Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark

Maria Ruark has a diverse debtor-creditor practice and represents parties in interest in bankruptcy cases of all sizes from large Chapter 11 cases to small business Chapter 11 cases to consumer cases.

In business bankruptcy cases, Maria represents or has represented the following types of parties in interest:

  • Debtors;
  • Secured creditors including lenders, judgment lienholders and indenture trustees;
  • Creditors’ committees, equity holders’ committees and reclamation claimants’ committees;
  • Priority unsecured creditors including reclamation claimants;
  • General unsecured creditors including suppliers of goods and services, contract parties, utilities, franchisors, judgment creditors and landlords;
  • Bankruptcy trustees;
  • Liquidating and disbursing agents;
  • Purchasers of assets from bankruptcy estates; and
  • Non-debtor co-obligors on debt.

In consumer bankruptcy cases, Maria represents or has represented the following types of parties in interest:

  • Secured creditors including lenders and judgment lienholders;
  • General unsecured creditors including judgment creditors, landlords, suppliers of goods and services and contract parties;
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees; and
  • Chapter 11 bankruptcy trustees.

Maria also has extensive experience on both the front end of transactions – negotiating and documenting multifaceted financial and business relationships – and on the back end of transactions – litigating breach of contract, fraudulent transfer, successor liability, directors and officers liability, conversion, Chapter 11 business bankruptcy and other complex debtor-creditor disputes.

Maria’s practical legal strategies enable her to resolve or, when necessary, litigate complex and delicate disputes efficiently and effectively. Maria has a sharp understanding of the operational and management aspects of a business. She works collaboratively with her clients to develop the appropriate course of action and employs her problem solving and strategic thinking skills to strive to achieve the best possible results for her clients. Maria has appeared in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

Prior to private practice, Maria completed a two-year clerkship with the Honorable James F. Schneider of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland and a one-year clerkship with the Honorable Susan M. Marzetta of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

In addition to her state bar admissions, she is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Maria is passionate about mentoring young women, pro bono service, community service, diversity and inclusion initiatives and the betterment of the legal profession.

Bankruptcy Experience

  • Represented the largest unsecured creditor and chair of the creditors’ committee in the Kmart Corporation Chapter 11 cases in the Northern District of Illinois (at the time of the filings, Kmart had annual gross revenues of $37 billion, assets of $17 billion and debtor of $1.6 billion)
  • Represented the creditors’ committee in the Thornburg Mortgage Chapter 11 cases in the District of Maryland (at the time of the filings, Thornburg had assets of $24 billion and debt of $25 billion)
  • Represented the creditors’ committee in the Richard F. Kline, Inc. Chapter 11 cases filed in the District of Maryland (which involved contested cash collateral and DIP financing matters and contested claims)
  • Represented the debtor in the Alter Communications small business Chapter 11 case filed in the District of Maryland (which involved protracted litigation, several contested confirmation hearings and appeals)
  • Participated on the legal team in the Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett and Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona consolidated appeals to the United States Supreme Court (which involved complex consumer bankruptcy issues, including lien stripping)

Other Debtor-Creditor, Litigation and Transactional Experience

  • Represented the receiver for Trans Healthcare, Inc. and its 43 related healthcare entities (which involved representation in numerous contract disputes and management of dozens of litigation cases nationwide)
  • Represented a governmental entity in a well-publicized dispute that involved contract and tort claims (which included claims based on fraud and misrepresentation)
  • Represented borrowers in connection with foreclosure and receivership proceedings in Maryland and Delaware (which involves sponsor guaranties, springing guaranties and individual guaranties as well as tenants in common investor groups and operational complexities)
  • Represented a candy manufacturer in the sale of its assets to an unrelated third party for $10 million (which involves complex tax, employee benefit and operational issues)
  • Represented two individuals in connection with their claims against a large national bank for consumer protection violations (which includes claims for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, breach of contract, breach of the covenants of good faith and fair dealing, violations of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, violations of the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act, violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act)

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