A multi-year, multi-million-dollar Bankruptcy Court dispute recently concluded with a victory for a residential development firm, which was supported by the expert opinion of a Stout professional.
Stout's Real Estate Valuation professional delivered expert testimony at both deposition and trial in the case In re: Kimball Hill, Inc., et al., Debtors, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, 2019. The dispute involved an investor/developer (the “purchaser” and ultimately Stout’s client) that had acquired residential real estate assets from a bankruptcy. The court agreed with Stout's testimony, which contributed to a favorable outcome for the purchaser.
The origin of the dispute goes back to 2008 when a national homebuilder filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Stout’s client subsequently purchased several of the homebuilder’s partially complete residential subdivisions. At the time, the Bankruptcy Court approved the sale of real property, free and clear of liens, but after Stout’s client’s acquisition, the surety/bonding company that had issued performance bonds for each subdivision sued the purchaser of these assets in State Court to recover the cost of the bonded improvements. As a result of these lawsuits, the purchaser was prevented from developing and/or selling the assets due to the cloud of the pending litigation, which lasted for six years.
The purchaser hired Stout to prepare an expert opinion of the damages related to the diminution in value caused by the six-year “forced delay,” which prevented the purchaser from developing and/or selling the real property during that time. Stout issued an expert report and provided testimony that focused on the cash flows associated with the properties under two scenarios:
Stout's professional concluded that the difference between the two scenarios reflected the diminution in value caused by the forced delay – and exceeded $7.7 million.
Ultimately, the Bankruptcy Court ruled that the surety company had violated the “Bankruptcy Plan” by filing these lawsuits and was therefore in contempt of court, and that the purchaser was entitled to damages. The judge issued a decision awarding damages to Stout’s client amounting to more than $9.5 million, including the over $7.7 million in property damages that our professional opined during the case.