BARON & BUDD
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Shoddy drywall. Bad actions by banks. This Dallas firm has established a reputation as an advocate in some of the hottest litigation going. It is especially well regarded for its work on behalf of mesothelioma victims, for whom Baron & Budd has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts, including the largest asbestos win — $55 million. In the pending oil spill multidistrict litigation, it represents the state of Louisiana and has a seat on the plaintiffs’ executive committee.
• In re Checking Account Overdraft Litig., MDL No. 2036 (S.D. Fla.). The crux of this case is the alleged manipulation of data by banks to increase overdraft fee revenue. The firm helped obtain a $410 million settlement with Bank of America Corp., the largest financial institution involved. General litigation practice leader Bruce Steckler served on the plaintiffs’ executive steering committee with attorneys from Grossman Roth, Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher & Hayes, the Alters Law Firm and Podhurst Orseck. The suit accused the banks of manipulating the timing of debit card transactions so they could soak customers for overdraft fees. Besides the monetary recovery, the litigation forced banks across the country to change their overdraft policies — they no longer offer “courtesy” overdraft protection or “re-ordering debits.”
• City of San Diego v. Hotels.com L.P., No. GIC 8611117 (San Diego Co., Calif., Sup. Ct.). Plaintiffs’ counsel Laura Baughman and Thomas Sims won a $21.2 million award for the City of San Diego. Travel companies allegedly shortchanged the city by millions of dollars in hotel occupancy taxes for their online bookings. Baron & Budd is working on 40 similar suits involving other cities. Baron’s litigation group participated in strategic planning, working with co-counsel from Kiesel, Boucher & Larson and McKool Smith and the San Diego city attorney’s office.
• Henderson v. The Dow Chemical Co., No. 10-07003 (Dallas Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). John Langdoc and Alana Kalantzakis won a $9 million verdict against Dow for the family of a Dow contract employee who was exposed to insulation containing asbestos, with fatal consequences. Asbestos litigation practice chief Steve Baron said that Dow refused to settle, “so we presented our case to the jury.”
BERGER & MONTAGUE
Philadelphia’s Berger & Montague pulled off a big victory against Big Pharma and on behalf of temporary nurses in a hospital price-fixing case. The 68-lawyer plaintiffs’ shop also helped foreign trusts scorched in the Bernie Madoff scandal get back some of their money.
• Meijer Inc. v. Abbott Lab., No. 07-5985 CW (N.D. Calif.). Shareholder Eric L. Cramer served as co-lead counsel for this antitrust class action that settled for $52 million after a four-day jury trial in Oakland, Calif. He was assisted by associates Daniel Simons and Ellen Noteware. The firm represented a class of pharmaceutical wholesalers and pharmacies charging Abbott Laboratories with monopoly power and overcharging with respect to Abbott’s anti-HIV medicine Norvir to protect monopoly power for its highly profitable HIV drug Kaletra. Co-lead counsel included Garwin Gerstein & Fisher, Grant & Eisenhofer and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein as local counsel. Non-settling co-plaintiff GlaxoSmithKline went on to lose its antitrust claims in a jury trial. The settlement was approved on Aug. 11.
• Johnson v. Arizona Hosp. and Healthcare Ass’n, No. CV-07-1291 (D. Ariz.). The firm represented a class of thousands of temporary nurses in Arizona in a $22.4 million settlement from this statewide hospital trade association. The case involved an alleged hospital price-fixing conspiracy that the class charged had violated state and federal antitrust law. Shareholder David Sorensen served as co-lead class counsel with associate Neill Clark. Other co-lead counsel were from the Law Offices of David Balto, Keller Rohrback and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
• In re Tremont Sec. Law, State Law and Ins. Litig., No. 08-MD-11117 (S.D.N.Y.). Two words: Bernie Madoff. Firm shareholders Sherrie Savett and Glen Abramson helped win a settlement of $100 million for foreign trusts that purchased insurance policies whose premiums were invested in funds managed by Tremont Group Holdings and its affiliates — which ultimately invested with Madoff. The settlement, approved on Aug. 19, could go as high as $200 million or more. Entwistle & Cappucci and Hagens Berman were co-lead counsel for the state law class and Bernstein Liebhard was lead counsel for the securities class.
