Patterson Belknap has been heralded as “perhaps the most underrated firm in New York” by a peer. “They should be referenced more often as one of the very best. They are very hard workers, and yet all pleasant, very ethical, just some really smart people who are also tough litigators.” The firm has its fans among former members of the judiciary as well. The firm’s practice offering covers a diverse spectrum, spanning commercial matters, white-collar crime, antitrust, intellectual property, securities and false advertising claims, an area in which the firm is said to be one of the few major players. The firm’s hybrid model also affords it the freedom to take on cases in the plaintiff and defense roles. Patterson Belknap has also made headlines as of late for matters involving a more novel nature.
In one example of such uniqueness, Daniel Ruzumna made the news in March 2020 as one of the firm partners filing an audacious lawsuit on behalf of watchdog group American Oversight against Donald Trump and White House adviser Jared Kushner, alleging a private Trump advisory group on clemency is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by not filing a charter, and by keeping their meetings and documents concealed from the public. Ruzumna also represented a former trader at Premium Point Investments (PPI) who was charged by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the SEC with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. The charges relate to the alleged mismarking of bonds in PPI’s portfolio of securities and other bond valuation practices. Trial in this matter began in June 2019 and concluded in July 2019, with a guilty verdict. Among Ruzumna’s fans in the community is a former judge [now a partner at a prestigious firm], who cheers, “Dan is phenomenal, he was the lead lawyer in the 650 5th Ave case. He was brought in at the time of trial. He had a hard case but he was always prepared, zealous and careful, just a terrific trial lawyer.” In another headline case of public interest, Muhammad Faridi has drafted amicus briefs on behalf of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council 119, a union of asylum officers in federal litigation in support of plaintiffs challenging the Trump Administration’s actions limiting asylum and refugee resettlement in the US. These filings argue that the measures promulgated by the government violate international and domestic law governing the treatment of refugees, require the union’s constituents to violate their oath to uphold the laws of the US and betray the US’ longstanding and defining tradition of providing safe haven to those who are persecuted at a time of unprecedented global displacement. Faridi is also part of a team, which includes Peter Tomlinson and Robert Lobue, representing Ambac who, in 2010, sued embattled mortgage originator Countrywide in New York Supreme Court alleging pervasive fraud and breaches of representations and warranties made by Countrywide relating to the mortgage loans underlying 12 RMBS transactions. Saul Shapiro represents Bravo Media and Realand Productions, subsidiaries of NBCUniversal, in an action brought by the former producers of the television show “Real Housewives of Orange County.” Steve Zalesin is the firm’s False Advertising authority, widely considered one of the most prominent in the field. A fellow litigator in this capacity observes, “Steve represents J&J and is constantly in these types of disputes.” Zalesin represents The Hershey Company in a putative class action in federal court in California alleging that the statement “No Artificial Flavors” on the packaging for Hershey’s Brookside Dark Chocolate products is false and misleading because malic acid, an ingredient in the products, allegedly functions as an artificial flavor. In November 2019, the court granted his motion for summary judgment dismissing the claims of the individual plaintiffs and denied plaintiffs’ class certification motion. Zalesin also represented Clorox in a Lanham Act suit against its chief competitor Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Lysol products. The suit concerned a wide range of Lysol advertisements that contained false and misleading comparisons to multiple Clorox products, including Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. The case settled on confidential terms.