Securities litigation - plaintiff in United States

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP in New York is 'clearly a top firm in this area', according to its peers, and counts more than 250 of the largest public pension funds and private institutional investors in North America and abroad among its clients. It has recovered more than $32bn for investors since its founding in 1983, which includes six of the 12 largest securities fraud recoveries on record. Senior founding partner Max Berger is a leading light in the market and recently led an unprecedented shareholder derivative litigation against Fox News parent 21st Century Fox arising from the systemic sexual and workplace harassment at the embattled network. Gerald Silk and Salvatore Graziano lead the practice. Graziano acted in Gary Hefler et al v. Wells Fargo & Company et al, which claimed the bank made false statements to investors about the strength of its business and results while it was engaged in improper conduct, including the opening of millions of unauthorized accounts. A $480m class action settlement is awaiting approval. Also recommended are partners Hannah Ross and Katherine Sinderson, who recovered $210m for pension fund clients in In re Wilmington Trust Securities Litigation.

Labaton Sucharow LLP

Labaton Sucharow LLP in New York has 'deep knowledge of the space and works hard to ensure the client is up to speed on all matters, particularly when the client is acting as lead plaintiff'. The firm secured several high-value recoveries in 2018 and was appointed as lead counsel in 15 cases. It also has a strong pipeline of high-profile ongoing matters, and scored significant victories in direct actions and whistleblower cases leading to securities litigation. Thomas Dubbs is the key partner and has more than 35 years' experience in the market. He represented Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii in a $3bn case against Petrobras, helping class counsel to defeat three motions to dismiss. Chair of the litigation practice Jonathan Gardner acted for the same client in achieving preliminary approval of a $42.5m settlement in a class action against Intuitive Surgical, which centered on the alleged concealment of violations of FDA regulations and a defect in its da Vinci Surgical System. Rising star Carol Villegas helps clients to 'better understand the process and how to value a case'. Newly promoted co-chairman of the firm Christopher Keller is also recommended. Clients describe Mark Willis in Washington DC as 'very approachable - he provides helpful and unique insight to complex matters'.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is one of the most active firms on the plaintiff side, with a track record of high-value recoveries. In Marcus v. J.C. Penney Company, Inc, et al, the firm obtained final approval of a $97.5m settlement to resolve allegations that the company artificially inflated its stock price when certain officers and directors made false and misleading statements regarding its liquidity, its need for additional financing, its sufficiency of inventory, and the strength of its supplier relationships; San Diego-based Robert Henssler, Jonah Goldstein and up-and-coming partner Danielle Myers played key roles in that case. Another highlight saw the practice secure final approval of a $72.5m settlement in Luna v. Marvell Technology Group, Ltd. Among the firm's other key partners are Michael Dowd, Spencer Burkholz, Darren Robbins and David Walton in San Diego, and Samuel Rudman, who manages the New York office. In Boca Raton, Paul Geller and up-and-coming partner Maureen Mueller are also recommended.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP

'Securities litigation is in the DNA of the firm', say clients of New York-based boutique Bernstein Liebhard LLP, which represents individual and institutional investors in direct and class action litigation. The practice is 'very selective about the cases it chooses to pursue', says defense counsel. The firm has a more than 25-year track record of acting for public pension funds and other institutional investors in class actions. Among its clients are the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board and the New York State Common Retirement Fund. Key partners Stanley BernsteinStephanie Beige and Laurence Hasson handled numerous cases for the creditors' committee of Altegrity, Inc, claiming negligence and breaches of fiduciary duty arising from failures to adequately protect confidential information following a cyberattack in 2013, which forced the Altegrity and USIS Investigations into bankruptcy; the case was successfully settled last year. Michael Bigin, who represented lead plaintiffs in Avila v. Lifelock, Inc, is also recommended.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC 'evaluates cases in a very selective way', according to defense counsel. The firm has a track record of securing large settlements in securities class actions and it further built on that reputation last year. Up-and-coming partner Michael Eisenkraft in New York, along with Washington DC-based Steven Toll and Julie Reiser, co-chairs of the firm’s securities litigation and investor protection group. The team recently secured a $165m settlement in New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc, et al, which concerned mortgage-backed securities issued before the financial crisis; in September 2018, the Second Circuit dismissed as moot an interlocutory appeal by FHFA seeking to stay the final approval process. Daniel Sommers in DC acted for Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System in Nancy Schwartz v. Opus Bank, et al, and secured a $17m settlement to resolve allegations that Opus falsely represented that it had a disciplined and conservative approach to credit.

Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.

Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. has a stellar reputation in class action, opt-out and individual securities fraud cases, and its track record includes some of the largest securities class action recoveries in US history, as well as major successes in international cases. Jay Eisenhofer in New York is widely regarded as one of the most skilled litigators in the market. With Olav Haazen, he acted as global counsel for a group of institutional investors in securing a €1.3bn settlement for claims against Fortis in the Netherlands for disseminating inaccurate and incomplete information about its solvency status and about its exposure to the US subprime market in the run-up to its purchase of ABN Amro Holding. For lead plaintiff Employees Retirement System of the State of Hawaii, Eisenhofer and Daniel Berger are pursuing a class action alleging that mobile technology company Synchronoss Technologies implemented a fraudulent scheme to conceal the company’s deteriorating financial condition and falsify its true revenues. The case, which asserts accounting fraud claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, saw a motion to dismiss withdrawn.

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP in New York has a team of 'highly efficient, loyal and client-minded' practitioners who have 'a lot of experience with complex transactions'. The firm handles bet-the-company securities cases and has one of the leading direct securities fraud and opt-out practices in the market, representing hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds. Marc Kasowitz handled a trial last year for Fairfax Financial Holdings and secured a $31m settlement in the case, which concerned allegations of insider trading, market manipulation and short-selling by a group of hedge funds. With rising star Uri Itkin, he also represented London-based alternative asset manager Astra Asset Management in a CDO-related matter. Leading light Sheron Korpus is 'very bright and quick-thinking, showing attention to detail with a clear view on the big picture; he understands clients' needs and provides legally sound guidance'. Korpus and Michael Hanin, who is recommended as 'a creative, smart, dedicated and very hardworking litigator who can navigate very complicated situations seamlessly', filed a direct securities fraud action against Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Securities fraud specialist Stephen Tountas is also recommended.

Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP

'It is a very selective firm, not a serial filer', sources say of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP, which is based in Philadelphia and California. The lawyers all handle merger-related cases and a broader portfolio of securities litigation for institutional investors. In Philadelphia, David KesslerDarren Check and Lee Rudy are the key contacts. They all played key roles in representing Sjunde AP-fonden in Ocwen Financial Corporation Securities Litigation, a class action in which the plaintiffs allege that mortgage servicer Ocwen made false and misleading statements and failed to disclose material information regarding improper business practices involving conflicted transactions with Altisource. Kessler and Check also assisted the same client with a class action against Green Mountain Coffee, which concerned allegations that the company strategically managed its revenues. Naumon Amjed is an up-and-coming partner.

MoloLamken LLP

Based in New York, Chicago and Washington DC, MoloLamken LLP is a complex litigation boutique that one peer describes as 'among the most creative and collaborative firms I've worked with on plaintiff matters'. The practice is led from New York by Steven Molo, who is 'smart, creative, responsive, knowledgeable and engaging; he has an excellent mix of traits that sets him apart from his peers'. At the end of 2017, he succeeded in settling contested proceedings concerning the distribution of a $9bn award between RMBS holders and Bank of America/Countrywide. Robert Kry in Washington DC has an 'impressive command of the law and is an incredibly quick and deep thinker'. He led an appeal against the dismissal of a class action arising from the $25bn IPO of Alibaba. The case is now awaiting class certification. Also in DC, associate Lauren Weinstein is 'smart and willing to brainstorm off the clock - great to work with'. Thomas Wiegand in Chicago and Justin Shur in DC are also recommended.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

International litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is 'an excellent firm with a very aggressive approach'. It is active on behalf of both defendants and plaintiffs, but predominantly the latter, and it focuses more on individual cases rather than class actions. A group of securities lawyers left the firm in early 2018 to form Selendy & Gay, but the firm remains a significant player. Harry Olivar in Los Angeles is co-chair of the national securities practice and handles structured finance and securities cases. As chair of the the firm's national banking and financial institutions practice, New York-based Peter Calamari  also plays a key role in the firm's big cases, which last year included a jury trial for ResCap Liquidating Trust, in which a damages award of $29m was made for RMBS-related claims. Daniel Brockett, who is also based in New York, is greatly respected in the market and led a team that acted as co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the ISDAfix antitrust class action, in which a $408m settled was confirmed last year. Other New York partners include Andrew Rossman, who represented the official committee of unsecured creditors of Lehman Brothers Holdings in claims against Citibank, and Jon Pickhardt, who handled a CDO-related case for Lansuppe Feeder. Molly Stephens and Jeremy Andersen in Los Angeles are also recommended.

