The Wagner Law Group | Est. 1996

Nationally-Recognized ERISA Services

Bankruptcy And Restructuring

Our bankruptcy and restructuring group practices at the intersection of bankruptcy law and employee benefits law. The firm’s attorneys provide special counsel support on employee benefits matters to debtors, creditors, ad hoc or official creditor or equity committees, trustees, Taft-Hartley plans, employee groups or retiree associations, and other stakeholders. Where necessary, they will zealously litigate on their behalf. Our team draws on the support of our ERISA, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Labor, Employment & HR, Investment Management, Mergers & Acquisitions, Litigation, Fiduciary Compliance, and Independent Fiduciary Services practices.

Our bankruptcy and restructuring group also utilizes the firm’s unique and in-depth experience in PBGC counseling, disputes, and litigation. Led by Israel (Izzy) Goldowitz, former chief counsel to the PBGC, the firm regularly represents clients in PBGC investigations, terminations, and claims disputes, which commonly arise in restructuring or bankruptcy settings. The firm also counsels clients on plan fiduciary and administration matters, mergers and acquisitions, and executive compensation, which pose unique challenges in restructuring, bankruptcy planning, or bankruptcy. Our firm is deeply experienced with the following issues that often arise in the context of a bankruptcy or restructuring:

  • Pension funding issues, including funding waivers
  • Termination of single-employer plans
  • Plan mergers, spinoffs, assumptions, or replacements
  • Plan freezes, annuitization, and other forms of de-risking
  • Funding improvement or rehabilitation plans for multiemployer plans
  • Employer securities issues
  • Withdrawal from multiemployer pension plans
  • Claims resulting from plan termination or withdrawal
  • Settlor versus fiduciary functions and conflicts of interest
  • Executive compensation and nonqualified retirement plans
  • Modification or termination of defined contribution plans
  • Modification or termination of health and other welfare plans
  • Negotiation of labor agreements or managing employee relations
  • Retirement benefits in personal bankruptcies
  • Investigations or claims by the department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Highlights of our attorneys’ experience (including experience before joining our firm):

  • Representing a Chapter 7 trustee as special employee benefits counsel in In re David Pulver Pray (Bankr. N.D W.Va.) involving unique issues around the exclusion and exemption of single participant retirement plan assets from the bankruptcy estate
  • Representing a retirees association in In re The McClatchy Company (Bankr. S.D.N.Y) in connection with benefits under non-qualified plans
  • Leading PBGC’s investigations, negotiation, and litigation in widely reported Chapter 11 cases including:
    • AMR/American Airlines (Bankr. S. D.N.Y.)
    • CF&I Steel (Bankr. D. Utah) and CSC/Copperweld  (Bankr. N.D. Ohio)
    • Philip Services (Bankr. S.D. Tex.)
    • WCI Steel (Bankr. N.D. Ohio)
  • Negotiating PBGC’s pre-Chapter 11 bankruptcy settlements with, among others:
    • Sears over monetization of its Craftsman brand and real estate
    • Chrysler, over departure of a controlled group member
  • Consulting with debtors on bankruptcy planning:
    • West Texas Oil Reserves LLP
    • LTV Steel Corporation
    • Southwest Merchant Guarantor Corporation
  • Writing appellate briefs on novel bankruptcy issues, including amicus briefs before the Supreme Court
  • Representing Chapter 11 debtors (g. LTV Steel Corporation, Republic Steel) on treatment of their employee benefits, including executive compensation programs, defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, and welfare plan
  • Representing creditors and creditor committees including Chemical Bank, TCB Chase, M Bank, Bank One, in Chapter 11 proceedings
  • Representing debtors or Chapter 7 trustees in terminating underfunded defined benefit plans and resolving liability to the PBGC
  • Supporting Chapter 7 trustees in their mandated role as the plan administrator under the Bankruptcy Code to abandoned retirement and benefit plans
  • Representing lenders, including Chemical Bank, Mercantile Bank, TCB Chase Manhattan, on Chapter 11 extensions of credit including DIP financings
  • Representing debtors on administrative issues such as final plan audits, participant distributions, and blackout periods
  • Representing debtor, LTV Steel Corporation, on restructuring of debt in connection with PBGC settlements


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