Richard S. Lauter

Partner

  • location icon Chicago, IL
    550 West Adams Street
    Suite 300
    Chicago, IL 60661

Rich Lauter is a partner in the Chicago office of Lewis Brisbois and co-chair of the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Practice. Mr. Lauter has over 30 years of experience in corporate restructuring and insolvency. Mr. Lauter's wide range of legal experience includes reorganizing financially distressed companies in and outside of chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, representing and advising creditors' committees, financial institutions, real estate development firms, bankruptcy trustees, assignees, receivers and liquidating trustees in all aspects of creditors' rights and insolvency matters. He has also served as special counsel to the City of Chicago in multiple airline and airport related chapter 11 cases, counseled chapter 7, chapter 11, and liquidating trustees in large cases, and acted as chairperson for and represented numerous chapter 11 creditors' committees. Mr. Lauter is considered to be one of the leading lawyers for chapter 11 creditors' committees in the United States.

Offices Held

  • Member, Board of Directors, American Bankruptcy Institute, 2015-Present
  • Advisory Board, Sponsorship Chair, Transition Chair, American Bankruptcy Institute, Central States Regional Conference, 2006-Present: Co-Chair, American Bankruptcy Institute Commercial Fraud Committee, 2012-2015

Publications

  • Author, “U.S. Trustee Program: Is Reduced Discretion the Better Part of Valor?” ABI Journal, May 2013
  • Co-Author, “Universal Building Products: Has the Pendulum Swung Too Far,” ABI Journal, October 2011
  • Co-Author, Commercial Fraud Manual, a publication by the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Commercial Fraud Task Force, 2010
  • Author, “Privacy Concerns and Safeguards in the Governmental Dissemination of Bankruptcy Data on the Internet,” ABI Journal

Appointments

Mr. Lauter was appointed as a Visiting Professor at Tsukuba University in Tokyo, Japan teaching a course on comparative restructuring in Tsukuba's MBA Program for International Business.

Legal Experience

SECURED CREDITOR/LENDERS:

  • Represented Chicago based multi billion dollar national bank and trust company in restructuring of secured loans to privately held chemical company.
  • Represented Chicago area community bank on workout of largest secured loan to failed pharmaceutical company.
  • Represented Downstate Illinois bank on foreclosure of resort property.
  • Represented Chicago based regional bank in workout of secured loan to metal plating company.
  • Represented California secured lender in the Neumann Homes, Inc., chapter 11 case. Neumann was one of the largest homebuilders in the Chicago area prior to its bankruptcy filing with development projects in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado.

CREDITORS' COMMITTEES:

  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Midwest Banc Holdings, Inc., and currently representing the Liquidating Trustee in the liquidation of a bank holding company that previously owned and operated 26 full service community banks in the Chicago area and had $3.6 billion in assets.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Foods, Inc. a/k/a Dahl's Foods chapter 11 case in Des Moines, Iowa, and currently representing the Liquidating Trustee in the sale and liquidation of a 13 store grocery chain based in Des Moines which resulted in a successful sale of the stores and could result in a 100% distribution to unsecured creditors.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Gas-Mart USA, Inc. chapter 11 cases in Kansas City, Missouri. Gas-Mart owned and leased 34 gas station/convenience stores in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin which were sold in a Section 363 auction sale.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Gulf Packaging, Inc. chapter 11 case. Gulf was a national distributor of packaging equipment and supplies with annual revenue of approximately $120 million. The assets of the debtor were liquidated during the pendency of the case and a Liquidating Trustee was appointed to prosecute avoidance actions.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the RWJ Management Co., Inc. chapter 11 case. RWJ owned and operated 13 BP-branded gas stations and convenience stores in the Chicago area with annual revenue of $125 million. The stores were sold in a lengthy Section 363 auction process that resulted in a carve-out of proceeds from the lender for the benefit of unsecured creditors.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the PRM Family Holding Company, LLC a/k/a Pro's Ranch Markets chapter 11 case in Phoenix, Arizona. Pro's Ranch was a regional grocer based in Arizona which owned and operated 11 supermarkets located in Arizona, New Mexico and California. The stores were sold in a Section 363 auction sale, all allowed PACA claims were paid in full, and a Liquidating Trustee was appointed to prosecute avoidance actions and liquidate the remaining assets.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Wagstaff Minnesota, Inc. chapter 11 cases in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wagstaff owned a chain of 80 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises across 5 states. The stores were sold in a Section 363 auction sale and a Liquidating Trustee was appointed to prosecute avoidance actions and liquidate the remaining assets.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Triad Group, Inc. chapter 11 case in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Triad was a manufacturer of alcohol prep pads and generic drugs. The plant and equipment was sold in a Section 363 auction sale to Medline Industries, Inc., and a Liquidating Trustee appointed to litigate claims and liquidate the remaining assets of the estate.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Giordano's Enterprises, Inc. chapter 11 case. Giordano's owned and franchised 40 casual dining Italian restaurants in Illinois and Florida and is known for its world famous Chicago stuffed pizza. The stores were sold in a highly competitive Section 363 auction sale that doubled the amount of the original purchase offers and resulted in full payment with interest to the secured lender and generated a significant dividend to unsecured creditors.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Duke & King Acquisition, Inc. chapter 11 case in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Duke & King was one of the largest operators of Burger King franchises in the Midwest, with restaurants located in 6 states. The stores were sold in a Section 363 auction sale and a substantial care-out was obtained from the secured lender for the benefit of unsecured creditors.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and the Liquidating Trustee in the Schwab Industries, Inc., chapter 11 cases in Canton, Ohio. Schwab was a ready mix company with $350 million in revenue and operations in Ohio and Florida. The ready mix operations were sold in a Section 363 auction sale to one of the largest cement companies in the world and a Liquidating Trustee appointed to prosecute avoidance actions, litigate a D&O claim, and liquidate the remaining assets of the estate.