Since 1993, 27-attorney Bernstein Liebhard has recovered almost $3 billion for clients and their classes in high-stakes, complex class actions and individual litigation. The big numbers continued last year: The value of the New York firm’s settlements amounted to nearly $119 million and included settlements on behalf of investors scammed by Bernie Madoff.
• In re Tremont Sec. Law, State Law and Ins. Litig., No. 08-CV-11117 (TPG) (S.D.N.Y.). Jeffrey Haber was sole lead counsel for investors in funds allegedly used to feed disgraced investor Bernie Madoff in his Ponzi scheme. Haber was assisted by Stephanie Beige and Jeffrey Lerner. The $100 million-plus settlement was notable because many such cases have been dismissed. “Our team’s tenaciousness in pressing claims was [the opposition's] primary reason to settle,” Haber said.
• In re Atlas Energy Inc. Shareholders Litig., No. C.A. 5990-VCL (Del. Ch.). The firm secured an additional $7.45 million for Atlas Energy shareholders following Atlas’ board’s disputed attempt to sell the company to Chevron Corp. Bernstein’s strategy was to expedite litigation and “be very aggressive from the beginning.” The firm attacked Atlas’ financial analyses, took depositions and filed a 50-page brief supporting a preliminary injunction. The principal litigator was U. Seth Ottensoser, with Joseph Beige and Jeffrey Lerner, and co-counsel from the Weiser Law Firm.
• In re Mutual Funds Investment Litigation, No. C.A. 04-MD-15861 (D. Md.). This case arose from an action alleging market timing and late trading on mutual funds and alleged that these were industrywide practices. Federated Investors Inc. settled for $80 million, but the firm carried on, seeking injunctive relief to ensure the practices wouldn’t be repeated. It secured an additional $3.4 million from Federated and other defendants. Lead counsel was U. Seth Ottensoser, with Stephanie Beige. Sandy Liebhard oversaw the case.
BERNSTEIN LITOWITZ BERGER & GROSSMANN
New York’s Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, best known for securities class actions, has been lead counsel in numerous lawsuits arising from the subprime mortgage mess. It collected a cool $1 billion in recoveries during 2010, and hit the $1 billion mark this year by fall. The firm employs 16 partners and 31 associates.
• In re Satyam Computer Serv. Ltd. Sec. Litig., No. 09-MD-2027 (S.D.N.Y). In what the firm called “the largest settlement from an Asian company in history,” lead partner Steven Singer helped reach a settlement worth $150.5 million for the Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System after B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of an India-based IT outsourcing firm, confessed to a massive accounting fraud. The client has become one of the nation’s most aggressive institutional litigants; the firm represents it in a raft of securities cases and in mortgage pass-through certificates litigation against major banks.
• In re Refco Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 05-cv-8626 (S.D.N.Y). Partners John Browne and Salvatore Graziano were lead counsel for a class suing a failed brokerage that became the fourth-largest bankruptcy in history. The firm, with co-counsel from Grant & Eisenhofer, has recovered more than $424.3 million on behalf of the class since Refco’s failure in 2005. In granting final approval to one tranche of settlements totaling $193 million, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff congratulated the team on a “very excellent presentation.”
• In re WellCare Health Plans Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 07-cv-01940 (M.D. Fla.). In representing five pension funds in Louisiana, Illinois and New Mexico, lead partner Steven Singer and co-counsel from Labaton Sucharow have secured more than $200 million against WellCare Health Plans Inc. for a Medicaid scheme that artificially inflated the company’s income. Bernstein took a lead role in preparing all pleadings, including amended complaint and opposition to motions to dismiss, which judge denied.
BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER
Boies, Schiller & Flexner broke records this year with its $1.3 billion copyright infringment verdict for Oracle, and continued to make headlines for name partner David Boies’ leading role in high-profile cases on behalf of corporations and causes (including same-sex marriage). Founded in 1997, the Armonk, N.Y.-based firm added 30 new attorneys and expanded its West Coast presence, opening its second office in California.
