Oscar Garza co-founded Garza & Garza LLP (The Garza Firm) in January 2022 after retiring from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (December 2021). Recognized for decades as one of the nation’s premier insolvency and restructuring lawyers, Mr. Garza is taking his experience of working on some of the most significant and hotly contested matters and is using those skills to obtain the exceptional results that clients of The Garza Firm deserve.
Experience Prior to Co-Founding The Garza Firm
Mr. Garza joined Gibson Dunn immediately after graduating from law school (1990) and spent the next 31 years (23 as a partner after 8 as an associate) working on insolvency related litigation, restructuring (main case) as well as transnational litigation matters.
Insolvency Related Litigation / Restructuring Matters
The insolvency related litigation involved both plaintiffs (on behalf of Trustees and Debtors) and defendants (entities and Individuals) involved in (a) avoidance actions (fraudulent transfer/preference), (b) recharacterization of transactions and (c) breach of fiduciary duty claims and related claims. The restructuring matters’ focus was on the representation of debtors, creditors’ committees, and secured creditors in chapter 11 cases. Mr. Garza also advised buyers and sellers of the assets of financially distressed companies.
During his last decade at Gibson Dunn, Mr. Garza expanded his practice to include transnational litigation. He has successfully defended against recognition and enforcement of judgments in the United States and led/coordinated the successful defense of recognition and enforcement actions in several Latin American countries. He has also advised on litigation strategy for multinational corporations involved in litigation within Latin America.
Below are several representative matters Mr. Garza previously handled:
Defendants: Adversary Proceedings
In re Tribune Co. Fraudulent Conveyance Litigation: He was lead counsel to the Chandler Trusts for over a decade, wherein he represented (a) the Tribune Company’s largest shareholders (Chandler Trust #1 and #2), (b) three former members of the Tribune Company board of directors and (c) a significant number of sub-trusts in various litigation involving fraudulent transfer (the Tribune plaintiffs sought to recover in excess of $8 billion from shareholders based on fraudulent transfer grounds alone), breach of fiduciary duty and other claims arising from the buyout of the Tribune Company that allegedly led to its chapter 11 cases pending in the Southern District of New York. The claims against his clients were being asserted by both the Tribune litigation trustee and individual Tribune creditors. Ultimately, all claims against all of Mr. Garza’s clients were dismissed by the District Court and those dismissals were subsequently affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. All of plaintiffs’ requests for certiorari from the United States Supreme Court (from both the litigation trustee and the individual creditors) were ultimately denied (the final denial of certiorari occurring in February 2022).
In re Boston Generating Litigation: He was lead counsel to Harbinger Capital Partners, LLC and certain affiliates in litigation arising from the leveraged recapitalization of Boston Generating LLC and EBG Holdings LLC that allegedly led to their bankruptcy filings in the Southern District of New York (in total, the litigation trustee sought to recover in excess of $1 billion from members of the debtor LLCs). That adversary proceeding was dismissed as against all defendants by the Bankruptcy Court (June 2020) based on the “safe harbor” provisions of Section 546(e). The Bankruptcy Court dismissal decision was affirmed by the District Court (2021) and is currently on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-2542 (2d Cir. Oct. 8, 2021).
In re New Century TRS Holdings – Breach of Duty Litigation: He was counsel to the independent members of the board of directors of New Century Financial Corp. in the chapter 11 cases filed with its various affiliated entities pending in Delaware.
Plaintiff: Adversary Proceedings
- Commercial Money Center – Bankruptcy Trustee Litigation: He was lead counsel to the Chapter 7 Trustee (Richard M. Kipperman) in the cases of Commercial Money Center, Inc., and Commercial Servicing Company which was pending in San Diego, California. The Trustee litigation included (i) characterizing transfers of lease assets and transferred assets as secured loans (rather than true sales) (ii) determining that the recipient of the transfers did not properly perfect its security interests, and (iii) avoiding any transfers related to the unperfected security interests pursuant to the Trustee’s strong-arm powers. The litigation included argument related to recharacterization and the proper identification of collateral under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. The arguments were before the Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of California and the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.
Debtor Representations / Co-Plan Proponent
- In re Station Casino: He was lead debtor’s counsel to the “PropCo Debtors” (FCP PropCo, LLC, FCP MezzCo Borrowers I – V, LLC), in the Station Casinos, Inc. chapter 11 cases filed in Reno, Nevada.
