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  1. Securities litigation: plaintiff
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Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP has a long and successful history in securities litigation, having obtained some of the largest securities fraud recoveries on record in cases such as In re WorldCom, Inc Securities Litigation ($6.2bn) and In re Cendant Corporation Securities Litigation ($3.3bn). This track record continued last year in the landmark In re Merck & Co, Inc Securities Litigation, which was resolved shortly before trial after 12 years of litigation and resulted in the largest securities recovery ever against a pharmaceutical company with the award of $1.06bn. The firm also recovered $300m in New York State Teachers’ Retirement System v General Motors Company and $243m in In re MF Global Holdings Limited Securities Litigation. The firm is ‘one of the biggest names in the market’ and in the New York office Max Berger, Salvatore Graziano, Gerald Silk (who is ‘very smart and always brings cases with merit’) and Avi Josefson are among the leading names. In San Diego, Blair Nicholas advises many funds and insurance companies on high-stakes securities litigation and David Stickney has a strong track record in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) cases.

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Jay Eisenhofer in New York and Stuart Grant in Wilmington lead the team at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., which is ‘a formidable opponent known for bringing cases with merit’, according to defense counsel. Eisenhofer secured a $1.36bn settlement, the largest in European history, for more than 160 institutional investors holding in excess of 80 million shares, in a case against Fortis for materially misleading investors with incomplete information about its solvency status and its exposure to US subprime assets in the lead up to its purchase of ABN Amro Holding. Further recent highlights include an active securities action for institutional investors against RBS in the High Court in London that concerns a £12bn rights offering in 2008, in which Eisenhofer is bringing allegations of material misrepresentation and omissions concerning subprime credit exposure and the value of goodwill in its then-recent acquisition of ABN Amro. He is also bringing a case against Volkswagen in Germany following its vehicle emissions scandal. Grant’s recent highlights include representing European investors in the Commercial Court of Paris in a claim against Vivendi alleging material and fraudulent misstatement of financial results to inflate share prices.

Litigation juggernautQuinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP handles a large amount of defense work but its practice acts predominantly for plaintiffs, notably institutional clients bringing cases against large banks. The firm ‘prepares for optimum recovery and is prepared to take things to the mat’. Philippe Selendy in New York stands out for his work in Federal Housing Finance Agency v Nomura Holding America Inc et al, in which he secured an $806m judgment against Nomura and RBS for violations of the Securities Act of 1933 and the blue sky laws of Virginia and the District of Columbia. Daniel Brockett’s highlights included In re Credit Default Swaps Antitrust Litigation, in which he represented Salix Capital in a case alleging collusion in the credit default swap market by defendants including 12 major Wall Street banks. Peter Calamari’s case Financial Guaranty Insurance Company v The Putnam Advisory Company, LLC is now at the discovery stage. Jon Pickhardt obtained a $100m award in National Australia Bank v Goldman Sachs Arbitration. In Los Angeles, Harry Olivar, who represented over 200 plaintiffs in a case arising from the Petrobras bribery scandal, and Molly Stephens, whose highlights included GoldenTree Master Fund, Ltd, et al v Howard M Meyers, et al, are highly recommended.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is ‘one of the market leaders and has a disproportionate number of cases as lead counsel’. Its track record of success continued last year when a team from the firm’s San Diego office, including Michael Dowd, Spencer Burkholz and Maureen Mueller, secured approval of a $1.57bn recovery in the Jaffe v Household Int’l, Inc 10b5 case, which was the largest-ever award following a securities class action trial. Also involved in that case were Daniel Drosman and Luke Brooks, whose other highlights included obtaining a $388m recovery in Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund v JP Morgan Chase & Co, et al for investors who purchased RMBS offerings from the bank. A team led by Darren Robbins also recovered $272m from Goldman Sachs in one of the last remaining RMBS purchaser class actions. Founding partner Mark Solomon regularly represents US and UK pension funds and asset managers in securities litigation in federal and state courts. Danielle Myers, Lucas Olts, Elise Grace and ‘formidable adversaryBenny Goodman are also recommended.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC enters the ranking in part because of its list of successes in MBS cases. Acting as lead counsel in eight of the 19 MBS class actions filed, it has recovered nearly $2bn for its clients. A team including Joel Laitman represented lead plaintiff New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund in a class action brought by purchasers of MBS issued by Residential Capital, which paid a $100m settlement supplemented by a further $235m settlement from underwriters including Goldman Sachs. The firm’s ‘creative and diligent litigators’ include managing partner Steven Toll and Daniel Sommers, who jointly chair the securities group. Toll and Julie Reiser led In re BP plc Securities Litigation, which resulted in a $175m settlement of lawsuits arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion. Sommers and Laitman also secured $500m in the MBS case In re Bear Stearns Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Litigation.

