Mr. Messana concentrates his practice in bankruptcy, receiverships, assignments for the benefit of creditors, insolvency and financial restructuring, bankruptcy-related litigation, creditors’ rights, corporate reorganization, out-of-court workouts, and bankruptcy acquisitions. He represents a wide range of clients with diverse interests including corporations, financial institutions, individual and business debtors, secured, unsecured and priority creditors, creditors’ committees, equity holders, officers, directors, chief restructuring officers, and court-appointed fiduciaries, and entities seeking to acquire assets out of distressed situations. Mr. Messana’s clients span across virtually all industries and include operating businesses, such as nursing and healthcare facilities, community utilities, real estate developers and construction companies, restaurateurs, condominium associations, and receivers in the corporate and matrimonial context.
Among Mr. Messana’s more significant representations, he served as counsel for the bankruptcy trustee of the Venezuelan national shipping line, where his client received one of the first nationwide injunctions against creditor action in a proceeding ancillary to a foreign bankruptcy. He has represented the Federal Trade Commission and eleven State Attorney Generals in a bankruptcy case where the consumers were repaid $8.3 million. Additionally, he represented a Chapter 7 trustee in the first Florida case under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, where he successfully limited, in bankruptcy, Florida’s heretofore unlimited homestead exemption.
Mr. Messana relies on deep knowledge, experience, and judgment to fashion alternatives to bankruptcy where out-of-court restructurings might maximize value to clients. When necessary, Mr. Messana advises and guides distressed businesses through reorganization employing Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, formulating and confirming Chapter 11 plans, and structured consensual dismissals, and performing every aspect of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. Mr. Messana also has extensive experience with Chapter 15 international insolvency proceedings and understands the affects of international law further complicating the relationship between debtors and creditors.
Mr. Messana assists both sellers and buyers of distressed property. Tom also is regularly engaged by court-appointed receivers, assignees, turnaround specialists and chief restructuring officers, trustees, and liquidating trustees, assisting professional fiduciaries and supporting their efforts in satisfying their particularized duties including, among other things, advancing litigation, fulfilling reporting duties, carrying on day-to-day operations, and minimizing litigation risks and exposure.
In addition to being an experienced litigator, Mr. Messana serves as a mediator of business and bankruptcy disputes, successfully facilitating resolutions of a broad spectrum of disputes including contract disputes, preference and fraudulent transfer actions, director & officer liability actions, and other business litigation issue.
Mr. Messana has helped develop the camaraderie and professionalism in the bankruptcy bar in south Florida. He serves on the Executive Council of the Florida Bar’s Business Law Section. He is currently the Treasurer and Director of the Bankruptcy Bar Foundation, a non-profit corporation which funds the pro bono legal effort of the local bankruptcy association and co-chair of the Bankruptcy/UCC Section’s Receivership Study Group. He is past president of the Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida; former chairperson of the Florida Bar Bankruptcy/UCC Committee; former co-chairperson of the Bankruptcy Judicial Liaison Committee of the Business Law Section of the Florida Bar.
Mr. Messana has been named a Best Lawyer in America, a Super Lawyer, a member of Florida’s Elite lawyers by Florida Trend, and by his peers with an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Chamber & Partners, USA describes him as “highly effective, dogged and resourceful but never flashy.” He regularly lectures and publishes on bankruptcy related subjects in national, regional and local forums.
Mr. Messana has lectured at the University of Miami, the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the Florida Bar. He is a past Adjunct Professor of Law for St. Thomas University School of Law. In addition, he has authored articles for the ABI Bankruptcy Journal, Cracking the Code, The Maryland Law Review, the American Bankruptcy Institute Health Care Insolvency Manual and Wiley Bankruptcy Law Update.