Practice/Industry Group Overview
Sullivan & Cromwell’s reputation stems from more than a century of representing clients in a broad range of matters, including many landmark cases that have shaped the development of U.S. law.
The Litigation Group draws upon S&C’s rich expertise in corporate, financial and transactional law, forming seamlessly integrated teams that handle any related or follow-on matters that arise. The Firm manages issues through every stage of the litigation life cycle, before any court, arbitration panel or regulatory agency.
The lawyers at S&C are international practitioners. Its clients represent a cross-section of prominent U.S. and non-U.S. companies that trust the Firm with their critical investigations, regulatory matters, trials and arbitrations.
Recent Sullivan & Cromwell litigation experience includes representing:
- BP and its directors, in securities litigation arising out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. To date, S&C has achieved dismissals in many of these actions including derivative, Employee Retirement Income Security Act and other shareholder litigations.
- Barclays, in international, multiagency investigations into benchmark interest rates, including the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). S&C was engaged by Barclays to conduct an internal investigation regarding conduct relating to benchmark interest rates. In 2012, Barclays entered into settlements with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice Fraud Division and the U.K. Financial Services Authority. S&C also represented Barclays in obtaining conditional leniency from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice with respect to financial instruments referenced to Euribor. In addition, S&C represents Barclays in the related civil litigation. The litigation includes class action suits involving USD Libor, Yen Libor and Euribor alleging violations of federal antitrust laws and violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, as well as violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and various state laws. These claims were substantially dismissed in March 2013.
- Boeing, in a securities class action brought by a putative class of Boeing shareholders related to Boeing’s 878 Dreamliner.
The Wall Street Journal called the decision, which sheds additional light on the already controversial use of confidential informants in pleading scienter in private securities-fraud litigation, “the biggest plaintiff smackdown of the year.”
- Eastman Kodak, as lead counsel in its global reorganization and Chapter 11 case in the United States.
- Goldman Sachs & Co., in an important case involving the enforcement of arbitration agreements in employment discrimination actions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court order refusing to enforce an arbitration agreement between Goldman Sachs and a former employee who was seeking to bring a Title VII class action claim based on “pattern or practice” evidence, thereby requiring the employee to be bound by the terms of the arbitration agreement.
- Goldman Sachs, in investigations and related litigation involving residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Both the DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission concluded lengthy investigations without taking action against Goldman Sachs or its employees. Recent litigation victories include a dismissal of fraud claims brought by an investor in a CDO offering by the Appellate Division, First Department of the New York Supreme Court; a dismissal of fraud claims brought by another CDO investor in a decision affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and dismissal of a shareholder derivative action by the Delaware Supreme Court that resulted in the dismissal of eight related derivative matters filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
- Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Nomura and First Horizon, in separate actions brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The cases are among 18 suits brought by FHFA alleging that the banks fraudulently issued or underwrote hundreds of mortgage-backed securities prior to the subprime collapse.
Together, these cases constitute one of the highest-profile securities litigations arising out of the financial crisis, with hundreds of billions of dollars in securities at stake.
- ING Group, HSBC Group and Standard Chartered Bank, in the successful resolutions of multiagency criminal and regulatory investigations relating to their compliance with economic sanctions and/or anti-money-laundering regulations. After lengthy investigations spanning years and involving activities around the world, each of S&C’s clients avoided criminal prosecution by resolving these matters through the entry of deferred prosecution agreements and the payment of fines.
- JPMorgan Chase, as national coordinating counsel in the company’s residential mortgage-backed securities litigation, which includes litigation arising from securitizations issued by Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns. As such, the Firm has responsibility for developing the strategy and overseeing more than 70 cases pending in multiple state and federal jurisdictions, as well as various regulatory matters. S&C played a key role in leading JPMorgan through its recently announced $13 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Microsoft, in a long-running antitrust lawsuit brought by Novell, which sought nearly $4 billion in damages. In September 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case. The district court granted Microsoft’s posttrial motion for judgment as a matter of law after an eight-week trial that ended in a deadlocked jury.
The Am Law Litigation Daily named partners David Tulchin and Steve Holley “Litigators of the Week” for their work on the case.
- Moody’s, in a coordinated shareholder class action. After defeating class certification, S&C obtained full dismissal on summary judgment of the actions brought against Moody’s that alleged that Moody’s made false and misleading statements concerning its rating methodologies and its management of conflicts of interest in connection with ratings of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities and other structured finance products that suffered downgrades during the financial crisis. The plaintiffs sought recovery for a more than 50 percent decline in Moody’s share price and the loss of more than $7 billion in market capitalization.
- Porsche, in a high-profile federal securities litigation brought against it by a group of hedge funds seeking more than $2.5 billion in connection with Porsche’s acquisition of a stake in Volkswagen. The hedge funds’ claims were dismissed.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported on this victory. The American Lawyer noted in its March 2011 “Big Suits” column that the win “removes a roadblock to the planned merger between Porsche and VW.” The American Lawyer also recognized the Firm as an honoree for “Global Dispute of the Year: U.S. Litigation” in its inaugural Global Legal Awards (2013) for representation of Porsche in these matters.
- MPEG LA, a patent licensing administrator, in bringing a breach-of-patent-license claim against Audiovox. Following a nine-day trial, the jury awarded MPEG LA damages on a portion of Audiovox’s unpaid sales of products featuring MPEG-2 digital compression technology.
- NXP Semiconductors, in an $80 million, multiforum action brought by Exatel Visual Systems that arose out of claimed breaches of various commercial agreements regarding a set-top box venture. Four days into an arbitration hearing, Exatel voluntarily dismissed its case and agreed to release NXP and its affiliates for zero consideration.
- Sonera Holding, in its arbitration against Cukurova Holding that found that Cukurova had breached a contract with Sonera and, as a result, owed it $932 million in damages, plus interest, costs and attorneys’ fees.
This is the fourth significant International Chamber of Commerce arbitration victory that S&C has won for TeliaSonera. The Firm’s representation of Sonera was noted as one of the “Biggest Arbitration Awards” in The American Lawyer’s annual “Arbitration Scorecard” in 2013.
- Tenaris (which entered into the first deferred prosecution agreement ever offered by the SEC), Eni, and Snamprogetti and Diageo, in resolving three notable Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations.
- UBS, in a variety of regulatory inquiries, investigations, tax matters and private litigation arising from the recent financial crisis and losses related to mortgage-backed securities. Most recently, S&C advised UBS in obtaining the dismissal of all federal securities claims by UBS shareholders who acquired shares outside the United States arising out of UBS’s subprime losses. This decision eliminated billions of dollars of potential liability.
- Vornado Realty Trust, in a long-running contract dispute with Stop & Shop regarding the allocation of rental increases. After an eight-day trial, the court held that Stop & Shop was liable for the full amount of the rental increases, and entered a judgment of more than $56 million for Vornado.
Vornado was also awarded $11.1 million in legal fees and costs, including interest—an award, the court said, that was supported by the “very beneficial” results achieved by S&C.
- VeriFone Systems, in its successful acquisition of Hypercom, including litigation brought by the target, intense scrutiny by antitrust and competition law authorities, and a civil antitrust action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice that sought to enjoin the acquisition, all of which were resolved successfully for VeriFone.