Bankruptcy – Creditors’ / Debtors’ Rights

Miller Johnson provides unmatched, comprehensive service to our clients in matters involving Creditors’ Rights, Debtors’ Rights, and Bankruptcy. Our attorneys have been involved in many of the most significant bankruptcy proceedings in the Western District of Michigan. We have acted as court-appointed experts in bankruptcy proceedings, and one of our members has served as the bankruptcy trustee in numerous cases in the Western District.

We not only counsel our clients leading up to and during a bankruptcy proceeding, we help them anticipate and avoid the often devastating impact of a bankruptcy or financial failure. When possible, we accomplish restructurings and liquidations for our clients on an out-of-court basis. When structuring and negotiating transactions like loan workouts, forbearance agreements, asset purchase or sale agreements, mergers, acquisitions, or other long-term contracts, we help clients identify potential bankruptcy pitfalls and minimize the damage that could result from the other party’s bankruptcy or financial failure.

We help our clients structure secured transactions and properly perfect their security interests to withstand attack in a debtor’s subsequent bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding. Where a debtor defaults, we represent our clients in actions to repossess collateral, enforce construction liens, and foreclose mortgages.

Miller Johnson’s numerous legal practice specialties outside of bankruptcy also benefit our clients. We have often put our firm’s special expertise in employment, environmental, ERISA, real estate, tax, and other areas of the law to work for our clients in bankruptcy matters.

Our clients include:

  • Creditors’ committees
  • Business and individual creditors (secured and unsecured), including mortgage holders, construction lien claimants, automotive suppliers, distributors under dealership contracts, landlords, and many other creditors with special interests in bankruptcy proceedings
  • Lending and financial institutions
  • Business and individual debtors with business-related debt
  • Bankruptcy trustees
  • Entities interested in acquiring the assets of troubled businesses
  • Defendants in bankruptcy preference claims

The following cases illustrate what we have accomplished in our practice:

  • We represented the creditors’ committee and, following confirmation of the plan, the liquidation trustee in the chapter 11 liquidation of the iconic Checker Motors Corporation, producing a significant pool of funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors. The case involved the negotiation of sizeable pension fund claims against the company as well as significant accommodation, resourcing, and sale agreements.
  • We represented an out-of-court creditors’ committee in negotiations with a debtor and lenders in a matter that involved hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and investments in commercial real estate located in California.
  • We served as co-counsel for the creditors’ committee in the Chapter 11 reorganization of Family Christian Bookstores and its related entities. Family Christian operated a chain of religious bookstores throughout the United States. We assisted in obtaining a significant dividend for unsecured creditors through the sale of the Debtors’ business.
  • We served as co-counsel for the creditors’ committee in the Chapter 11 reorganization of a large Midwest clothing retailer; successfully negotiating a plan of reorganization which paid a significant dividend to unsecured creditors.
  • On behalf of a large national equipment lessor, our team uncovered a significant fraud involving approximately $100 million in equipment leases. We were able to obtain the immediate appointment of a receiver and assist the receiver as special counsel in expanding the receivership to include the debtor’s principals and affiliated entities.
  • While representing the world’s leading manufacturer of jukeboxes and bill changers, which had accumulated more than $100 million in debt and had union, pension, retiree benefit, and environmental issues, the Miller Johnson team worked with company management, lenders, investment bankers, and other constituencies to complete the sale of the business as a going concern within 75 days of the company’s bankruptcy filing at a price significantly higher than the initial offer made for it.
  • We helped a large regional bank structure a receivership of the shareholder interests that controlled a group of telecommunication companies. The shareholder interests secured loans of approximately $75 million and the receivership facilitated the sale of those companies.
  • We successfully defended the former major shareholders of a large national retailer against fraudulent conveyance claims brought by the debtor’s liquidation trust, where the retailer filed for bankruptcy some two years after the sale of our client’s stock.
  • We provided ongoing assistance to automotive suppliers pummeled by the unprecedented downturn in their industry, helping them deal with both troubled customers and troubled suppliers. When necessary, we helped them affect the orderly wind down of their operations, lessening the exposure of principals and, where possible, preserving equity for shareholders.
  • We represented a bankruptcy trustee in unwinding a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, filing more than 100 separate causes of action to recover thousands of avoidable transfers made by the debtor.
  • We represented a regional retailer of petroleum products and related services in its restructuring under Chapter 11 over a four-year period.
  • We represented the Chapter 11 and subsequently the Chapter 7 Trustee in a case involving the operation and subsequent sale of a large hospital in southern Michigan.
  • We represented a Chapter 11 Trustee in successfully reorganizing and obtaining Chapter 11 plan confirmation for a large West Michigan farming operation.