- In re House2Home, Inc.: He was lead debtor’s counsel to House2Home, Inc. in the chapter 11 cases filed in Santa Ana, California.
- In re E-M-S Solutions: He was lead debtor’s counsel to E-M-Solutions, Inc. in the chapter 11 cases filed in Oakland, California.
- In re ResMAE Mortgage Corporation: He was prepetition and debtor’s counsel to ResMAE Mortgage Corporation in the chapter 11 cases filed in Wilmington, Delaware.
- In re CollegeClub.com: He was lead debtor’s counsel to CollegeClub.com in the chapter 11 cases in San Diego, California.
- In re MicroAge: He was co-lead counsel in MicroAge, Inc. in the chapter 11 cases filed in Phoenix, Arizona.
- In re EMAK Worldwide / EMAK Service Corp.: He was lead counsel to Crown EMAK, LLC, the holder of preferred stock and co-proponent of a plan of reorganization leaving Crown EMAK, LLC as the sole equity holder of the reorganized debtors in the chapter 11 cases filed in Los Angeles, California.
Secured Creditor Representations
- In re Azabu Buildings Company, LTD.: He was lead counsel to the purchaser of the senior secured creditors debt during Azabu’s pending chapter 11 and then represented the secured creditor of the Japanese owner of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa, filed in Honolulu, Hawaii and its related insolvency proceeding in Tokyo, Japan. The representation included the defense against an equitable subordination (§ 510(c)) complaint. He was ultimately able to obtain his clients a full recovery (debt, interest (including default interest), fees (including attorney’s fees) and costs).
- In re Magna Entertainment Corp.: He was counsel to Wells Fargo Bank, as the senior secured creditor collateralized by the Santa Anita Raceway (ultimately obtaining his client a full recovery).
Assets Sales / Purchases Through Chapter 11
- In re Windsor Woodmont Black Hawk Resort Corp.: He was lead counsel to Ameristar Casinos in its purchase of the Mountain High Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado from debtor Windsor Woodmont Black Hawk through a plan of reorganization in its chapter 11 case filed in Denver, Colorado.
- In re TIE/Communications: He was lead counsel to Convergent Communications, Inc. in its acquisition of substantially all the assets of TIE/Communications, Inc. in its chapter 11 case filed in Santa Ana, California.
Mr. Garza has co-authored several articles:
- “The Current State of Play: The Bankruptcy Code ‘Safe Harbor’ After Merit Management” published by Norton Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice in April 2021;
- “Second Circuit Breathes New Life into § 546(e), Answering Unaddressed Question by Merit published in ABI Journal in March 2020;
- “Reducing Litigation Risk Through Transaction Independence: Takeaways from Tribune’s Two-Step LBO” published in ABI Journal in June 2019;
- Break-up fees for asset purchasers in chapter 11 cases in The Daily Deal and the California Bankruptcy Journal; and
- an article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal on how the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 may change the sale of lease “designation rights.”
Mr. Garza has received several recognitions, including:
- named as one of California’s leading lawyers in business and restructuring by Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers (2007 – 2021);
- recognized by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law from 2006 – 2021 (including being named Orange County Lawyer of the Year) in:
- 2014: Orange County Litigation – Bankruptcy
- 2015: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency Reorganization
- 2016: Orange County Litigation – Bankruptcy
- 2018: Orange County Litigation – Bankruptcy
- named as a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights (2007 – 2022);
- selected as a Lawdragon Global 500 Leading Restructuring & Insolvency Lawyer in 2020; and
- in 2000, he was named by Global Insolvency & Restructuring Review as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” international restructuring professionals.
Mr. Garza earned his law degree from the University of Arizona College of Law (1990), where he was a member of the Arizona Law Review, and he currently serves on the board of visitors for the law school. He has presented/lectured (both as a speaker and a panelist) mainly on bankruptcy law and insolvency related issues. He also participated in the Strauss Institutes 40-hour program, Mediating the Litigated Case in 2021.
- California State University at Fresno, B.S. (1985)
- University of Arizona College of Law, J.D. (1990)
- Arizona Law Review
- State Bar of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals – Second and Ninth Circuits
- U.S. District Court – New York Southern
- U.S. Bankruptcy Courts – California Northern, Southern and Central
- U.S. Bankruptcy Courts – New York Southern, Delaware, Hawaii and North Dakota
- Orange County Bar Association, Member