Susan S. Ford
1000 SW Broadway, Suite 1400
Portland, Oregon 97205
Assistant: Janine E. Hume: 503.243.1661 x 269
Susan has over 30 years of experience resolving complex business problems for clients, both in and out of the courtroom. She is a trusted advisor to businesses and individuals on strategic entity governance and restructuring issues, to meet specific company growth needs, or to confront serious challenges caused by distress situations. She specializes in Chapter 11 reorganizations, liquidations, and receiverships. Susan has represented all types of parties involved in restructuring situations, receiverships, Chapter 11 reorganizations, and liquidations, including debtors, state and federal court receivers, creditors' committees, secured lenders, unsecured creditors, trustees, and asset purchasers.
Susan is an experienced trial lawyer, representing parties in business and commercial litigation cases, regulatory-related actions, and in bankruptcy litigation. She practices primarily in Oregon and Washington, but also appears in jurisdictions outside the Pacific Northwest.
Susan is the immediate past Chair of the firm's Business Restructuring and Bankruptcy Group, which was named a 2016 Tier One Law Firm by "Best Law Firms" U.S. News & World Report & Best Lawyers®. She has been individually named to Oregon's Top 50 Super Lawyers and Oregon's Top 25 Women Super Lawyers Lists. She has also been selected for inclusion by Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law.
Susan has devoted substantial time to professional and pro bono organizations throughout her career, including serving as Chair and a member of the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section, and as a Board Member and Officer of the Northwest Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association. She is a regular speaker and moderator at continuing legal education programs, and volunteers her legal services to the Oregon Legal Aid Bankruptcy Clinic. Susan has also volunteered as an Attorney-Coach for Jesuit High School's Mock Trial Program, including the team that won the Oregon State championship in 2012.
Admitted to Practice
Oregon State Bar
U.S. District Court, Oregon
Washington State Bar
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Won Defense Jury Verdict On All Claims
Lead trial lawyer representing a national mortgage servicer in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington. Following a three-day trial, won a jury verdict for the defense on all claims, including for injunctive and declaratory relief, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act. See, Steadman v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, Case No.2:14-cv-00854-JLR (June, 2015).
Won Summary Judgment on All Claims and Dismissal of Case Prior to Trial
Following extensive discovery, and hearings on summary judgment motions, won dismissal of all claims asserted against national mortgage servicer prior to trial of a case filed in Washington Superior Court for Snohomish County. Claims included injunctive and declaratory relief, breach of contract, violation of the Consumer Protection Act, violation of the Deed of Trust Act, and fraud. See, Lambrecht v. Green Tree Servicing, et. al., Case No.14-02-465-5 (July, 2015).
Represented Long Term Care Facility Defending Complex Regulatory Issues and Enforcement Action
In conjunction with a partner in the firm's Healthcare Group, Susan advised and represented a Long Term Care Facility facing multiple complex regulatory issues resulting from a claim of elder abuse and an unfavorable administrative investigation. Case and client management efforts resulted in preservation of the facility's license, and Susan oversaw a successful sale of the facility to a third party, resulting in preservation of value and protection of the client's remaining long term care facilities.
Obtained Provisional Process Order Against Lessee of Commercial Trucks
Representing a national lessor of commercial trucks in breach/termination of lease litigation, we litigated and then resolved by stipulation a motion for provisional process requiring the lessee to turn over all leased trucks to lessor as a first step in a damages case pending in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.
Won Key Rulings on Defense Motions in Limine, Resulting in Plaintiff Resolving Case for Significantly Reduced Amount Just Before Trial
This case was filed in Washington Superior Court for Skagit County, against our client, a national mortgage servicer, alleging economic, compensatory, emotional distress, treble damages, and punitive damages. It included claims for violations of Washington's Deed of Trust Act, Consumer Protection Act, and common law fraud. Approximately two weeks prior to trial, Susan argued motions in limine and obtained key rulings for the defense, which significantly limited the permissible scope of testimony by plaintiff's expert at trial, excluded all evidence of alleged emotional distress, excluding the introduction of any evidence of involvement or damages allegedly suffered by plaintiff's husband, a key witness, and precluded any evidence of an alleged oral purchase offer which Plaintiff sought to introduce to establish damages due to alleged wrongful foreclosure. After obtaining these rulings, Plaintiff accepted an outstanding offer of judgment, which favorably resolved the case for the client just prior to trial. See, Ewing v. Glowgowski, et. al., Case No. 12-2-00224-2 (September 2015).
