Litigation Departments of the Year

Focus on the Middle Market

Gibbons' mantra is cost-effectiveness in corporate litigation

New Jersey Law Journal

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Gibbons leads major litigation throughout the U.S. with and against the country's largest law firms in matters involving significant exposure or potential recovery. With easily accessible offices in several key regional markets, the firm handles multifaceted litigation covering multiple jurisdictions, relying on experienced attorneys in each relevant jurisdiction while also leveraging extensive firm-wide resources.

The department handles all types of sophisticated commercial litigation for clients across a broad range of industries and business sectors, particularly those such as pharmaceuticals that are vital to the regional economy. Gibbons stands out among competitors by staying true to a middle-market vision — offering high-quality, cost-effective litigation services to Fortune 500 clients and handling major litigation for middle-market companies (those with annual revenues of $100 million to $2.5 billion).

Since eliminating its summer associate program more than 10 years ago, Gibbons has focused on hiring new associates who have completed a judicial clerkship. Today, the firm has more than 100 former judicial clerks, who provide clients with firsthand knowledge of federal and state judges and the inner workings of the courts. A formidable roster of retired jurists also brings a realistic judicial perspective to client matters.

Gibbons was a trailblazer in the emerging field of electronic discovery and information management when the firm formed the E-Discovery Task Force over nine years ago, before the federal rules were amended to address e-discovery and long before most law firms began to focus on those issues. The task force is now a highly regarded interdisciplinary group of attorneys, IT specialists and knowledge-management professionals who constantly monitor decisional law, relevant regulations and emerging trends; offer practical and cost-effective strategies for dealing with today's litigation discovery demands; and draft and implement customized information management, social media and litigation-hold policies.

The Litigation Support Department, relying on Litigation Support Best Practice, offers expertise in addressing the various issues related to e-discovery, and guidance in managing and analyzing large amounts of data.

Gibbons offers discounted hourly rates, volume-based discounts, task-based billing, fixed-fee billing, blended rates, cost-plus-contingency and result-oriented billing.

Gibbons by the Numbers
  Firm-wide N.J. Office
Department Size 163 117
Department as percentage of firm (head-count) 71% 72%
Department as percentage of firm (revenue) 84% 84%

 

Major Litigators:

• Patrick Dunican Jr. (partner, Newark, admitted 1991) — managing partner; has overseen a significant revenue and profit increases while organically growing the firm by 80 lawyers; handles general commercial litigation, intellectual property and securities litigation in state and federal courts in New York and New Jersey.

• Brian McMahon (partner, Newark, 1977) — chairs business & commercial litigation department; executive committee member; handles securities litigation, merger-and-acquisition disputes, partnership disputes, intra-corporate and shareholder derivative disputes and complex contract disputes across several industries; has tried jury and nonjury cases in state and federal court; has played the leading role in numerous large class actions, enforcement proceedings with regulatory agencies and complex adversary bankruptcy proceedings; has been the primary architect of numerous complex and multifaceted settlements.

• Michael Griffinger (partner, Newark, 1965) — former litigation department chair; has been an active litigator in federal and state courts for more than 40 years; has represented major domestic and foreign corporations from numerous industries; experienced in jury and nonjury trials as well as class-action and derivative litigation.

• Michael Quinn (partner, Newark, 1981) — has been lead counsel in numerous trials and complex litigation in state and federal courts and arbitrations; regularly involved in expedited litigation and injunction proceedings; has broad litigation experience (more than 30 years) in a wide range of corporate and business disputes, restrictive covenant, unfair competition and antitrust litigation, partnership and shareholder controversies, professional liability defense and complex adversary proceedings.

• Frederick Alworth (partner, Newark, 1988) — has extensive trial experience in all aspects of civil litigation; regularly appears as trial counsel; recently obtained a judgment exceeding $15 million that was upheld on appeal; serves as court-appointed counsel on numerous matters; pro bono coordinator.

• Michael McDonald (partner, Newark, 1987) — has extensive experience litigating complex commercial matters, including, consumer fraud class actions, consumer product-related class actions, pharmaceutical and other product-liability claims, toxic torts, contract and uniform commercial code matters.

• Peter Torcicollo (partner, Newark, 1994) — heads construction litigation team; executive committee member; director of professional development, recruiting, associate retention and lateral hiring; handles all facets of construction disputes, including contract claims and claims relating to change orders, construction defects, scheduling and delay, construction liens, public bidding, and design; has tried numerous jury and nonjury cases in state and federal courts; has a background in the construction industry.

