John R. McDonald

Partner Minneapolis


John focuses his practice principally in the areas of (i) bankruptcy, workout and creditors' rights, (ii) distressed transactions, and (iii) business and financial litigation. He is also a member of the newly formed Distressed Company Task Force that was created to assist borrower clients in every way, including how to navigate discussions with their lenders and in addressing concerns over suppliers and stakeholders. Please reach out to him with any questions on how he can counsel you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a commercial insolvency attorney with over 35 years of experience, John has represented virtually every type of interested party in large Chapter 11 bankruptcies, cross-border proceedings, receiverships, workouts, financial litigation, and distressed transactions. Although he primarily represents secured lenders, as well as mezzanine and junior capital funds, he also has extensive experience representing unsecured creditors, real estate and equipment lessors, financial contract counterparties, insurers, official and unofficial committees, railroads, trustees, business debtors, boards of directors, post-confirmation entities, and numerous other interested parties. He has also represented both plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation involving a range of commercial matters, including foreclosures, assignments for the benefit of creditors, class action defense, and multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme clawback litigation.

John has been a member of the advisory board to the Center for Law and Business at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and a board member of the Saint Paul Sales Tax Revitalization Board (appointed by Mayor Coleman). He also chaired a $6 million capital campaign for his local parish and has served as a crisis nursery foster parent for Children’s Home Society of Minnesota.

John is published in various publications, is a frequent lecturer on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and commercial topics, was a founding board member of the Upper Midwest Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association, and is often quoted locally on bankruptcy and turnaround topics. 


  • Honoree, Best Lawyers in America, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law (2013-present)

  • Honoree, America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®

  • Honoree, Minnesota's Best Lawyers, Minnesota Monthly

  • Honoree, Leading American Attorney, American Research Corporation


  • Mitchell Hamline School of Law (1985)

    with honors

  • University of New Hampshire, M.A. (1982)

    cum laude

  • University of St. Thomas, B.A.

    cum laude


  • State - Minnesota
  • Federal - District of Minnesota

Notable Matters

Current and recent engagements include representation of:

  • Landlord of main headquarters of Texas-based Chapter 11 debtor CiCi’s Pizza;
  • Second-lien lender in workout involving California precision metals manufacturer;
  • Unsecured creditor with $1.4 million 503(b)(9) claim in Borden Dairy Company Chapter 11 in Delaware;
  • Secured creditor in $30 million workout involving frack sand company in Wisconsin;
  • Clawback defendant in Ponzi scheme-related Chapter 11 of Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC in Delaware;
  • Shareholder/guarantor in $20 million frack sand-related workout in Minnesota;
  • Landlord of prior headquarters of Chapter 11 debtor USA Gymnastics in Indiana;
  • National bank and non-bank finance company as defendants in multi-billion dollar clawbacks in Polaroid and Petters Ponzi-scheme bankruptcies and related receiverships in Minnesota;
  • Judgment lien holder in environmental-related Chapter 11 of defense manufacturer Wellman Dynamics Corp. in Iowa (M&A Advisor’s 2018 Industrials Deal of the Year);
  • Software Licensor in Chapter 11 of electronics manufacturer HEI, Inc. (Turnaround Management Association’s 2016 Winner, National Transaction of the Year);
  • Forward contract merchant counterparties in bankruptcies of Cloud Peak Energy, Inc. in Delaware (coal), G & R Feed and Grain Co., Inc., in Iowa (grain), and Louisiana Pellets, Inc. in Louisiana (wood pellets);
  • Creditor/defendant railroad in $2.5 billion mass-tort-related Chapter 11 of Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, Ltd. and its associated Chapter 15 in Maine;
  • Corporate and individual defendants in case of Central States Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Lakeville Transportation, Inc. involving $100 million in alleged controlled-group withdrawal liability, venued in federal district court in Minnesota;
  • Successful bidder in 363 sale of loan servicer in Chapter 11 of bank holding company American Bancorporation in Minnesota;
  • Second-lien lender with $25 million claim in Stant Parent Corp.’s automotive-related Chapter 11 in Delaware;
  • Agent bank in $100 million syndicated loan workout and ensuing Chapter 11 cases in Minnesota involving large national building products conglomerate Lyman Lumber Company (Turnaround Management Association’s 2009 Winner, National Middle Market Transaction of the Year);
  • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in numerous Chapter 11 cases, including Universal Map Enterprises, Inc. in Michigan, and Citi-Equity Group, Inc., 10,000 Auto Parts, Canterbury Downs owner Brooks Hauser, Retail Holdings, and R&A Trucking in Minnesota;
  • Regional bank in $110 million workout involving real estate developer with residential projects throughout U.S.;
  • Chapter 11 debtor in Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines reorganization, the first scheduled-service air carrier to file bankruptcy post-9/11, resulting in agreed-upon lifting of stay and unprecedented Article 9 disposition of airline by lender;
  • DIP lender/lessor and plan co-proponent in Tampa-based Chapter 11 of Recomm International Display Corp., Inc., a marketer/vendor of electronic advertising display equipment, and as defendant in related multi-district litigation involving hundreds of individual, class and mass actions;
  • Business interruption insurers holding $500 million claim in contested confirmation in Chapter 11 case of The Olympic Pipe Line Company venued in Seattle;
  • Administrative expense claimant in ethanol/bio-fuel conglomerate VeraSun Energy Corporation’s Chapter 11 in Delaware;
  • Professional baseball and football teams in issuance of non-consolidation and non-relocation opinions associated with public financing of Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis;
  • Outside directors of large utility company in out-of-court workout involving over $10 billion of debt, with follow-on representation in Chapter 11 cases of NRG Energy and its 25 affiliates in Southern District of New York;
  • Sole shareholder/plan co-proponent in Chapter 11 of national home health care company, Intrepid U.S.A., Inc., and its nearly 60 affiliates venued in Minnesota.
  • Founder/sole shareholder in distressed sale of national IT consulting firm;
  • Mixed-use, commercial, and residential developers in bankruptcy acquisitions in Washington, D.C. and surrounding area;
  • Physician-owned seller in distressed sale of largest private practice clinic in South Dakota;
  • Large multi-national bank in Minnesota-based Chapter 11 of national scheduled-service bus company Jefferson Lines;
  • Creditors in the Lehman, GM, and Chrysler bankruptcy cases;
  • Multi-bank lender group in 363 sale of Chapter 11 debtor Benson Optical, Inc., a national manufacturer/retailer of optical equipment;
  • Asset-based, mezzanine, and alternative lenders in multiple workouts, bankruptcies, and collection matters in state and federal courts across the U.S.;
  • National bank against large student loan finance company in U.S. Bank National Association v. Student Loan Finance Corporation in Minnesota federal court;
  • Private lender in fraudulent transfer/debt recharacterization case of Arena Development, LLC v. Naegele Communications, Inc. stemming from UCC Article 9 disposition;
  • Manufacturer/lessor Pitney Bowes, Inc. in numerous class action defense matters involving small ticket leasing;
  • Leading agricultural conglomerate in business-to-business non-compete case of Cargill Incorporated v. E.I. duPont de Nemours and Company in Minnesota state court.


Speeches and Publications


Professional Affiliations

  • Minnesota State Bar Association

    Member, Bankruptcy Section

  • Hennepin County Bar Association


  • Ramsey County Bar Association


  • American Bar Association


  • American Bankruptcy Institute


  • Turnaround Management Association


Community Involvement


  • Mitchell Hamline School of Law

    Center for Law and Business Advisory, Board Member

  • Saint Paul Sales Tax Revitalization Board

     Member, Mayor Appointed

  • Children’s Home Society of Minnesota

    Crisis Nursery Foster Parent

  • Lumen Christi Parish

    $6 Million Capital Campaign Co-Chair

  • Equipment Leasing and Finance Association