Successful Defense of Challenge to Purchase of Assets in Bankruptcy Code Section 363 Sale at Trial and Appeal
This was a trial of a hotly-contested matter in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon involving GE Capital, a secured creditor, and our client, Hilco Industrial, LLC, which had previously become the successful purchaser of commercial trucks at a bankruptcy auction held pursuant to Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code in the Pacific Cargo bankruptcy case. After the sale had been approved by the Court, GE Capital filed a motion to vacate the order approving the sale free and clear of liens (including GE's liens) to Hilco, alleging irregularities with the sale and lack of legally effective notice to GE Capital. After an expedited discovery schedule and trial, and after hearing evidence on multiple issues including the "mailbox rule" and valuation, the Bankruptcy Court ruled in favor of Hilco. Hilco then prevailed on successive motions for stay, pending appeal of the bankruptcy court's decision to the District Court, which ultimately affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision. The Bankruptcy Court's Memorandum Opinion (September 18, 2013) was reported on the national Bankruptcy "Daily News" service. See, In re Pacific Cargo Services, LLC, Case No. 13-30439-tmb7.
Represented Chair of Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in Negotiating Chapter 11 Plan for Medical Technology Business
Susan was counsel to the Chair of the Unsecured Creditors Committee, a Massachusetts biotechnology company that had obtained a major patent infringement judgment against the debtor, a medical device and biotechnology company, prior to the petition date. The experimental nature of the debtor's biotechnology rendered it with insufficient cash flow and capital to continue operating and to develop its new product. Pursuant to a Fifth Amended Plan of Reorganization, the unsecured creditors received stock in a new company to be created post-confirmation, which retained debtor's biotechnology in lieu of cash payments, whereas the debtor's medical device business was sold in a Section 363 sale to satisfy the major secured lender's claim. See, In Re HemCon Medical Technologies, Inc., United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Oregon, Case No. 12-32652-elp11.
Represented Oregon and California Fruit Growers to Recover Claims and Attorneys Fees in Chapter 11 Fruit Processor Case
Susan represented unpaid fruit growers who provided fruit to the debtor, a purchaser and processor, prior to the commencement of the debtors Chapter 11 case. Susan obtained recovery with respect to their producer lien claims and obtained allowance of their equity/retainage unsecured claims. Additionally, due to the extent of Sussman Shank's activity in the case, which benefitted creditors as a whole, she recovered substantially all of the grower's attorneys fees in a global settlement of their claims, after filing a motion for reimbursement of professional fees pursuant to Section 503(b)(3)(D) as having made a "substantial contribution" to the bankruptcy estate. See, In Re Snokist Growers, United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Washington, Case No. 11-05868.
Representation of Unsecured Creditors' Consortium in Bankruptcy Case Tainted by Debtor's Fraud to Successfully Acquire Assets in Section 363 Sale
Susan represented a consortium of creditors which came to be known as the "Epic Seven" to recover their partially-built private jets in a Bend, Oregon aircraft facility operated by the Debtor Aircraft Investor Resources, Inc. The Debtor closed its doors without warning, with the jets inside and the creditors' deposits unaccounted for. Susan's group successfully moved for appointment of a Trustee to oust the debtor's management, which was accused of mismanagement and fraud. Some members of the Epic Seven then sought to purchase the debtor's assets, continue the business, and complete building the creditor's planes. They were successful in doing so, but only after a contested "flip the deal" Section 363 sale auction that first pitted Susan's clients (as the losing bidder) against China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., of the People's Republic of China; but, after the loss, it resulted in a deal between China Aviation and the Epic Seven that left the Epic Seven owning the assets and operating the facility, and licensing the manufacturing technology to China Aviation. See, In Re Aircraft Investor Resources, LLC, United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Oregon, Case No. 09-38458-rld11.
Confirmation of Chapter 11 Plan for Southern Oregon Developer with Assets Exceeding $ 50MM
Susan and her team worked with the developer and the 28 businesses he owned or managed for approximately one year prior to filing Chapter 11. At the inception of the representation, the developer and related entities owned collective total assets exceeding $81 million, and loan facilities that were mostly performing, but he faced payment and technical default scenarios with two major lenders, which held loans totaling approximately $58 million. Susan and her team defended foreclosure litigation commenced by the lenders, which threatened the entire enterprise with financial collapse, including the developer, who had personally guaranteed the indebtedness to the lenders. Litigation with the largest lender was successfully resolved prior to filing Chapter 11, resulting in a substantial reduction of the overall indebtedness, preservation of a key shopping center, laid the foundation for a successful reorganization, and averted a massive bankruptcy filing for all of the developer's companies. After bankruptcy litigation with the remaining lender, the Chapter 11 joint plan of reorganization was confirmed by the Court, the developer began performing the terms of the plan to pay all creditors, and his enterprise remains highly successful today.