• John Wolak (partner, Newark, 1988) — insurance practice team leader; has extensive experience handling complex insurance coverage litigation in state and federal courts; represents attorneys in legal malpractice matters; has successfully litigated a broad range of complex commercial matters.

• R. Scott Garley (partner, New York, 1992) — co-administrative director of New York office; chairs securities litigation team and co-chairs private equity and hedge fund group.

• John Gibbons (partner, Newark, 1950) — former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; began legal career at the firm, then Crummy, Gibbons & O'Neill; has litigated antitrust, intellectual-property and securities matters.

• James Zazzali (of counsel, Newark, 1963) — former state Supreme Court chief justice; former state attorney general; general counsel for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA).

• Edwin Stern (of counsel, Newark, 1966) — former Appellate Division presiding judge for administration.

• Andrew Moore II (partner, Wilmington, Del., 1960) — administrative director of Wilmington office; former justice of Delaware Supreme Court.

Cases of Note:

DBSI Estate Litigation Trust v. Swenson, and related matters, various federal courts — Zazzali was appointed trustee to manage and dispose of all claims formerly owned by DBSI Inc. and its affiliates and sought to recover $17 million in taxes paid on allegedly fraudulent transfers. The court rejected sovereign immunity defenses asserted by the federal government (February 2011) and by 30 state taxing authorities (Jan. 27, 2012). Gibbons also represents Conrad Myers, trustee for the DBSI Liquidating Trust, in connection with racketeering claims lodged by Wavetronix, from whom $20 million in past loans was sought in a bankruptcy matter. On Aug. 2, 2012, the bankruptcy court denied Wavetronix's motion for leave, held Wavetronix in contempt for improperly filing the complaint, and dismissed it with prejudice.

Pain & Surgery Ambulatory Center v. Connecticut General Life Ins. Co., and related matters, U.S. District Court, New Jersey/New York — Gibbons represents CIGNA and other insurance carriers in numerous class suits by health-care providers over benefits administration. In one matter, the court held the claims noncoverable (Aug. 10, 2012). In another, Gibbons defeated a motion to remand to state court (July 31, 2012). In another, Gibbons obtained dismissal of racketeering claims.

New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association v. NJSEA, and related matters, various state courts and U.S. District Court, New Jersey — Gibbons serves as primary outside counsel to the NJSEA for a variety of matters. In January 2012, an emergent application for injunctive relief on behalf of a horse trainer (based on nonparticipation in the privatization of Meadowlands Racetrack) was denied, and the trainer's case was dismissed. On April 19, 2012, an administrative hearing officer upheld award of a bid to operate Monmouth Park that had been challenged. And on Aug. 9, 2012, a suit by the New Meadowlands Stadium Co., the New York Giants and the New York Jets — over the alleged impact of the modifications to the American Dream project on the teams' rights — was dismissed.

Avis Budget Group Inc. and The Hertz Corp. v. City of Newark¸ Superior Court, Essex County Law Division — Gibbons represented the city and officials in a suit seeking to invalidate a revenue-generating ordinance taxing automobile rentals in certain industrial zones. The court granted the city's summary judgment motion, which the Appellate Division upheld in August 2012. The Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs' petition for certification in January 2013.

Graco Inc. v. PMC Global Inc., U.S. District Court, New Jersey — Gibbons represents PMC Global, Inc. and its subsidiaries in a matter arising out of the $65 million sale of a spray-foam insulation equipment company to Graco. Graco filed suit against PMC after it funded a new startup spray foam equipment company, alleging breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets and seeking more than $11 million in compensatory damages. On Feb. 25, 2012, PMC's antitrust counterclaims survived Graco's summary judgment motion.

Shelton v. Restaurant.com, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, state Supreme Court — Gibbons represents Restaurant.com in a putative class action claiming its discounted gift certificates violated the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) and other laws because they expired after only one year. The District Court dismissed the TCCWNA and other claims. After appellate arguments, the Third Circuit petitioned the state Supreme Court for certification of a legal question—whether the TCCWNA is applicable. The court twice heard arguments in 2012. A decision is pending.

• Seton Hall University, American Arbitration Association — Gibbons represents Seton Hall University in connection with allegedly widespread errors in design and construction of McNulty Hall, the University's Science and Technology Building. Hearings began in February 2012 and are continuing. •

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