The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Garcia, reversing the Appellate Division, over a three-judge dissent, determined the strict foreclosure at the direction of the majority bondholders which cancelled the notes precluded plaintiffs from recovering on notes purchased in the secondary market. The decision is fact-specific, dependent on the wording of documents, and cannot be fairly summarized here:
After the issuer defaulted, plaintiffs, the holders of a minority in principal amount of senior secured debt, brought this lawsuit against the debtor and its guarantors to recover payment of principal and interest. We are called upon to determine whether plaintiffs’ right to sue for payment on the notes survived a strict foreclosure, undertaken by the trustee at the direction of a group of majority bondholders over plaintiffs’ objection, that purported to cancel the notes. We hold that it did … . …
In December 2005, defendant Cleveland Unlimited, Inc. (Cleveland Unlimited), a telecommunications company, issued $150 million of “senior secured” debt in the form of “Notes” pursuant to an indenture agreement (the Indenture). The Notes had a five-year term and required Cleveland Unlimited to pay interest to holders of the Notes (Noteholders or Holders) on a quarterly basis up to and including the maturity date, at which point the principal also became due. The Indenture named Cleveland Unlimited as the “Issuer” of the Notes, eighteen of Cleveland Unlimited’s subsidiaries and affiliates as the “Guarantors,” and U.S. Bank National Association (U.S. Bank) as the Indenture “Trustee.” At the same time the Indenture was executed, the Issuer, the Guarantors, and the Trustee executed a Collateral Trust Agreement and a Security Agreement (collectively, Indenture Documents) … . In April 2010, plaintiffs purchased approximately $5 million of the Notes in the secondary market, amounting to 3.33% of the outstanding principal value.
At issue in this case are certain provisions in the Indenture Documents governing the rights of the Noteholders to receive payment, the remedies available in the event of default, and the power of a majority of Noteholders to direct the Trustee’s choice of remedy. CNH Diversified Opportunities Master Account, L.P. v Cleveland Unlimited, Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 05976, Ct App 10-20-20