The hallmark of a successful litigation department is offering creative solutions to our clients’ most complex disputes. We are at our best when the issues are tangled and complex. Whether the problem involves a labyrinthine series of contracts and agreements, a joint venture ordeal, a heated shareholder battle, accusations of fraud, a problem with a regulator, or any other company-threatening event, we dive in with an industry-experienced team to identify immediately the issues critical to the matter. Our litigators then develop and implement a strategy while maintaining flexibility and being mindful of unintended consequences. Our fearlessness, 130-year track record, and small staffing philosophy help our clients get the results they need, whether through trial or, more often, commercial resolution.
Willkie’s Litigation Department has a sophisticated and diverse national and international practice representing major U.S. and non-U.S. financial services companies, accounting firms, insurance and reinsurance companies and brokers, media companies, and individuals such as corporate officers and directors and accountants in complex commercial and class-action litigation. Every lawyer in our Litigation Department is trained to be a trial lawyer, and we try cases before courts and tribunals throughout the United States and abroad. Beyond the courtroom, we have extensive experience conducting internal corporate investigations and handling sensitive internal corporate matters.
We also regularly represent companies and individuals in investigative and enforcement proceedings brought by federal and state regulatory agencies, including United States Attorneys’ offices, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Our litigators have earned significant victories and prominent representations in key sectors in which the practice group excels, including:
- Complex Commercial Disputes
- Securities Litigation & Enforcement
- White-Collar Defense
- Compliance, Investigations & Enforcement
- Insurance & Reinsurance
- Business Reorganization & Restructuring
- Intellectual Property
- ERISA Litigation
- Labor & Employment
- Communications, Media & Privacy
- Media & First Amendment
Some of our recent litigation matters include:
United States v. Boustani
Secured a victory in the securities fraud trial of Privinvest Group executive Jean Boustani in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, over an alleged $2 billion fraud and kickback scheme involving Mozambican state-backed loans. After a six-week trial, the jury found Boustani not guilty on all charges.
In re Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
Represented Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. in a multibillion dollar litigation relating to repurchase claims arising out of Lehman’s sponsorship of residential mortgage-backed securitization (RMBS) trusts. On March 8, 2018, after the conclusion of the largest RMBS trial in history, the court ruled that the RMBS trustees’ claims, originally asserted in an amount of $37 billion in 2009, would be estimated at Lehman’s requested amount of $2.38 billion, rather than the trustees’ proposed amount of $11.6 billion. Todd Cosenza was profiled as The AmLaw Litigation Daily’s Litigator of the Week for his victory in this matter.
MBI International Holdings Inc. v. Barclays Bank PLC
Secured dismissal of a $10 billion fraud suit brought by two Saudi Arabian companies against Barclays Bank PLC stemming from a $900 million loan made by a Barclays-led syndicate for the construction of two luxury residential compounds in Saudi Arabia. We then obtained the unanimous affirmance of the trial court’s decision. The appellate court noted we “persuasively argued” that the plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred and that the plaintiffs failed to plead actionable claims under New York or Saudi Arabian law.
Jiménez v. Palacios
Successfully defended the Board of Directors of CITGO Petroleum Corporation in litigation before the Delaware Chancery Court regarding the legitimacy of the appointments of directors to CITGO by the Venezuelan government of Juan Guaidó. The outcome on behalf of CITGO represents a monumental win for the Guaidó government, as it effectively ends Maduro’s attempt to consolidate his grip on power by cutting off the Guaidó government’s control of CITGO.
Divane v. Northwestern University
Represented Northwestern University in a breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction class action related to allegedly excessive administration and investment management fees paid to service providers, successfully dismissing the complaint. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of all claims against Northwestern.
In re The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico
Represented Bettina Whyte, the agent appointed for the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation (COFINA), in a first of its kind adversary proceeding commenced to resolve a key gating issue in the bankruptcy proceedings for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy. The case raised novel questions of Puerto Rico statutory and constitutional law that have never before been resolved by any federal or Puerto Rico court, and had important implications for similar securitization structures in use around the country. Willkie was successful in settling the litigation, resolving ownership of nearly $20 billion of Puerto Rico tax revenue used to secure bonds issued by COFINA.
