During the past five years, New York’s Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann has been involved in settlements topping $5 billion in suits related to the mortgage meltdown.
The crown jewel came in April, when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York finalized a $2.4 billion settlement with Bank of America Corp. in a securities class action stemming from losses from the bank’s merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Partners Max Berger, Steven Singer, Hannah Ross, Mark Lebovitch and John Rizio-Hamilton led the suit on behalf of the Ohio and Texas state retirement systems, along with co-counsel from Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer and Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check.
After another firm brought a shareholders class action accusing Citigroup Inc. of concealing exposure to toxic mortgage assets, Bernstein’s lawyers realized that bondholders hadn’t been included. “It slipped through the cracks,” Berger, a founding partner, said. Bernstein filed a similar suit on behalf of the bondholders and, along with co-counsel at Kessler Topaz Meltzer and Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross, netted a $730 million settlement finalized in August.
Berger and Lebovitch also were lead partners in a securities class action against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., accusing it of overpaying in 2011 to acquire a media company owned by Murdoch’s daughter. Along with co-counsel at Grant & Eisenhofer, they negotiated a $139 million settlement in April on behalf of clients including the New Orleans Employees’ Retirement System.
“Mark and Max are at the very top of this area of practice,” said Gregory Varallo, a lawyer at Delaware’s Richards, Layton & Finger, who represented News Corp. “Both are smart, hard-working lawyers who understand the law and use it to their clients’ best advantage.”