Walter K. Oetzell, Partner

Walter K. Oetzell specializes in bankruptcy and commercial finance with an emphasis on litigation. In his practice he represents debtors, creditors, utilities, telecommunication companies, airports and cities and trustees in reorganizations and bankruptcy proceedings. His experience includes litigating letter of credit issues and representing originators in structured finance transactions.

Significant matters include the following:

  • Represented numerous national utilities in preference and adequate assurance actions in high-profile bankruptcies
  • Represented indenture trustee of senior subordinated notes in bankruptcy litigation seeking distribution subordination
  • Represented national long distance carrier and Internet service provider in numerous contract actions and bankruptcy proceedings resulting in settlements and judgments in excess of $18 million
  • Successfully prosecuted significant action for wrongful dishonor of letter of credit for a national telecommunications company
  • Responsible for analysis, documentation and opinions regarding “bankruptcy remote”, “true sale” and “substantive consolidation” issues in various multilayered securitization transactions
  • Represented the unsecured creditors’ committee in the Los Angeles Airport Hilton bankruptcy including recovery of $2.5 million transferred to 150 limited partners and objecting to more than 500 claims, resulting in distribution in excess of 75%
  • Represented various airports and cities in national and international airline bankruptcy cases, including United Airlines and Air Canada
  • Represented Chapter 11 trustee in high-profile bankruptcy of real estate investor including prosecuting multiple fraudulent transfer actions, filing Chapter 11 cases for various tenant-in-common limited liability companies (LLCs) to effect sale of real property assets, and litigating against additional members of LLCs to obtain distribution
  • Represented bankruptcy estate of high-profile nonprofit organization in action against former directors and officers for breach of fiduciary duty and corporate waste

Practice Areas

Acquisitions and Asset Purchases

Bankruptcy Appeals

Creditor Representation
– Creditor Committee Counsel
– Creditor Representation in Bankruptcy Cases

Debtor Representation

Governmental Entities

Litigation in all Federal and State Courts
– Judgment Enforcement
– Commercial Law Litigation
– Prosecute and Defend Avoidance Actions

Trustee, Receiver and Other Fiduciary Services and Representation
– Bankruptcy Trustees
– Receivers


University of California, Los Angeles (B.A. 1978), Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa

University of California, Los Angeles (J.D. 1983)


State Bar of California, 1983

United States Federal Courts, 1984

Memberships & Associations

Financial Lawyers Conference
Starting January 1985

Co-Chair California State Bar Commercial Transactions Committee
Starting April 2018

California State Bar UCC Committee
April 2008 – April 2011

Member Local Bankruptcy Rules Committee

Member Local Bankruptcy Rules Committee for Enforcement of Judgments

California Bankruptcy Forum
Starting February 1991

Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum
Starting April 2002

Martindale-Hubbell AV Rated
Starting January 2000


The Limits of “Bankruptcy Proofing” in the Wake of General Growth Properties
Business Law News, Issue 2, June 2010

Featured in Verdicts and Settlements, Los Angeles Daily Journal, October 3, 2001


Speaker: Issues Affecting Preference Actions and Defenses 21st Annual Utility Bankruptcy Conference October 16, 2014

Various issues arising in preference actions and defenses including paid or unpaid requirement of the subsequent new value defense, new developments in the ordinary course of business defense, draws on letters of credit as preferential payments, and the Powerine Oil trap.