Named by the New Jersey Law Journal as the 2013 “Commercial Litigation Department of the Year” and 2014 “General Litigation Department of the Year,” the Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation (CCL) Department is widely recognized as one of the premier business and criminal litigation groups in the region, with more than 90 attorneys throughout the firm’s Newark, New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington offices.
Gibbons has consistently earned places in the top tiers for commercial and criminal litigation in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers. The publication conducts interviews with attorneys and business executives to rank firms by practice area. Chambers has stated that Gibbons “has a reputation for fielding excellent attorneys, and attracts some of the most high-profile cases in the state.” Chambers‘ sources have said that Gibbons is “among the premier litigation firms in the state,” providing “a wonderful team with an undeniably strong bench strength and a reputation for cutting-edge, high-end quality” and is “responsive, thorough, and possessing more than enough resources to give a case everything it needs.” We rely on our experienced litigators in each relevant jurisdiction, while also leveraging extensive firm-wide resources to develop and execute strategies that help our clients meet their business objectives.
The commercial litigation practice represents clients across a broad range of industries and business sectors, but we stand out among competitors by staying true to a middle-market vision. Our business model is focused on offering high quality, cost effective middle market litigation services to Fortune 500 clients and middle market businesses; that is, we handle major litigation for mid-market companies (with annual revenues of $100 million to $2.5 billion) and mid-market litigation for major companies, notably in the Mid-Atlantic region.
In the criminal defense area, Gibbons defends the interests and rights of companies and individuals, including multinational and domestic corporations, foreign governments, business executives, and medical, legal, and accounting professionals, in a wide variety of criminal, quasi-criminal, civil, administrative, and regulatory matters, many international in scope, at all levels of the federal and state judicial systems. The criminal defense attorneys at Gibbons are often able to avert criminal proceedings by conducting comprehensive internal audits and investigations or developing corporate compliance programs beforehand, and by aggressively advocating for clients before the relevant law enforcement or regulatory agencies. They also have a great deal of trial and appellate experience, including high-profile victories at trial and hundreds of published appellate decisions that have broken new ground in criminal law and procedure.
A Realistic Judicial Perspective: Gibbons heavily emphasizes recruiting judicial law clerks and has done so for many years. As a result, fully 70 percent of the attorneys in the CCL Department served for federal or state judges, including many sitting judges and justices of the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; the United States District Court for the Districts of New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Southern District of New York, Middle and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania, and Northern District of Ohio; the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey; the Supreme Courts of the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia; the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania Appellate Divisions; and many Chancery and Tax Courts throughout the region. This predominance of former judicial law clerks gives us in-depth, first-hand knowledge of judges in the federal and state systems and the inner workings of the courts, while adding another level of instant credibility. Our ability to bring a realistic judicial perspective to our clients’ cases is further enhanced by the eminent retired jurists with whom the Gibbons CCL Department is fortunate to work on a day-to-day basis:
- James R. Zazzali, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey
- Edwin H. Stern, former Presiding Judge for Administration of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, who retired after a temporary assignment on the New Jersey Supreme Court
These attorneys are unique resources, providing distinctly valuable insight to the Department’s attorneys and clients on a wide array of projects, including appeals, moot court practice sessions for arguments, mediations and arbitrations, and institutional ethics and corporate governance issues.
Superior Resources: Gibbons has long been committed to providing clients with added value above and beyond stellar legal representation. The firm’s leading-edge technology platform greatly facilitates the delivery of these value-added services. In fact, in a recent law firm associate satisfaction survey, The American Lawyer ranked Gibbons 4th in the nation for use of technology on behalf of clients. For example, the firm’s Litigation Support Department and Knowledge Management Team both utilize the most current technology to enhance the legal and client services our litigators provide.
The Litigation Support Department consists of individuals with years of technological experience who possess particular knowledge about processing electronically stored information (ESI) received in litigation matters and efficiently and cost effectively preparing that data for review and production. The group offers guidance in addressing the various issues related to e-discovery, along with guidance in the management and analysis of large amounts of data during the various stages of the electronic discovery life cycle, from the very start of a case to the conclusion, using a number of in-house document review platforms.
