Leaking MCHN tanks at Freedom Industries are being off loaded into tanker trucks on January 10, 2014 in Charleston, West Virginia.
Leaking MCHN tanks at Freedom Industries are being off loaded into tanker trucks on January 10, 2014 in Charleston, West Virginia. (Photo by Tom Hindman/Getty)

More than five months after a Maine-based railroad company filed for bankruptcy as a result of its role in the derailment and subsequent explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec, the company responsible for another environmental disaster has began Chapter 11 proceedings in West Virginia.

Freedom Industries, a Charleston, W. Va.–based company responsible for a recent chemical spill in West Virginia that prompted state officials to impose drinking water bans that affected roughly 300,000 local residents, filed for bankruptcy in its home city late Friday. The move by Freedom, which is owned by Kittanning, Pa.–based Chemstream Holdings, allows it to put on hold dozens of suits filed against the company since the spill shut down much of Charleston earlier this month.

Pittsburgh-based McGuireWoods bankruptcy partner Mark Freedlander said in a statement announcing that Freedom had retained his firm that the company’s Chapter 11 “petition and related pleadings speak for themselves.”

Other McGuireWoods lawyers advising Freedom include hospitality industry head Michael Roeschenthaler, litigation partner Ronald Crouch, bankruptcy counsel Scott Schuster and associate Jason Alter. A declaration by Freedlander states that McGuireWoods has been paid a $75,000 retainer by Freedom and that attorneys from the firm are billing the debtor between $245 and $800 per hour for their services.

J. Nicholas Barth and Stephen Thompson from Charleston’s Barth & Thompson are serving as local and special conflicts counsel to the debtor. Court filings show that Freedom has paid the firm a $25,000 retainer and that its attorneys are billing $350 per hour.

Freedom has also sought to retain Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti as special litigation counsel. A declaration by Paul Vey, a litigation partner in the firm’s Pittsburgh office, says that the hourly rates for attorneys handling some of the 20 suits filed against Freedom range from $95 to $375 per hour.

On Tuesday, some U.S. senators sought to close a loophole in a federal law that allows companies to avoid paying environmental cleanup costs, according to sibling publication The National Law Journal.

Meanwhile, as The American Lawyer reported last month, Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have dominated the market lately for debtors’ side bankruptcy work amid a dearth of large filings. Now Kirkland is among several Am Law 100 firms picking up recent work on behalf of key clients pursuing out-of-court restructurings.

GSE Holdings, a Houston-based engineering firm controlled by private equity firm Code Hennessy & Simmons, has hired Kirkland to explore the potential sale of assets to repay its debt after failing to securing a refinancing package, according to a recent report by The Deal.

Separately, Bloomberg reported last week that K&L Gates has been retained by Brookstone Co., the privately owned retail chain known for its high-tech gadgets and other devices, as it seeks to restructure debt with bondholders represented by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

Medical services company M*Modal, which was taken private in 2012 in a $1.1 billion deal that yielded roles for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Dechert, has turned to the latter for restructuring counsel as it seeks to cope with declining sales and the debt accrued from that deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also recently reported that Altegrity, the federal government defense contractor that vetted former NSA employee Edward Snowden and spent $1.13 billion to buy risk consulting firm Kroll in 2010, has hired Debevoise as it confronts a $1.8 debt load stemming from that acquisition. (Debevoise advised Altegrity on its Kroll purchase.)

Debevoise is also currently advising Alpha Petroleum—an investment vehicle owned by newly formed private equity firm Petroleum Equity—on its $133 million purchase earlier this month of ATP Oil & Gas out of bankruptcy. Mayer Brown took the lead on the $1.2 billion restructuring deal for Houston-based ATP, which turned to the firm for counsel on its Chapter 11 filing in 2012.

Mayer Brown also served as special transactions counsel to solid-state drive maker OCZ, which completed its $35 million sale this week to Japanese engineering and electronics conglomerate Toshiba. Latham & Watkins advised Toshiba on the deal, one that was announced in early December around the time San Jose–based OCZ filed for Chapter 11 protection.

A list of the company’s 30 largest unsecured creditors shows that it owed $656,855 to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; $326,127 to Mayer Brown; and $164,228 to Irell & Manella. Adam Epstein, a former attorney at now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, was an independent member of the board of directors at OCZ.

Other recent bankruptcies and their lawyers of note include:


Pittsburgh-based printed electronics developer Plextronics filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 16 as part of a plan to sell itself to stalking horse bidder Solvay America.

Paul Cordaro, Mark Hurford and Stanley Levine from Campbell & Levine are advising Plextronics in its Chapter 11 case. The firm has not yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court in Delaware.

According to a list of the debtors’ 20 largest unsecured creditors, Plextronics owes $576,501 to Foley & Lardner; $347,529 to Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney; and $149,127 to The Marbury Law Group of Reston, Va.


Women’s clothing chain Dots is the latest retailer to head for the bankruptcy rack, with the suburban Cleveland-based company beginning Chapter 11 proceedings in Newark on Monday. Founded in 1987 by Robert Glick, Dots was sold three years ago to private equity firm Irving Place Capital Management, which has invested in such other retailers as Aeropostale.

Kenneth Rosen, the head of the financial reorganization practice at Lowenstein Sandler, is representing Dots in its effort to restructure its operations, along with partner Wojciech Jung. The firm, which has not yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court, is a veteran of several notable retail bankruptcy cases, according to our previous reports.

Former Kirkland senior partner Richard “Rick” Perkal serves as a senior managing director of New York–based Irving Place, where senior adviser Steve Siegel once served as general counsel of now-defunct retailer Filene’s Basement. Salus Capital Partners, a suburban Boston-based asset manager who is the largest unsecured creditor of Dots, is being advised by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius at it arranges debtor-in-possession financing for the retailer.