Creditors’ Committees

Representative Engagements

  • In re Hearthside Baking Co., Inc., United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Hearthside was the baker behind Chicago’s legendary Maurice Lenell cookies when it fell into bankruptcy amid rising commodity prices and ongoing litigation amongst its family owners.  We represented the Creditors’ Committee and successfully proposed a liquidating plan of reorganization that provided for distribution of proceeds of the sale of the company and allowed us to pursue litigation against the directors and officers of the company and their professionals on a wide range of malfeasance claims.  That litigation was ultimately settled and, along with proceeds of the sale, provided for a distribution in excess of 50% to unsecured creditors.
  • In re T H Agriculture & Nutrition, L.L.C. “THAN”, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.  In the THAN bankruptcy, we confirmed one of the fastest, most successful prepackaged bankruptcies to date. We worked for more than a year before the bankruptcy filing on behalf on an informal committee to negotiate the plan and solicit creditor acceptances.  After completing the process, we were retained to represent the committee appointed in the bankruptcy case and, along with the debtor, filed the plan and ballots.  We obtained bankruptcy court approval in less than nine months after the bankruptcy filing despite strong objections from a number of creditors and insurers.  The result was a reorganized company and a trust funded with $900 million for distribution in accord with the asbestos provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.
  • In re Fansteel, Inc., United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Fansteel, Inc. was a 90-year old manufacturer of specialty metal products operating at eight manufacturing facilities in five states and Mexico. When Fansteel filed its Chapter 11 reorganization petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Fansteel had shut down a tantalum processing facility in Oklahoma creating a default under its license with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the “NRC” ). We were counsel to the Creditors’ Committee, comprised of Fansteel’s pre-petition lenders and major trade vendors. Because of the issues involving the NRC, the entire case was transferred and heard in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Fansteel faced seemingly insurmountable environmental claims but still insisted that it could keep all of its assets and pay creditors in stock. The Committee contested these positions and ultimately Fansteel and the Committee confirmed a joint plan of reorganization. The confirmed plan provided for a sale of four operating divisions to generate cash for creditors, isolated the environmental liabilities by transferring the affected assets to trusts and issuing collateralized notes to fund the remediation, implemented a decommissioning plan for the tantalum plant under an amended license with the NRC, and structured settlements with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Under the plan, unsecured creditors received a cash distribution of more than 50% of their claims plus the majority of shares in the reorganized Fansteel.
  • In re Combustion Engineering, Inc., United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.  Combustion Engineering, Inc. was an historic American boilermaker and subsidiary of the Swiss manufacturing and engineering giant ABB Ltd.  CE had a long legacy of asbestos liability and pursued a pre-arranged bankruptcy in conjunction with certain creditors.  On behalf of the Creditors’ Committee, we helped confirm a plan of reorganization during a hotly contested confirmation hearing that stretched over several weeks.  The confirmation order was ultimately reversed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in one of the seminal opinions on asbestos bankruptcy and the limits of 11 U.S.C. § 524(g).  Undeterred, we worked with the Debtor to revise the plan, created a separate plan for another ABB subsidiary and achieved confirmation, which created a trust funded with approximately $1.3 billion for distribution to victims of asbestos-related disease.
  • In re Onco Investment Company, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In this Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Oglebay-Norton mining and shipping conglomerate, we were counsel to a group of creditors that objected to confirmation of the plan of reorganization, which was supported by the Debtors and the official Creditors’ Committee. After a blistering four-week discovery period, the four-day confirmation hearing covered a wide range of complex expert and factual testimony. We argued that the plan was not feasible and that it did not comply with the classification and impairment requirements of Chapter 11 because it did not provide for resolution or payment of the objecting creditors’ claims. The court denied confirmation and the Debtors quickly negotiated a settlement under which they paid roughly $52 million to our clients.
  • In re Abtox, Inc., United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Abtox was a rising private equity star that ran afoul of its creditors and the Food and Drug Administration and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We represented the Creditors’ Committee and, ultimately, the post-confirmation trust in litigation with Abtox’s investors over their claim to have made secured loans to Abtox in the year before its bankruptcy. While most of the investors settled quickly, two healthcare investment funds went to trial against the Trust. The Trust argued that the investment funds, by virtue of their access to information and ex officio position on Abtox’s board of directors, were insiders and therefore were subject to a longer one-year period for avoidance of their liens as preferential transfers. The court found that the investors were insiders and invalidated their liens. This argument rendered the investors unsecured on much of their claim and greatly increased the money available for distribution to other unsecured creditors.