Steven Alan Reiss is nationally recognized for complex civil, criminal and international matters, especially those with multi-jurisdictional or parallel civil and criminal components. In recent years, he has represented companies in many of the major international antitrust investigations and litigations, including those involving the airlines, auction houses, auto parts, freight forwarders, helicopter services, vitamins, lysine, carbon fiber, EPDM rubber, orthopedic implants, graphite electrodes, MSG, military insignia and milk industries.
He also has extensive experience in representing companies and individuals in a variety of other high stakes/high profile matters – including major constitutional litigation – at trial and on appeal; and he currently heads the Firm’s appellate practice. Representative clients for whom Mr. Reiss has handled significant matters include American Airlines, Apple, Avon, BMW, Bovis Lendlease, Bridgestone, Credit Suisse, Empire Blue Cross, Ericsson, the European Union, ExxonMobil, General Electric, General Motors, Tommy Hilfiger, Hughes, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Oracle, the New York State Assembly, Panasonic, Schindler Elevator Corp., Sotheby’s, Sumitomo Chemical, Elizabeth Taylor, the Television Music License Committee and Toray.
Mr. Reiss has been named a “recommended” lawyer by Legal 500 in four categories: Antitrust: Cartels, Antitrust: Civil Litigation and Class Actions, Appellate: Supreme Court, and Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense. He is also recognized by The Best Lawyers in America, Benchmark Litigation, and Chambers USA, where clients referred to him as an “outstanding expert in his field” and “incredibly service-oriented.”
Prior to joining Weil in 1989, Mr. Reiss was a tenured professor of law at New York University Law School, where he taught criminal law, constitutional law, evidence and trial advocacy. He is currently a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School teaching an advanced seminar on “U.S. Civil and Criminal Enforcement of International Cartels.” He has published numerous books and articles and co-authored Modern Federal Jury Instructions, a standard reference work on jury instructions and practice in the federal courts. He was the editor-in-chief and then contributing editor of the White Collar Crime Reporter and the Reporter for Second Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Juries. He currently serves as General Counsel to the Brennan Center, a premier public policy interest law firm that specializes in a spectrum of constitutional issues and public policy litigation. He regularly writes on a variety of legal issues, and serves as editor of Weil’s False Claims Act Watch newsletter.
Mr. Reiss served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the United States Supreme Court and to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where he was articles editor of the Law Review, and Vassar College, where he has served as a trustee.
- Superior Offshore International Inc. v. Bristow Group Inc. et al. – Obtained summary judgment for SEACOR Holdings Inc., in a putative class action in federal court in Delaware accusing SEACOR, Bristow Group, PHI Inc., and others of conspiring to fix prices for helicopter flights to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Air Cargo Litigation – Lead counsel defending American Airlines in over 100 consolidated class actions charging the fixing of fuel surcharges in the airline cargo industry.
- Orthopedics Implants Litigation – Lead counsel defending Johnson & Johnson in multiple class actions alleging collusion in the market for orthopedic implants.
- In re Auction Houses Litigation – Lead counsel defending Sotheby’s in 60 consolidated antitrust class actions charging price-fixing with Christie’s brought on behalf of all buyers and sellers in US auctions conducted by Sotheby’s and Christie’s from 1993-2000. Engineered settlement in which the cash component for which Sotheby’s was responsible was less than 10% of the entire settlement.
- Kruman v. Christie’s et al. – Lead counsel defending Sotheby’s in consolidated antitrust class actions charging price-fixing with Christie’s brought on behalf of all buyers and sellers in auctions conducted by Sotheby’s and Christie’s outside the United States from 1993-2000. Formulated a first of its kind settlement that effectively resolved all of Sotheby’s worldwide liability on a class wide basis.
- Thomas & Thomas Rodmakers v. Newport Adhesives & Composites et al. – Counsel to carbon fiber industry leader Toray Industries in a consolidated antitrust class action alleging price-fixing and market allocation in the carbon fiber and advanced composites industry.
- United States ex rel. Beck v. Hexcel Corp. et.al. – Counsel to Toray Industries in a qui tam action alleging that carbon fiber manufacturers were responsible for making “false claims” to the government because they charged inflated prices for carbon fiber as a result of an alleged price fixing conspiracy. The case was dismissed.
- In re Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Antitrust Litigation – Counsel to ExxonMobil in consolidated class actions alleging price-fixing in the market for EPDM, a rubber product.
- In re Amino Acid Antitrust Litigation – Counsel to Kyowa Hakko, a Japanese company, in antitrust class action alleging price fixing among the producers of lysine.
- In re Vitamins Antitrust Litigation – Counsel to Sumitomo Chemical in consolidated class actions alleging price-fixing in the US and international markets for vitamins.
