMCM2, LLC, as Liquidating Trustee, No. 20-14647, 2022 WL 2800195 (11th Cir. July 17, 2022) (click here for .pdf) the creditor, Auriga, received transfers of more than $2.2 million in the 90 days before the Debtor, Beaulieu Group, LLC, filed its Bankruptcy case on July 16, 2017. During the 90 day preference period, Auriga had also delivered to the Debtor over $3.523 million of goods, with at least $694,502.00 of the goods delivered within 20 days of the Petition Date.
Auriga filed two claims in the case: 1) a general unsecured claim in the amount of $3.596 million, and 2) an administrative claim in the amount of $694,502.00 pursuant to §503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code for the value of the goods delivered within 20 days of the Petition Date. After confirmation of the Debtor’s Plan, which gave authority to the Liquidating Trust to pursue avoidance actions, the Liquidating Trustee filed a proceeding against Auriga to avoid and recover the $2.2 million Pre-Petition Transfers under §547(b), to reclassify any portion of Auriga’s § 503(b)(9) request that was included as part of its new value defense as a general unsecured claim, and to disallow any claims by Auriga until it disgorged any amounts successfully avoided by Trustee. Auriga counterclaimed seeking a declaratory judgment that (1) its use of the new value defense under § 547(c)(4) does not preclude it from using the same value to recover under § 503(b)(9), and (2) the Trustee cannot use 11 U.S.C. § 502(d) to disallow Auriga’s § 503(b)(9) request for administrative expense treatment.
Auriga and the Trustee subsequently stipulated that the payments made to Auriga in the preference period were avoidable preferences, and the new value defense protected all but $421,119.00 of the preferential transfers. “That $421,119 in value conveyed by Auriga to Beaulieu was part of Auriga’s $694,502 § 503(b)(9) request; the parties dispute Auriga’s ability to also use that $421,119 value as part of its § 547(c)(4) new value defense. The parties agreed, however, that Auriga had an allowed § 503(b)(9) claim for $273,382 (the difference between the total request for $694,502 and the $421,119 disputed portion).”
On summary judgment, the Bankruptcy Court entered an Order that, inter alia, held that “funds held in reserve to pay § 503(b)(9) claims are ‘otherwise unavoidable’ transfers for purposes of a § 547(c)(4) defense and cannot be used to offset preference liability. Click here for .pdf; see also In re Beaulieu Grp., LLC (“Fabric Sources”), 616 B.R. 857 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2020) (wherein the Bankruptcy Court previously ruled on this issue). In other words, using the same “value” as both an administrative claim and a new value defense was, in essence, a double recovery for the creditor.
Auriga appealed to the District Court, which stayed the case for immediate direct appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.
The precise question warranting direct appeal is:
whether a Liquidation Trustee’s post-petition reservation of funds sufficient to pay a defendant’s administrative expense claim under § 503(b)(9) amounts to an “otherwise unavoidable transfer” within the meaning of § 547(c)(4) such that it precludes the use of such new value as part of the defendant’s affirmative defense of subsequent new value under § 547(c)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code.