Thomas Buford primarily represents commercial debtors, trustees and receivers in a wide variety of industries and situations. Thomas has extensive experience in commercial liquidations and reorganizations.
He also has a long history of resolving complex insolvency issues through negotiation and, when necessary, litigation. Thomas represents entities in a variety of industries, including significant experience with health care, hospitality, technology, and maritime clients. In addition, Thomas has served as an expert witness on legal ethics in bankruptcy. Thomas is a member of the Thomas T. Glover Mediation Panel and mediates a variety of insolvency and commercial matters. Thomas primarily practices in Washington and Alaska.
Thomas joined the firm in 2017 following a distinguished tenure at the United States Department of Justice, U.S. Trustee Program, as Trial Attorney, and thereafter as Assistant United States Trustee. While there, Thomas represented the United States Trustee is a wide variety commercial and consumer cases. Prior to his work at the Department of Justice, Thomas was the Law Clerk to Chief Judge Catharine R. Aron, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Chambers USA, an independent directory that researches and assesses law firms and lawyers in America, calls Thomas “an extremely competent, very reasonable, and easy-to-get-on-with advocate and negotiator.”
Thomas has been named in Chambers USA’s America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Bankruptcy Section 2022; Best Lawyers® The Best Lawyers in America 2023 (Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization and Bankruptcy-Litigation Law); and has been selected to the 2022 Super Lawyers® list of Top Rated Bankruptcy Attorneys in Seattle, Washington.
Additional Attorney Information
Chapter 11 representation of three debtors that operating skilled nursing facilities in Washington state. The Debtor, pursuant to Section 363, sold their operations to a new operator, which allowed more than 200 residents to remain in their homes during the COVID pandemic.
Chapter 11 representation of a debtor that held highly disputed interests in intellectual property related to technology that improves diesel engine efficiency. The Debtor filed Chapter 11, which prevented all stakeholders from being wiped out through a receivership proceeding, and settled the disputed ownership claims, which allowed for potential recovery to unsecured creditors and equity
Chapter 11 representation of a Whatcom County, Washington, property developer. The Debtor filed a Chapter 11 case to prevent a foreclosure which would have resulted in no payments to unsecured creditors. During the case, the Debtor obtained necessary post-petition financing, completed entitlement work on a significant development in Whatcom County, sold the development, and paid its creditors in full.
Chapter 11 representation of independent board of directors in the Eastern District of Washington. The Debtors sold more than 22,000 acres of real property and provided significant returns to creditors in a case that involved a fraud scheme that exceeded $200,000,000 in damages.
Bush Kornfeld served as local and conflicts counsel to the Unsecured Creditors Committee in the chapter 9 bankruptcy of a public hospital district, which had two hospitals and multiple urgent care and outpatient facilities and approximately $370 million of secured and unsecured debt. A contentious case, the debtor filed a liquidation plan proposing virtually no distribution to unsecured creditors. Bush Kornfeld filed an objection to confirmation on the basis that a comprehensive prepetition financing arrangement the debtor had entered into was void under state law and could not be the basis for conveying value under the proposed plan. Thereafter, a settlement was reached in which several million dollars of value was transferred to a liquidation trust for the benefit of unsecured creditors.
Represented certain equity holders in a contentious confirmation dispute, including three-day plan confirmation trial in Anchorage. Negotiated resolution allowing for continued ownership of a series of restaurants in Anchorage and Kona.
Serving as local and conflicts counsel for Chapter 11 debtors in possession in the Eastern District of Washington.
Represent state court receiver of a cyber-security firm. Negotiated sale of business’s intellectual property; supervising complex litigation over the events that lead to the company’s failure.
Bush Kornfeld represented the court-appointed receiver to administer environmentally-contaminated commercial property located on the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle, the largest Superfund site in Washington. Disputes existed among the previous owner/seller, Crowley Marine, the existing tenant, Waste Management, and the lender, Pacific Life. The case was resolved through a complex settlement reached among those parties that addressed title and future clean up responsibilities.
Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in the liquidation of a large and complex non-judicial foreclosure business. Represent the trustee in liquidating the debtor’s assets and determining the ownership for millions of dollars of sales proceeds.
Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in the liquidation of a large and complex consumer foreclosure law firm. Represent the trustee in liquidating the debtor’s assets, determining the ownership for millions of dollars of sales proceeds, and recouping preference and voidable transfers.
Bush Kornfeld represented the court-appointed receiver to administer the assets of a company that provided storage equipment and services to the food industry, primarily seafood, fruit, and poultry. The case required the resolution of significant disputes between the seller of the company and the investment company that owned TriStrata. After extensive contested motion practice during the receivership case, the receiver and counsel were successful in reaching an agreed division of the company’s assets between the parties and consummating the related transactions that left operations and customer support uninterrupted.
Chapter 11 representation in the District of Alaska of operator of group homes and in home care with approximately 250 employees.
Representation of Chapter 7 Trustee in case involving significant real property and personal property assets and extensive review of business dealings.
Education & Bar Memberships
- Bachelor of Arts, Hendrix College, 2001
- Juris Doctor, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, 2004
- Washington State Bar Association
- Alaska State Bar Association
- Missouri State Bar Association
- Admitted to Practice in Western and Eastern Districts of Washington, District of Alaska, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Presentations & Publications
Thomas has presented on a wide range of insolvency topics and conducted dozens of trainings of Department of Justice staff on bankruptcy, ethics, and litigation issues. Recent presentations include:
- The Highs and Lows of Marijuana Bankruptcy, Northwest Bankruptcy Institute, April 2019
- Overview of the Bankruptcy System and Overview of Chapter 11, Alaska State Bar CLE, September 2019
- The New Small Business Chapter 11 Act, King County Bar Association, January 2020, Alaska State Bar Bankruptcy Section, January 2020, and the Washington State Bar Association, February 2020.
- Chapter 11 Trustees and Committees, TMA Cross Border Conference, September 2017
- Federal Bar Association, Creditor-Debtor Section
- King County Bar Association, Creditor-Debtor Section
- Turnaround Management Association
- Washington State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section
- Alaska State Bar Bankruptcy Section