• Oracle Corp. v. SAP A.G., No. 07-01658 (N.D. Calif.). Lead attorneys were David Boies, Steven Holtzman, William Norton Jr., Kieran Ringgenberg, Beko Reblitz-Richardson, with Bingham McCutchen. The firm secured for Oracle a record-breaking $1.3 billion verdict in its copyright dispute with SAP, after Oracle’s team uncovered a smoking-gun document proving SAP board members knew about possible intellectual property theft by a subsidiary. Firm Chairman Boies argued the case at trial, helping Oracle win the largest-ever damages recovery in a copyright infringement case.
• In re Vitamin C Antitrust Litig., No. 06-01738 (E.D.N.Y.). Lead attorneys were William Isaacson and Tanya Chutkan, with Susman Godfrey and Hausfeld. Co-counsel were Boies’ Jennifer Milici and Alanna Rutherford. The firm successfully argued in favor of a ruling forcing the makers of vitamin C in China to face charges of price-fixing brought by consumers in a U.S. court. The court rejected the defendants’ claim that the Chinese government was responsible for their conduct.
• Pokorny v. Quixtar Inc., No. 07-00201 (N.D. Calif.). Lead attorneys were Stuart Singer and The Law Firm of Gary, Williams, Finney, Lewis, Watson & Sperando. Co-counsel were Boies’ Carlos Sires and David Shapiro. The firm helped negotiate a settlement valued at $155 million between former Amway Corp., subsidiary Quixtar Inc. and independent business owners. The plaintiffs had accused Quixtar of running a pyramid scheme, where the business owners bought into a sales scheme with promises of large returns.
COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL
Washington, D.C.-based Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll played a key role in one of the year’s biggest U.S. Supreme Court cases: the Dukes v. Wal-Mart class action. (The Court ruled against Cohen’s clients.) Despite that decision, Cohen Milstein soared with big wins in a class action involving Native American farmers, a major securities fraud case and another concerning Louisiana hurricane victims.
• Keepseagle v. Vilsack, No. 1:99CV03119 (EGS) (D.D.C.). Cohen Milstein’s Joseph Sellers served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs and Christine Webber and Peter Romer-Friedman were co-counsel in an 11-year case against the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of Native American farmers. The farmers charged discrimination in the federal farm loan program. A settlement approved in April provided $760 million in damages and debt forgiveness. Co-counsel on the case included Conlon, Frantz & Phelan, Jenner & Block, Patton Boggs, Stinson Morrison Hecker and the Sarah Vogel Law Firm.
• Rubin v. MF Global Ltd., No. 08 Civ. 2233 (VM) (S.D.N.Y). Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel representing the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund in a securities fraud case against MF Global, a derivatives broker. In August, a proposed $90 million settlement was reached. Cohen Milstein partner Carol Gilden worked on complaints and strategy throughout the case as well as settlement negotiations. Cohen Milstein partner Steven J. Toll and associate S. Douglas Bunch also worked on the case. Outside co-counsel were Barrack, Rodos & Bacine and Labaton Sucharow.
• Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Ctr. v. U.S. Dep’t of Housing and Urban Dev., No. 08-01938 (D.D.C.). In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the $9.8 billion federal Road Home program was created to aid displaced Louisiana residents. Cohen Milstein counsel Joseph Sellers and Peter Romer-Friedman worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center to win a $62 million settlement to aid African-American homeowners who alleged they were discriminated against in the formula developed to award funds.
COTCHETT, PITRE & MCCARTHY
Burlingame, Calif.-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy scored a series of high-profile wins, including a victory in a rare class action trial and big settlements in cases involving medical lab services and in an antitrust price fixing.
