Our Experience at Work

Legal Counsel That Mobilized an International Effort to Secure Spruce Goose

How could a mid-size firm, with 44 attorneys in a single Seattle office, compete with large law firms for a world-wide engagement where the defaults exceeded tens of millions of dollars and the collateral involved high profile vintage aircraft, including the Spruce Goose famously built by Howard Hughes? The client needed counsel to quickly secure and possibly seize aircraft and aircraft parts all around the world, including China, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Michigan, Arizona, and Oregon to name a few. So, we ask again, how could a mid-size firm compete with and exceed what international firms could offer to assist this client? In a word, Meritas.

Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson (HCMP) in Seattle not only was selected to take on this massive project, but we implemented a successful strategy involving numerous Meritas law firms throughout the world. Over the preceding decades, Meritas has asked judges and lawyers in most major cities throughout the world to identify the best mid-size firm in that community. Meritas then asked that firm to join its international association of excellent firms providing top-notch legal services with a mid-size touch. As the only Meritas firm in Washington state, HCMP mobilized the legal resources available through Meritas and promptly set in motion a process to secure our client’s assets and to maximize the potential benefits for our client:

  • Fouad Barbar at Bin Shabib & Associates in Abu Dhabi promptly contacted the UAE government agency holding an AW 139 helicopter that had been used in Afghanistan and was threatened with being seized for failure to pay relatively minor maintenance charges relative to its worth;
  • B.T. Craemer at Lexence N.V. in Amsterdam initiated contact with a major airlines that had been threatening to seize several 747 engines for failure to pay shop fees;
  • Corey Larson at Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana, P.C. in Tucson, Arizona filed a TRO action to successfully stop a foreclosure on two 747s and their engines;
  • Jack Cooper at Dunn Carney in Portland, Oregon provided professional assistance and office space to serve as our headquarters for meeting with clients and preparing for multiple hearings at the Bankruptcy Court across the street as well as the probate court outside of town;
  • Ke Shen at HHP Attorneys-at-Law in China was standing ready to jump in if we needed to launch in connection with another aircraft in China being held by the Chinese government; and
  • GianClaudio Finizio at Bayard, P.A. in Delaware offered his expert services for a parallel bankruptcy proceeding in the Delaware bankruptcy court.

Through this work, to date the client has received tens of millions of dollars with more on the way. Of equal importance to the client, the work was done without engaging in scorched earth, “foreclose until it’s gone” litigation practices. To the contrary, using lawsuits when necessary and negotiated resolutions where beneficial, the client not only received substantial payments on its borrowers’ debts, but it also assisted in keeping community connected businesses open and operating.