Howard M. Levine - Sussman Shank LLP

Howard M. Levine

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2014

For more than 30 years, Howard has represented businesses and individuals who are confronting complex financial problems and who are in search of creative solutions.  His practice includes representing debtors and creditors in Chapter 11 reorganization cases, out-of-court workouts and debt restructurings, and plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state court litigation.

Howard is licensed to practice law in Oregon and Washington, but he also regularly represents clients involved in complex Chapter 11 cases and federal court litigation throughout the United States.  He has been admitted to practice pro hac vice to appear on behalf of clients with significant issues in courts located in New York, Delaware, Texas, California, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Alaska, and elsewhere.  Howard has represented clients in major cases such as WorldCom, Inc., Enron, Inc., Hawaiian Airlines, PSI Net, Inc., VarTech Inc., Teligent, Inc., and the Diocese of Fairbanks.

Howard's extensive bankruptcy and commercial litigation experience in federal and state courts includes representing parties in complex commercial, UCC, and business disputes, as well as preference, fraudulent conveyance, discharge, and dischargeability litigation. In addition, he has represented state and federal court receivers, including receivers in a golf and country club receivership, a Ponzi-scheme receivership, and a large commercial real estate receivership.

Howard's Chapter 11 debtor practice includes the unique specialty of representing nonprofit religious corporations in Chapter 11 reorganizations. Over the last several years, Howard was debtor-in-possession counsel in the Chapter 11 reorganization cases of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province.

In recognition of his skills and experience, Howard was selected by Best Lawyers® in America as the 2015 "Lawyer of the Year" for Litigation – Bankruptcy in the Portland, Oregon area.  Only a single lawyer in each practice area, and designated metropolitan area, is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year," making this accolade particularly significant.  He is also included in the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers® in America in the areas of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Litigation. 

Howard has been named an Oregon Super Lawyer® in the Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights Section since 2006.  From 2009 through 2014, Howard has placed among the Top 50 Oregon Super Lawyers®, and in 2012 was named to the Top 10 Oregon Super Lawyers® list.  He has been rated an AV® Preeminent lawyer in Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards, for more than 20 years.

Howard is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a select organization of lawyers, judges, and legal scholars that is limited to less than one percent of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. He is a sought-after speaker and author on commercial law, bankruptcy, and reorganization related issues.

Originally from the New York City metropolitan area, Howard moved to Portland in 1979. After a two-year clerkship with Judge Donal D. Sullivan, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Oregon, Howard joined Sussman Shank as an associate in 1982 and became a partner in 1987.

Case History

Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon
We served as lead counsel to the Archdiocese of Portland in the first Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed by a Roman Catholic diocese in the United States.  We 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.
Society of Jesus, Oregon Province
This was the first Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed by one of the provinces of a Roman Catholic religious order in the United States.  Relying on our experience from the Archdiocese of Portland case, and facing new issues relevant only to a religious order, we were able to implement a strategy for resolving and paying over 500 clergy sex abuse claims through the use of insurance coverage and other assets. This resulted in a plan that was overwhelmingly accepted by all creditors, which included $119 million in contributions from the debtor's insurers and allowed the province to continue its mission throughout Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
Represented Major Creditor in Individual Chapter 11 Case
We represented an out-of-state creditor with multi-million dollar claims against the chapter 11 Debtor, and against whom the Debtor asserted claims in excess of $200 million.  After convincing the creditors committee that the Debtor's claims against our client were worthless, and that the Debtor would be unable to reorganize, we reached a settlement with the creditors committee to make a nominal payment to fund a chapter 11 liquidating plan.  As part of the confirmed plan, we obtained a comprehensive release of claims against or client, an injunction against the Debtor, and an allowed claim in favor of our client for $3.2 million.  After the plan was confirmed, we obtained two contempt orders against the Debtor.  We also prevailed on summary judgment to deny the Debtor his bankrtupcy discharge and obtain a $3.2 million judgment.  All five of the Debtor's appeals were resolved by the District Court in our client's favor.
Sunflower/423 Limited Partnership
We represented the major limited partner in these consolidated chapter 11 limited partnership cases pending in Plano, Texas.  After successfully litigating our objection to claims filed by the general partner and entities he controlled, and objecting to a proposed sale of the Debtors' assets, we located a competing bidder, whose winning bid was large enough to fund a plan we prepared that paid creitors in full and returned significant capital to the limited partners.

Office Location

1000 Southwest Broadway, Suite 1400
Portland, OR 97205
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2015 Lawyer of the Year in Litigation - Bankruptcy of the Portland-OR Metro Area
Howard M. Levine has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2015!

Practice Areas

Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
Litigation - Bankruptcy

Other Information

Gender: Male