• State of California v. Quest Diagnostics Inc., No. 34-2009-00048046 (Sacramento Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). The firm negotiated a $241 million settlement in a case involving the largest provider of medical laboratory testing. It also reached an additional $49.5 million settlement with Laboratory Corp. of America. The defendants were accused of overcharging California patients. Cotchett’s Niall McCarthy served as lead and worked with fellow Cotchett lawyer Justin Berger. On the defense were Dechert’s Frederick G. Herold and Ober Kaler’s S. Craig Holden.
• In re Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) Antitrust Litig., No. M: 07-CV-01819-CW, MDL No. 1819 (N.D. Calif.). The firm was appointed lead counsel in an antitrust price-fixing class action involving technology companies, which resulted in settlements of $76.8 million. Cotchett’s Steven Williams and Joseph Cotchett served as lead counsel. Co-counsel were from Hagens Berman; Saveri & Saveri; Freed Kanner London & Millen and others. Defense lawyers were from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; Mayer Brown; McDermott Will & Emery and others.
• HL Leasing Inc. v. Massoyan, No. 09 CEG 0189 (Fresno Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). Cotchett went to trial in a class action — a rarity — winning in a case involving HL Leasing, which allegedly victimized more than 1,200 people in a Ponzi scheme. The jury entered a verdict of $46.5 million against two senior HL officers. HL and related companies were held liable for $114 million. Cotchett’s Ara Jabagchourian led the case with Aron Liang. Local co-counsel and second chair was Donald Fischbach. On the defense were attorneys C. Russell Georgeson, David St. Louis, Marc Miles and Kristy Schlesinger.
Dickstein Shapiro, based in Washington, made its name as a defense shop but earned its way onto our list by winning three nine-figure recoveries for plaintiffs during our 12-month window. These included vindication for an inventor, the salvation of a multibillion-dollar construction project and justice for sex abuse victims. Dickstein employs 371 attorneys, and also has offices in Los Angeles, Irvine and Palo Alto, Calif.; New York; and Stamford, Conn.
• Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 07-cv-000451 (E.D. Texas); Saffran v. Boston Scientific Corp., No. 05-cv-547 (E.D. Texas). In these two cases, the firm won jury awards of $593 million and $501 million respectively for Dr. Bruce Saffran, who accused the defendants of turning down his design for a new stent and then producing it themselves. Dickstein attorneys Paul Taskier, Gary Hoffman and James Brady guided the overall strategy and handled cross-examinations, arguments, witness preparation and expert testimony. Co-counsel included the Albritton Law Firm (lead trial counsel) and Williams, Morgan & Amerson.
• Gen. Ins. Co. of America v. Society of Jesus, No. 09-3351-elp (U.S. Bnkr. D. Ore.). Dickstein secured a $120 million settlement from insurance companies for hundreds of sexual abuse victims molested by Catholic priests. The $118 million recovered from Safeco Insurance Co. is believed the largest amount ever paid by a single insurer in an abuse case.
• Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. Tyson Foods Inc., No. 07C-06-255 (Del. Sup. Ct.). Tyson Foods was shipping approximately 100 million pounds of chicken leg quarters through seaports in the Gulf of Mexico when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, causing $100 million in lost profits. After the insurers balked, Dickstein brought the case to the brink of trial, but the last insurer agreed to a favorable settlement just minutes before a jury was seated. Mark Kolman of Washington was co-lead counsel with Randy Paar, who began the case with Dickstein but moved to Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman of New York.
GRANT & EISENHOFER
With 64 attorneys in Delaware, New York and Washington, Grant & Eisenhofer targets major corporations for alleged breaches of securities and corporate governance rules while maintaining an active book of consumer and antitrust work. It reported settlements during 2010 worth nearly $922.5 million and this year helped wrest an additional $900 million from the merger of NYSE Euronext Inc. and Deutsche Börse A.G.
• In re NYSE Euronext Shareholders Litig., No. 6220 (Del. Ch.). James Sabella was lead co-counsel with Labaton Sucharow and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. In a settlement of 10 class actions reached in June, they secured more than $900 million in additional value for shareholders from the merger of Deutsche Börse A.G. and NYSE Euronext Inc., the operator of the New York Stock Exchange. The plaintiffs claimed that the deal would unfairly benefit the exchange’s directors. The team argued that the exchange’s directors were obligated to seek the highest value, even in deals where stock rather than cash changes hands, and that because German law doesn’t require boards to maximize profits, this was the shareholders’ last chance to do so.
