2014 Benchmark Litigation Names Kramer Levin to the Top Tier of New York Litigation Firms
FundsTalk: October 2013
Mr. Naftalis is the head of the firm’s Litigation Department and firm Co-Chair. One of the nation’s leading trial lawyers, Mr. Naftalis is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has for some 40 years represented individuals and corporations in all phases of complex bet-the-company civil, criminal, and regulatory matters, including those involving allegations of insider trading, market manipulation, accounting irregularities, stock options backdating and other financial fraud. Mr. Naftalis also has served as counsel to audit and special committees of a number of major public companies in connection with regulatory issues.
Mr. Naftalis was recently named as of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal, as one of the 10 Leading Trial Lawyers in the United States by Legal 500 and as one of the Top 10 Lawyers in New York (Top Point Getter 2012) by Super Lawyers. Mr. Naftalis received the 2011 Chambers USA Award for Excellence in White Collar Crime and Government Investigations. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America since 1993 in five categories — Bet-the-Company Litigation, White Collar Criminal Defense, Regulatory Enforcement, Securities Litigation and Commercial Litigation. He was also cited as one of America’s leading lawyers by Lawdragon 500, as one of America’s leading trial lawyers by Chambers Global, and as a leading white collar defense and commercial litigator by Chambers USA and by Benchmark/Institutional Investor.
Mr. Naftalis’ recent representations include his successful defense of Michael Eisner, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in the shareholders derivative lawsuit relating to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Mr. Eisner and the other Disney Directors prevailed on all counts. The Disney case was chosen as one of the top defense wins of the year by The National Law Journal.
Mr. Naftalis successfully won dismissal for Kenneth Langone, former Chair of the New York Stock Exchange Compensation Committee, of all charges brought against him by then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso. Following a decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court directing dismissal of the lawsuit, the Attorney General announced he would not appeal and dropped the case.
Mr. Naftalis successfully represented the City of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building. No charges were brought against the City, any of its agencies or its officials.
Mr. Naftalis recently successfully won summary judgment for Sirius XM Radio dismissing a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking $330 million in damages. The Court found that the “clear, unambiguous language” of the contract defeated Stern’s claim. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the dismissal of Stern's lawsuit.
Mr. Naftalis currently represents Rajat Gupta, former Managing Director Worldwide of McKinsey against charges relating to the Galleon Group. Mr. Naftalis also currently represents the former president and chief operating officer of MF Global in government inquiries and related civil litigation. He currently represents Muriel Siebert and Siebert Financial Corporation in litigation with the firm’s former chief operating officer. He represented Raymond Harding, former leader of the Liberal Party, against charges arising out of the Attorney General’s inquiry into the New York State Pension Funds.
Mr. Naftalis is actively involved in representing significant figures and entities in the governmental inquiries and related civil litigation concerning corporate accounting irregularities, including his successful representation of the Chairman and Founder of Global Crossing. He also represented United Rentals in various securities litigations and regulatory matters. Mr. Naftalis has defended the CFOs of Affiliated Computer Services, Cendant, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Oxford Health Systems and the former CEO of Refco. He defended a director and senior officer of Tyco in securities class action and ERISA litigation, the former CEO of Arthur Andersen in Enron civil litigation, and the former CEO of WorldCom in securities class action litigation.
Mr. Naftalis has also long represented numerous securities industry clients in bet-the-company matters, including Salomon Brothers in the federal criminal and SEC investigations of U.S. Treasury auction bidding practices, and Kidder, Peabody in connection with the Wall Street insider trading scandal. In both instances, he persuaded the U.S. Government not to bring criminal charges. Mr. Naftalis also represented Kidder in ensuing multiple civil litigations, in which Kidder faced more than $2 billion in damage claims. He represented institutions and individuals in the investigations of Drexel Burnham, including Drexel customers and a high ranking former Drexel executive, none of them ultimately charged by the government. He also successfully represented Canary Capital Partners in the mutual fund market-timing investigations by the New York Attorney General and related civil litigations. He represented a high ranking investment banker from a major securities firm in the Orange County investigation, who was not charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Naftalis also successfully represented the investment banking firm CIBC in the investigation conducted by the Enron Task Force.
In other matters, Mr. Naftalis successfully represented at trial Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and its CEO in a lawsuit brought by International Paper seeking to enforce a covenant not to compete. He defended Daiwa Securities America in securities litigation arising out of its underwriting of a Chinese telecommunications company, whose insiders allegedly misrepresented the company’s business. He won summary judgment for a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm in litigation arising out of the failure of Bennett Funding. Mr. Naftalis also won a dismissal for the Lenfest Group and Comcast Corporation of derivative and shareholder claims.
Mr. Naftalis successfully defended the general counsel and CFO of the Southland Corporation against proxy fraud charges and the former head of the New York City Transit Authority on conflict of interest charges. He was counsel for Ian Schrager in the Studio 54 tax evasion case. Mr. Naftalis also represented E. Robert Wallach, a San Francisco attorney and counsel to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, in a lengthy federal criminal trial arising out of the Wedtech government contracting scandal. The charges against Mr. Wallach were subsequently dropped.
Mr. Naftalis successfully represented a prominent Saudi Arabian banker against state criminal charges and in proceedings before the Federal Reserve Board relating to the disposition of his interest in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, as well as complex civil litigation brought by the liquidators of BCCI seeking $10 billion in damages. All U.S. civil, criminal and regulatory charges were ultimately dismissed.
Mr. Naftalis received his A.B. from Rutgers University, an M.A. from Brown University and his LL.B. from Columbia Law School. Mr. Naftalis formerly served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, holding the title of Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. He also served as Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee investigating abuses in the nursing home industry.
Mr. Naftalis has been a lecturer at Columbia Law School and was a member of the faculty of Harvard Law School. Mr. Naftalis is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles, including the leading work on the grand jury system: The Grand Jury: An Institution on Trial (with Judge Marvin E. Frankel) and Sentencing: Helping the Judges Do Their Jobs (also with Judge Frankel). He was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Benedict XVI, the Robert M. Morgenthau Award for the Legal Profession by the Police Athletic League, the George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award by The American Friends of the Hebrew University, the Law & Society Award by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Award by the Citizens Union of the City of New York, and the Norman S. Ostrow Award by the New York Council of Defense Lawyers