Michael A. Sabella

He | Him | His

Associate

New York
T +1.212.589.4625
F +1.212.589.4201

Overview

Michael Sabella focuses his practice on the areas of restructuring, bankruptcy, corporate governance litigation and complex commercial litigation.

Drawing upon his federal clerkship, his LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree and prior legal experience, Michael combines his understanding of all aspects of restructuring and bankruptcy for a thorough and proactive approach to all client situations. He assists debtors, committees, secured and unsecured creditors, examiners and trustees in corporate and individual debtor cases ranging across all industries and in all aspects of litigation and transactions. Michael has presented on, and written about, a wide range of bankruptcy issues, including involuntary bankruptcy cases, bankruptcy case updates, fraudulent conveyance and preference litigation and issues, and interpretations of sections of the Bankruptcy Code.

Michael also represents corporate officers and directors in corporate governance litigation, including defense against lawsuits brought by trustees, receivers and other parties. He handles all stages of discovery, motion practice, litigation, mediation and settlement negotiations in these cases.

An advocate for pro bono cases and causes, Michael devotes time to assist pro bono clients with LGBTQ+ impact litigation and representation, asylum applications, post-conviction relief and amicus briefs for different human rights and interest groups.

Select Experience

  • Member of the BakerHostetler team serving as court-appointed counsel to the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), an unprecedented effort involving more than 1,000 lawsuits filed by the SIPA Trustee to recover assets for the benefit of defrauded BLMIS customers.
  • Member of the BakerHostetler team serving as counsel to the Official Committee of Tort Claimants, representing the interests of over 70,000 victims of Northern California wildfires in the chapter 11 reorganization of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and PG&E Corporation. PG&E is the largest bankruptcy case ever filed in California and the sixth largest case ever filed in the United States.
  • Represented multiple former directors and officers in corporate governance litigation commenced against them by the Liquidating Trustee for the chapter 11 bankruptcy estate of the clients’ former company. Successfully settled litigation against clients on terms favorable to them.
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Experience

  • Member of the BakerHostetler team serving as court-appointed counsel to the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), an unprecedented effort involving more than 1,000 lawsuits filed by the SIPA Trustee to recover assets for the benefit of defrauded BLMIS customers.
  • Member of the BakerHostetler team serving as counsel to the Official Committee of Tort Claimants, representing the interests of over 70,000 victims of Northern California wildfires in the chapter 11 reorganization of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and PG&E Corporation. PG&E is the largest bankruptcy case ever filed in California and the sixth largest case ever filed in the United States.
  • Represented multiple former directors and officers in corporate governance litigation commenced against them by the Liquidating Trustee for the chapter 11 bankruptcy estate of the clients’ former company. Successfully settled litigation against clients on terms favorable to them.
  • Represented a former director/officer in multi-jurisdictional, related corporate governance defense actions involving chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding of parent company and receivership proceeding of subsidiary company. Successfully settled litigation against client on terms favorable to client.
  • Represented a chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in the liquidation of a multimillion-dollar real property lease and the administration and operation of a golf course on Long Island. Handled every aspect of the case, including the sale of assets of the estate, extensive claim litigation against unsecured and alleged secured creditors, numerous court appearances before the Bankruptcy Court and appellate litigation before the district court.
  • Represented a chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in the liquidation of corporate debtor’s parcels of real property. Handled every aspect of the case, including the sale of properties, claims litigation against alleged secured and unsecured creditors, and the contested election of the chapter 7 trustee.
  • Represented a chapter 7 trustee in litigation against debtor’s former principal, seeking recovery of fraudulent conveyances and assert claims of breach of principal’s fiduciary duty to debtor, resulting in settlement favorable to the debtor’s estate..
  • Defended a landlord against a wage and hour violation class action litigation commenced by building managers and janitorial staff. Successfully negotiated settlement of the class action.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI): “40 Under Forty” (2021)
  • Chambers USA Diversity and Inclusion Awards: Future Leader - LGBT+ Equality (2019) 
  • The National LGBT Bar Association: "Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40" (2019)
  • New York Super Lawyers "Rising Star" (2015 to 2021)

Memberships

  •  American Bar Association
    • Commission on Disability Rights: Commissioner
    • Business Law Section
      • Lawyers with Disabilities Involvement Subcommittee: Chair
    • Business Bankruptcy Committee
      • Business Bankruptcy Committee eNewsletter: Editor-in-Chief
    • Business Law Fellows Program (2017 to 2019)
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
    • St. John’s University School of Law’s American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review Alumni Association
  • Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE)
    • Board of Directors
    • Development Committee
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association
  • LAMBDA Legal
    • Young Leadership Council: Member
  • New York City Bar Association
    • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Committee: Member
    • Associate Leadership Institute: Alumnus
  • The National LGBT Bar Association
  • OutNEXT
    • OutNEXT Leadership Committee
  • Turnaround Management Association
  • workOUT – LGBTQ+ Restructuring Professionals

Pro Bono

  • Co-counsel with the Human Rights Campaign on behalf of two transgender women in litigation against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under former President Trump. The litigation seeks to enjoin HHS’ efforts to rollback anti-discrimination regulations protecting LGBTQ+ patients seeking and receiving health care. Successfully orally argued clients’ preliminary injunction motion against HHS before the District Court, resulting in the District Court enjoining HHS’ rollbacks of the anti-discrimination protections pending final determination of the litigation.
  • Represented transgender woman in litigation against jail due to her being housed in the men’s facility of the jail because she is transgender. Successfully settled the action, resulting in financial compensation for client and a landmark robust jail or prison placement policy that will protect the rights of transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and intersex people in custody, which will be a model for other prisons/jails.
  • Works with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) on the Name Change Project to assist transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary individuals in changing their names to reflect their gender identities.
  • Assisted in drafting an amicus brief on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign and leading child welfare associations in favor of the rights of transgender students for the U.S. Supreme Court case of Gloucester County School Board. v. G.G. and its remanded proceedings.
  • Works with Safe Passage representing immigrant children in New York seeking asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
  • Works with Immigration Equality, helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive individuals gain asylum in the United States.
  • Represents an Alabama death row inmate referred through the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.
  • Served as special assistant corporation counsel for the Law Department of the City of New York in 2017. Conducted and defended depositions on behalf of the City of New York in various tort claim lawsuits.
  • Assisted the American Constitution Society in various research and policy-related matters.
  • Aided low-income individuals through New Orleans Legal Assistance with the preparation of their bankruptcy petitions.
  • Represented small investors through St. John’s University School of Law Securities Arbitration Clinic in disputes against their broker-dealers. Filed claims with the National Association of Securities Dealers, analyzed account statements to determine the validity of causes and actions, selected arbitrators, and participated in arbitrations.
  • Represented elderly individuals through the St. John’s University School of Law Elder Law Clinic. Interviewed clients and witnesses, negotiated with attorneys and debt collectors, and prepared court documents and correspondence to opposing counsel and organizations.

Prior Positions

  • Law Clerk for the Honorable Dorothy T. Eisenberg, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of New York (2008 to 2012)

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Jersey

Education

  • LL.M., Bankruptcy, St. John’s University School of Law, 2009
  • J.D., St. John’s University School of Law, 2007; Associate Managing Editor, American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review
  • B.A., Muhlenberg College, 2004, magna cum laude