John F. Kostelnik Photo

John F. Kostelnik

Partner | Co-Chair, Specialty Practices Group


John represents both debtors and creditors alike in bankruptcy and workout situations. He has a long and distinguished list of successful first chair Chapter 11 representations and is familiar with all aspects of workouts, lender liability, creditors’ rights, and bankruptcy law. John has also practiced in the area of banking law and commercial transactions, including asset based lending, supplier agreements, commercial contracts, sale and purchase of debt instruments, and equipment finance. John is proactive in helping clients deal expediently with crisis situations and counsels clients to best position themselves to avoid or mitigate risk of loss in dealing with financial crises prior to or as a part of in court proceedings.

Prior to private practice, John led the workout group of the in-house legal staff within the banking law department at a large national bank. He began his law career as a law clerk to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert J. Sidman. John is a former U.S. Army officer and served on active duty as the Chief of Operational Law for U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.



    • In re General Motors Chapter 11. Successfully represented one of the largest transportation providers to General Motors in transitioning from old GM to new GM.
    • In re Transvantage Solutions Chapter 7. Successfully defended a national transportation provider in multi-million dollar bankruptcy cause of action litigation.
    • In re NLP Acquisition Limited Partnership Chapter 11. Represented the lead secured creditor in the successful sale of multiple apartment complexes.
    • In re Horsehead Corporation Chapter 11. Representation of large supplier.
    • In re Magnetation Chapter 11. Representation of significant supplier.
    • In re Chrysler Corp. Chapter 11. Successfully represented a significant supplier to Chrysler and transitioned them to the purchaser of Chrysler.
    • In re Dana Lewis McDonalds and Zanco Chapter 11. Successful representation of the lead secured creditor in the bankruptcy of a large regional McDonalds’ franchisee.
    • In re American Paper Group Chapter 11. Debtor representation in the successful 363 sale of an ongoing business and subsequent plan confirmation.
    • In re Standard Register Chapter 11. Successfully represented one of the largest suppliers.
    • In re American Airlines Chapter 11. Successful representation of a large national transportation provider to the debtor.
    • In re New Page Corporation Chapter 11. Successful representation of a significant supplier to the debtor.
    • In re Quebecor Chapter 11. Successful representation of significant supplier.
    • In re Bush Leasing Chapter 11. Representation of national automotive financing entity as a secured creditor.
    • In re LeGourmet Chef Chapter 11. Representation of significant creditor and defense of bankruptcy cause of action litigation.
    • In re George Worthington Chapter 11. Successful representation of lead secured creditor.
    • Numerous foreclosures, creditors’ rights litigation matters and out-of-court financial workouts and debt restructurings.
  • Education

    • The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, J.D., 1981
    • Miami University, B.S., cum laude, 1978


    • State of Ohio
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio and Southern District of Ohio
  • Professional Affiliations

    • Ohio State Bar Association—Member
    • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association—Vice President of Finance (2018-Present)
    • American Bankruptcy Institute—Member

    Community Involvement

    • U.S. Army Reserve—Former JAG Officer
    • West Side Catholic Center—Volunteer
    • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation—Trustee

    Firm Involvement

    • Co-Chair, Specialty Practices Group—Frantz Ward LLP
    • Named to The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law (2014-2019)
    • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated—Martindale-Hubbell
    • Named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list (2005-2008, 2018; 2019)
    • "Prepayment Penalty Upheld Despite Lender's Acceleration of the Debt," Frantz Ward Client Alert (April 2019) 
    • “Vendor Contracts,” Association of Corporate Counsel CLE Speaker Cleveland, OH (June 2018)
    • “Impact and Fallout of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on the Coal Industry,” Met Coke World Summit, Pittsburgh, PA (October 2016)
    • Speaker at numerous seminars and private presentations regarding bankruptcy law, creditors rights, and lender liability.