Earl M. Forte

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Earl M. Forte has more than thirty years of experience handling commercial litigation and bankruptcy matters, financial restructuring and other insolvency matters for a wide variety of clients in both federal and state courts, as well as in commercial arbitrations. He represents creditors, corporate debtors, banks, unsecured creditors’ committees, directors and officers, individuals, insurance companies, chapter 7 trustees, and distressed asset buyers in all aspects of bankruptcy cases, with a special focus on the unique legal issues that arise in bankruptcy litigation, financial restructuring and other insolvency proceedings. Earl is a member of the firm’s Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group.

    Earl has extensive knowledge and experience handling business problems and disputes in a variety of forums, most notably in the nation’s federal district and bankruptcy courts in both Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 cases, and also in proceedings under various state corporate dissolution and receivership statutes. His background also includes handling director and officer liability and corporate control matters.  Earl closely studies his clients’ industries and particular business areas, working with closely with corporate and other transactional counsel to develop an in-depth analysis and understanding of each client’s problem and business objectives.

    Earl is skilled at taking matters from initial investigation and discovery through trial, arbitration and appeal. He has counseled many clients through challenging financial difficulties, helping them achieve their desired outcomes either promptly through a structured settlement or by aggressive pursuing or defense in litigation or arbitration if necessary.  Earl is known as a staunch advocate for his clients, who come from a variety of markets and industries, providing his wealth of experience and advice both in court and in settlement negotiations to help resolve difficult business and financial problems in a creative, efficient and expeditious manner.

    Earl’s accumulated knowledge of asset recovery and asset protection resulted in the recent publication of his first book, The Fraudulent Transfer Handbook, a lawyer’s guide to the basic legal concepts and practicalities of fraudulent transfer litigation, designed for both plaintiffs and defendants; supplements to that book that address more recent issues, including the impact of the new Voidable Transactions Act, were published in subsequent years and the book was retitled The Voidable Transactions Handbook.  In 2019, Earl authored The Pennsylvania Voidable Transactions Act – A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Clients.  Earl has been recognized for his for his expertise in business restructuring, bankruptcy and financial services matters by Smart CEO magazine.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy Litigation, Restructuring

      • Obtained relief from the automatic stay to permit client’s environmental claims to proceed to a settlement conference in U.S. district court following a bankruptcy filing by the principal defendant. Assessed impact of proposed bankruptcy sale of debtor/defendant’s assets on client’s environmental claims in US district court. Appeared in bankruptcy court, negotiated resolution of stay relief with debtor/defendant, creditors committee and other parties in Chapter 11 case. Led the  litigation team in developing strategy and path forward for client’s U.S. district court case as impacted by defendant’s Chapter 11 filing. *

      • Represented judgment creditor in ongoing commercial dispute with transactional counterparty in assignment for the benefit of creditors proceeding filed by counter party in California state court. *

      • Defended through trial former directors and officers of independent hedge fund in action filed by Chapter 7 trustee for breach of fiduciary duty under Delaware partnership law. Took case through discovery, motion practice, removal from U.S. bankruptcy court to U.S. district court, trial and appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. *

      • Negotiated debt restructuring for Florida-based life annuity funds with U.S. affiliate of large Australian bank lender. *

      • Represented Pepperidge Farm Incorporated in initial case meetings with U.S. Trustee, Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and A&P Company, Inc., in its Chapter 11 case in New York. Negotiated post-bankruptcy credit agreement for continued product deliveries to nationwide supermarket chain in Chapter 11, and successfully defended $9 million preference claim against Pepperidge Farm. *

      • Represented Campbell Soup and several of its affiliates (Pepperidge Farm, Wm Bolthouse Farms, Inc., Campbell Transport LLC) in various insolvency proceedings in U.S. bankruptcy courts and state court receivership proceedings around the country. *

      • Represented BMGI Corp. in dissolution and liquidation of its assets and claims in two parallel and competing proceedings in the Delaware Court of Chancery and federal district court and state court in Denver, Colorado. Handled jurisdictional dispute and succeeded in resolving all claims and disputes with secured lender, landlord and other creditors. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in first major Uber-caused bankruptcy filing by major New York City medallion cab companies. *

      • Represented Karl-Storz Endoscopy America, Inc. in protracted contract dispute with international hospital developer involving supplying surgery room technology and equipment by Karl-Storz. Negotiated payout of pre-bankruptcy amounts owed and terms of post-bankruptcy contract for future supply by Karl-Storz going forward. Successfully defeated efforts by IMRIS to avoid obligations under the subject contracts through use of a “structured dismissal” of its Chapter 11 case. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in successful sale of all debtor’s assets, resulting in 100 percent recovery for unsecured creditors. *

