Michael A. VanNiel

Partner

Cleveland
T +1.216.861.7698
F +1.216.696.0740

Overview

Mike VanNiel is the firm’s Ohio Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice Team Leader. He maintains a bankruptcy and commercial law practice focused on complex insolvency and related commercial and appellate litigation, corporate debtor restructuring, creditors’ committee representations, representation of financial institutions in specialized finance matters, secured lenders, acquirers of distressed businesses and business owners and creditors in workouts and insolvency proceedings.

Throughout his career, Mike has represented every constituency involved in reorganizations, liquidations, workouts and insolvency-related commercial and appellate litigation. He also acts as a long-time trusted business advisor and outside general counsel for numerous manufacturing, retail and private equity clients with respect to their day-to-day businesses.

With a creative approach to the difficult issues facing clients, Mike provides hands-on representation and is relentless in advancing clients’ interests during high-stakes restructuring and commercial litigation and bet-the-company business matters.

Mike is recognized by Chambers USA® as a leading Bankruptcy and Restructuring lawyer, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law. He was also a recipient of the 2002 American Bankruptcy Institute Gold Medal of Excellence Award.

Select Experience

  • Lead counsel to owner/operator of hotels throughout the U.S. in workout, business and lending matters involving traditional, construction and CMBS lenders.
  • Lead counsel to billion-dollar private equity fund and related alternative energy portfolio company in workout, litigation and business matters.
  • Lead counsel to large food manufacturer in workout and business matters.
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Experience

  • Lead counsel to owner/operator of hotels throughout the U.S. in workout, business and lending matters involving traditional, construction and CMBS lenders.
  • Lead counsel to billion-dollar private equity fund and related alternative energy portfolio company in workout, litigation and business matters.
  • Lead counsel to large food manufacturer in workout and business matters.
  • Lead counsel to private equity fund manager in Delaware Chapter 11 proceeding.
  • Lead counsel to American Greetings Corporation in connection with litigation and resolution of matters relating to third-party operator’s closure of retail store operations throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
  • Lead nationwide outside general counsel to replacement window and door manufacturer in all litigation and business matters.
  • Lead outside general counsel and transactions counsel to Midwest-based company engaged in business of environmental clean-up of hazardous and non-hazardous materials at large industrial facilities.
  • Lead nationwide outside counsel to consulting firm in regulatory and insolvency matters.
  • Lead nationwide outside counsel to Seoul, South Korea-based manufacturer of children’s and women’s apparel in retail insolvency cases around the U.S. 
  • Lead counsel to creditors’ committee in In re Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas in insolvency proceedings in Kansas. When engagement commenced, the committee’s constituents were expected to receive an approximately 1% distribution on account of nearly $100 million of claims. When matter concluded, constituents received almost 70% distribution on their claims.
  • Lead counsel representing Chapter 7 Trustee of Fair Finance Co. in significant litigation against Fair Finance’s former lenders and owners. The matter involved all issues relating to Ponzi scheme litigation, including state and federal fraudulent transfer and related avoidance laws, as well as state law tort claims, and included acting as co-lead trial counsel in connection with $300 million civil jury trial in federal district court.
  • Lead counsel on a team that represented creditors’ committee in large Chapter 11 bankruptcy case of an integrated steel manufacturer. This engagement involved virtually all significant issues that could arise in the context of a creditors’ committee representation under the federal bankruptcy laws, including the successful prosecution and settlement of more than $100 million in breach of fiduciary duty and related state law claims. When the team was retained, the committee’s constituents expected to receive payment of a small fraction of their claims. When the engagement concluded, those constituents collectively received full payment of approximately $165 million.
  • Lead counsel representing national bank in multimillion-dollar commercial workout matters, including specialized finance matters relating to companies that provide processing services for prepaid bank card products issued by client. Led client through successful negotiations and consensual resolutions of complex workout agreements and related settlements in those matters, which involved difficult overlay of federal statutes and regulations and interchange network rules. Also resolved matters relating to $100 million money services business primarily engaged in transactions in Latin America and South America.
  • Lead counsel for an architectural design and technology client defending a significant commercial lawsuit arising from the bankruptcy of the client’s contractor. This complex litigation involved the ownership of proceeds flowing from a large government construction contract and was successfully resolved.
  • Represented a manufacturing client in the appeal of a large adverse jury verdict in a lawsuit relating to the client’s prior divestiture of certain business divisions. Successfully obtained a reversal on appeal and entry by the appellate court of judgment in the client’s favor without remand to the trial court.
  • Counsel to multiple mezzanine lenders in connection with successful placement of mezzanine credit facilities in matters throughout the U.S.
  • Represented Internet advertising company in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization proceeding.
  • Represented magnetic resonance imaging company with facilities in multiple states in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization proceeding.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • The Legal 500 United States
    • Recommended in Finance - Restructuring (Including Bankruptcy): Corporate (2022)
  • Chambers USA: Bankruptcy/Restructuring in Ohio (2016 to 2022)
    • Band 2 (2020 to 2022), Band 3 (2017 to 2019), Band 4 (2016)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Ohio: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law (2014 to Present)
    • Ohio: Litigation - Bankruptcy (2016 to Present)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Ohio Super Lawyers "Rising Star" (2007, 2009 to 2013)
  • American Bankruptcy Institute: Gold Medal of Excellence (2002)

Memberships

  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • American Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
    • Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Section (2010-2014)
      • Executive Committee: Past Member
      • Past President

Community

  • Community Assessment Treatment Services, Inc.: President of the Board of Directors
  • Ohio Turnaround Management Association, Cleveland Chapter: Board of Directors
  • St. Edward High School Legal Alumni Association: President

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Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 2002
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2019
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2019
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 2006
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • Ohio, 2001

Education

  • J.D., University of Toledo College of Law, 2001, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif
  • B.A., The Ohio State University, 1995