Represented Receiver Appointed for E-Commerce Business and Transitioned Case To Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to Sell Assets
Susan represented a Receiver which was appointed for an e-commerce retail business in Oregon state court. With a tight marketing window to avoid substantial loss of value, the Receiver located a stalking horse bidder to purchase all of the assets of the business. Susan and her team worked cooperatively with the debtor's counsel, who commenced a Chapter 11 case, transitioning the Receiver to custodian status under Section 543 of the Bankruptcy Code. The business assets were ultimately sold to a buyer pursuant to Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code within approximately three months after the receivership order was entered. See, In Re Altrec, Inc., United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Oregon, Case No. 14-30037-rld11; Stockamp v. Altrec, Inc., et. al., Deschutes County Circuit Court Case No. 13-CV-1467FC.
Represented Receiver Appointed for Portland Commercial Building Midway Through Construction
Susan served as counsel to the Receiver appointed pursuant to secured lender's motion to take possession and control of a downtown Portland building which was only mid-way through a major renovation, with multiple contractors unpaid and tools and equipment located throughout the building. We obtained an order staying the bank's foreclosure action and tolling the statute of limitations for new construction liens to permit the Receiver to negotiate settlements with multiple construction lien claimants. We also facilitated the Receiver's efforts to resolve multiple disputes over the ownership of personal property within the building at the time of the Receiver's appointment, and facilitated an inventory and claiming procedure approved by the Court. See, Total Mechanical, Inc. v. Lower East Burnside, LLC, Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0910 14510.
Represented National Seafood and related Aquaculture Company in Complex Chapter 11 Acquisition of Fish Farm
Represented national seafood company as the successful competing bidder for debtor's fish farm located on the Columbia River in the state of Washington, which was being sold pursuant to Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code in debtor's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Washington. The Sale Order contained a number of conditions which had to be successfully completed before closing, including supervision of the debtor under an operating order to ensure the fish were fed, and obtaining licenses and approvals of the transaction from the Confederated Tribes of Colville and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Post-closing payments to the bankruptcy estate depended upon the determination of the biomass of the fish, which required client to engage in a defined counting and weight sampling process. The sale and closing process was successfully completed, resulting in payment of administrative claims and a distribution to unsecured creditors. See, In Re Columbia River Fish Farms, LLC, United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Washington, Case No. 08-1669-FLK11.
Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Susan was part of the Sussman Shank team that served as lead bankruptcy counsel to the Archdiocese of Portland in the first Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed by a Roman Catholic diocese in the United States. Sussman Shank developed and implemented a strategy that considered the interplay of First Amendment religious rights, charitable trust, and bankruptcy law in proposing and confirming a reorganization plan that resulted in the settlement and payment of over 250 known clergy sex abuse claims, provided a trust for the liquidation and payment of future abuse claims, and preserved the assets and operations of 124 parishes and three Catholic high schools.
Susan's particular role in the case focused on claims determination and allowance, and the litigation of a contested matter within the Chapter 11 case to estimate the value of present and future child sex abuse claims to facilitate voting and possible confirmation of the Archdiocese's proposed Plan of Reorganization. In its Memorandum Opinion Re Estimation and Plan Confirmation Issues (J. Perris), United States District Court, District of Oregon, Bankruptcy Case No. 04-37154-elp11, the Court issued a favorable decision granting the motion to estimate claims, which was a key part of the foundation for a subsequent successful global mediation and eventual confirmation of the Archdiocese's Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization.
Full Recovery of Multi-Million Dollar Debt from Complex Case Representation
Representation of Secured Creditor in three related bankruptcies in the District of Washington in a mediation which took place in Oregon. Negotiated settlement which resulted in full payment of debt owed to client exceeding $2 million.
Judgment Against Guarantors Attempting to Discharge Debt in Bankruptcy
Obtained judgments for Community Bank against guarantors and commercial borrower in Washington State Superior Court of nearly $500,000. Subsequently, guarantors filed bankruptcies in the Western District of Washington, attempting to discharge the indebtedness. We successfully litigated claims on behalf of Community Bank denying guarantors the right to discharge the debts under Sections 727 and 523 of the Bankruptcy Code and obtained judgments of nondischargeability of indebtedness.