Similarly, the Gibbons Knowledge Management Team combines external resources and proprietary technologies for “just in time” delivery of crucial information to our attorneys and clients. We use our Gibbons kmAlerts System and other resources to actively monitor news, case law, business and legal issues, industry trends, and docket events, allowing our attorneys to proactively inform clients of important developments that affect them, and to anticipate their potential legal needs. The kmAlerts System is automated and incurs no cost to clients while providing attorneys and clients a comprehensive, current picture of their business situations.
The CCL Department at Gibbons also maintains the Commercial Litigation Alert blog, an up-to-the-minute online resource providing practical perspectives, analysis, and discussion on noteworthy judicial decisions, legal and business news and issues, and new judicial decisions – distilling a broad array of information to introduce the news and topics that most impact our clients’ businesses. The Commercial Litigation Alert adds Gibbons attorneys’ unique perspectives and seasoned insight, initiates in-depth discussions among readers, and provides links to key external resources.
The Gibbons E-Discovery Task Force: 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. Now a highly regarded interdisciplinary group of attorneys, IT specialists, and knowledge management professionals, the Task Force assists clients in facing and surmounting all the challenges associated with electronic discovery and information governance. From constantly monitoring decisional law, relevant regulations, and emerging trends, to offering practical and cost-effective strategies for dealing with today’s litigation discovery demands, to drafting and implementing customized information management, social media, and litigation hold policies, the Gibbons E-Discovery Task Force provides clients with useful solutions and value-added service, including our custom E-Discovery Training Programs, our popular, annual E-Discovery Conference, and our E-Discovery Law Alert blog.
Areas of Focus
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Gibbons represents a wide array of sophisticated clients, including corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations, individuals, and nonprofit organizations. The prosecution and defense of complex litigation matters have long been very significant components of our practice. However, concerns about the expense and delay associated with traditional litigation in state and federal judicial systems have led to a national movement to seek alternative forms of dispute resolution. Gibbons has a long commitment to affording clients flexible and cost-effective legal representation. To further this goal, the firm has created an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice within our Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department. The members of the practice include retired senior appellate judges of the federal and state court systems, as well as a distinguished group of experienced practitioners, each with long experience in alternative adjudicative processes.
Antitrust & Trade Regulation
Gibbons enjoys a nationwide reputation as one of the premier firms in antitrust litigation. Our long, multi-faceted history of antitrust litigation dates back to the firm’s 20-year role in the alleged Japanese electronics cartel case, which was ultimately resolved in our client’s favor in the landmark United States Supreme Court decision, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Grp. Our experience with multi-party price fixing cases, together with single-firm monopolization allegations has continued to this day. In addition, on a daily basis, we provide counseling to numerous clients involving antitrust, sales and distribution, franchise, and professional association matters.
Litigated controversies are likely to result in appeals. Consequently, it is in a client’s interest to have experienced appellate counsel involved at various stages in the process, including initial evaluation and dispositive motion practice. Gibbons has a highly respected Appellate Team and comprehensive appellate practice that are fully integrated with our litigation and regulatory practices. In our experience, this integrated practice structure provides the most well-rounded perspective on a case and enables us to provide the best service to clients while also affording clients the flexibility to use a single litigation team for both trial and appellate work where that is advantageous, or to assemble a special appellate team when that is preferable. The Gibbons Appellate Team can provide internal moot court reviews and counseling to the trial attorneys preparing an appeal.
Gibbons attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of bankruptcy litigation, in addition to business and commercial and chancery court litigation. This litigation practice includes:
- Representation of corporate directors and officers who are sued, typically following the bankruptcy of the corporation, for breach of duty, negligence, and related claims brought by lenders, trustees, and committees seeking to recover losses arising from the insolvency proceeding.
- Representation of both chapter 11 and post-confirmation litigation trustees in a wide variety of proceedings including securities litigation, RICO claims, and fraud and malpractice claims.
