Three Critical Issues for Suppliers
On May 2, 2008, Linens-N-Things and its affiliated entities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the District of Delaware. Linens-N-Things has a number of different suppliers that are effected by this bankruptcy filing. Following are three (3) very important issues that suppliers should know about to ensure their rights in the bankruptcy proceeding.

Certain suppliers have the right to reclaim goods that they have shipped a bankrupt debtor. A creditor may attempt reclamation of their goods sold in the ordinary course under Bankruptcy Code § 546 (c). However a supplier must move quickly on their right to reclaim any of these goods that are lost. The supplier must make a demand in writing for reclamation of the goods no later than 45 days after delivery. If the 45 day period has not expired as of the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition, the supplier will be provided an additional 20 days to demand reclamation of the goods sold.

In addition to reclamation, suppliers also have the ability to seek a priority administrative expense under Bankruptcy Code §503 (b). This claim is for the “value of any goods” received in the ordinary course of business by a debtor within 20 days prior to the bankruptcy filing. To obtain this expense, the supplier must make a request, often by motion. A supplier who exercises their rights, can be in a better position than unsecured creditors since the Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization cannot be confirmed unless all administrative expense claims are paid in cash on the effective date of the bankruptcy plan.

In addition to the other rights mentioned, suppliers should also file a Proof of Claim for any amounts due and owing prior to the petition date. The Bankruptcy Code allows creditors to be paid with other similar situated creditors through the Bankruptcy Plan. The Proof of Claim deadline is usually provided at the beginning of the case and will allow creditors to exercise these rights. It is important to file a Proof of Claim properly and prior to the deadline.