Dennis O'Dea Practice Profile P


commercial litigation


Leading Edge Litigation Practice

Large Cases And Small


  While litigatoin involving famous people and companies and large economic interests dominate the legal and business news, for the majority of the businesses and individuals who find themselves facing serious litigation risk, their case is as large and serious as any case before the courts. 

   Whether the conflict they address will require the resouces of many professionals or a more focussed team of attorneys and advisors, litigatoin requires attorneys who understand and utilize the best practices and solutions available. The SFS Law Group has the experience to bring the most current and effective trial and litigation techniques and technology that are appropriate in advancing the interests of its clients. Not all litigatoin solutions fit all cases and considerations of cost and complexity require sound case planning and judgment in prosecuting or defending litigation. 

   A primary consideratoin in all of its litigaition and business conflict case planning is the cost./benefit analysis of the managment of the legal and professional resources necessary to resolve the conflict.



The Courtroom of the Future is Already Here and the Dennis O'Dea gave the Southern District of Ohio its first workout


Dennis O'Dea tried the first case implementing the electronic courtroom facilities in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to conduct trial in Columbus, Ohio with witness testimony from a courtroom in another district. In addition to testimony from witnesses present in the Ohio court, the court had testimony from a witness present in the electronic courtroom facilities in Greenville, Tennessee. The witness was shown documents transmitted to the video screen in tennessee and submitted documents in Tennessee that were transmitted to Ohio. The parties examined local and remote witnesses with documents downloaded from the internet and used as exhibits in electronic format. The ability to offer documents from stored data on personal computers, remote transmissions and from internet downloads was a powerful litigation tool that enabled the defendants to respond to the issues raised on short notice.

The firm used computer stored information to project documentary evidence for examination and made special use of wireless internet connections to obtain documents from remote web sites, download, project and use them as evidence at trial. 

Mr. O'Dea made similar use of electronically stored date and evidence in the District of Alabama where the ability to offer electronically stored data to show compliance with document production requests in the face of a "we could not read it" argument.  When it was clear that a simple excel program could open the files, the spurious complaint ended. 


Creative and innovative legal thinking

In the United Airlines Bankruptcy case, Dennis O’Dea proposed the prosecution and use of a novel antitrust claim that the creditors committee adopted and persuaded United Airlines to pursue in resisting oppressive behavior by certain creditors groups.  United Airlines succeeded in securing an injunction in the face of asserted rights to recover property under the special Section 1110 powers granted by the Bankruptcy Code.  Though successful before the lower court, the injunction was dissolved by the court of appeals and the case became moot with agreement on the reorganization plan.


Business Litigation Arbitration and Mediation

Unfair Competition, Trade Secret, Business Tort and Competitive Tort Claims have been significant practice areas since the creation of the Special Financial Services Law Group.  Mr. O'Dea has spoken on competitive torts to Bar Association, Trade Association, and other business groups. He has tried trade secret, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and other competitive tort cases in courts throughout the United States. 


For small businesses, Dennis O'Dea has developed a focus in the special litigation risks involved in disputes among members of Limited Liability Companies and and close corporations.  The overlay of fiduciary duty claims, special corporate governance doctrines and shareholders agreements require sophisticated and experienced counsel in dealing with internal conflict.  The growth of business governance litigation among privately held companies has become quite significant.  The conflict amount LLC interest holders is now a leading source of new litigation and dispute resolution challenges. 
















Bankruptcy litigation: it's a different world



    The Rule Book may look the same, but Bankruptcy Courts follow a different clock than US District Courts or State trial courts. In some courts, it seems to run backwards and even lawyers with long experience can feel that a case was over before they knew it had started.

     The need for speed and competing economic interests who may be heard in Bankruptcy cases can be baffling to litigators who are used to knowing who the parties are in their cases, what the issues are in dispute and what law governs the case. 

   In Bankruptcy practice, Contested Matters are not the same as Adversary Proceedings and who gets to offer evidence, take a deposition, file a motion or oppose an order is never a settled matter.  . 



The SFS Law Group has tried cases in Bankruptcy courts throughout the country and understands the need to study local practice and the special environment in Bankruptcy courts.


Bankruptcy Litigation Is Different

Bankruptcy Litigation is different than civil litigation in state or federal court.  The Bankruptcy Courts usually set matters for hearing over very short time periods. Discovery opportunities are often limited and and information difficult to obtain from debtors and others. The broad jurisdictional reach of Bankruptcy courts often requires defendants to appear in unfamiliar courts.

The legal issues in Bankruptcy litigation often involve the application of familiar state and federal law, but the special treatment of contract and property rights under Bankruptcy law often changes the outcome expected when those relationships were created.

For companies who are parties to executory contracts, their freedom of contract rights are severely limited in Bankruptcy.  The filing of the Bankruptcy case cannot be grounds for termination in most cases and the court will support the debtor's demand that the contract be performed even if there is a substantial risk that the creditor may face future unpaid claims. 

Property rights may be limited through special "adequate protection" orders that allow debtors to use property with major changes to the terms of use.  At the same time, special interest groups have created many unique provisions over the thirty years since the Bankruptcy Code was first enacted in 1978 that create their own special rules.  Labor Unions, pension and employee benefit recipients, aircraft equipment lessors, landlords, and many others have complex provisions that impact the debtor and others.  The SFS Law Group has been involved in many of the leading bankruptcy cases since the enactment of the Bankruptcy Code and dealt with many of the special legal rights that debtors and others exercise in Bankruptcy cases.

The firm has represented creditors bound by executory contracts who have pursued adequate assurance of performance, stay relief, and assumption motions in bankruptcy cases throughout the country.  The unique burdens on creditors bound by significant executory contracts in long running bankruptcy cases continues to generate litigation and intense negotiations in the early stages of complex bankruptcy cases.  The innovative use of the assertion Section 1110 rights by trade creditors in airline bankruptcy cases has provided significant benefits to clients bound by long term relationships.

Dennis O’Dea has defended lawsuits seeking to compel performance of executory contracts pending assumption in the Western Pacific Airlines, Kiwi Airlines, National Airlines and other cases.  Executory contract parties often fail in securing relief pending the confirmation of a reorganization plan and risk unexpected rejection threats.  In the US Airways case, Dennis O’Dea prosecuted a motion for order directing US Airways to decide to assume or reject a contract the case was tried to a successful judgment after trial and compelled US Airways to identify his client’s contract as being assumed well ahead of other contracts in the case. 

In addition to the preference, claims objection, and avoidance litigation, the firm has been engaged to deal with novel and unusual Bankruptcy issues and take aggressive litigation roles.