Justin Mertz Photo

Justin M. Mertz

Partner
Sub-Group Leader, Bankruptcy

Overview

Justin leads the Bankruptcy team at Michael Best and focuses his practice on Chapter 11 cases, with an emphasis on representing debtors, as well as creditors, secured lenders, and committees. Outside of Chapter 11 cases, Justin assists with other insolvency matters (receiverships, assignments, foreclosures, dissolutions), as well as general corporate litigation and real estate transactions.

Justin assists clients with a full range of business transactions. He negotiates complex contracts, performs the financial and cash flow analyses that inform successful business strategies and decisions, and also represents clients in general litigation matters, including real estate and condominium disputes, shareholder disputes, and other business litigation. His extensive courtroom experience comprises cases in both federal (bankruptcy, district, and appellate levels), and state courts.

Justin has bankruptcy court experience in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Wyoming. He has been admitted into federal courts within Wisconsin, Illinois, and Texas.

Experience

Notable matters include:

  • In re Southern Foods Group, LLC (d/b/a Dean Foods) (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2019). Michael Best has represented a number of creditors in the Dean Foods bankruptcy case, including preference defense matters, critical vendor treatment, assertion of administrative claims, and general claims assessment.
  • In re Sivyer Steel Corporation, Case No. 18-00507 (Bankr. S.D. Iowa 2019). Michael Best represented the Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the bankruptcy case of a steel foundry, which included the sale of substantially all of the assets of the debtor. The committee initiated numerous preference actions and an adversary proceeding involving the sale of the debtor’s assets under section 363.
  • In re Cranberry Growers Cooperative, Case No. 17-13318 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 2019). Michael Best represented a Wisconsin cranberry farmers’ co-op through its Chapter 11 case, including multiple appeals to the district court and an appeal and oral argument by Justin in the Seventh Circuit. The result was a confirmed plan of reorganization for the co-op.
  • In re Gialamas, Case No. 18-13341 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 2020). Michael Best represented a Wisconsin closely held company and presented a competing plan of reorganization that was eventually adopted and confirmed by the Court after a contested Chapter 11 confirmation hearing. The case included post-confirmation adversary proceedings involving jurisdictional questions, plan interpretation, third-party releases, and the definition of property of the estate under section 541.
  • In re First Phoenix-Weston, LLC, Case No. 16-12820 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 2018). Justin led the Michael Best team in representing the debtor, a skilled nursing facility and assisted living facility, through a hotly contested bankruptcy case against its primary secured lender, including disputed matters of classification, options to purchase, motions for relief, adequate protection, and competing plans. The representation resulted in a confirmed plan of reorganization in favor of our client.
  • In re the Rehabilitation of the Segregated Account of Ambac Assurance Corp., Case No. 10-cv-1576 (Dane Co. Cir. Ct.) (Jan. 22, 2018). Michael Best’s restructuring team won court approval of a $5 Billion debt exchange transaction to facilitate a successful exit of the Segregated Account of Ambac Assurance Corp. from an insurance rehabilitation, the largest in Wisconsin history. *
  • In re Apex Group (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 2013). Justin represented a group of more than 10 companies that owned and managed over 50 commercial and residential rental locations in Madison, Wisconsin. He successfully litigated and negotiated more than $80 million in total secured debt as part of a confirmed plan of reorganization.
  • In re K&K Holdings, LLC (Bankr. N.D. Ill 2014). Justin represented a commercial real estate management company that owned 20 commercial developments in the Chicago area and Southeastern Wisconsin, with over 100 commercial tenants. He successfully restructured loans on profitable locations and sold/surrendered other locations to lenders while reducing and eliminating debt for his client.

*Disclaimer: OCI retained Michael Best in this case pursuant to its procurement protocols after issuance of a Request for Qualifications; selection of the firm as counsel is not an endorsement by the state of Wisconsin or any state agency.

Honors & Recognitions

  • "Rising Stars," Wisconsin Super Lawyers, 20112021

Education

Bar Admission

Court Admissions

Language

Community Involvement

  • Volunteer Attorney, Legal Action of Wisconsin
  • Volunteer Attorney, Eviction Defense Project

Education

Bar Admission

Court Admissions

Language

Community Involvement

  • Volunteer Attorney, Legal Action of Wisconsin
  • Volunteer Attorney, Eviction Defense Project
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