Is an insolvent debtor’s pre-bankruptcy termination of a commercial lease a fraudulent transfer? The Third Circuit said no when it held that a lessor’s pre-bankruptcy termination of the debtors’ lease and purchase option “was not a transfer under Bankruptcy Code §548(a) (1)(B).” In re Pazzo Pazzo Inc., 2022 WL 17690158 (3d Cir. Dec. 15, 2022). But the Seventh Circuit held that a chapter 11 debtor’s pre-bankruptcy “surrender of [two] … leases to [its landlord] could be regarded as a preferential [or fraudulent] transfer.” In re Great Lakes Quick Lube L.P., 816 F.3d 482 (7th Cir. 2016).
On April 19, 2023, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in MOAC Mall Holdings LLC, ruled Bankruptcy Code section 363(m) to be non-jurisdictional, i.e. just a “mere restriction on the effects of a valid exercise” of judicial power “when a party successfully appeals a covered authorization.” Before MOAC, the Third, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits held section 363(m) to be non-jurisdictional, but the Fifth and Second Circuits had diverged.
The recent decision by the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals in In re LTL Management, LLC did not address or negate the viability of divisive mergers of entities under the Texas Business Organizations Code (the “TBOC”). Various news articles concerning the decision have reported that the court disapproved of the so-called “Texas Two-Step” transactions undertaken by Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) in the face of its mounting talc tort litigation.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit wasted no time getting the new year off to a roaring start through its ruling in In re LTL Mgmt., LLC, Case No. 22-2003, 2023 WL 1098189 (3d Cir. Jan. 30, 2023). In LTL, the Third Circuit affirmatively dismissed the so-called “Texas Two-Step” by which a solvent corporation had tried to cabin potentially billions of dollars of mass tort liability through an internal corporate restructuring.
In that ruling, the Third Circuit determined that:
“The theme is clear: absent financial distress, there is no reason for Chapter 11 and no valid bankruptcy purpose.”
On January 30, 2023, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the bankruptcy filing by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, LTL Management, LLC (“LTL”). The Circuit Court reversed the New Jersey Bankruptcy Court and held that LTL did not file the bankruptcy case in good faith and therefore was ineligible to petition the bankruptcy court for relief.
On Monday, January 30, 2023, the Third Circuit in In re LTL Management, LLC1 ordered debtor LTL Management, LLC’s (“LTL”) chapter 11 petition dismissed for failure to demonstrate that the petition was filed in good faith pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code.2 The dismissal of LTL’s bankruptcy will also result in the termination of an injunction staying numerous lawsuits against third-parties—including lawsuits against certain third-party retailers being sued for allegedly having sold certain allegedly contaminated products.
In a decision likely to have significant impact on certain types of bankruptcy filings going forward, this morning, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed by Johnson & Johnson affiliate LTL Management LLC.