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Stephen S. LaPlante

Principal
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Deputy Group Leader

Office

T:
+1.313.496.8478
O:
+1.313.963.6420
F:
+1.313.496.7500
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Education

Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 1993

University of Michigan, B.B.A. 1987

Northwestern Michigan College, A.A.S.

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • Sixth Circuit

U.S. District CourtS

  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • Western District of Michigan

Stephen LaPlante has been extensively involved in virtually every auto industry-related bankruptcy case in the United States and Canada in the past two decades, representing the interests of Ford Motor Company and several Tier 1 automotive parts suppliers.

He is also a member of the restructuring team for the City of Detroit – the largest chapter 9 bankruptcy case in U.S. history – as Michigan bankruptcy counsel.

Stephen recently acted as lead bankruptcy counsel on behalf of two telecommunication companies, working to close a sale of the companies’ assets for $32 million and confirm a joint chapter 11 plan of liquidation, co-sponsored with the unsecured creditors committee, to provide a significant recovery to the creditors of the estates.

Working in Detroit, the heart of the American automotive industry, Stephen continues to hone his expertise in supply chain protection and automotive parts supplier workouts.  The goal in every case is to keep the automobile assembly lines running in an environment where contracts are exclusive with each supplier, usually the sole-source of component parts under a just-in-time inventory management model.

Coping with the issues arising in a customer relationship with a financially troubled auto parts supplier has become increasingly challenging in this rapidly changing industry, calling for new, innovative solutions. The automobile business is unlike any other and experience is essential to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. Stephen brings the experience acquired in hundreds of cases to bear on each new case.

Representative Matters

Great Lakes Comnet, Inc. and Comlink, L.L.C. (W.D. Mich.)

Stephen served as lead counsel to two telecommunication debtors in mid-Michigan, settling major litigation with AT&T, Sprint and CenturyLink; closing a sale of the debtors’ assets for $32 million and confirming a plan with the unsecured creditors committee to wind up the estates after the sale.

City of Detroit Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Restructuring (E.D. Mich.)

Miller Canfield served as local counsel to the City of Detroit in connection with its Chapter 9 bankruptcy case filed in July 2013 and its ongoing restructuring efforts. Since the City’s plan confirmation in December 2014, Miller Canfield has continued to represent the City in connection with many aspects of the implementation of its Plan of Adjustment, appeals of Plan confirmation and a variety of financings.

Stephen continues as local counsel for the City of Detroit and has acted as restructuring counsel in litigation for the City of Flint, Michigan.

Automotive Parts Supplier Bankruptcies

In the automotive sector, Stephen guided one client through bankruptcy litigation, recovering over two-thirds of a $75 million dollar claim while eliminating litigation claims brought against his client of over $200 million. But usually, his successes are measured not in dollars recovered but rather in avoiding untold millions of dollars of damages that an automobile manufacturer faces if the assembly lines stop because of the failure of one of its parts suppliers.

Most cases require Stephen to address the challenges in funding ongoing operations, fostering cooperation with labor and management, managing vendor and creditor relationships, addressing the concerns of ownership and lenders, dealing with property and tooling issues and the rehabilitation, sale or winding up of the supplier. In all cases, he must rely on his industry experience to find workable solutions and negotiate a reasonable, cost-effective solution.

In the past two decades, he has represented Ford Motor Company in nearly every major automotive industry bankruptcy and even more out-of-court workouts with automotive parts suppliers.  The bankruptcy cases include:

  • A.G. Simpson Automotive Technologies (ON)
  • Allied Automotive Group (Del.)
  • Allied Holdings, Inc. (Del.)
  • Allied Products Corporation (N.D. Ill.)
  • Breed Technologies, Inc. (Del.)
  • Burlington Technologies, Inc. (ON)
  • Chassix Holdings, Inc. (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Collins & Aikman, Inc. (E.D. Mich.)
  • Contech US, L.L.C. (E.D. Mich.)
  • Dana Corporation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Delphi Corporation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Dura Automotive Systems, Inc. (Del.)
  • Essar Steel Algoma Inc. (ON)
  • Exide Technologies (Del.)
  • Formtech Industries, L.L.C. (Del.)
  • General Motors Corporation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Key Plastics, L.L.C. (E.D. Mich.)
  • Meridian Automotive Systems, Inc. (Del.)
  • Metaldyne Corporation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Oxford Automotive Systems (E.D. Mich.)
  • Plastech Engineered Products, Inc. (E.D. Mich.)
  • Revstone Industries, L.L.C. (Del.)
  • Rouge Steel Company (Del.)
  • SKD Company (ON)
  • Transtar Holding Company (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Venture Industries Corp. (E.D. Mich.)
  • Visteon Corporation (Del.)

Honors

Michigan Super Lawyers, Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law-2006-present

Best Lawyers in America, Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law 2009-present; Litigation-Bankruptcy 2013-present

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

State Bar of Michigan

Federal Bar Association

American Bankruptcy Institute

Turnaround Management Association

Teaching

Adjunct Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School

Instructor, "Trial Advocacy Program: Enhancing Your Skills with Expert and Lay Testimony," The Federal Bar Association-Eastern District Chapter of Michigan and the Debtor Creditor Law Section of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, 1998

Speeches

"Auto Cases: Where Is This Road Going?" American Bankruptcy Institute's 13th Annual Central States Bankruptcy Workshop, June 16-18, 2006

"Successful Judgment Collections in Michigan," seminar materials prepared for the National Business Institute, co-authored with Linda C. Scheuerman, J.D. (1994)

Instructor, "Trial Advocacy Program: Enhancing Your Skills with Expert and Lay Testimony," The Federal Bar Association-Eastern District Chapter of Michigan and the Debtor Creditor Law Section of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, 1998

Publications

"Enforcing Judgments and Debts," West Group Michigan Practice Guide, co-author with Judge James D. Gregg and Linda C. Scheuerman, J.D., (2000)

"Enforceability of Prepayment Penalty Provisions in Michigan," in Bankruptcy and Out, the Michigan Business Law Journal, Volume XVI, Issue No. 4, Page 7 (1995)

Articles