• In re Refco Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 05-8626 (S.D.N.Y.). The firm helped recover $460 million on allegations that Refco officers and directors, the company’s auditor and numerous underwriters had fraudulently inflated prices. In all, at least 20 plaintiffs’ firms had a hand, and relations between them wasn’t always smooth. Co-lead counsel was Stuart Grant, with James Sabella, Megan McIntyre and Jeff Almeida. Co-lead counsel were from Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann.
• Blessing v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No 09-10035 (S.D.N.Y.). The government green-lighted the merger of Sirius Satellite radio and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., but a class of 15 million subscribers claimed antitrust violations, pointing to higher prices after the deal. Lead partner Jay Eisenhofer set the overall strategy and James Sabella handled day-to-day litigation in securing a $180 million settlement. Co-lead counsel were from Milberg and Cook, Hall & Lampros.
HAGENS BERMAN SOBOL SHAPIRO
Large-scale, complex consumer class actions and battles against Big Pharma have earned this 53-attorney Seattle firm national recognition. The firm has now launched an intellectual property practice and is already pursuing litigation against some 900 radio stations accused of infringing a patent on using hard drives to store music. In 2010, the firm amassed settlements exceeding $1.5 billion and its verdicts tally surpassed $200 million.
• In re Charles Schwab Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 08-cv-01510 (N.D. Calif.). U.S. District Judge William Alsup gave final approval to a $235 million settlement in this action arising from investments in mortgage-backed securities. Name partner Steve Berman had filed the action, assisted by Sean Matt, Reed Kathrein, Erin Flory, Jeff Friedman, Lisa Hasselman and Colleen Cox. As a condition of the deal, Schwab agreed to allow individual investors outside California to sue it as individuals.
• In re Expedia Hotel Taxes and Fees Litig., No. 05-2-02060-1 (King Co., Wash., Super. Ct.). This case was finally settled for $134 million after objections to the original 2009 agreement were rejected. Hagens Berman’s Andrew Volk and Steve Berman were lead counsel, got the case certified, defeated a motion for discretionary review and took discovery. The litigation alleged that Expedia, the online travel site, charged hotel guests taxes against the retail value of their rooms but was remitting taxes against the wholesale price. Co-counsel were from the firms Aoki Law and Anderson & Karrenberg.
• In re Washington Mutual Inc. Sec. Derivative and ERISA Litig., No. 07-cv-01874 W.D. Wash.). Filed on behalf of employees in Washington Mutual’s 401(k) plan who owned company stock, this action claimed that management offered and held company stock after realizing it was an imprudent investment. When the bank went bust, the stock tanked. A team led by Steve Berman focused on practices leading to the bank’s demise en route to a $49 million settlement. Co-counsel were Andrew Volk, Tyler Weaver and Genessa Stout, plus Keller Rohrback.
HARE, WYNN, NEWELL & NEWTON
See feature, “Hare Wynn harvests big victory in rice row“
In tussle over genetically modified foods, Birmingham, Ala., firm helps win $750M in settlements.
KESSLER TOPAZ MELTZER & CHECK
This Philadelphia firm emerged in its newest incarnation only in May, when a name change reflected name partner Andrew Barroway’s decision to take senior partner status. The firm represents some of the largest institutional investors going. That includes clients not located in the United States (as evidenced below) — the firm is pioneering the development of overseas institutional investors. Between June 2010 and June 2011, Kessler Topaz recovered $302.4 million in settlements.
• In re Satyam Computer Serv. Ltd. Sec. Litig., No. 1:09-MD-2027 (S.D.N.Y., 2009). Litigators David Kessler and Sharan Nirmul led Kessler Topaz’s end of this action against “India’s Enron,” accused of massively inflating its earnings. Working with Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann; Grant & Eisenhofer; and Labaton Sucharow, the team won a final settlement for $150.5 million. Much of the activity transpired in India, but the team beat back ardent efforts to transfer the case there.
