Ryan, Swanson’s Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance Group is among the few bankruptcy practices in Seattle, Portland, and the Pacific Northwest with the capability to regularly represent clients in all five major insolvency workout and commercial collection areas: debtor, creditor, creditors’ committee, receiver and trustee. Our Seattle bankruptcy attorneys advise clients in all areas of the commercial insolvency process:
- Reorganizations (Chapters 11 and 12)
- Liquidations (Chapter 7)
- Municipal bankruptcies (Chapter 9)
- Cross-border insolvency proceedings (Chapter 15)
- Bankruptcy litigation (adversary proceedings)
- §363 auctions and bankruptcy sales free and clear
- Out-of-court workouts and forbearance agreements
- Creditors’ committees
- Washington, Oregon and California Receiverships
- Maritime insolvencies and vessel arrests
Our attorneys represent banks in Seattle as well as banks that are out-of-the-area. Furthermore, our attorneys represent several national commercial finance companies and private equity funds. Engagements include pre-judgment writs, recovery of collateral, replevin actions, pursuit of personal guarantors, creditor representation and complicated loan workouts & restructuring. We are experienced in secured transactions, equipment leases and other forms of financing and credit facilities. In addition, we handle numerous matters involving civil litigation and enforcing creditors’ rights through the bankruptcy process. Some members of our group have been involved in major creditors’ rights representation for decades.
We also counsel small businesses and high-net-worth individuals through the restructuring of their debt obligations. Whether a small business seeks to reorganize itself under the new Subchapter V of the Bankruptcy Code or a high-net-worth individual needs to restructure debts through an out of court workout, we have the experience to steer clients to the best restructuring option for their business or personal needs.
The experience of our attorneys in these areas allows us to provide our clients with several advantages. Because the work we do in one area often makes us more effective in another, we are able to understand the industry from all perspectives. In addition, in a field where there are often limited resources that can be fully depleted, we strive to achieve cost-effective results for our clients by maintaining realistic expectations and pragmatic thinking.
Our team represents several types of clients with a wide range of bankruptcy and reorganization matters, including:
- Lenders including traditional banks, hard money lenders, opportunity funds, private equity funds, vulture funds, and other creditors
Banking is a universe of complex regulations, contracts, relationships, and responsibilities—not to mention high financial stakes. We represent banks, commercial financial companies and other secured lenders in a variety of matters, including commercial collections, loan workouts, regulatory matters, general operational issues, and document preparation. We have represented these clients in federal and state courts, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and in receivership, arbitration and mediation proceedings. Many Washington and Oregon financial institutions have been our clients for decades, and we also serve out-of-state and foreign lenders with business needs in the region.
The firm’s engagements for its financial institution clients include cases involving several thousands of dollars up to many millions. Recently, the firm has undertaken representation of lenders with large portfolios of troubled real estate loans.
With the firm’s experience, we are both knowledgeable and efficient in our representation of financial institution clients.
- Bankruptcy trustees
Appointed by a division of the Justice Department named the Office of the United States Trustee, a bankruptcy trustee represents the debtor’s estate in a bankruptcy proceeding and uses the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to make recommendations in response to debtor demands. Our attorneys’ experience in representing trustees in Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy cases may be unsurpassed among mid-sized and large-sized firms in Seattle, Portland, and the Northwest. Over the last few decades, we have helped trustees fulfill their unique duties in many hundreds of asset cases. It is a special area of bankruptcy practice which we know well.
- State court receiverships
Receiverships are an extremely powerful state law alternative to bankruptcy. The duties of a receiver vary depending on the scope of the order appointing the receiver in each case. A receiver’s duties may be as limited as preserving a single asset pending resolution of a lawsuit while a general receiver’s duties may be to operate and/or liquidate all assets of a business.
Ryan Swanson’s Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance attorneys have handled the full spectrum of receiverships up and down the West Coast. We have filed many receivership proceedings for financial institution clients, and members of our group have served as receivers or lawyers for receivers. We have one of the first and one of the leading receivership practices covering both the Washington Receivership Act and the Oregon Receivership Code. We can also assist with California Code of Civil Procedure, including “rents and profits” receiverships.
- Bankruptcy creditors’ committees and ad-hoc committees
In many Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, an unsecured creditors committee is appointed to represent the interests of unsecured creditors as a group. The creditors’ committee has certain prescribed duties and its opinion is often very influential in determining the course of a bankruptcy reorganization. The creditors’ committee is permitted to hire lawyers and other professionals at no cost to the individual members of the committee. We have served as legal counsel for many such committees, helping them carry out their prescribed duties and shape the reorganization process.
- Commercial debtors and borrowers
A business in financial distress needs calm, practical and experienced counsel. Hiring counsel at the first sign of trouble improves the chances of successfully restructuring a business and may avert the need for bankruptcy. We have helped many businesses resolve financial problems and avoid bankruptcy. Our lawyers have also represented businesses from small proprietorships to large publicly-traded companies through the complexities of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Our group is unparalleled in the Pacific Northwest for its enforcement of personal guarantees. We have enforced and collected over a $100,000,000 in personal guaranties in a practice that spans the entire West Coast. We are practical and dogged in pursuit of assets. In certain instances, we will use these skills to defend firm clients in appropriate enforcement actions.