- In re Graphite Electrodes Antitrust Litigation – Counsel to SEC, a Japanese producer of graphite electrodes, in consolidated class action alleging price fixing in the graphite electrodes industry.
- Atlantic Embroidery, Inc. v. Vanguard Military Equipment – Lead counsel defending Vanguard in an antitrust suit alleging bid-rigging with respect to a naval supply contract. The suit was dismissed.
Corporate and Business Matters
- Kirk v. Schindler Elevator Corp. – Lead counsel to Schindler Elevator in a long-running qui tam False Claims Act litigation regarding compliance with a federal regulation that requires annual reporting on employees’ veteran status. Won a significant appeal before The U.S. Supreme Court that interpreted the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act, and subsequently secured summary judgment dismissing relator’s remaining claims.
- Newark Morning Ledger v. United States – Counsel to Newark Morning Ledger in a tax case that raised the issue whether customer-based intangibles, such as customer lists, are depreciable assets or non-depreciable good will. In a landmark 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled for Newark Morning Ledger. Because there were more than 700 pending cases raising the same issue, the decision had a $17 billion effect on tax revenues. Congress subsequently revised the law to account for the decision.
- BellSouth Products v. US Electronics – Lead counsel for US Electronics, a telephone distributor, in a suit against BellSouth alleging a breach of an exclusive distribution agreement. After the conclusion of preliminary injunction hearings, BellSouth settled the case with a $200 million payment to US Electronics, one of the largest commercial settlements in the United States.
- New York v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. – Lead counsel defending GMAC in a suit by the New York Attorney General alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the state Unfair Trade Practices Act. The suit was settled favorably to GMAC.
- Marcella & Co. v. Avon – Lead counsel defending Avon in a putative class action brought on behalf of all Avon representatives who participated in Avon’s Sponsorship recruiting program. Plaintiffs alleged that, as a result of representations made in various promotional literature, Avon was obligated to continue the program and pay benefits under it. The suit was dismissed by the Appellate Division.
- Avon Products v. S.C. Johnson – Lead counsel in a Lanham Act case in which S.C. Johnson charged that Avon was falsely promoting its famous Skin-So-Soft bath oil as an insect repellent. We secured a complete victory for Avon at trial by demonstrating that the bath oil actually did work as an insect repellent.
- Oracle Corp. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service – Lead counsel defending Oracle’s utilization of a foreign tax credit for software produced outside the United States. After years of litigation, the IRS conceded the correctness of the deduction, which was worth approximately $200 million to Oracle.
- Gore v. BMW – Represented BMW AG, the German parent company, in litigation that led to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on punitive damages. Succeeded in getting the Alabama Supreme Court to dismiss the suit against the parent company.
- Frydman v. Cosmair – Lead counsel defending Cosmair and its French parent, L’Oreal, in a high-profile case charging fraud and other defalcations growing out of L’Oreal’s alleged participation in the Arab boycott of Israel. The case was dismissed.
- Luckett v. Sotheby’s – Lead counsel for Sotheby’s at a trial challenging Sotheby’s promotion and auction of a prominent collection of Southwestern antiques. Trial resulted in a complete defense verdict for Sotheby’s.
- Worthington Industries v. Chase Manhattan Capital Corp. – Lead counsel to Chase Manhattan in litigation over the ownership and value of stock options. CMCC won judgment on its $30 million claim.
- General Motors Acceptance Corp. v. McNamara – Lead counsel to GMAC in a suit to recover over $450 million from John McNamara in what was, at the time, the biggest single-victim fraud in history. McNamara was subsequently convicted on criminal RICO violations and served 5 years in prison.
- Ray v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. – Lead counsel defending GMAC in a RICO class action arising out of the McNamara fraud. The case was dismissed.
- Anco Painting v. Hudson Shatz Painting Co. – Lead counsel defending RICO charging various labor racketeering violations. The case was dismissed.
- Counsel to Harvey Miller, Trustee for Stratton Oakmont – Lead counsel to the Trustee appointed under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) to pursue claims on behalf of the creditors and account holders of the notorious Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm. Worked with the US Department of Justice to secure millions of dollars in funds from the culpable Stratton Oakmont principals for distribution to those injured by the firm’s defalcations.
- Bill Blass. Ltd. v. Pincus Brothers – Lead counsel to Bill Blass in suit brought to recover licensing fees and to reform a licensing arrangement. The suit was settled for the amount of the claim.
- Loral Corp. v. Matsushita et al. – Counsel to Matsushita in a patent infringement action involving charge coupled devices or CCD’s, a semiconductor chip that is commonly used as the “seeing eye” in products such as camcorders, video cameras and many fax machines. Succeeded in proving that Matsushita had a license to use the patents and obtaining judgment in Matsushita’s favor.
