Bankruptcy preference litigation involves situations in which the plaintiff (normally the trustee) tries to claw back substantial monetary payments debtors make to creditors within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy. Preference cases are deceptively simple in form. However, complications often arise, particularly in cases involving creditors that regularly do business with the debtor. Such creditors may invoke diverse sections of the Bankruptcy Code in an attempt to negate the trustee’s reimbursement claim against them.
In Auriga Polymers Inc. v. PMCM2, LLC, 40 F.4th 1273, 1277 (11th Cir. 2022), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently analyzed the interplay between two such sections of the Bankruptcy Code. One of the eight preference defenses a creditor may raise is known as the subsequent new value defense and is set forth in 11 U.S.C. § 547(c)(4). Section 503(b)(9), in turn, contains an administrator expense claim that a creditor may obtain for payment in full for the value of goods sold to the debtor in the ordinary course of business within 20 days before the debtor files for bankruptcy. 11 U.S.C. § 503(b)(9). In an issue of first impression in the Eleventh Circuit and one which is unsettled in other circuits, the Auriga Polymers court addressed “whether post-petition transfers made under a 11 U.S.C. § 503(b)(9) request will reduce the creditor’s new value defense” under 11 U.S.C. § 547(c)(4). The trustee claimed that Auriga would effectively receive a “double payment” if it were allowed to obtain payment for its administrator expense claim and also to avoid repayment to the trustee under the preference defense of subsequent new value. Auriga Polymers, 40 F.4th at 1288.