Earl M. Forte
Earl Forte has counseled his clients through difficult business and financial problems for over 30 years. He advises clients across a variety of industries on the unique issues presented in commercial disputes and bankruptcy cases, and has substantial experience with business torts and involving fraudulent transfer and breach of fiduciary duty. He is also experienced in commercial, financial, and corporate workouts. As a trial lawyer, he has handled matters in federal and state courts, bankruptcy courts, and receiverships and courts of appeal. He is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution, including private arbitration.
Earl is the author of The Fraudulent Transfer Handbook and three supplemental volumes.
- Represented securitized fund in debt restructuring and potential business sale;
- Represented former principals of hedge fund in litigation in Chapter 7 case;
- Represented services company in debt restructuring and related corporate dissolution;
- Represented nationally known footwear designer in trademark dispute in federal district court;
- Represented purchaser in M&A transaction in post-closing commercial arbitration;
- Represented major food producer in Chapter 11 of grocery store chain;
- Represented national commercial baker in Chapter 11 of grocery store chain on critical vendor, credit agreement;
- Represented German medical equipment manufacturer in Chapter 11 of contract counter-party;
- Represented major food companies in contract relationships with troubled counterparties;
- Represented Committee of Unsecured Creditors in Chapter 11 reorganization of large electronic payment processing company – sale of assets, full recovery for creditors;
- Represented German insurer in successful negotiation and settlement of complex insurance contract dispute with Chinese solar manufacturer in Chapter 11;
- Represented D&O insurance carriers in Chapter 11 case of commodities trading firm;
- Represented D&O insurance carries in threatened fraudulent transfer action in Chapter 11 case of electric utility companies;
- Represented commercial lender in fraudulent transfer action in Delaware Court of Chancery;
- Defended corporate officers and directors in fraudulent transfer and directors and officers liability litigation in Chapter 11 case of internet retailer;
- Represented LLC member in Delaware Court of Chancery control dispute between owners of motor sports business;
- Represented secured lender in dispute with creditors committee of copper manufacturer;
- Represented Creditors’ Committee in litigation of Chapter 11 plan of reorganization of gaming company;
- Represented Chapter 7 Trustee in all aspects of large bankruptcy case in Kentucky in equine industry involving tax and investment fraud. Lead trial counsel in multidistrict litigation in United States district court and all matters in bankruptcy court, oversaw hundreds of disputes and dozens of litigation matters. In re Classic Star LLC.
- Represented private equity funds in competitive asset acquisitions in two separate bankruptcy cases of plumbing supply and aluminum extraction businesses;
- Represented Creditors’ Committee in Chapter 11 case of major subprime mortgage lender; handled cash collateral and debtor-in-possession financing disputes; conducted extensive claims investigation of lender and executives;
- Represented bank against breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent transfers claims by trustee of telephone technology business;
- Represented secured lender in apparel bankruptcy and related avoidance litigation;
- Represented independent electric power generator in Chapter 11 case. Handled trial with noteholders involving lease financing of hydroelectric plant; handled sale of fossil fuel and hydroelectric assets as well as breach of contract litigation with coal suppliers;
- Represented former director in litigation by trustee for breach of fiduciary duty, Chapter 7 of a for profit school;
- Represented Creditor’s Committee in litigation related to large M&A transaction in the computer industry. Led investigation of potential directors and officers and fraudulent transfer claims. Successfully brought four large consolidated preference actions to trial in U.S. district court including trial of issue of the debtor’s insolvency;
- Represented national mortgage lenders in litigation regarding RESPA, TILA, FDCPA, consumer fraud laws, and other claims; subprime mortgage litigation;
- Represented former directors and officers against large claw back claims by insolvent cemetery consolidator relating to M&A transaction;
- Represented Creditors’ Committee in litigation of sale of TWA’s assets to American Airlines;
- Represented former officer in contract, fraudulent transfer, and directors and officers litigation brought by Chapter 7 trustee of tech company;
- Represented lease financier in litigation by LED batter manufacturer regarding attempt by estate to re-characterize finance leases on assembly line equipment as secured loans;
- Represented Creditors’ Committee in litigation over sale of a steel and tin manufacturer’s assets to a third-party purchaser;
- Represented Chapter 11 men’s retail chain in plan litigation resulting in successful reorganization of public company;
- Represented major airline for over ten years in Chapter 11 case in numerous disputes including litigation with aircraft lessor and aircraft manufacturer over rights to Airbus A320 aircraft litigation and other disputes with jet fuel suppliers, U.S. Department of Labor, buyer-furnished equipment suppliers, benefits provider and over 200 preference actions, 12 tried to judgment;
- Represented secured lender in work out and settlement of lender liability claims with large office supply company in Chapter 11;
- Represented investor group in reorganization litigation involving recycling business in Chapter 11.
- State Bar of California
- Disciplinary Board to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Hearing Panel, Former Member
- Earl is a lifelong Philadelphia-area resident and for more than 15 years has been involved with Episcopal Community Services, an established social services organization that assists individuals in need in the Philadelphia region. Earl serves on the Board of Trustees and finance committee.
- Earl is also a volunteer with the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Interview Program.
Awards and Recognition:
- Attained an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell
- Philadelphia SmartCEO magazine recognized Earl as a “Legal Elite” honoree in 2010 for his legal work in business restructuring, bankruptcy, and financial services matters.
News and Insights
- “Case Study: Delaware Bankruptcy Court Denies Trustee’s Breach of Fiduciary Duty Suit,” The Bankruptcy Strategist, March 2019.
- The Fraudulent Transfer (a/k/a Voidable Transactions) Handbook: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Their Clients, Volumes 1-4, 2013-2016.
- “Supreme Court hears case on the limits of bankruptcy judges’ powers,” Fortune Magazine, January 2014.
- “Asset Valuation,” Faculty Member, Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Conference, 27th Annual Forum, January 2016.
- “Forensic Accounting Issues and Problems, Including Tracing of Cash and Electronic Discovery,” Faculty Member, National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees Annual Convention, September 2012.
- “Expert Evidence,” Faculty Member, CBIZ and Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C. 2001 Annual Conference, August 2011.
- “Bankruptcy and Directors and Officers Issues,” Faculty Member, CLE program, October and November 2009.
- “Subprime Enforcement Issues,” Faculty Member, CLE program to lending clients, May and September 2008.
- “The Subprime Mortgage Crisis in the United States,” Faculty Member, Center for Legal Studies, Salzburg Austria, International Insolvency, February 2008.
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
J.D., University of San Diego School of Law, 1985
B.A., cum laude, University of Pennsylvania, 1979