More than one half of Patterson Belknap’s attorneys are devoted to litigation. The litigating partners at Patterson Belknap have tried hundreds of cases, including many of the most complex in their fields. One client has described us as "courtroom artisans." We are not afraid to go to trial, and our clients—and our adversaries—know it. We are accustomed not only to trying cases, but to delivering the results our clients want and that cases merit. In many situations of course, settlement may be the best option. In those instances, our reputation and track record should enhance our clients' chances for a favorable settlement.
Our leadership in litigation is recognized in Chambers USA. The guide notes that "This team 'consistently delivers high-caliber work' which attracts long-standing clients. The team consists of 'smart and aggressive litigators who deliver excellent results time and time again'." In addition, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC’s Benchmark Litigation has included the firm in its national rankings, and recognized the firm in its top category, “Highly Recommended," for New York Litigation. Our practice is also recognized nationally in the U.S. News / Best Lawyers survey of "Best Law Firms," and also ranked in the top tier in New York.
We represent Fortune 500 corporations, including multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers, media conglomerates, and financial services institutions. In addition, we represent foreign governments, state-owned enterprises, major banks, brokerage firms, pension funds, insurance companies, individual officers and directors of large companies, major investors, entrepreneurs, and closely held corporations.
The kinds of commercial cases our firm handles are just as broad: contract disputes, antitrust matters, accounting litigation, class actions, securities and commodities cases, insurance coverage litigation, employment litigation, real estate suits, and disputes among corporate shareholders.
Resolving Contract Disputes
Patterson Belknap litigators frequently represent parties to contracts such as loan agreements, letters of credit, shareholder and partnership agreements, merger agreements, investment contracts, licensing agreements, and employment contracts, as well as contracts involving the purchase or sale of a product or service. When those disputes cannot be resolved through negotiations, they must be resolved through ADR processes or in court.
For example, for more than eight years, we represented Cendant, formerly one of the world’s largest providers of travel and real estate services, in its litigation with its former auditor. Our lawyers successfully defended against the accounting firm’s motion to dismiss our client’s claims. With billions of dollars at stake, the now-settled case was the largest client lawsuit against a Big Four accounting firm for audit malpractice pending in the country at that time.
In another matter, following a trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, two subsidiaries of our client, a major financial services company, were completely vindicated against a claim that they had breached their contractual obligations to provide credit protection in a portfolio credit derivative deal gone sour. The holding of the case has significant implications for the monoline insurance industry.
In a particularly interesting matter, we defended a major media company, against a claim alleging breach of an agreement to publish a Chinese-language version of Institutional Investor magazine. The dismissal was noteworthy because it was based entirely on the defense's presentation of a pattern of discovery abuses and other misconduct by the plaintiff during the discovery process. We determined that the plaintiff had falsified certain receipts for which it claimed damages and requested originals of all of the plaintiff's documents. When the plaintiff could not produce all of its originals, the court agreed with our client that the plaintiff's fabrications, failure to produce originals, and false representations mandated dismissal of the entire case.
Other significant contract disputes include:
- Obtained a TRO that led to a favorable settlement on the first morning of trial for our client, a public communications company. The case involved our client’s claim that the defendant had breached an agreement to provide capacity on an undersea cable between Puerto Rico and St. Croix. The judge wrote a seven-page opinion granting the TRO we requested (an opinion on a TRO is highly unusual) and scheduled a hearing on the preliminary injunction. The parties settled on the morning of trial.
- Represented a major test preparation company and its founder in a litigation brought by an early contributor to the company. That individual was trying to avoid an agreement settling prior disputes on the grounds of duress and to enforce another agreement concerning obligations to pay royalties on certain books. The firm obtained summary judgment on the duress claim and most other claims. The breach of contract claim went to a jury trial in a New York State trial court and was settled on the fourth day of trial.
- Represented a major pharmaceutical company in a series of arbitrations involving various alleged breaches of a license agreement for a blockbuster new drug;
- Defended a complex litigation involving RICO claims and an alleged breach of a joint venture agreement arising out of a drug development partnership;
- Represented a client in a reinsurance litigation involving a $46 million bond;
- Often representing lenders in connection with failed loans to borrowers, in foreclosure actions and related proceedings.