United States v. Allen
Represented Anthony Allen, a former Rabobank trader, in the first London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) manipulation case to reach the Second Circuit (or any court of appeals). Willkie won reversal and complete dismissal of all charges against the first defendants charged with LIBOR manipulation in this cornerstone case. Willkie litigation partner Michael Schachter was selected as The AmLaw Litigation Daily’s Litigator of the Week for his work on the case. In addition, Willkie was honored at the Global Investigations Review Awards for its victory in the case, recognized as the “Most Important Development in Investigations” for 2017.”
Genentech, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc.
Represented Hospira, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., in a widely watched dispute involving an important patent on the cancer drug Avastin®. Genentech alleged that the Avastin patent covered treatment of cancer patients with a drug called bevacizumab, the active ingredient in Avastin. On January 10, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed Hospira’s successful challenge before the United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board to the validity of a Genentech patent covering a key aspect of Avastin’s manufacturing process based on prior literature reports cited by Hospira regarding the use of bevacizumab.
In re M&F Worldwide Shareholders Litig.
Represented the members of the special committee of M&F Worldwide Corp. in “going private” litigation. Obtained landmark ruling dismissing shareholder action on grounds that the business judgment rule applies to a controlling stockholder going private transaction. That decision was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court.
In the Matter of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., Shareholder Litigation
Represented Kenneth Cole at the trial and appellate levels in an action brought by minority shareholders challenging a going-private transaction involving Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. Willkie obtained dismissal of the plaintiff’s action in the trial court, which was affirmed by the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals. It is the first case under New York law to apply the business judgment rule to a going-private transaction where the transaction was conditioned on the dual protections of a “majority of the minority” voting provision, and the transaction is approved by a committee of independent directors. Willkie litigation partner Tariq Mundiya was selected as The AmLaw Litigation Daily’s Litigator of the Week for his work on the case.
In re Facebook, Inc. IPO Sec. and Derivative Litigation
Willkie served as co-counsel for Facebook, Inc. in multidistrict litigation involving more than 40 securities and derivative lawsuits filed against the company, its officers and directors, and the underwriters in connection with Facebook’s initial public offering. Willkie obtained several critical victories for Facebook and its directors and officers, including dismissal of four shareholder derivative actions in important decisions for multiparty, multiforum litigation. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed those dismissals.
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Hospira, Inc.
Served as lead trial and appellate counsel in Hatch-Waxman litigation concerning Hospira’s generic ertapenem product (sold by Merck as Invanz®), resulting in a judgment that Merck’s process patent was invalid as obvious. Following Merck’s appeal of the trial court’s decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed the obviousness of the patent, which allowed Hospira to become the first generic drug manufacturer to enter the ertapenem (an antibiotic that fights bacteria) market. Willkie’s win and successful appeal of this matter was recognized as the Hatch-Waxman Impact Case of the Year by LMG Life Sciences (2018).
In re Nortel Networks, Inc.
Represented Nortel Networks U.K. pension claimants in a groundbreaking multijurisdictional trial. Nortel filed for bankruptcy in Canada, the United States and several European jurisdictions in 2009. It was able to liquidate the majority of its assets, but in an effort to maximize value for the Nortel Group as a whole, the parties decided to delay deciding on how to allocate the proceeds of the sale of the group’s assets until the sales were completed. The judges presiding over Nortel’s cases in Canada and the United States opted to hold the allocation trials simultaneously. In a significant victory, both judges adopted the pro rata allocation theory advanced by Willkie on behalf of the firm’s pensioner clients.
In re General Electric Company Securities Litigation
Obtained dismissals on behalf of all major U.S. and foreign underwriters in a major securities litigation involving a $12 billion offering of GE stock.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bloomberg, L.P.
Won dismissal of purported class-action claims asserting that Bloomberg, L.P. had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against women who were pregnant and took maternity leave. In a highly publicized ruling, the court found that the EEOC failed “to demonstrate that discrimination was Bloomberg’s standard operating procedure” because “J’accuse! is not enough in court. Evidence is required.”