The bankruptcy laws grant debtors certain rights and impose responsibilities with respect to real property leases. Whether a landlord wants its rent paid or desires to remove its tenant from the property, a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer is a useful ally. With the current pandemic, commercial evictions are a complex area of the law. Ryan Swanson’s knowledgeable Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance attorneys are your best resource.
- §363 Sales Free and Clear
Special rules apply to sales of property by bankruptcy debtors and trustees. If you are buying property from bankruptcy debtors or trustees, particularly through an auction and §363 sale, Ryan Swanson’s Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance attorneys can help you navigate the process. Such transactions are often subject to higher and better offers even after a purchase and sale agreement has been executed, and sellers’ warranties are often unavailable or unreliable. Our experience includes successfully representing both the initial “stalking horse” bidder as well as bidders who prevailed at the sale.
- Bitcoin Companies
We’ve seen a lot of Bitcoin bankruptcy work emerging and have assisted Bitcoin companies as well as banks and commercial finance companies.
- Litigation & Appeals
In addition to bankruptcy cases, we represent clients in related lawsuits (adversary proceedings) and appeals from orders of bankruptcy court. We defend creditors from preference and fraudulent transfer claims. Our appellate experience includes cases appealed to the District Court, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our services are wide-ranging and include:
- Finance related litigation
- Lender liability lawsuits
- Enforcement of loan documents
- Validity & priority of liens e.g. security interest over §544 Strong-Arm Powers of trustee
- Litigation appeals
- Distressed mergers
- Real estate workouts
- Contractual notice of default
- Reservation of rights letters
- Forbearance agreements
- Guaranty enforcement
- Prejudgment writs of attachment
- Personal property
- Real property
- Loan documentation, modifications, amendments, and pledges of additional collateral
- Asset protection advice including negotiating preference and fraudulent transfers
- State of the art bankruptcy non-consolidation opinion letters
- Bankruptcy plan confirmation battles
- Valuation hearings
- Non-dischargeability actions
- Finance related litigation
Representative Bankruptcy Cases
Our experience assisting clients with federal and other bankruptcy cases is extensive and includes representation in the following areas:
- First Day Motions and Emergency Relief. Once a bankruptcy is filed, a debtor will file certain work called “first day motions” which range from motions allowing for the employment of the debtor’s counsel, cash collateral, or pay for certain employees on the payroll. Ryan Swanson’s Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance team helps guide clients through this process, which includes litigating these motions. We have also helped with emergency relief in bankruptcy cases.
- Chapter 7: Liquidation (adversary proceedings, non-dischargeability, preference actions, fraudulent transfer actions). A Chapter 7 Liquidation is commonly used when the debtor just wants to shed themselves of certain debts, move on with their life and get a fresh start and a discharge. Our Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance team is fully capable of litigating adversary proceedings and non-dischargeability proceedings. We’ve also litigated preference actions and fraudulent transfer actions. Preference actions are certain payments that debtors may make before they file for bankruptcy, which includes a lookback period where those payments can be retained under certain circumstances.
- Chapter 9: Municipalities. Chapter 9 provides a financially distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. The City of Detroit was the largest city in the United States to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection, which also applies to public hospitals and healthcare districts. We have extensive experience representing creditors in healthcare bankruptcies.
- Chapter 11: Reorganization (for corporations and high net-worth individuals). Chapter 11 generally provides for the development of a plan or reorganization to keep a business alive and pay creditors over time. Also included within Chapter 11:
- 363 Sales: certain assets that are sold through a bankruptcy auction process in a Chapter 11.
- Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (Subchapter V): a special, more efficient bankruptcy filing that helps small businesses get in and out of bankruptcy more quickly, Subchapter V of the Small Business Reorganization Act includes a temporary increase to the debt limit of up to $7.5 million. This change in debt limit with Subchapter V opens the bankruptcy relief process to a whole new business sector with a stripped-down, faster, and less expensive bankruptcy process.
- Single-asset real estate cases: applies when a lender makes a loan to a borrower who only has one piece of property as their sole asset. It is easier to get relief from stay on single asset real estate cases provided certain requirements are met thereby making it easier to collect.
- Chapter 13: Wage earner plans (limited to contested matters and adversary proceedings). Over the last forty years we have represented banks and financial institutions in thousands of Chapter 13 bankruptcies. This work was a key building block for our corporate bankruptcy practice.
- Chapter 15: Cross border (foreign clients). Chapter 15s are used to enforce foreign bankruptcy orders in the United States. By way of example we have been active in various Chapter 15s originating in Canada, Cayman Islands and Russia.
- Appeals. We have experience from adversary proceedings or other contested matters in which we were already involved.
Our Responsive Team Approach
Our Seattle bankruptcy attorneys can quickly respond to your needs, including arguing First Day motions or filing a Chapter 15 on a moment’s notice. Having appeared before all the bankruptcy judges in Washington and Oregon, the broad-based civil practice of our nine Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance lawyers also offer ready resources in almost any legal discipline, including litigation, real estate, tax, employment, corporate law, and securities. Ryan Swanson attorneys are quick to respond and deliver pragmatic solutions to your toughest challenges, helping you achieve the results you need without wasting time or money.
For questions or assistance, please contact Joe Sakay, chair of our Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance team, or submit an inquiry using the contact form on the left of this page.