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Aug. 24, 2022

Peter J. Benvenutti

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SAN FRANCISCO - Peter J. Benvenutti is one of two founding partners of what he now considers to be "one of the best, if not the best, bankruptcy boutiques in Northern California." Most recently, he and the firm have been co-counsel to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in its biggest-ever bankruptcy. He also represented the replacement board of managers for the Woodbridge Group of Companies, who were appointed to manage the Chapter 11 cases of approximately 250 debtor entities left behind from the company's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. In re: Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, 1:17-bk-12560 (Bankr. D. Del., filed Dec. 4, 2017). But these days, Benvenutti's title is partner emeritus, and he is, as he put it, "on a glide path to retirement." He is still involved in several cases, and he said he would take on more if the firm or a client asked. In PG&E, his firm continues to serve as local co-counsel, but with a substantial role in the case. Initially, he focused on claims resolutions and dealt with creditors seeking to avoid the automatic stay. "We were pretty successful in rebuffing those efforts," he said. Since confirmation in 2020, Benvenutti managed the resolution of the "many tens of billions of dollars of commercial claims" such as contracts, tort claims and real estate disputes. He has now passed most of that work on to his partners, he said. He is acting as a counsel to a major litigation law firm handling a tort case pending in bankruptcy court. Also he and a colleague are leading the defense of a group of five former Sedgwick partners in a clawback action by the shuttered law firm's liquidating trustee. In re: Sedgwick LLP, 1:18-bk- 31087 (Bankr. N.D. Cal., filed Oct. 2, 2018). Benvenutti said his clients earned the money the trustee is seeking almost two years before the firm's bankruptcy. "Their position, which I think is solidly based in law and fact, is that they earned every penny of it and there's no basis under bankruptcy law or state law for the trustee to get it back from them," he said. He has some experience with failed law firms. Benvenutti was a partner in Heller Ehrman LLP when it went bankrupt at the end of 2008. He then spent about two years chairing its dissolution committee, effectively serving as his former firm's CEO.


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