A creditor’s exclusive remedy against a debtor who is a member or manager of a limited liability company (LLC) is a charging order on the debtor’s distributional interest.
McClandon v. Dakem & Associates, LLC, (see here), a recent Florida appellate case, illustrates that while the charging order remedy is flexible enough to allow for some creative lawyering, it still has limits.
McClandon’s facts are straightforward: the plaintiff obtained a money judgment against an individual who had an interest in several limited liability companies. In post-judgment proceedings, the plaintiff sought a charging order against the debtor’s LLC interests. The court granted the charging order and appointed a receiver to take control of the LLCs’ finances.
The debtor appealed.
Partially reversing the charging order’s terms, the appeals court found the trial court exceeded its authority and encroached on the legislature by giving the receiver managerial control over the LLCs.
Section 605.0503 of the Florida LLC statute permits a court to enter a charging order as a creditor’s exclusive remedy to attach a debtor’s interest in a multi-member LLC. The statute further provides that a court can apply broad equitable principles (i.e., alter ego, equitable lien, constructive trust, etc.) when it fashions a charging order. Florida’s LLC act is based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 2006 which specifically provides that a court can appoint a receiver to assist in collection of a debtor’s LLC distributions. See RULLCA Section 503(b)(1).
The court had discretion to appoint a receiver to help the creditor foreclose on the charging order against the debtor’s LLC interests. But the court exceeded its boundaries by giving the Receiver expansive management authority over the LLC’s finances.
Since there was no statutory predicate for the court to allow the Receiver to exert managerial control over the LLCs, the trial court’s charging order was overly broad.
The charging order remedy lends itself to flexibility and creative lawyering. While a creditor can have a receiver appointed to assist in collecting LLC distributions, the receiver cannot – at least in Florida and other states following the Uniform LLC Act – exert control over the LLC’s financial inner workings. When petitioning for a receiver, creditor’s counsel should make sure the receiver does not engage in the management of the LLC’s business operations.