In PAH Litigation Trust v. Water Street Healthcare Partners, LP (In re Physiotherapy Holdings, Inc.), Case No. 13-12965 (KG), Adv. No. 15-51238 (KG), 2017 WL 5054308 (Bankr. D. Del. Nov. 1, 2017), the debtor entered into bankruptcy after a leveraged-buyout transaction (“LBO”). After a plan was confirmed, a resulting litigation trust brought actual and constructive fraudulent transfers against the defendants (seller shareholder in the LBO) seeking $248 million for actual fraud and at least $228 million for constructive fraud – funds that the defendants allegedly took from the debtors in connection with the LBO).
The Defendants (seller/shareholder) to the litigation argued that the litigation trust should not be able to recover a windfall by recovering amounts in excess of the unpaid claims in the case. Id. at *1. The Litigation Trust claimed that it can “recover the full amount of the fraudulent transfers” because Section 550 of the bankruptcy code allows the trustee to recover “for the benefit of the estate, the property transferred, or, if the court so orders, the value of the transferred property.” Id. at *4 (quoting 11 U.S.C. 550). Here, the property transferred to the defendants and the value of it are the same – the millions of dollars sought to be recovered.
The Court considered various cases from other jurisdictions that have held that “Section 550 damages are not capped to permit creditors to receive only the amount of their claims,” noting that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals appeared not to have ruled on this issue. PAH Litigation Trust, 2017 WL 5054308 at *4, *7(collecting cases).
The Court ultimately agreed with this line of cases because “[w]ere the Court to rule otherwise, it would mean that if Defendants are in fact liable for the fraudulent transfer, they would keep most if not all of the transferred money. The Court cannot countenance such an inequitable result if liability exists.” Id. at *7. Given the great quantity of bankruptcy cases filed in Delaware, it will be interesting to see if this holding is followed by other courts in the Third Circuit.