Litigation Over Securities, Commodities, Derivatives And Other Financial Instruments
The firm has frequently been called to aid financial institutions in the investigation of investment transactions gone wrong. In one, described by The Wall Street Journal as "one of the more spectacular frauds in recent years," the firm conducted a global investigation on behalf of a major international insurance company of a complex fraud scheme involving the sale of vouchers and options for the privatization of state-owned enterprises in Azerbaijan. Since completion of the investigation, the firm has led the prosecution of fraud claims against the investment banking house which launched the transaction and its principal in courts in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, London, and the United States on behalf of that insurance company, a leading university and an array of investment funds.
Working jointly with investigators, firm attorneys identified approximately $80 million in assets belonging directly or indirectly to the perpetrators. Litigation was launched with a series of asset freeze orders delivered in courts around the world which froze the defendants' assets.
The firm also represented a money center bank in an important arbitration concerning a Canadian bank's acquisition of an ownership interest in our client. This arbitration focused on questions of valuation of collateral held by an escrow agent while the sales transaction was pending. While most analysts gave our client's position short shrift, we prevailed in the arbitration, winning a multi-million dollar award for our client.
The firm prosecuted a series of multinational arbitrations and lawsuits on behalf of several foreign governments and recovered millions of dollars for our clients that had been held in numerous bank accounts.
We are handling an ever-increasing number of lawsuits—and internal investigations—involving violations of federal securities and commodities laws, as well as state shareholder and fraud statutes. The matters involved have spanned a wide range of financial instruments, including common and preferred stock issues, futures contracts, options, corporate and government bonds, notes, partnership interests, derivatives, and swaps. Our practice has included class actions, shareholder derivative suits, and individual claims. Patterson Belknap also has been involved in NASD and Stock Exchange arbitrations and both civil and criminal investigations. For example, we:
- Represented an international oil company in connection with an investigation and potential litigation against major brokerage firms arising out of over $100 million in losses on oil futures trading.
- Counseled a financial services company in threatened litigation relating to the sale of its credit card business for an amount in excess of $1.3 billion by bondholders claiming default triggering acceleration of $1.1 billion of debt.
- Defended a brokerage firm in a class action charging that leases were securities sold in violation of federal securities laws.
- Defended a shareholder derivative suit against a Fortune 500 company that challenged the compensation package given to a departing chief executive officer who had resigned under fire.
The firm represents defendants in federal and state class action suits. In these cases, we handle all aspects of the litigation, including class motions, discovery of the class representative, class notice, and dispositive motions.
Our practice in this area has spanned a diverse range of substantive law issues, including federal securities laws, state shareholder laws, fiduciary duty issues, antitrust concerns, pension laws, false advertising, and products liability laws. For example, we have represented clients in class actions involving:
- Obtained a significant trial victory for a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company in the In re Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, 2007 WL 1774644 (D. Mass. 2007). In this class action litigation, plaintiffs alleged that all major pharmaceutical manufacturers published false average wholesale prices, resulting in overpayment for drugs by insurance companies and Medicare. After a bench trial, the judge concluded that while the other defendants’ conduct violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws, our client’s conduct was lawful.
- Secured directed verdict on behalf of a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company in multi-defendant Sherman Act class action trial and argued appeal before Seventh Circuit on behalf of all manufacturers. In re Brand Name Prescription Drugs Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 997 (N.D. Ill.) This litigation arose from allegedly anti-competitive pricing in the brand name prescription pharmaceutical market.
- Lead counsel for a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company in defense of 13 nationwide class actions brought in both federal and state courts asserting illegal monopolization based on alleged improper procurement and enforcement of patents relating to an OTC product. After extensive procedural wrangling including a removal to federal court and contesting class certification, ended case by persuading all plaintiffs' counsel that their theories of liability were meritless.
