Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg is a Chicago-based firm equipped with a team of more than 30 trial lawyers. The team actively represents some of the largest corporations and institutions at both the local and national level. “Barack Ferrazzano is an exceptional litigation firm whose attorneys are skilled litigators. I have consistently found someone at the firm with the experience that I need and the skill set to handle my dispute/issue. Not only are the attorney’s top-notch, but I have also found all of them to be nice people as well,” voices a client.
Roger Stetson serves as practice chair of the firm’s commercial litigation group, as well as a partner of within the commercial competition, real estate, financial institutions, and manufacturing, distribution and franchising groups. Stetson’s recent expertise includes defending GreatBanc Trust Company in a putative class action brought by eight individuals, most of whom sold stock in EYP in 2015 and 2016 in exchange for promissory notes. The plaintiffs allege that GreatBanc conspired with certain EYP directors and the equity firm Long Point to overvalue EYP’s stock in connection with the 2016 Employee Stock Ownership Plan transaction. This matter represents over $20 million in exposure to the defendants in an action before the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Assisting on the matter is future star and highly regarded litigator Nicholas Callahan. One peer declares, “Nick Callahan at Barack Ferrazzano – [has] really proven himself in real estate cases and structured finance.” Callahan also advocates alongside Stetson in another recent putative class action brought by a member of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) who alleges that GreatBanc, as trustee of the ESOP, violated ERISA by allowing the ESOP to overpay for EYP’s stock in the 2016 transaction that created the ESOP, thereby harming members of the ESOP, who are the putative class members. Callahan, who splits his time between the Chicago and Minneapolis offices of the firm, has garnered significant first-chair trial experience over the years. Seasoned litigator Robert Shapiro remains active in commercial, international property, retail, antitrust, and class action litigation. He is active on the team representing two of six defendants, Louis Vuitton and Loro Piana, in a putative class action that alleges the defendants entered into “no-hire agreements” with the purpose and effect of restraining competition and compensation in the purported market for luxury retail employees. The matter is currently pending.
Blackwell Burke is one of Minnesota’s premier litigation shops, one of the few in Minneapolis exclusively dedicated the disputes practice. The firm is the recipient of universal acclaim from all peers familiar with it and is equally cheered by its clients. One raves, “Blackwell Burke takes the time to learn my company's business and is expert at synthesizing complex information into consistent and easily-communicable themes. The firm enlists confidence with my company's legal leadership team and does so at rates and under fee arrangements that work well with a law department's budget.” The firm is equally appreciated for less easily quantified aspects of its approach, particularly the diversity of its partner mix. “Blackwell Burke is comprised of a diverse bench, in terms of gender, sex, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity, and, most importantly, it provides significant responsibility and client contact to its diverse team members,” testifies a client.
Few would argue with the contention that the firm’s center of gravity remains founding partner, CEO, chairman and all-purpose trial lawyer Jerry Blackwell. In addition to scoring a recent landmark win for locally based but globally recognized 3M in its ““Bair Hugger” forced-air warming blanket product liability litigation, in 2021 Blackwell was thrust onto the national stage as trial counsel during what could easily be considered as one of most controversial, widely broadcasted, closely watched and intensely debated cases of the past year, or even of recent times: that of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with (and eventually convicted of) the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. This incident, and its aftermath, has become a flashpoint for a reassessment of racial and social justice worldwide, particularly as it pertains to police. Blackwell joined the prosecution team on a pro bono basis, delivering impassioned and critical arguments and earning near-universal applause for his efforts. It is also worth noting that this case comes hot on the heels of another milestone victory for racial justice – sadly, another one that came posthumously – in the securing of an acquittal for Max Mason, a black circus worker that was wrongly accused (and convicted) of rape of a white woman over 100 years ago.
Beyond its unquestioned dedication to social justice matters, the firm is also a noted champion in the product liability arena, with many appointments by clients that have become local industry brand names. Jamal Faleel was retained by pet food manufacturer Blue Buffalo as lead litigation counsel and trial counsel in a case in which the defendants, an ingredient supplier and an ingredient broker, engaged in a scheme to defraud Blue Buffalo and other premium pet food manufacturers by passing off readily available, cheaper, inferior ingredients for harder to find, more expensive, premium ingredients. As a result of the defendants’ illegal scheme, Blue Buffalo was sued by one of its chief competitors and faced seven consumer class-action lawsuits, claiming it falsely advertised its products as free of poultry by-product meals. Prior to Blackwell Burke’s involvement, Blue Buffalo paid almost $90 million in settlement amounts and attorney fees. The US federally prosecuted the civil defendants and several of their employees in six separate criminal cases, alleging that the defendants sold adulterated and mislabeled food ingredients. The defendants all pled guilty and were ordered to pay millions of dollars in criminal restitution to Blue Buffalo. Mary Young is defending a Fortune 500 packaged foods company in high-profile cases across the US in which the plaintiffs claim burns and other personal injuries resulting from alleged defects in cooking spray aerosol cans. In January 2020, Young won complete summary judgment in one case involving allegations of design defect and failure to warn. “Mary is expert at managing her team to meet my needs,” confirms a client. “She is highly responsive and is constantly looking for solutions that fit within her understanding of our risk profile.” Geraldo “Jerry” Alcazar serves as national product liability counsel defending a Fortune 100 conglomerate’s fall-protection equipment, currently defending several cases in jurisdictions across the country. Alcazar also works with Blackwell in defending Delta Dental against a group of dental services providers across the nation who sued more than 50 Delta Dental members and entities and the Delta Dental Plans Association. Plaintiffs allege that the Delta Dental entities engaged in an unlawful market allocation conspiracy, a price-fixing conspiracy, and an unlawful revenue restriction conspiracy.
