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.