Joseph M. Esmont

Partner

Cleveland
T +1.216.861.7835
F +1.216.696.0740

Overview

Joe Esmont is a full-service bankruptcy and restructuring attorney, whose practice includes both plaintiff and defense-side litigation, restructuring, and transactional work. Joe is particularly experienced in the energy, utilities, and healthcare industries, in cases of mass torts and recovery of the proceeds of fraud, and in the impact of bankruptcy on environmental obligations.

Select Experience

  • As co-lead counsel, obtained judgment that clients were entitled to proceeds of multiple and significant trust funds in complex, bankruptcy-related inheritance dispute.
  • On the leadership team of BakerHostetler’s representation of the Official Committee of Tort Claimants for Pacific Gas & Electric Company, one of the largest mass tort bankruptcies of all time; has had a lead drafting role in major filings and provided insight on important strategic decisions.
  • Lead investigator for bankruptcy trustee of a $200+ million Ponzi scheme that defrauded over 5,000 individuals. The investigation, spanning dozens of entities and millions of documents, led to hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments, ongoing nine-figure litigation against a Fortune 300 company, and successfully settled litigation against a major financial institution, filmmaker National Lampoon, and other media personalities. Managed liquidation of the convicted fraudster’s significant modern art and classic car portfolios.
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Experience

  • As co-lead counsel, obtained judgment that clients were entitled to proceeds of multiple and significant trust funds in complex, bankruptcy-related inheritance dispute.
  • On the leadership team of BakerHostetler’s representation of the Official Committee of Tort Claimants for Pacific Gas & Electric Company, one of the largest mass tort bankruptcies of all time; has had a lead drafting role in major filings and provided insight on important strategic decisions.
  • Lead investigator for bankruptcy trustee of a $200+ million Ponzi scheme that defrauded over 5,000 individuals. The investigation, spanning dozens of entities and millions of documents, led to hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments, ongoing nine-figure litigation against a Fortune 300 company, and successfully settled litigation against a major financial institution, filmmaker National Lampoon, and other media personalities. Managed liquidation of the convicted fraudster’s significant modern art and classic car portfolios.
  • As co-lead counsel, successfully settled HIPAA class action against a client hospital system related to its procedures for filing bankruptcy proofs of claim in exchange for replacement of purportedly improper claims and modest legal fees.
  • As co-lead counsel, obtained successful dismissal of $50+ million fraudulent transfer suit against client, related to a transfer of privately traded stock.
  • In the leadership team that represented a publicly traded, bankrupt offshore exploration and production company with more than $200 million in assets and $1 billion in purported liabilities in obtaining post-bankruptcy financing, developing a plan to safely decommission its assets and divesting unproductive properties to recover environmental bond collateral.
  • In the leadership team that represented Alliance Health in its bankruptcy and sale, which was recognized as a 2018 M&A Advisor Deal of the Year.
  • Represented Burger King franchisee in a successful “loan to own” transaction for approximately a dozen new locations in bankruptcy court. As trial counsel, obtained approval of debtor-in-possession loan and order authorizing sale of locations free and clear of their prior leases.
  • Represented both buyers and sellers of Gulf oil and gas assets, including both operating and working interests in both offshore and onshore assets in sales under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.
  • Represented a buyer of oil and gas leases in seven-figure litigation relating to pre-closing an oil spill. Successfully negotiated agreements that reduced the client’s exposure by 70 percent.
  • Represented a major coal mining firm in analyzing its remediation obligations under federal environmental laws while in bankruptcy.
  • Represented the bankruptcy trustee of an investment management firm accused of running a cherry-picking scheme in winding down its hedge funds and negotiations with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Represented a private equity fund in investigating a $9 million alleged fraud by the predecessor management.
  • Successfully advised a large institutional charitable investor in resisting a threatened capital call by a failing real estate fund.
  • Represented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in eight and nine figure litigation arising from the failure of two substantial Midwestern bank holding companies and their subsidiary banks.
  • Represented Irving H. Picard, the Securities Investor Protection Act Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, in connection with BakerHostetler’s role as court-appointed counsel to the Trustee.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • The M&A Advisor, Consumer Staples Deal of the Year (2018)
  • National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges: Next Generation (2017)
  • National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges
    • Speaker on Successor Liabilities (2017)
    • Moderator of Supreme Court Panel (2018)
  • Contributor to Collier on Bankruptcy.

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Association for Corporate Growth (Cleveland)
  • Turnaround Management Association
    • TMA Global NextGen Committee: Chairman
    • TMA Ohio Chapter Nextgen Committee: Fmr. Chairman

Community

  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association 3Rs Program
  • Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Financial Literacy Course

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • Ohio

Education

  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2008
  • B.A., Political Science, History, Towson University, 2005, summa cum laude