New York courts have become a battleground for challenges to foreclosure sales under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Another trial court of the New York State Supreme Court (New York County) issued a preliminary injunction in Shelbourne BRF LLC v. SR 677 Bway LLC, halting a mezzanine lender’s August 19, 2020 UCC foreclosure sale. The decision confirms that the impact of the pandemic on the value of commercial real estate, and upon traditional steps taken to conduct a foreclosure auction, are both key factors that courts will continue to consider in determining whether a UCC foreclosure sale scheduled during the pandemic can be conducted in a commercially reasonable manner as required by the UCC.
In Shelbourne, the mezzanine borrowers owned the membership or equity interests in the companies (collectively, the “Property Owner”) that held title to a 12-story office building in Albany, New York. As security for the $3.35 million mezzanine loan, the mezzanine borrowers pledged their equity interests to the mezzanine lender. In May 2020, the mezzanine lender declared a default under the mezzanine loan as a result of the Property Owner’s default under the $28.5 million senior loan secured by a mortgage against the office building. The mezzanine lender then scheduled a public UCC foreclosure sale of the equity interests in the Property Owner for August 19, 2020. If the sale had been held, the equity interests in the Property Owner (and right to control the Property Owner and office building) would have been transferred to the successful bidder, either the mezzanine lender or a third party purchaser.
Reprinted courtesy of White and Williams attorneys Steven E. Ostrow, Timothy E. Davis, Steven E. Coury and Kristen E. Andreoli
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