Recognized by Inside Business Magazine as one of northeast Ohio's leading bankruptcy lawyers, Michael has represented creditors, trustees, chapter 11 debtors and creditors' committees in bankruptcy cases throughout the United States. With over 20 years of experience in bankruptcy, creditor's rights, business law and commercial litigation, he has counseled clients on insolvency matters and out-of-court workouts, and has represented both businesses and individuals in commercial litigation before various federal and state courts. A frequent writer on bankruptcy and creditor's rights matters, Michael's articles have been published in the Westlaw Journal - Bankruptcy and featured on the Ohio Manufacturer's Association website. When not practicing law, Michael can be found singing with Cleveland's North Coast Men's Chorus, puttering on his century home, or walking Connor, his Irish Wolfhound, through Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood.
Areas Of Emphasis
As a creditors' rights attorney, Michael has represented secured and unsecured creditors in bankruptcy cases throughout the United States. He has assisted creditors in, among other things:
- Enforcing retailer and product consignment agreements;
- Asserting reclamation and Bankruptcy Code section 503(b)(9) claims;
- Negotiating critical vendor agreements with debtors in possession;
- Assisting in lease or contract assumption and rejection matters;
- Prosecuting both post-petition administrative expense and pre-petition claims; and
- Defending against preference claims under section 547 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Experienced in all aspects of complex corporate bankruptcy proceedings, Michael has:
- Served as counsel to corporate debtors, trustees in cases under chapters 7 and 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, and statutory committees of creditors in bankruptcy cases in Ohio, Delaware and Michigan;
- Negotiated and drafted reorganization plans and disclosure statements and handled plan confirmation matters;
- Dealt with all bankruptcy aspects of Bankruptcy Code section 363 sales:
- Handled all aspects of the lease and contract rejection and/or assumption process under section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code section;
- Initiated and prosecuted substantial preference litigation;
- Prepared litigation to re-characterize hundreds of alleged personal property leases as disguised sale transactions; and
- Prosecuted extensive claims litigation.
Commercial Litigation and Business Law
Michael routinely advises clients on commercial and business law matters and has represented businesses and individuals in commercial disputes in various state and federal courts. In addition, he frequently negotiates and drafts contracts and other agreements complying with and implementing the sales, contracts and/or secured transaction provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code.
ERISA and Employee Benefits
Michael’s ERISA and employee benefits experience include the:
- Defending corporate entities and officers in ERISA litigation brought by discharged employee;
- Distress terminations of single employer, defined benefit plans;
- Modification and/or rejection of collective bargaining agreements under Section 1113 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code;
- Rejection of retiree benefits under section 1114 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code;
- Treatment of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's claims in bankruptcy: In re Sunarhauserman, Inc., 184 B.R. 273 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 1995); and
- Treatment of multi-employer pension fund withdrawal liability claims in bankruptcy: In re Sunarhauserman, Inc., 184 B.R. 279 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 1995).
Michael has briefed and/or argued appeals before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Sixth Circuit's Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.
Professional & Community Associations
Member of the Executive Board of the North Coast Men’s Chorus, 2002-2008, 2011 to present
- President of the North Coast Men’s Chorus, 2005-2008
Case Western Reserve University School of Law, J.D., 1987
Colgate University, B.A., History, 1975
Licensed to Practice
- All Ohio State Courts
- United States District and Bankruptcy Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio
- United States District and Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States Supreme Court
Awards & RecognitionsAwarded “Best Brief” Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition, 1984-85
Member Case Western Reserve University School of Law Moot Court National Team, 1985-1986
2007 - Recognized by Inside Business Magazine as among Northeast Ohio’s “Leading Lawyers” - Bankruptcy
Articles by Michael D. ZavertonAugust 2014 - "Bankruptcy Basics: Filing a Proof of Claim"
August 2014 - "Ohio Residents Unaffected by Supreme Court Decision Denying Exemption for Inherited IRAs"
September 2013 - "Subcontractors need extra caution thanks to a recent court decision," Crain's Cleveland Business (Legal Guest Blog)
January 2013 - "Bankruptcy for Landlords: Do you know what to do when your tenant files?," Commercial Investment Real Estate (January/February 2013)
November 2012 - "Practical tips for surviving your customer's bankruptcy," Crain's Cleveland Business (Legal Guest Blog)
February 2012 - "Possession is More than 9/10 of the Law: Ohio Molder's Lien Holders Do Not Violate Bankruptcy Code's Automatic Stay by Retaining the Debtors' Tools, Dies and More," posted on the website of the Ohio Manufacturer's Association on February 29, 2012
January 2011 - "Show me the money! Bankruptcy claims under Section 503(b)(9) - Part Two," Westlaw Journal - Bankruptcy
October 2010 - "Show me the money! Bankruptcy claims under Section 503(b)(9) - Part One," Westlaw Journal - Bankruptcy
June 2010 - "Hiding in Plain Sight," posted on the website of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association on June 25, 2010
March 2010 - "Essential Tools for Surviving in a Troubled Economy: How to Deal with a Financially Distressed Buyer of Goods"
January 2010 - "We Want Our Money Back!! What to Do If You Receive a Preference Demand Letter"
December 2008 - "Your Customer Has Filed For Bankruptcy: What Should You Do?"