• Alston v. Countrywide Financial Corp., No. 07-CV-03508 (E.D. Pa.). Checks worth $34 million are due to go out to class members on Nov. 18 in this action arising from a purported reinsurance kickback scheme. Any class members who don’t cash the checks within 120 days will have the money automatically applied against their mortgage balances. Partner Joseph Meltzer conducted the initial investigation and oversaw the case, backed by Edward Ciolko on the day-to-day work and Terry Ziegler, with support from Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser; Berke, Berke & Berke; and Travis, Calhoun & Conlon.
• In re BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 07-CV-61542 (S.D. Fla. 2007). A jury awarded $40 million in the first securities fraud verdict stemming from the financial crisis. Partners Matthew Mustokoff and Andrew Zivitz led arguments that the bank misrepresented the credit quality of loans and violated proper lending practices. Notably, the team won partial summary judgment on the issue of objective falsity. Labaton Sucharow served as co-counsel.
St. Louis-based Korein Tillery has chalked up big wins for small clients against large corporations in the past year. The firm won a case for 18,000 retirees who were shortchanged when their pension plan didn’t add a cost-of-living adjustment. The firm also represented more than 200 Missouri cities in a series of suits against wireless carriers to recover unpaid municipal taxes.
• Williams v. Rohm and Haas Pension Plan, No. 04-CV-0078 (S.D. Ind.). Lead attorneys were Douglas Sprong and Steven Katz, joined by co-counsel Jenner & Block and the Law Office of William Carr. A class action was filed by Korein Tillery on behalf of about 18,000 retirees who elected to receive annual pension plan payments. Rohm and Haas settled for $180.5 million for its failure to include future cost-of-living adjustments. The firm was awarded legal fees totaling $43.5 million.
• City of Univ. City v. AT&T Wireless Serv., 2101CC-04454-02 (St. Louis Co., Mo., Cir. Ct.). Lead attorneys were John Hoffman and Douglas Sprong. Co-counsel included John Mulligan Jr., city attorney for Richmond Heights, Mo., and Howard Paperner, city attorney for Maryland Heights, Mo. The firm teamed up with the municipal attorneys to take on major wireless carriers in a bid to recover unpaid municipal taxes. The settlements totaled $253 million, including a settlement with T-Mobile reached in October 2010 of $55 million. Attorney fees constituted 5.6% of the settlement.
• Price v. Philip Morris, No. 00-L-112 (Madison Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). The lead attorney from Korein was Stephen Tillery. Co-counsel were Joseph A. Power Jr. of Power Rogers & Smith and Michael J. Brickman and Nina Hunter Fields of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman. Korien Tillery argued that deceptive advertising used by Philip Morris marketed “light” or “lowered tar and nicotine” cigarettes as safer than regular cigarettes when the company knew it to be contrary. The trial judge awarded a judgment of $10.1 billion in damages against Philip Morris.
See feature, “In NYSE case, Labaton created a bull market“
Working for shareholders, the business litigation firm helped win a $900 million settlement.
LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN
By its own estimate, San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein has recovered $42 billion for clients (not counting its multibillion-dollar tobacco work) since it opened shop in 1972. The 58-lawyer firm, which also has offices in New York and Nashville, Tenn., kept the pace up last year with several big awards and settlements.
• In re Broadcom Corp. Derivative Litig., No. CV 06-3252-R (C.D. Cal.). A federal judge threw out the government’s criminal case against former Broadcom executives and co-founders over an alleged stock-backdating scheme. But in the derivative litigation court-appointed Lieff Cabraser attorneys Richard Heimann and Joy Kruse reached a settlement on the eve of trial in March for $79 million.
• Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo Bank, No. C 07-05923 WHA (N.D. Cal.). Charges of excessive overdraft fees have hurt several major banks in the last year, but Lieff’s Richard Heimann and Michael Sobol won a $203 million restitution award in August 2010 for Wells Fargo customers who were charged excessive overdraft fees. It was one of the largest consumer protection judgments in 2010.
