Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark

Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark

Partner

Contact Info

Phone: (410) 332-8797
Secondary Phone:
Fax: (410) 332-8074

Primary Office

Baltimore
500 E. Pratt Street
Suite 900
Baltimore, MD 21202-3133

Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark

Partner

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.

Experience

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 bill
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 comp
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 goo

Credentials and Accolades

Honors and Awards

Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Bankruptcy/Restructuring" by Chambers USA, 2015 to present

Named to The Best Lawyers in America list, Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, 2013 to present

Selected for inclusion in Maryland Super Lawyers Magazine, 2010 to present

Named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women in Business, The Daily Record, 2009 and 2011

Named a "Pro Bono Star," Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, 2010

Named "Educator of the Year," Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service, 2006

Memberships and Affiliations

Bankruptcy Bar Association for the District of Maryland

  • President
  • Member of Board of Directors
  • Chair of Bankruptcy Mediation Committee
  • Member of Bench/Bar Liaison Committee
  • Member of Consumer Bankruptcy Training Committee
  • Co-chair of Pro Bono Committee
  • Member of Local Rules Committee

Turnaround Management Association, Chesapeake Chapter

  • President-Elect
  • Secretary
  • Member of Board of Directors

International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, Greater Maryland Network

  • Secretary
  • Member of Board of Directors

American Bankruptcy Institute

  • Co-chair of Mentoring Program Committee

Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Hispanic National Bar Association

Maryland Hispanic Bar Association

American Bar Association

  • Member of Business Law Section's Business Bankruptcy Committee
  • Vice chair of Series LLC Task Force formed by Business Law Section's Business Bankruptcy Committee
  • Liaison to Turnaround Management Association for Business Law Section's Business Bankruptcy Committee

Maryland State Bar Association

Bar Association of Baltimore City

Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

  • Member of Board of Directors

Education

J.D. University of Baltimore School of Law, 1994, cum laude

  • Senior Editor and Senior Articles Editor, University of Baltimore Law Forum

M.B.A. Salisbury University, 1991

B.S., Salisbury University, 1990, magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
Maryland

Firm Management Positions

Clerkships

Hon. James F. Schneider, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, 1995-1997

Hon. Susan M. Marzetta, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, 1994-1995

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.