- Prosecution and defense of complex fraudulent transfer and preference claims, including the management of portfolios of hundreds of avoidance claims for chapter 11 or litigation trustees and debtors-in-possession.
- Ponzi scheme litigation, in which the proof of a Ponzi scheme serves as the basis for proving debtors’ actual fraud, thereby expediting the proofs in fraudulent transfer and securities fraud claims.
- Contested chapter 11 plan confirmations, including all aspects of expedited discovery and expert proofs necessary to prove the requisites for confirmation of chapter 11 reorganization plans.
- Complex commercial mortgage foreclosures.
Class Action Defense
Class action litigation represents an ideal match of Gibbons’ abilities and client needs. These are “bet the company” cases for all but the largest entities. Numerous first impression and cutting-edge issues typically emerge. Class actions usually require ongoing and frequent judicial intervention, for which Gibbons’ reputation and high profile in the region’s courts serve clients well. The firm’s senior litigators bring decades of hands-on experience with the most sophisticated, complex litigation projects, backed by a deep bench of former federal and appellate law clerks. Gibbons understands and delivers the intensity needed for these types of cases, and can deploy the multi-disciplinary talent they require. Always alert for the efficient result, frequently Gibbons has been able to engineer resolutions before the class discovery and certification stage. As one national class action client put it, “why would you go anywhere else in New Jersey.”
Construction Law & Litigation
A host of legal issues and potential disputes accompany every construction project, from the most basic project to more complex capital improvements. How those issues are addressed can determine whether the project ultimately meets the expectations of everyone involved. The Gibbons Construction Law & Litigation Team works with owners, developers, design professionals, contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers on a wide range of construction projects, handling contract counseling, public procurement, insurance, and surety issues, among others, as well as all aspects of litigation and dispute resolution.
The Gibbons Criminal Defense Team is widely recognized as one of the best in the region. Team members, who include former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, rely on a wealth of both prosecutorial and defense experience in defending the interests and rights of a wide variety of clients. The firm has investigated and defended against allegations of business, accounting, securities, bank, insurance, tax, healthcare, and government contract fraud, and has been involved in many high-profile investigations and prosecutions of alleged political and union corruption, at home and abroad. Other areas in which the department is active include antitrust/bid rigging, cable piracy, environmental enforcement, violations of a wide range of federal acts and statutes, and regulatory offenses arising under the jurisdictions of numerous federal agencies and departments.
In the area of e-discovery, an interdisciplinary group of Gibbons attorneys, information technology specialists, and knowledge management professionals monitor decisional law, relevant regulations, and emerging trends; offer practical and cost-effective strategies for responding to discovery demands; evaluate e-discovery and litigation support vendors for cost and process defensibility; and draft and implement customized information management, social media, and legal hold policies. We provide both e-discovery and information management counseling, in many cases serving as national discovery counsel for clients with e-discovery concerns across jurisdictions. Our e-discovery team includes litigators from each of the firm’s litigation practice areas, ensuring that, in addition to deep e-discovery knowledge, members have direct, relevant insight and experience in all of the substantive areas of law and types of cases for which we address e-discovery issues.
The General Equity Team focuses on expedited litigation and crisis management situations. Many of the team’s matters arise in emergent circumstances, sometimes involving bet-the-business scenarios, and require the full attention of our seasoned litigators. Members of the Team are skilled in creative litigation strategies and litigation avoidance in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, routinely involving:
- Injunctive relief – prosecution and defense of temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and permanent injunctions
- Restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation
- Minority/majority shareholder and partnership disputes and litigation
- Crisis management
- Real estate litigation
- Probate litigation
The General Equity Team has represented corporations, public agencies, and individuals in high-stakes, emergent, and often sensitive litigation, using decades of experience in the state, federal, and arbitration arenas driven by results-oriented approaches and cost-effective solutions for its clients.