• White v. Experian Info. Solutions, No. 05-CV-1070 DOC (C.D. Cal.). In the second-largest settlement ever in a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case, the court approved a $45 million deal in a class action against the nation’s three largest repositories of consumer credit information, Experian Information Solutions Inc., TransUnion LLC and Equifax Information Services LLC. Plaintiffs charged that defendants violated the FCRA by recklessly failing to follow reasonable procedures in the reporting, and reinvestigation of reporting, of debts discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Lieff Cabraser served as co-lead counsel in the nationwide class action lawsuit with Michael Sobol supervising the case.
In the 16-year history of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, only 11 class actions have been tried to a verdict, so when Milberg took on French company Vivendi Universal S.A. it garnered a lot of attention. “Big securities class actions like this almost never go to trial,” said Michael Spencer, one of the two Milberg partners who led the trial team against Vivendi. “It was a very high-stakes, long trial here in New York.” Fortunately, it paid off. And while the exact number is not known, estimates put the claims received by class members close to $1 billion.
• In re Vivendi Universal S.A. Sec. Litig., No. 02-5571 (S.D.N.Y.). Lead attorneys were Matthew Gluck and Michael Spencer. In the securities class action, Milberg showed how Vivendi Universal concealed liquidity problems, which the company discussed through internal communications. All the while, the company was disseminating deceiving information to the public. Estimates put the claims received by class members close to $1 billion.
• In re Nortel Networks Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 01-CV-1855 (S.D.N.Y.). Lead attorney was Sanford Dumain. Milberg secured a $1 billion settlement, which included a cash settlement fund and shares of company stock. Nortel faced several lawsuits that threatened to put it out of business. The firm juggled settlements in both the United States and Canada. “We got literally as much as we could given that we didn’t go to trial,” Dumain said.
• In re Prudential Ins. Co. Sales Practice Litig., No. 95-4704 (D.N.J.). In the case against Prudential Insurance Co., the firm obtained a recovery in excess of $4 billion. Working closely with New Jersey insurance regulators, the firm secured agreements between Prudential and the Multi-State Life Insurance Task Force.
POMERANTZ HAUDEK GROSSMAN & GROSS*
This 33-attorney New York firm is old school — it was founded in 1936. It specializes in securities class actions insurance cases, and in 2010 negotiated securities- and ERISA-related settlements worth $575 million.
• In re Comverse Tech. Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 06-CV-1825 (E.D.N.Y.). This stock-options backdating case generated a $225 million settlement, including $60 million from former Chief Executive Officer Jacob “Kobi” Alexander — the largest payment by an individual in securities class actions. Patrick V. Dahlstrom litigated with Jeremy Lieberman. On defense were Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel; Baker Botts; Dechert; and Law Offices of Solomon N. Klein.
• New Mexico State Inv. Council, New Mexico Pub. Employees’ Retirement Ass’n and New Mexico Educ. Retirement Board v. Countrywide Financial Corp., No. D-0101-C-2008-02289 (N.M. 1st Dist.). A confidential settlement was approved over claims that Countrywide had dumped bad securities on the state. Public records placed the value at $162 million. Pomerantz, with co-counsel, suggested suing in state court rather than joining a parallel class action, ensuring a greater recovery. Joshua Silverman, Patrick Dahlstrom and Stanley Grossman worked on the case. Attorneys hired by the state included Freedman Boyd Hollander & Ives’ Joseph Goldberg, Zachary Ives and Josh Ewing. The defense was led by Goodwin Procter.
• AMA v. United Health Care Corp., No. 00 Civ 2800 (LMM) (GWG) (S.D.N.Y.). The case is the largest-ever health insurance recovery. Pomerantz engineered a $350 million settlement against UnitedHealth Group, which allegedly under-reimbursed services from out-of-network doctors and providers, thus causing higher payments for patients. Pomerantz worked with then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to induce UHG to pay $50 million toward establishing a new database. D. Brian Hufford, Robert J. Axelrod, Susan J. Weiswasser and Stanley Grossman worked on the case. Co-lead counsel were Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer. On defense were Weil Gotshal’s Jeffrey S. Klein, Nicholas J. Pappas and James W. Quinn.