Robins Kaplan is equipped with a team of trial lawyers who have the resiliency to take on high-stakes cases. The firm’s reputation has mostly been rooted in its intellectual property and antitrust capabilities; however, in recent years its recognition has expanded to becoming well-known in commercial litigation and securities class actions. Although the firm is often seen representing plaintiffs in litigation, its securities practice is defense-oriented. The firm’s Minneapolis and New York offices are the primary forces behind the firm’s recognition in litigation.
Several of the firm’s intellectual property litigators practice out of the Minneapolis office and are recognized nationally in the practice area. Chris Larus is the chair of the intellectual property and technology group. He recently obtained a complete dismissal with prejudice on behalf of KVP International and Caerus Corporation in a patent infringement matter. The case involved alleged infringement of patents related to pulsed electro-magnetic field (PEMF) medical and veterinary devices. In addition to patent cases, Larus also has copyright and trademark infringement matters that are pending. He is representing FurnitureDealer.net in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Amazon after the client’s product descriptions were being used on Amazon’s website. The lawsuit also alleges a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and breach of contract claims. Larus represents Hubbard Media Group and ReelzChannel in a trademark infringement case against Facebook and Instagram challenging Instagram’s use of Reels on its platform. Jake Holdreith represented Collegium Pharmaceutical in its Hatch-Waxman lawsuit against Teva. The lawsuit arose following Teva’s announcement that it sought to market a generic version of the client’s XTAMPZA, a brand-name abuse deterrent of oxycondone. Originally, Holdreith alleged 12 Orange-book patents were infringed which increased to thirteen in the case. Last September, Holdreith obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of Collegium, which included a consent judgment confirming that Teva’s generic products infringed the asserted patents and that the client would grant Teva a license to market its generic Xtampza ER in September 2033. Ronald Schutz has been representing Chloe Coscarelli, known as the first vegan chef to win the Food Network’s top prize in “Cupcake Wars”. The lawsuit erupted after former business partners ESquared Hospitality and its restaurant group BC Hospitality Group obtained a favorable arbitration decision in 2017 that removed Coscarelli as the namesake and identity for the business which include 10 restaurants. The lawsuit Schutz filed in 2018 alleged several claims, both commercial and intellectual property based, mainly asserting that the defendants exploited the client’s name, fame and image for their own benefit. On behalf of Coscarelli, Schutz sought compensatory damages, punitive and exemplary damages and disgorgement of profits, as well as a judgment that ESquared infringed her company’s trademark. The matter was litigated in the Southern District of New York in addition to the arbitration proceeding which granted a complete and final victory for Coscarelli. The client was reinstated as a 50% owner and the restaurant group BC Hospitality was enjoined from selling retail products using the “By Chloe” trademark. In addition, the client received a $2.2 million award in attorneys’ fees. The award was affirmed in district court in January 2021. Schutz also represented Coscarelli in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding investors of BC Hospitality Group filed. The matter additionally ended favorably with an order preventing the group from selling products with the “By Chloe” trademark without her consent.
The firm has been active in LIBOR-related litigation recently. Stacey Slaughter and Craig Wildfang represent the principal entities as direct-action plaintiffs in the BBA LIBOR rigging scandal against the rate-setting panel banks. On behalf of their clients, Slaughter and Wildfang have resolved cases against two of the banks, and other cases were transferred to Multi-District Litigation, including the “other-the-counter” class case, the “exchange-based” class case, and numerous other DAP cases. Thomas Undlin is lead partner as co-lead counsel representing plaintiffs in civil actions against bank defendants, including major financial institutions like Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan and Barclays. The suit alleges that the defendants conspired to suppress one- and three-month US dollar-denominated ICE LIBOR rates and returns. The matter is on appeal at the Second Circuit.
Wildfang and New York-based partner Kellie Lerner serve as co-chairs of the antitrust and trade regulation group. Lerner is the lead partner serving as court appointed co-lead counsel on behalf of a proposed class of direct purchasers of Merck’s mumps vaccine. The class alleges that the defendant monopolized the US market in a scheme to exclude competitors, in part by alleging an efficacy rate of 95% or higher. Merck filed a motion for summary judgment, which Lerner filed a sur-reply in opposition. The parties completed their briefings on the motion in May 2020 and the court granted Lerner leave to file a second sur-reply to further oppose the motion.