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Louis J. Cisz, III



Lou Cisz concentrates his practice on insolvency, restructuring debts, creditors’ remedies and related litigation. His clients include lenders, special servicers, manufacturers, vendors, contractors, health care companies, insurers, indenture trustees, buyers and sellers of assets and business ventures in a large cross-section of industries.

Mr. Cisz has also worked in the food and beverage industry and has represented clients in that industry throughout his career. He has represented parties in cases involving growers, producers, manufacturers, brokers, traders, restaurants, wineries, bakeries, vineyards, grocery chains, and a food and wine museum. Some of the products at issue in these matters include wine and craft beer, caviar, artisanal cheeses, ice cream and frozen yogurt, hamburger buns, grapes, walnuts, raisins, and tomatoes, among other products.

What do you focus on?

I provide a full range of services to clients encountering insolvency issues, whether the issues arise in a bankruptcy case, a non-bankruptcy court forum or in an out-of-court commercial dispute or transaction.

Bankruptcy Cases

My team recently confirmed a creditors’ plan that created a trust through which our client could maximize value and develop collateral for the benefit of insured bondholders. We have been engaged by secured lenders in numerous matters, including complex single asset real estate cases. Recently we obtained full payment of principal, interest, costs and attorneys’ fees in several contentious Chapter 11 cases. We also extracted a construction owner client from an improperly filed involuntary bankruptcy case commenced by a disgruntled contractor and two suppliers. Following entry of judgment in our client’s favor, we obtained a court order awarding all costs and attorneys’ fees incurred. Both the judgment and order were upheld on appeal.

Creditors’ Rights and Remedies

We are often retained to obtain possession of collateral, protect property rights and interests and secure other monetary and nonmonetary relief in bankruptcy courts, non-bankruptcy courts or via negotiated agreements throughout the country. In one case, we obtained possession of critical work-in-process, tools and permits without court intervention. In another case, we obtained rights in significant accounts receivable through a writ of attachment that quickly resolved the dispute.

Commercial Litigation Focused On The Debtor-Creditor Relationship

When necessary, we are ready, willing and able to successfully try commercial disputes before judges and juries. We recently obtained a directed verdict for over $47,000,000 in a state court action to enforce a commercial guaranty. In another matter, we obtained a verdict awarding our client the accrued default interest that was not paid through a Chapter 11 plan, but remained due and owing by the non-debtor guarantor.

What do you see on the horizon?

Current economic conditions, coupled with rising interest rates, will create opportunities in some business sectors and challenges in others. My team can add value to those embracing the opportunities as well those facing the challenges.

