Peter Russ is a commercial litigator with differentiating experience assisting risk managers and lending executives in optimizing recovery in high stakes business disputes. He does this by pursuing value in distressed lending transactions, asserting creditors’ rights and defending claims of lender liability or other business disputes. Additionally, he defends businesses in a range of torts, contract actions and complex commercial disputes involving substantial financial or operational stakes.
How Peter Helps Clients
Creditor’s Rights and Litigation
Peter works with lenders and other creditors including banks, finance companies and businesses which seek to recover value while minimizing associated risk. He has the experience and vision necessary to identify workout strategies or debt restructuring opportunities, and the courtroom experience to try a case to verdict when litigation is required. Peter navigates creditors through the process of asserting and enforcing their rights, discerns potential counter moves by adversaries and focuses on neutralizing their claims. He is not deterred by common defensive tactics such as the threat of bankruptcy or lender liability actions, and instead focuses on analyzing collectability and flipping the debtor’s strategy to his client’s advantage.
Complex Commercial Litigation
Clients also turn to Peter to defend them in financial disputes that can involve financial fraud, directors’ and officers’ liability, contract disputes and business torts. He has significant trial experience involving secured transactions and other Uniform Commercial Code issues. Having worked with diverse industries including banking, energy, securities, construction, technology and aerospace, he is able to discern strategic priorities quickly and efficiently and devise appropriate defensive strategies where necessary.
A significant part of Peter’s practice is focused outside of the courtroom. Peter understands that litigation avoidance is often a preferred outcome when accounting for the uncertainty inherent in complex litigation. He brings a holistic approach to dispute resolution which begins with a thorough understanding of his client’s business and balances long-term strategies with short-term goals. While Peter’s clients appreciate his ability to resolve conflict without litigation, they turn to him when litigation becomes necessary.
What Clients Can Expect
Drawing upon past experience earned working inside banks as well as over 30 years of experience counseling all types of creditors, Peter has a unique understanding of bank operations, culture and the performance indicators which are essential considerations when developing a financial litigation strategy. Clients appreciate his diligent attention to their strategic and reputational concerns as well as his aggressive nature when litigation is filed.
Peter is the Chair of the Financial Services Litigation Team and serves as the leader of Buchanan’s Pittsburgh office.
A good attorney has a laser-focus on your business strategy while being vigilant to the inevitable surprises that make each case or negotiation unique.
Peter was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019.
Outside of the Office
Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Peter is married with two great kids. He loves to cycle, hike, and travel, and has visited 49 of the United States. True to his multi-faceted nature, Peter says that if he had not chosen a career in law, he may have chosen either investment banking or a gig as a DJ on Little Steven's Underground Garage.
- Served as lead counsel in successfully defending a national bank against a $100 million lender liability action brought in a Pennsylvania federal court involving a failed Rocky Mountain ski resort and simultaneously securing a multi-million dollar judgment for monies advanced.
- Represented a large national bank in a lender liability action alleging an oral modification of certain loan documents. All claims were defeated and judgment was entered against the borrower in excess of $30 million. Notwithstanding aggressive judgment avoidance tactics, the full amount of the judgment was ultimately collected through a related action brought against a borrower affiliate for successor liability and alter ego liability.
- Defeated an injunction action filed in a New York trial court seeking to compel an international multi-bank lending group to further fund two loan facilities totaling almost $100 million secured by two Marin County, California apartment complexes. The favorable court rulings eventually lead to the successful restructuring of both credit facilities.
- Was part of the team that defended a class action alleging a bank clients’ purported violation of a number of federal and state statutes including RESPA, TILA/HOEPA and RICO. Binding arbitration produced a verdict to the class plaintiffs of less than 3% of the almost $1 billion in damages claimed.
- As lead counsel, represented the administrative agent for a group of lenders in the sale out of receivership of approximately 60 acres commonly known as The Campus at Playa Vista, a retail/commercial project located in Los Angeles, CA, on historic property formerly owned by billionaire industrialist Howard Hughes, Jr.
- Served as lead trial counsel on behalf of the holders of approximately $100 million of tax exempt municipal bonds secured by two major metropolitan New York City hotels. After a one month bankruptcy court trial, relief was granted which lead to a significant multimillion dollar recovery beyond the bondholders' initial investment.
- Secured a receiver for a large Michigan mobile home park necessitated by the breach of a $30 million multi-bank credit facility. Successfully defeated related lender liability and RICO claims brought in Michigan and New York courts.
- Successfully restructured credit facilities totaling almost $40 million supported by municipal bonds issued in conjunction with a not-for-profit religious school located on Long Island, NY.
- Obtained a $9 million settlement in an action brought on behalf of a bankrupt glass container manufacturer against a broker and insurance company for negligence, bad faith and other claims arising from the declination of insurance coverage. This settlement represents one of the largest Pennsylvania settlements or verdicts obtained in 2008.
- Lead a team of over 20 attorneys and paraprofessionals in the sale of over 14,000 loans spun out from one of the largest bank mergers of 2016. The team leveraged proprietary technology and an alternative fee structure which brought consistency and cost certainty to the project.
- Obtained a Delaware Chancery Court verdict in excess of $26 million on behalf of a national financial institution in an action brought under Delaware's statutory cash-out merger laws.
- Favorably resolved, with other counsel, a securities class action brought against the former officers and directors of the second largest bank in Puerto Rico.
- Won a federal court judgment on behalf of a national investment firm in excess of $21 million while simultaneously obtaining a defense verdict on a related securities fraud action.
- Successfully defended a seven member national bank syndicate in a multimillion dollar lender liability action involving the development of several large assisted living facilities brought in an Arizona state court.
- Successfully defended the outside directors and members of the audit committee of a public company in a securities fraud class action.
- Obtained a defense verdict and secured a million dollar judgment and equitable relief from a West Virginia federal court on behalf of a security alarm company in an action for tortious interference and other business torts.
State University of New York at Buffalo, J.D., 1984
State University of New York at Buffalo, B.A., 1980, cum laude
- New York
Pittsburgh Legal Diversity and Inclusion Coalition, Board of Directors & Treasurer
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Board of Directors
Hampton Township Council, former Member and Council Vice President
Allegheny County Association of Township Officials, former Board Member and First Vice President
Allegheny League of Municipalities, former Director