Obtained Provisional Process for National RV Dealer Breach of Commercial Lease Claim
Represented national RV dealer in breach of commercial lease litigation in Oregon State Court. Obtained temporary restraining order against tenant after filming removal of luxury motor coaches and leaving premises without payment of rent in default, plus future rent, within five days of being retained. Settled the case just prior to show cause hearing on injunction for in excess of $200,000 cash in escrow, plus 100% payment of client's attorney's fees and costs. The case for injunctive relief was resolved, and client obtained recovery within 16 days of retention.
Garnered Recovery for Unsecured Lumber Wholesaler in Delaware Bankruptcy
Represented an unsecured lumber wholesaler in Delaware Chapter 7 bankruptcy of a lumber products company. Successfully opposed Bank's claimed first lien position on all real and personal property assets (which would mean zero recovery by other creditors). Bank conceded personal property assets were not subject to its lien, thereby making assets available to pay client's claim.
Complete Recovery of Tax Dollars from Airlines Bankruptcies
Representation of Multnomah County, Oregon in the Delta Airlines Chapter 11 in the Southern District of New York, obtaining 100% payment of its secured claim after proceedings to object to confirmation of Delta's Chapter 11 Plan. Our objection on behalf of the County was publicized in national news reports. The Delta victory was followed by successful resolution of the County's claim in the Northwest Airlines Chapter 11 case.
Selected for inclusion in the 2011-2017 editions of the Best Lawyers
® in America in the practice areas of Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law and Bankruptcy Litigation
Selected for inclusion in the 2013-2016 Oregon Super Lawyers Top 25 Women
Selected for inclusion in the 2015-2016 Oregon Super Lawyers Top 50
Selected for inclusion in the 2012-2016 Oregon Super Lawyers
in the practice area of Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor
Preeminent AV®, peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Professional OrganizationsAmerican Bankruptcy Institute
American Bar Association
Multnomah Bar Association
Northwest Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association
(2016 Vice-President; 2015 Second Vice President; Board member from 2005-2007 and 2011-present)
National Turnaround Management Association -- Network of Women
Oregon State Bar
Chair, Debtor-Creditor Section (2013)
Executive Committee, Debtor-Creditor Section (2007 - 2014)
Co-Chair, Debtor-Creditor Section Annual Meeting and CLE (2003 - 2011)
Oregon Women Lawyers
Turnaround Management Association, Northwest Chapter (President)
Washington State Bar Association
Civic OrganizationsJesuit High School Mock Trial Team Volunteer Attorney/Coach (2006-2012)
Attorney Volunteer, Pro Bono Legal Aid Clinic, Multnomah County, Oregon (1999-present)
- Young Lawyers Section Business Law Series: Bankruptcy (2015)
- Food for Thought: C&K Market- A Case Study of a Grocery Chain's Successful Restructuring in Chapter 11 (2015)
- 27th Annual Northwest Bankruptcy Institute, Seattle, Washington; The Use of Experts in Bankruptcy Litigation; David Markowitz, Susan S. Ford, and Serena Morones
- Moderator, Reorganizing Companies with Mass Tort Liability, Turnaround Management Association, Northwest Cross-Border Conference
- Moderator, Judges Elizabeth L. Perris and Michael Hogan, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Northwest Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association
- Creditors' Rights Seminar: Weathering the Economic Storm: Sussman Shank LLP
- 20th Annual Northwest Bankruptcy Institute, Vancouver, B.C.: Secured Creditor Update
- Debtor-Creditor Practice in State and Federal Courts - Views from the Trench: Oregon State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section Annual Meeting and CLE (Moderator)
- Drafting and Enforcing Commercial Leases in Oregon: Sterling Education Seminars
- NW Turnaround Management Association - Recent Developments in Release of Confidential Information in Sale of Businesses
- Bankruptcy Litigation, Annual Saturday Session: Oregon State Bar
- Collecting Judgments: Perils And Practice Tips: Oregon Law Institute
- Creditors' Rights and Protection of Security Interests in Bankruptcy: Sterling Education Services
- Tax Claims in Bankruptcy, Oregon State Bar Tax Section
- Why Bad Things Happen to Good Counties, Sussman Shank LLP
- Why Bad Things Happen to Good Counties - Part II - A Survival Guide to Bankruptcy, Sussman Shank LLP
B.A., Lewis and Clark College
J.D., cum laude
, Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College
Associate Editor, Environmental Law
, the Law Journal of Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College