January 25, 2017
Weil was recently profiled by Law360 as a 2016 nationwide Securities “Practice Group of the Year” for achieving “landmark victories” both at trial and on appeal.
On appeal, Weil secured mission-critical victories in importance venues such as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Delaware Supreme Court, including for Sanofi and Kinder Morgan, respectively. In the Sanofi case, the team achieved a groundbreaking win at the Second Circuit, which affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of a securities class action and related case for securities fraud against Sanofi arising out of its statements regarding the results of clinical trials for a multiple sclerosis treatment and its likelihood of receiving FDA approval. The opinion was the first by the Second Circuit to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Omnicare decision, which had established a new framework for determining when a public company can be held liable for statements of opinion that later turn out to be false. Co-Head of the Securities Litigation practice John Neuwirth, who led the team, noted that the decision set a high bar for shareholder plaintiffs to challenge statements of opinion in court going forward.
Weil also achieved an appellate victory in the Delaware Supreme Court on behalf of energy company Kinder Morgan which centered on Kinder Morgan’s $70 billion roll-up merger of subsidiary companies. This decision laid out the duties owed by general partners of limited partnerships to their limited partners, determining that the partnership agreement does not afford the same types of duties to limited partners that a corporation owes to its shareholders. Co-Head of the Securities Litigation practice and counsel to Kinder Morgan Joseph Allerhand emphasized the high stakes involved in this litigation, saying, “When you have a $70 billion transaction involving one of the largest oil and energy companies in America ... it’s fair to say the ante is upped.”
Complementing these high-profile wins was a complete defense jury verdict for Morgan Stanley in the Southern District of New York. Co-Chair of the Firm’s global Litigation Department Jonathan Polkes noted the risk involved for a bank to present its case to a jury, but that in this case the client “had real conviction and passion about its position and simply refused to buckle under the normal pressures to settle.” Mr. Polkes proved more than up to the challenge, as the jury found Morgan Stanley not liable for insider trading in the stock of an auto parts maker on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, rejecting civil claims filed by a Russian billionaire who invested in the same company. Mr. Polkes described the case as “priceless” and a “distinguishing factor for the firm” given how rare it is for companies, let alone financial institutions, to try high-stakes jury trials to verdict in the current climate.
The Firm has more than 60 lawyers dedicated to Securities Litigation, a fact that Mr. Neuwirth highlights as one of the key strengths of the group, remarking, “Our bench is incredibly deep, and our expertise is very specific.”