In this area, Gibbons attorneys provide practical advice as to their rights and obligations in connection with a wide variety of insurance-related disputes. Drawing on firmwide resources, our attorneys provide clients with counseling and litigation services covering the broad range of complex insurance issues facing companies today.
Internal & Audit Committee Investigations
Comprised of experienced defense attorneys and former government attorneys from various investigative agencies – including the United States Attorneys offices and state prosecutors’ offices – Gibbons represents corporations and individuals in both civil and criminal investigations and enforcement proceedings, brought by: the U.S. Department of Justice; the Attorneys General of New Jersey, New York, and other states; and many regulatory agencies, including the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), among many others. We have handled significant investigations on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications and financial services firms, government contractors, and nonprofits. Gibbons offers a multi-disciplined and client-oriented approach to internal investigations that seeks to ferret out the truth without unduly burdening the corporate entity, ultimately seeking to bring to justice those who may have committed corporate wrongdoing, as well as recommending internal reforms aimed at preventing future defalcations or compliance problems.
Lanham Act/Unfair Competition
Helping our clients to protect themselves in the competitive marketplace, our attorneys have significant experience both defending against and making unfair competition claims under the Lanham Act, state unfair competition statutes, and the common law. The breadth of our litigators’ experience in this area encompasses all varieties of claims arising in the context of business advertising and promotional activities, including false advertising, misleading comparative advertising, confusing website presentations, and trademark infringement. Our substantive knowledge in these areas is complemented by our litigators’ significant experience in expedited proceedings in both state and federal courts seeking and opposing injunctive relief, which is often implicated where competitive injury is alleged.
The evolution occurring within the media—as the print media become more internet-based—not only poses questions of constitutional free speech but also presents significant issues of a non- constitutional dimension, including trademark and copyright concerns, with First Amendment and intellectual property issues converging more frequently. As this transformation occurs, questions will persist about what can be said and when and where it can be said. These questions are not limited to the media; similar issues arise for corporations with regulated marketing practices. The Media Law practice at Gibbons provides comprehensive service to media clients throughout the industry, as well as to individual and corporate clients—for example: trade organizations, including the New Jersey Press Association; daily newspapers, including Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune, Courier News, Daily Record, Courier Post, and Press of Atlantic City; weekly newspapers, such as Worrall Community Newspapers, Greater Media Newspapers, and Hudson Reporter Associates; media personalities; and media insurance companies, such as One Beacon Professional Insurance.
Gibbons attorneys regularly represent both plaintiffs and defendants in expedited litigations in state and federal courts over the enforcement of restrictive employment covenants, non-compete agreements, and unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets by employees. Our experience in this area allows us to help protect our clients’ proprietary information and their own client relationships. Gibbons counsels clients on the most practical and effective means of protecting their assets through the negotiation of key employment agreements containing restrictive covenants and confidentiality agreements, the establishment and enforcement of confidentiality and ethics policies, and the creation of mechanisms to keep truly trade secret information secret. Often, the protection of these valuable assets involves the enforcement of such agreements and policies through emergent litigation and other court battles that occur throughout New Jersey, New York, and nationwide.
Gibbons attorneys have extensive experience both prosecuting and defending civil RICO actions in state and federal courts. Representative federal RICO matters in which the firm has been involved include Armco Steel v. Rossi and Stinson (S.D.N.Y.), Franco v. CIGNA (D.N.J.), and numerous RICO actions representing a Bankruptcy Trustee in both the Delaware and Idaho District Courts. Some recent examples of litigation involving state RICO claims include TI Investment Services v. Vonage (Monmouth County Law Division), Thomason v. Chamco Automotive, (Morris County Chancery Division and D.N.J.), and Fairfax Financial Holdings v. S.A.C. Capital Mgmt. (Morris County Law Division).
Securities litigation can pose some of the highest stakes for a business. The Securities Litigation Team at Gibbons has significant trial and appellate experience at the federal and state levels, in civil and criminal actions, in arbitration and mediation proceedings, and in internal and regulatory investigations, in cases ranging from single-plaintiff matters to “bet the company” class actions.