TRUSTEE/ASSIGNEE:

  • Represented chapter 7 Trustee in the liquidation of Knight-Celotex, LLC, Knight Quartz Flooring, LLC and the assets of James Knight. Knight-Celotex was a $100 million building products company with manufacturing plants in New Hampshire, Virgina and Pennsylvania. The chapter 7 Trustee sold the plants and equipment in Section 363 sales and liquidated the remaining assets of the estate.
  • Represented the chapter 7 Trustee in an unusual operating chapter 7 case in the liquidation of Login Bros. Book Company, a $150 million medical text book distribution company with facilities across the United States.
  • Represented the chapter 7 Trustee in the liquidation of Sage Enterprises, Inc., a $500 million airline food distribution business. The assets of the estate were sold in Section 363 sales, PACA claims and avoidance actions were litigated and allowed PACA claims were paid in full. Represented chapter 7 Trustee in the liquidation of Multiut Corp. Multiut was a natural gas distributor with large litigation claims in the Dynegy Inc. chapter 11 case.
  • Represented the Assignee in the Burch Yellow Pages assignment for the benefit of creditors.
  • Represented the Assignee in the Smedberg Machine Corp. assignment for the benefit of creditors. Smedberg was a specialized manufacturer and repair service of tooling for the automotive and construction industry.
  • Represented the Assignee in assignment for the benefit of creditors of Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, one of the leading homebuilders in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The assets of Pickell were sold to an investment group and the company remained in operation.
  • Represented the Assignee in the assignment for the benefit of creditors of National Liquid Packaging, a large Chicago area private label packaging company.
  • Represented the Assignee in the assignment for the benefit of creditors of Guardian Metals, a industrial distributor of precious metals.
  • Represented the Assignee in the assignment for the benefit of creditor of Burch Yellow Pages, a Yellow Pages advertising company.
  • Represented Assignee in the assignment for the benefit of creditors of Stepco Plastics which resulted in full payment of the lender's secured claim.

DEBTOR/BORROWERS:

  • Represented 3 debtors in chapter 7 cases filed by United Homes, an Illinois based homebuilder with projects in Illinois, Michigan and Arizona. With the agreement of the lender, 500 properties in 3 states were sold in Section 363 sales and closed in 8 weeks.
  • Represented Zelenka Nursery in a chapter 11 case. Zelenka was a Michigan based plant nursery business with $80 million in revenue that was sold in Section 363 sale conducted in 45 days which resulted in a full recovery for secured creditors and a dividend for unsecured creditors.
  • Represented a large Illinois based real estate development company in a chapter 11 case which resulted in a Section 363 auction sale of approximately 1,000 acres of undeveloped land.
  • Represented a $250 million Illinois based company that specialized in the design, manufacture and installation of custom retail store fixtures in the restructuring of its operations, vendor relationships, and secured debt with a large regional bank which helped the company to avoid a chapter 11 filing.
  • Represented Admiral Tool & Manufacturing, a Tier 2 auto parts manufacturer in the Chrysler Corporation chapter 11 case.

