In re: Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison v. Still, No. 12-6374 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
McKenzie’s creditors filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in 2008. McKenzie filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition a month later. The cases were consolidated and converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Several weeks before the involuntary petition was filed, McKenzie executed a promissory note and a pledge in favor of GKH for unpaid legal fees. The pledge listed several entities in which McKenzie held an interest, ranging from an “auto mall” to a farm. GKH filed a proof of claim for $750,000, describing the collateral as “Real Estate” and “Other” and sought relief from the automatic stay. The Trustee opposed relief on the ground that the pledge constituted a preferential transfer. The bankruptcy court granted relief with respect to certain real estate, but denied relief as to equity interests. The bankruptcy court held that McKenzie had not validly conveyed his equity interests in certain entities to GKH, that the Trustee could use his hypothetical lien-creditor status and avoidance powers defensively to defeat GKH’s security interest, and that the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled because of GKH’s conduct. The district court affirmed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that GKH had the burden of establishing the validity of its claimed security interest and that a trustee may use his hypothetical lien-creditor status and avoidance powers to oppose relief from the automatic stay after expiration of the statutory limitation on avoidance actions under 11 U.S.C. 546(a)(1)(A).