- Won a crucial victory for the owner of a major sports club chain in Massachusetts’ highest court, when, in a closely watched case, the court departed from long-standing precedent and dismissed a consumer class action that had been brought against the fitness club chain. After summary judgment was granted to our client, the Massachusetts high court sua sponte seized jurisdiction over the case. The court affirmed the firm's win below, leading to significant change in the law of consumer class actions in Massachusetts.
- Lead counsel for a major international media company in defense of antitrust class actions alleging nationwide price-fixing conspiracy involving all major publishers. Secured no-damages settlement approved by the Court.
Litigating Accounting-Related Matters
Patterson Belknap's trial lawyers are well-versed in complex accounting issues, and we regularly represent clients in accounting-related litigation. The firm handles cases over managed earnings issues, overstated assets, and failure to take adequate reserves. In addition, we have:
Represented directors of a major communications company in a lawsuit contending that the corporation's assets were overstated.
Conducted an investigation, on behalf of a cosmetics concern, of potential claims arising out of a multimillion dollar write-down of corporate assets.
Defended a major bank against charges that its loan portfolios were insufficiently reserved.
Employment Litigation: Noncompete Agreements, Trade Secrets, And More
The firm frequently represents employers and senior level executives in disputes over noncompete agreements and trade secrets. For instance, we are representing a medical device company in related contemporaneous preliminary injunction actions in various jurisdictions to enforce covenants not to compete against former employers and their new employer, a competitor-raider.
In addition, we have:
Obtained a verdict for a securities firm in an action against the former president of its subsidiary based on a pre-resignation solicitation of staff and misappropriation of confidential documents.
Defended a financial services company in an action by a brokerage firm alleging conspiracy with a former employee to misappropriate trade secrets.
Represented a law firm in an action against former partners based on their alleged pre-resignation solicitation of clients and staff and misappropriation of confidential documents.
Patterson Belknap's employment litigation experience extends beyond these areas, too. We represented an investment banking firm in a "glass ceiling" case and represent employers in litigation over benefits, ERISA matters and independent contractor issues. The firm also has represented defendants in a class action alleging race-based discrimination in hiring and promotion.
From Price-Fixing To Safety Codes: Antitrust Litigation
When 40,000 retail druggists filed a $45 billion lawsuit against the 24 largest drug manufacturers in a complex Sherman antitrust class action involving the pricing of brand name prescription drugs, our client, a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, refused to participate in a $723 million settlement.
A handful of defendants went to trial with our client. After hearing 10 weeks of testimony, a trial judge in Chicago entered a verdict against the plaintiff class. Patterson Belknap, which had one of the lead roles in organizing the defense effort at trial, also argued the class appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The lawyers in Patterson Belknap's complex commercial litigation practice group regularly represent large corporations and other clients in lawsuits involving antitrust issues, from mergers and other business combinations to pricing, product distribution, safety codes and standards, and alleged misuses of patents. We have defended and prosecuted treble damage actions in diverse industries, including pharmaceuticals, cable television, diagnostic reagents and instruments, household cleaners, electronic calculators, and industrial heating and ventilation equipment, and have represented clients in federal grand jury and criminal proceedings and before the Federal Trade Commission and various other federal and state administrative agencies. Moreover, the firm is active in civil antitrust litigation in federal and state courts.
In addition to the brand name prescription drug case, the firm has:
Represented a major financial institution in an antitrust lawsuit brought by another financial services company. In this follow-on suit to a Department of Justice case, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries allegedly suffered as a result of certain credit card rules. The plaintiff also joined numerous banks, including our client, alleging that they conspired to exclude the plaintiff from the bank-issuing card market. The case subsequently settled.
Argued before the United States Supreme Court on vertical restraint issues relating to the marketing of electronic equipment.
Represented a professional society in the United States Supreme Court and lower courts against charges of antitrust violations that stemmed from allegedly anti-competitive manipulation of its safety code program.
Represented the largest U.S. magazine publisher in a major private antitrust class action involving magazine publishing subscriptions.
Represented interested parties in contested corporate acquisitions in the medical device and publishing industries.
Represented the defendant in an antitrust and patent infringement action involving flooring products.