      • Represented D&O insurer in Chapter 11 case of commodities trading firm in its Chapter 11 case and related multi-district litigation. Analysis of claims and coverage to debtor and its directors and officers. *

      • Represented D&O insurer in negotiations on coverage for fraudulent transfer and related claims asserted by Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors. *

      • Represented Ameridose LLC, affiliate of debtor New England Compounding Pharmacy, in Chapter 11 case arising from mass tort personal injury claims caused by tainted pharmaceuticals. Conducted internal investigation of Ameridose LLC, relating to issue of substantive consolidation. *

      • Headed up large team of lawyers representing Chapter 7 trustee in actions to recover tens of millions of dollars for claimants in tax fraud, Ponzi scheme matter involving thoroughbred mare investments. Large scale litigation in U.S. district court and U.S. bankruptcy court. Supervised and oversaw interactions with U.S. Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service investigators and federal grand jury empanelled in Portland, Oregon. Achieved substantial recovery for claimants. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in litigation with debtor and secured creditor concerning debtor’s proposed plan of reorganization for reorganized gaming business.  Obtained recovery for unsecured creditors. *

      • Defended secured lender in fraudulent transfer and deepening insolvency action by Chapter 7 trustee of failed telephone technology company. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in all aspects of sublime mortgage Chapter 11 case, including extensive Rule 2004 investigation of sublime lender’s collapse. *

      • Defended fraudulent transfer litigation filed against officers, directors and private equity owners of debtor online apparel company. Removed case from bankruptcy court to district court and achieved favorable settlement in subsequent mediation. *

      • Represented de-regulated independent power producer in various litigation matters and in successful sale of power generation assets in liquidating Chapter 11 case. *

      • Defended former director of technology company in D&O litigation by Chapter 7 trustee. Resolved through settlement with insurers. *

      • Defended secured creditor that held a finance lease in lead battery manufacturing line equipment, in debtor’s suit to declare the secured lease transaction to be a “disguised” sale. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Chapter 11 steel and tin manufacturer in litigation concerning approval of plan of reorganization and sale of assets to distressed asset purchaser investor. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in reorganization of technology distributor in Chapter 11. Tried large avoidance action in US district court that was resolved favorably during trial. *

      • Defended directors and officers of large cemetery consolidator in large avoidance action by debtor’s estate related to pre-bankruptcy M&A transaction. *

      • Represented Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in Chapter 11 case of major airline involving sale of airline assets to American Airlines and in attendant hearings, litigation and negotiations with stakeholders. *

      • Represented clothing retailer in litigation relating to its Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, which was confirmed over opposition from certain creditor groups. *

      • Represented major airline in all aspects of Chapter 11 proceedings, including trials with aircraft lease financier, aircraft manufacturer, suppliers, airport entities and other parties in interest. Handled appeal to the Eleventh Circuit involving dispute with John Hancock Insurance Company. *

      • Commercial Litigation Matters

      • Represent public company and its CEO in action by common shareholder for custodianship under Delaware General Corporation statute and for injunctive release relating to alleged improper stock transactions. *

      • Represented former controlling shareholders of King Tester Corporation in parallel commercial disputes in two state court actions. Led litigation strategy, discovery and court appearances. *

      • Represented national beef producer in contract dispute with counterparty involving operation of Pennsylvania facility. Also advised beef packer in a separate matter on contracts for product promotion. *

      • Represented manufacturer of temperature control devices in bet-the-company dispute with major supplier. *

      • Represented New York regional bank in fraudulent transfer action to enforce personal guaranty involving Delaware asset protection trust. *

      • Represented client in litigation with co-owner of Delaware LLC that operated Formula One racing business. *

      • Defended shoe designer in trademark litigation by owners of designer’s former branded business that had previously been sold. *

      • Other Experiences

      • * Attorney Forte was counsel in these representative transactions prior to joining Robinson+Cole.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      California Bar Association

      Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
      Disciplinary Board Hearing Panel, former member and chair
    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      University of Pennsylvania Alumni
      Interviewing Program

      Episcopal Community Services of Philadelphia
      Member, Board of Trustees, Finance Committee and Advancement Committee
      Former Treasurer
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Case Study: Delaware Bankruptcy Court [sic] Denies Trustee’s Breach of Fiduciary Duty Suit," The Bankruptcy Strategist (March 2019)
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      The Fraudulent Transfer Handbook – A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Clients (2013)
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      "Supreme Court Hears Case On Bankruptcy Judges Powers," published in Fortune Magazine (2014)
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