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Judge Carol A. Doyle

Judge Jack B. Schmetterer

Judge Jacqueline P. Cox

Defendants in eleven Lancelot-related (08-B-28225) adversary proceedings brought 17 motions for summary judgment arguing that each matter involved the straightforward application of Bankruptcy Code Sections 546(e) and (g) “safe harbor” limitations on a trustee’s avoidance powers and for that reason they were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law regarding payments and transfers made to them. The Trustee resisted the imposition of summary judgment on two major grounds: that the safe harbor provisions do not shield payments and transfers tainted by Ponzi Scheme fraud and that avoiding the payments and transfers would not materially impact the financial markets. The Defendants suggested that the Trustee’s arguments look beyond the plain statutory text of the safe harbor provisions by reading exceptions into the Code. The Court granted summary judgment as to the Counts alleging preferential transfers and constructive fraudulent transfers under Bankruptcy Code Sections 548(a)(1)(B), 550 and 544 as well as under Illinois law, but denied summary judgment as to the actual fraudulent transfer claims asserted under Section 548(a)(1)(A). The safe harbor provisions specifically prohibit the recovery of preferential transfers, constructively fraudulent transfers and claims based on state law. The provisions do not protect actual fraudulent transfer claims. The Court declined to expand the plain meaning of the statute, and noted that Congress did not exempt all fraudulent transfers from safe harbor protection, only those involving actual fraud, claims that allege that a debtor acted “with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any entity” to which the debtor was indebted. Before submitting Orders on these matters, the Court invited the parties to submit supplemental briefs on whether the Orders resolve core matters on which this court may enter final orders in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S.Ct. 2594 (2011) and the recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Ortiz v. Aurora, 665 F.3d 906 (7th Cir. 2011).

The Plaintiff filed an adversary proceeding seeking a finding that a debt reflected by a judgment in the amount of $75,000 is not dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. §§ 523(a)(2)(A), 523(a)(4)(A), and 523(a)(2)(6). The complaint alleged in part that the Defendant, a real estate developer, accepted two installment payments from the Plaintiff when he knew that he could not comply with the Plaintiff’s request to occupy the premises at the time contracted for. The Court entered judgment for the Plaintiff on the section 523(a)(2)(A) claim in the amount of $75,000 and found that the Defendant’s failure to disclose long-standing zoning problems which he knew would cause the delay in the construction of a custom built home was done with the intent and purpose of deceiving the Plaintiff.

Movants, Individual Insureds of a D & O Liability Insurance Policy, sought relief from the automatic stay as necessary to allow access to liability insurance policy proceeds to fund certain defense costs. The Chapter 7 Trustee and Bank of America, NA objected to the Motion on the grounds that allowing the Individual Insureds to draw on the available policy limit could deplete the Estate’s property by diminishing the limits of the policy proceeds that might otherwise have been available to satisfy judgments rendered against the Estate or obtained against the Individual Insureds. The Court granted the Motion and noted that there was no risk of prejudice to the Estate as no claims have been filed against the Estate by third party creditors and the Trustee has not initiated any litigation against the Individual Insureds. Further, there was no showing that the $10,000,000 Limit of Liability was near depletion. The Court also expressed its reluctance prohibit Illinois National from exercising its contractual rights to pay defense costs given the circumstances present herein.

Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar

In re Mark Zoll
February 1, 2012

10 B 02748