Representative cases

  • Secured and unsecured creditors in the following recent and significant Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases: Circuit City; Mervyn’s; Copia; Equa-Chlor; Lorber Industries;  Enron Corp.; Pacific Gas & Electric Company; House2Home; Tri Valley Growers; Dillingham Construction Company; Applied Magnetics; Philippine Airlines; Guy F. Atkinson Construction Co.; P.I.E.; Montgomery Ward; Standard Brands Paint Co.; and Bruno's
  • Parties seeking to acquire assets under Bankruptcy Code section 363 sales
  • A tomato producer seeking to recover two million dollar deposit on sale that never closed
  • A contractor that stepped into the shoes of the Chapter 7 Trustee in order to prosecute claims against debtor and third parties on behalf of the estate
  • Special counsel to Chapter 7 trustee in successful prosecution of insider preference action
  • A life insurance company, lenders, engineering firm, and consulting firm, among others, in prosecuting nondischargeability actions
  • Real and personal property lessors, equipment lessors, and counter-parties to executory contracts seeking orders compelling the debtor to assume, reject, or assign such executory contracts and unexpired leases
  • Creditors, such as Del Monte and Weyerhaeuser, seeking to enforce their reclamation rights and, in some cases, obtaining critical vendor orders allowing full payment of their pre-petition claims
  • The former owner of a cheese company in bankruptcy and state court litigation including two-day confirmation trial
  • An automobile insurance company in obtaining money judgment of over $1 million (including punitive damages) and permanent injunctive relief in a trade libel matter, following a six-month jury trial (case was pending at Sacramento County Superior Court)
  • An airline company in repossession of two commercial aircraft (successfully obtained writ of possession to recover two 727 jets)
  • An automobile paint manufacturer in the successful defense of multi-million dollar fraudulent transfer action concerning purchase and sale of an affiliated company (case was pending in Federal Court in Central District of California)
  • A health care provider in obtaining writ of possession to recover critical health care publications (case was pending in Los Angeles Superior Court and subsequently removed to Maryland Bankruptcy Court)
  • An aircraft lease advisor in a breach of fee agreement and fraudulent conveyance case (case was pending in San Francisco Superior Court-client obtained full recovery through mediation)
  • Secured creditors in out-of-court negotiations and/or foreclosures for repossession of collateral (such as CD-ROM titles, Zoob Toys, and related intellectual property, and Fab Facility equipment used to manufacture semiconductor chips)
  • Innkeepers in defense of a foreclosure action (case was pending in Sonoma County Superior Court-successfully avoided lender's efforts to force Inn into a receivership)
  • Verdict for guarantor to recover over a million dollars in default interest and attorneys’ fees following two-week jury trial in Riverside, California
  • Verdict for automobile insurance company of over $1 million (including punitive damages) and permanent injunctive relief in a trade libel matter, following a six-month jury trial in Sacramento California
  • Judgment for plaintiff, a charitable foundation, in connection with disputed promissory note assigned to plaintiff as a charitable donation.  Judgment rendered following a three-day bench trial in San Francisco, California

Publications and presentations

  • “A Bankruptcy Primer for Litigators,” Keker, Van Nest & Peters, October 2018
  • “Food and Beverage Founders and Owners—Are You a Home-Run Owner?” BNY Mellon, April 2018 (Speaker and Panelist)
  • “Given the robust state of the economy, is filing a corporate bankruptcy case ethical?” Nixon Peabody Annual MCLE Seminar, San Francisco, January 2018
  • “Insurance and Bankruptcy,” Insurance Law Section of the Barristers Club, San Francisco, July 2014
  • “When Tenant or Landlord Files Bankruptcy,” Sterling Education Services CLE Program, Oakland, April 2009 (Speaker and Panelist)
  • “Protecting Your Rights as a Creditor,” Nixon Peabody’s 4th Annual California MCLE Symposium, January 2009
  • “Economic Squeeze Pushes Local Governments Toward Chapter 9,” The Journal of Corporate Renewal, TMA, June 2008
  • “Basics in Bankruptcy” program, Sterling Education Services, San Francisco, February 2004 (Speaker and Panelist)

Heavy debt crushed owners of Toys ‘R’ Us

Wall Street Journal | September 18, 2017

San Francisco financial restructuring and bankruptcy partner Lou Cisz is quoted in this article on the factors that led to retailer Toys ‘R’ Us’ bankruptcy filing.

Aging coal-fired power plants in the Trump era

Law360 | February 09, 2017

San Francisco financial restructuring and bankruptcy partner Lou Cisz and commercial litigation associate Karl Sung co-authored this article about the future of the coal industry under the Trump administration.

Contact

Louis J. Cisz, III

Partner

San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-8320


Fax: 415-984-8300

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, J.D.

University of Notre Dame, B.A., English

California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

Louis was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020 in the field of Litigation—Bankruptcy. Louis has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2019.

He has also received an AV Preeminent® Peer Review RatingTM from Martindale Hubbell®, the highest possible rating for ethics and legal ability.

Louis Cisz is a member of the Commercial Law and Bankruptcy section of the Bar Association of San Francisco and is on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Bankruptcy Forum. Louis was also a member of the Insolvency Subcommittee of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California (2000 to 2003).  Louis is a member of the California Receivers Forum, Bay Area Chapter, and the Membership Committee of the Turnaround Management Association. 

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