On March 1, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Husky International Electronics, Inc. v. Ritz. Between 2003 and 2007 Husky International Electronics sold and delivered electronic device components worth more than $160,000 to Chrysalis Manufacturing Corp. Chrysalis, then under the financial control of Daniel Ritz, failed to pay for the goods and Ritz encouraged the transfer of funds from Chrysalis to various other companies. Ritz held substantial ownership stakes in these companies, which had not given reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the Chrysalis funds.
In May 2009, Husky sued Ritz in federal district court, seeking to hold him personally liable for Chrysalis’s debt. Ritz filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, and Husky then filed a complaint in the bankruptcy court alleging actual fraud, to preclude a discharge of Ritz’s debts. The bankruptcy court ruled that Husky had failed to prove actual fraud, however, and the district court affirmed that decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit likewise affirmed the lower court judgments, finding no record evidence of a false representation by the debtor, which the Fifth Circuit deemed a necessary predicate to establish actual fraud.
The question now before the Supreme Court is whether the “actual fraud” bar to discharge under Section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code applies only when the debtor has made a false representation, or whether the bar also applies when the debtor has deliberately obtained money through a fraudulent-transfer scheme that was actually intended to cheat a creditor.
To discuss the case, we have Zvi Rosen, who is a visiting scholar at Hofstra University Maurice A. Deane School of Law.