- Consumers Union v. Empire Blue Cross – Lead counsel defending Empire Blue Cross in its conversion from a not-for-profit insurer to a for profit insurer. Successful in having multiple constitutional challenges brought by a host of organizations dismissed.
- Silver v. Pataki – Lead counsel to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and the Assembly itself, in a landmark suit challenging the Governor’s use of the line-item veto in bills other than appropriation bills during the 1998 budget session. The suit has already gone to the New York Court of Appeals – New York’s highest court – once on the issue of the Speaker’s standing to sue the Governor, and resulted in a landmark ruling in the Speaker’s favor. The merits of the suit are currently sub judice in the Appellate Division (First Department) of the New York Supreme Court.
- Pataki v. Assembly – Lead counsel to the New York State Assembly in a landmark suit over the respective powers of the Governor and the Legislature over the budget growing out of the Legislature’s actions with respect to the 2001 budget. The suit is currently pending in the Appellate Division (Third Department) of the New York Supreme Court.
- Straniere v. Silver – Lead counsel to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly in a suit that determined whether Staten Island would be permitted to secede from New York City to form a new city (which would have been the second largest city in New York State). We prevailed in the New York Court of Appeals, and Staten Island is still part of New York City.
- Miller v. Silverman – Represented the Rent Stabilization Association - the umbrella group for New York City landlords, in a class action alleging that the New York City Housing Court was systemically biased against landlords. The case resulted in several Housing Court reforms.
- New York Urban League v. Metropolitan Transit Authority – Counsel to the New York State Assembly, a defendant in a suit challenging the subway fare increase enacted by the Legislature. The challenge was unsuccessful.
- US Supreme Court – Mr. Reiss has authored numerous briefs to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of various amici to cases before that Court. For example, Mr. Reiss recently filed a brief on behalf of business leaders, including Warren Buffet and Paul Volker, in support of the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold legislation.
Criminal and Investigative Matters
- Department of Justice Air Cargo Investigation – Counsel for American Airlines in investigation by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice into potential price-fixing in the air cargo market.
- Department of Justice Orthopedic Implants Investigation – Counsel for Johnson & Johnson in investigation by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice into potential collusion in the market for orthopedic implants.
- United States v. Wittig – Counsel to the former CEO of Westar Industries on the appeal of his conviction and 18-year sentence for conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering
- United States v. Sotheby’s – Lead counsel in defense of Sotheby’s, which was charged with a conspiracy to fix prices with its arch-rival Christie’s. A plea agreement was reached in which Sotheby’s was fined at a level below the minimum required by the Sentencing Guidelines.
- United States v. Zimmerman – Successfully represented a prominent Denver lawyer convicted of conspiring to commit bankruptcy fraud on the appeal of his conviction. Immediately after oral argument, the Tenth Circuit ordered Zimmerman’s release from prison; it then issued a decision reversing the conviction.
- Department of Justice Carbon Fiber Industry Investigation – Counsel for Toray Industries, the world’s leading carbon fiber producer, in a Department of Justice investigation into potential antitrust violations in the carbon fiber and advance composites industry. To date, after more than 6 years of investigation, no charges have been brought against Toray.
- Department of Justice Plastics Additives Investigation – Counsel to a Japanese producer of plastics additives in connection with a Department of Justice investigation into potential antitrust violations. To date, no charges have been brought.
- United States v. Kyowa Hakko – Lead counsel defending defended Kyowa Hakko in a criminal antitrust prosecution.
- United States v. SEC Corp. – Lead counsel for SEC in a criminal prosecution for price-fixing in the graphite electrodes industry.
- United States v. Guida Siebert Dairy – Lead counsel defending Guida-Siebert dairy in criminal antitrust prosecution for bid-rigging in the school milk industry.
Mr. Reiss has represented companies in a number of non-public investigations where no charges were brought. A representative sample includes:
- The defense of a major law firm in a Department of Justice investigation into whether the firm obstructed justice in their defense of their client.
- The defense of a major electronics manufacturer in a 6-year investigation into possible customs violations. The investigation was one of the largest customs investigations in history.
- The defense of a senior executive of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) in connection with investigations conducted by the US Attorney, the NASD and the SEC into the manner in which CSFB allocated hot IPO’s during the high-tech bubble. No charges or complaints were brought by any agency or prosecutor.
- The defense of a prominent New York defense lawyer in an investigation into whether he participated in frauds committed by his convicted client.
- The defense of a number of industry-leading companies in non-public antitrust investigations where no charges were brought.