REAL ESTATE/LANDLORDS:

  • Represented 7th largest homebuilder in Illinois in the workout and restructuring of 13 secured loans with its lenders and helped the company to avoid a chapter 11 filing.
  • Represented the largest homebuilder and develop in Central Wisconsin in a complex workout and restructuring of 10 secured loans with 8 different banks which helped the company to avoid a chapter 11 filing.
  • Represented a large Chicago based shopping center developer in the workout and restructuring of a secured loan on one of its properties that prevented the company from being forced to put the entity into bankruptcy.
  • Represented a landlord and secured creditor in the chapter 11 of a chain of Hooter's restaurants. The landlord was successful in repossessing all of its properties and equipment despite the chapter 11 filing.
  • Represented multiple landlords in the Kmart Corporation chapter 11 case which resulted in all landlords receiving full payment of their rejection damages claims.
  • Represented Alter Group, a Chicago area commercial real estate developer in the Mortgage Lender's Network chapter 11 case.
  • Represented Avgeris and Associates, a Chicago area owner of commercial and industrial properties in the Quebecor Printing chapter 11 case.
  • Represented Klaff Realty LP in the Dana Corporation chapter 11 case.
  • Represented Welton Enterprises, one of the largest real estate developers in the Madison, Wisconsin area in the Northwestern Stone chapter 11 case.

COMMERCIAL LITIGATION:

  • Represented the City of Chicago in the ATA Airlines, Inc., Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Northwest Airlines Corp., Brookstone Holdings Corp., and Archibald Candy Corp. chapter 11 cases.
  • Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Quantum Foods, a Chicago based processor and distributor of meat products, as special litigation counsel in the prosecution of $85 million in commercial tort claims and avoidance actions.
  • Represented 200 former officers and directors of Arthur Andersen LLP in the formulation of a litigation strategy to pursue the recovery of their benefit claims.
  • Represented large family trust in the fraud litigation and recovery efforts against their former accounting firm.
  • Represented Republic Bank in an involuntary bankruptcy filing against FBOP, the holding company of Park National Bank.
  • Represented the petitioning creditors in an involuntary filing against the Arena Football League and then represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors after an order for relief was entered. The involuntary petition was filed in order to force the AFL owners to address its operational and financial issues. The assets of the AFL were sold in a Section 363 sale which has allowed the AFL to reconstitute its ownership and remain in operation.
  • Represented Matrix IV Inc., an Illinois based plastics injection molding company in the enforcement of its secured claim in the StyleMaster chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Professional Presentations

  • “Everything You Need to Know About Chapter 11 Liquidating Plans,” American Bankruptcy Institute Annual Spring Meeting, 2016
  • “Ethics: Bankruptcy Realities and Professional Conduct Rules Governing Communications in Pursuit of Client Representations,” William J. O’Neill Regional Bankruptcy Institute, 2011
  • “Bankruptcy Litigation/Commercial Fraud: Good/Bad Faith Issues Relating to Involuntary Bankruptcy Filings, Plans of Reorganization, Ponzi Schemes (Clawback Issues), Responding to Discovery, Stay Relief Violations,” American Bankruptcy Institute’s Annual Spring Meeting, 2011
  • “Commercial Fraud: An Introduction to the New ABI Commercial Fraud Manual and Application to a Recent Case Study,” American Bankruptcy Institute’s Annual Spring Meeting, 2010
  • "Gunslinger, Diplomat, Savior or Something Else? The Committee's Role in Today's Chapter 11,” American Bankruptcy Institute’s Central States Bankruptcy Workshop, 2010
  • Lecturer, John Marshall Law School, Center for Real Estate Law, has presented bankruptcy section of Real Estate Finance course as part of LLM program
  • "Ouch! Administrative Insolvency and Disgorgement of Fees-Case Strategies,” American Bankruptcy Institute’s Central States Bankruptcy Workshop, 2007

Admissions

Illinois

Missouri

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

United States District Court, Western District of Missouri

United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois

United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Missouri

United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin

United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan

United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Colorado

Associations

  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Illinois Bar Association
  • Missouri Bar Association
  • Turnaround Management Association

Awards & Honors

  • Chambers USA, Band 4, 2016 
  • Chambers USA, Illinois Leading Lawyers for Bankruptcy, 2015
  • Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business-Bankruptcy/Restructuring practices, 2010 and 2011
  • Turnaround Atlas Chapter 11 Reorganization Deal of the Year, Small Mid Markets,2014. Law Clerk, Hon. Richard L. Merrick of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1981-1982

Education

Northern Illinois University College of Law

Juris Doctor, 1981

University of Kansas

Bachelor of Arts, 1975

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