*This report has been corrected to reflect the actual number of attorneys employed at the firm.
QUINN EMANUEL URQUHART & SULLIVAN
Since 2006, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s bread-and-butter has been litigation against financial institutions. The firm’s structured finance group has 110 lawyers in New York and Los Angeles and has tracked the pulse of the financial crisis, suing global banks and investment firms.
• Companhia Siderurgica Nacional v. Lauro Rezende, No. 1:09-cv-09392 (S.D.N.Y.). Quinn Emanuel brought suit on behalf of one of Brazil’s major steel companies against its former chief financial officer who stole bearer shares certificates from his former employer so he could collect the dividends. The jury ruled that $500 million in assets rightfully belonged to CSN. The case was handled by Quinn’s Michael Carlinsky and Kevin Reed.
• Rosen Capital Partners LP and Rosen Capital Inst. LP v. Merrill Lynch Prof’l Clearing Corp., FINRA Arbitration #09-03094. At $80 million, it was the fifth-largest investor arbitration award ever issued by a FINRA arbitration panel. Rosen Capital, a hedge fund operator, sued Merrill Lynch for breach of contract, fraud and negligence claims stemming from “unexpected margin calls which caused losses in two hedge funds.” Quinn Emanuel attorneys Hal Barza and David Elsberg handled the case.
• In re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litig., No. 2:08-md-02002 (E.D. Pa.). Quinn Emanuel with co-counsel Bernstein Liebhard and Seeger Weiss filed one of the first of several egg antitrust cases now consolidated in Pennsylvania federal court. The defendants, including many of the largest egg producers in the country, are accused of conspiring to reduce supply and raise prices. In May 2010, the class entered into a $25 million settlement from three defendants — Moark LLC, Norco Ranch Inc. and Land O’ Lakes — still awaiting approval. In October 2010, Quinn Emanuel’s Stephen Neuwirth played a lead role in arguing against various defendants’ motions to dismiss.
STROOCK & STROOCK & LAVAN
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan secured major wins this year on the intellectual property front on behalf of clients battling giants like Apple. Established in 1876 as a two-person firm, a series of new hires in the last year brought the firm just shy of 300 attorneys, expanding its private equity, real estate and distressed property practices and taking in $260 million in gross revenues, according to The American Lawyer.
• Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 08-00088 (E.D. Texas). Lead attorney was Joseph Diamante. Co-counsel were Kenneth Stein, Ian DiBernardo and Charles Cantine. Following a one-week trial, a jury awarded Mirror Worlds $625 million in damages in a patent infringement case against Apple, one of the five largest awards ever in a patent case. The technology in question, which deals with how documents are displayed on a computer, is used in much of Apple’s product line, and Diamante successfully argued at trial for the jury to find the patents valid.
• Maidenform Brands Inc. v. Times Three Clothier LLC, No. 10-01661 (S.D.N.Y.). Lead attorneys were Irah Donner, Laura Goldbard George and Steven Pokotilow. After Maidenform attempted to invalidate Times Three Clothier’s patents for panel designs on its women’s shapewear garments, Stroock fought back with a claim of design patent infringement against Maidenform. The firm helped negotiate a settlement for Times Three Clothier that included a $6.75 million payout, along with other confidential terms.
• Mark IV Indus. Corp. v. TransCore Holdings Inc., No. 09-00418 (D. Del.). Lead attorney was Pierre Yanney. Yanney joined the firm as a partner in 2010, bringing Mark IV — a client for nearly 20 years and the developer of the E-ZPass system — to the firm. He most recently represented Mark IV, now Kapsch TrafficCom, in the company’s patent infringement case against competitor TransCore. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but the case involved patents for highway vehicle identification technology that are part of E-ZPass, an electronic toll collection system used throughout the Northeast.
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