Barrister-style practiceGibbs & Bruns LLP in Houston has ‘a sophisticated client base of institutional investors for which it finds helpful and creative ways to solve problems’. Following successes in high-profile MBS cases, which included securing settlements for institutional investors of $8.5bn in the Countrywide RMBS matter and $4.5bn from JPMorgan, the firm is now heavily involved in a wide range of cases. The firm’s ‘brilliant, well-rounded lawyers’ include Kathy Patrick and Scott Humphries, who are representing institutional investors including WGI Emerging Markets in a securities fraud action against Petrobras arising from the company’s Lava Jato bribes-for-contracts scandal. Patrick and David Sheeren are also part of the team that filed an $800m suit on behalf of Fannie Mae against nine banks for alleged manipulation of financial benchmarks, including Libor. Robert Madden and founding partner Robin Gibbs are also highly recommended.

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP predominantly acts for plaintiffs in securities litigation, but its experience as defense counsel gives it a broad strategic view of cases. The firm has ‘a deep bench with many former federal prosecutors in its ranks’ and is ‘a serious practice for clients taking on the Wall Street banks’. The firm does not pursue class actions, but it does handle high-profile cases on behalf of private investors. Sheron Korpus is handling the firm’s biggest project, which is a series of multimillion-dollar claims on behalf of CDO investor Loreley Financing against investment banks. A $965m claim against Citigroup was settled last year on confidential terms. Marc Kasowitz, who is known as ‘one of the toughest lawyers on Wall Street’, successfully argued on behalf of ACA Financial Guaranty Corp in the New York Court of Appeals to reinstate a $120m lawsuit against Goldman Sachs relating to the Abacus CDO scheme.

Labaton Sucharow LLP is ‘at the very highest level of quality in terms of its investigative team, which is tightly integrated into its litigation capability’. A team led by name partner Lawrence Sucharow in New York secured final approval of a $300m settlement for lead plaintiff Arkansas Teacher Retirement System in a case against State Street Corporation after a ten-year investigation into the financial services company’s foreign exchange trading practices. Jonathan Gardner and Serena Hallowell obtained $140m for Union Asset Management Holding and LRI Invest in In re Barrick Gold Securities Litigation that alleged misrepresentation of the company’s flagship Pascua-Lama mining project. Joel Bernstein and Ira Schochet’s highlights included a $120m recovery for Sacramento City Employees’ Retirement System from oil and gas services company Weatherford. Thomas Dubbs - who led a securities class action for Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and secured a $95m settlement from biotech company Amgen - and new hire from the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York Michael Canty are also recommended.

MoloLamken LLP is ‘outstanding and has real trial prowess’. In New York, Steven Molo and the ‘brilliant’ Robert Kry, who also spends time in the Washington DC office, are ‘great lawyers in a really good team - the firm is a boutique so you get thoughtful and considered responses’. In Washington DC, Thomas Wiegand, Jeff Lamken, the ‘bright, thoughtful’ Justin Weiner and former federal prosecutor Justin Shur are also recommended. Molo, Wiegand and Weiner represented Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I, in a $130m RMBS case against Decision One Mortgage Company that alleged misrepresentation of the quality of mortgage loans. This ‘put back’ case will be among the first of its kind to go to trial. Molo and Lamken are currently representing a group of trusts and companies owned by insurance entrepreneur Arthur Williams in a ‘holder’ claim securities suit against Citigroup and its directors. Jessica Ortiz joined in New York from the US Attorney’s office.

Berman Tabacco specializes in complex securities and antitrust litigation from its offices in Boston and San Francisco. It excels in representing public pension funds and institutional investors in class actions, notably in the mortgage-backed securities space. Nicole Lavallee in San Francisco and Leslie Stern in Boston lead the practice. In California Public Employees’ Retirement System v Moody’s Corp, San Francisco-based partners Joseph Tabacco, Todd Seaver and Daniel E Barenbaum secured a $255m settlement in a case alleging negligent misrepresentation in the rating of three structured investment vehicles. Boston-based Steven Buttacavoli secured a $175m settlement for Ohio Public Employees Retirement System in In re BP plc Securities Litigation. Buttacavoli worked with former name partner Glen DeValerio on this matter, but since publication DeValerio has left the firm to set up a new practice with his daughter.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York has a lean practice with a national reputation. The firm continues to file securities class action claims, including a new matter at New Jersey District Court on behalf of shareholders of Impax Laboratories arising from a Department of Justice investigation into price collusion among generic pharmaceutical companies. The firm is also bringing a class action against Wells Fargo arising from the bank’s cross-selling practices. Stanley Bernstein, Stephanie Beige, Seth Ottensoser and Michael Bigin are among the firm’s respected litigators.

At Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP, New York-based Robert Kaplan and Frederic Fox are seasoned trial lawyers. The firm’s securities class action against Arena Pharmaceuticals, which alleges the company concealed safety concerns about its weight loss drug lorcsaserin, was revived at the end of last year by the Ninth Circuit. The firm has a long track record of successes for institutional investors, including some of the world’s largest public pension funds.

Milberg LLP’s New York team continued its strong showing in securities litigation, with Matthew Kupillas and Peggy Wedgworth seeing their $1bn recovery for Merck shareholders confirmed last year in a securities fraud class action stemming from the withdrawal from the market of blockbuster drug Vioxx. Ariana Tadler, who leads the e-discovery unit, acted as co-lead counsel in a class action on behalf of shareholders against Ariad Pharmaceuticals arising from safety concerns about its cancer medication, ponatinib. Sanford Dumain and Paul Novak are also key names in the securities litigation team.

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