FTI Consulting, Inc. v. Merit Mgmt. Group, LP, No. 15-3388 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 2003, Valley View and, Bedford Downs, wanted to operate “racinos,” combination horse tracks and casinos. Each would need the last harness-racing license available in Pennsylvania to do so. Valley View agreed to acquire Bedford for $55 million, with Citizens Bank acting as escrow agent. Valley View borrowed money from Credit Suisse. Valley View then obtained the harness-racing license, but failed to secure the needed gambling license and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Trustee sued Merit, a 30% shareholder in Bedford, alleging that Bedford’s transfer to Valley View was avoidable under 11 U.S.C. 544, 548(a)(1)(b), and 550, and the money was properly part of the bankruptcy estate. Merit maintained that the transfer was protected under the safe harbor, 11 U.S.C. 546(e), which protects transfers that are “margin payment[s]” or “settlement payment[s]” “made by or to (or for the benefit of)” certain entities including commodity brokers, securities clearing agencies, and “financial institutions” and transfers “made by or to (or for the benefit of)” the same types of entities “in connection with a securities contract.” Merit relied on the involvement of Citizens Bank and Credit Suisse. The district court agreed with Merit. The Seventh Circuit reversed; section 546(e) does not protect transfers that are simply conducted through financial institutions (or the other section 546(e) entities), where the entity is neither the debtor nor the transferee but only the conduit.
- FTI Consulting, Inc. v. Merit Management Group, LP, No. 1:2011cv07670 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 02, 2015)