Selendy & Gay

New York-based Selendy & Gay joins the ranking this year following its formation in early 2018 by a breakaway group of key partners from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. The firm is 'highly selective and is known for performing a deep dive into the facts before filing any case'. The firm, which is 'among the top in terms of trial experience', has quickly built a strong client base among monoline insurers, private equity firms, hedge funds, corporates and trustees. 'Extraordinary oral advocatePhilippe Selendy leads a team of 12 partners, for which securities litigation is a key focus and which has combined career track record that includes recoveries in excess of $35bn. Selendy was part of a team led by Sean Baldwin that obtained an unprecedented $850m settlement in an RMBS putback action brought by trustee US Bank against UBS Real Estate Securities for losses incurred during the financial crisis. David Elsberg also played a key role in that case. Selendy and Baldwin also handled a major case for private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which pursued a $950m breach of contract claim against Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce arising from two complex structured finance transactions that led to losses in the US residential mortgage market. The case is now in the discovery phase. Maria Ginzburg, who acted for US Bank in an RMBS-related matter, is also recommended.

Berman Tabacco (formerly Berman DeValerio)

Berman Tabacco (formerly Berman DeValerio) is known for 'soup-to-nuts excellence, from legal analysis through to trial preparation and trial', and clients note that it makes a 'very comprehensive effort, with no stone left unturned'. The firm, which has offices in San Francisco and Boston, has a track record of high-value recoveries. Nicole Lavallee in San Francisco and Boston-based Leslie Stern lead the practice. Lavallee acted as co-lead counsel in In re Zynga Inc Sec Litig, in which a $23m settlement was approved last year. The case alleged that the company and its officers falsely touted accelerated bookings and aggressive growth through 2012. In San Francisco, Joseph Tabacco and Daniel Barenbaum are both 'extremely smart and responsive', and one client remarks that they 'partner well with other firms representing us'. Lavellee, Stern and Barenbaum are currently pursuing a case against officers and directors of Pacific Gas & Electric Co, arising from the California wildfires of 2017. Boston-based Steven Buttacavoli secured approval of a $175m settlement in one of the firm's key cases - In re BP plc Sec Litig - which stemmed from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In Boston, Patrick Egan  is also recommended.

Gibbs & Bruns LLP

Gibbs & Bruns LLP in Houston has a national reputation for its work in cases arising from the financial, energy and technology sectors. Standout securities litigator Kathy Patrick and experienced trial lawyer Robin Gibbs lead the practice, which built its reputation with large settlements in RMBS-related cases arising from the financial crisis. Up-and-coming partner David Sheeren, who helped orchestrate the largest private legal settlement in Wall Street’s history - an $8.5bn RMBS settlement with Bank of America - is highly recommended for securities and structured finance disputes. In early 2018, Patrick and Sheeren oversaw the finalisation of a $2.38bn settlement for institutional investors with the plan administrator for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and the other debtors in the Lehman bankruptcy proceeding. The pair, along with managing partner Scott Humphries, also secured a $4.5bn settlement with JP Morgan in 2016, for which the first payments were made last year.

Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP

Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey. New York-based Robert Kaplan and Frederic Fox are the key partners in a practice that acts for many large institutional investors in securities class actions. Fox and Donald Hall are part of the team currently acting as co-lead counsel in a 10b-5 securities class action against AAC Holdings in the Tennessee District Court, which alleges that its success as a publicly traded company was the result of an undisclosed fraudulent scheme to deceive investors about an active criminal investigation by the California Department of Justice. Laurence King and Jeffrey Campisi are currently handling Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc Securities Litigation, which defeated a motion to dismiss in 2017. The suit alleges that Arena and certain of its executives made misrepresentations and failed to disclose material information regarding the safety of weight-loss drug, lorcaserin.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP has a strong track record of securing high-value recoveries in direct actions and opt-out cases, in which its securities and financial fraud group frequently represents public and private institutional investors across the US. Richard Heimann in San Francisco is head of both the securities practice and the firm's trial group. He acted for Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado and The City of Birmingham Retirement and Relief System in one of the firm's flagship cases, In re Wells Fargo & Company Shareholder Derivative Litigation, in which the plaintiffs alleged that the bank's board knew or consciously disregarded that its employees were illicitly creating bogus deposit and credit card accounts for their customers. The case recently settled for a large cash consideration; managing partner Steven Fineman in New York also played a key role in the case. The pair also handled Lord Abbett Affiliated Fund, Inc, et al v. Navient Corporation, et al, which alleged misrepresentation and improper accounting arising from improper loan-servicing practices by Navient. Elizabeth Cabraser, who handled numerous RMBS cases for Charles Schwab, is also recommended.