During periods of economic turmoil, corporations and senior executives are particularly attractive targets for government regulators and private securities plaintiffs. In times like these, experienced legal counsel is invaluable and substantial trial experience is a must. At Keker & Van Nest, we bring our trial skills to every setting in which securities problems arise, from investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, to class actions and shareholder derivative suits.
Our expertise covers virtually every aspect of securities law enforcement, including revenue recognition, market timing or late trading, and the recent spate of options backdating investigations . We have handled scores of matters involving traditional areas of securities law enforcement, such as allegations of insider trading, accounting and disclosure fraud, and misbehavior by brokers and other securities professionals.
Susan Harriman and Robert Van Nest are listed as Best Lawyers in America for Securities Litigation.
In 2010, The American Lawyer named Stuart Gasner Litigator of the Week for his win against the Securities and Exchange Commission in a stock options backdating case.
The Daily Journal has named Jan Nielsen Little to its list of Top Women Litigators every year since 2005. In 2010, Ms. Little was profiled for her work in one of the country’s first stock options backdating cases to go to trial.
Legal 500 described the firm as "peopled with a preponderance of outstanding trial lawyers ... the team excels at representing high-level company executives in criminal trials across the waterfront of offences including securities fraud and insider trading."
Cases of Note
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Individual: We won a defense verdict for a former Citigroup employee targeted in an SEC enforcement action filed in the Southern District of New York. The case stemmed from the SEC’s allegations that Citigroup failed to disclose information related to certain mortgage-backed investments.
Plaintiff v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc.: We defended Intuitive Surgical, Inc., a leading manufacturer of cutting-edge robotic surgery devices, from a securities class action. Plaintiffs alleged that Intuitive Surgical issued false and misleading statements regarding the company's financial results and prospects, when during the economic crisis of 2008, its financial results did not meet previously announced predictions. Plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a securities class action, which U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh dismissed with leave to amend. In a recent written opinion, Judge Koh agreed with each of our arguments, and dismissed the class action for the second time, this time with prejudice.
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Financial Officer: We defended the former chief financial officer of a San Francisco-based hedge fund firm against charges of insider trading. The case was part of the government’s push to make insider trading the focus of financial fraud prosecution. The Securities and Exchange Commission named our client and several others in a civil suit, alleging they made more than $8 million trading on stocks based on insider tips. We knocked out half of the case on summary judgment and settled the remainder on very favorable terms.
United States v. Former Chief Executive Officer: We represented the former CEO of a public company in a criminal investigation, a Securities and Exchange Commission suit, a derivative shareholder suit, a breach of contract suit by our client against his former company, and that company's counterclaim for hundreds of millions. All of these matters were related to the company's historical stock option granting practices. We resolved all of the matters against our client with net payments of more than $10 million to our client.
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Financial Officer: We represented a chief financial officer charged in one of the largest criminal securities fraud cases in recent U.S. history. We represented him in the criminal and administrative investigations, as well as in parallel civil litigation. Following pretrial litigation, our client pled guilty and received a six-year prison sentence. Civil litigation was favorably settled.
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Financial Officer: We represented the former chief financial officer of a software company against Securities and Exchange Commission allegations of securities fraud in the company’s revenue recognition practices. We secured a dismissal on the eve of trial.
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Software Company Founder and Former Chairman: We represented a multi-billion dollar software company's founder and former chairman of the board in an options backdating investigation. The case was resolved on favorable terms, with no charges filed.
Plaintiffs v. Electronic Arts Inc.: We represented Electronic Arts, its officers and directors in parallel class actions and derivative lawsuits alleging securities fraud. After we won a motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs in all pending cases voluntarily dismissed their claims.