Berkshire Bank v. Town of Ludlow, Mass., No. 12-1625 (1st Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Taxpayer owned fifteen acres of land in Ludlow, Massachusetts. Taxpayer obtained a commitment from Bank to make a loan to fund development on the land. The commitment stipulated that the loan would be made to Taxpayer or "nominee" and that, if Taxpayer assigned the commitment to a nominee, he would be required to guarantee the loan personally. Taxpayer subsequently transferred title of the property to an LLC he formed. Later, the loan became delinquent, and Bank foreclosed on unsold lots in the development. After selling the lots at auction, Bank filed this interpleader action to determine who had the right to the surplus proceeds. The United States claimed an interest in the fund, as did the town of Ludlow. At issue was who was the "nominee" of Taxpayer for purposes of the federal tax lien that attached to Taxpayer's property. The district court held in favor of the United States, concluding that the LLC was Taxpayer's nominee. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the nature of the relationship between Taxpayer pointed to the fact that the LLC was a "legal fiction," and therefore, the district court did not err in concluding that the LLC was Taxpayer's nominee.