Mr. Kasner represents both financial institutions and a diverse group of public companies and their directors and officers in their most crucial securities matters. He is ranked in the top tier in Chambers USA for nationwide securities litigation and one of only two lawyers listed as a “star individual” for New York securities litigation, where he is described as “the dean of the securities Bar.” Mr. Kasner’s work was profiled in The American Lawyer, which named Skadden a finalist in its 2017 Litigation Department of the Year contest, and he also was profiled as a 2017 Securities MVP by Law360. Under Mr. Kasner’s leadership, the securities litigation practice has been recognized for the seventh consecutive time as a member of the “Fearsome Five” — the five elite law firm litigation practices — and named as a “powerhouse” in securities and finance litigation by BTI Consulting.
Mr. Kasner defends public companies, directors and officers in actions arising under federal and state securities and corporate laws. Among others, he has advised or is currently advising Abercrombie & Fitch, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Anheuser-Busch, The Coca-Cola Company, Computer Sciences Corporation, News Corporation (now known as 21st Century Fox), Pfizer Inc., Research in Motion Limited (now known as BlackBerry Limited) and Sprint Nextel Corporation. Recently, Mr. Kasner represented Pfizer and its chief executive officer in securing a complete dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit arising out of its settlements with the government concerning alleged FCPA violations. He also recently secured victories in separate shareholder class and derivative actions brought against children’s furniture manufacturer Kid Brands, Inc. and certain of its officers and directors alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act in connection with customs compliance violations by the company’s subsidiaries.
Mr. Kasner’s victories in securities cases include a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in the first case in which the court addressed the provisions of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (Merrill Lynch v. Dabit, 2006). In 2013, Mr. Kasner obtained a grant of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of UBS Financial Services Incorporated of Puerto Rico and UBS Trust Company of Puerto Rico. UBS sought certiorari to resolve a circuit court split over the standard of review for appeals of dismissals pursuant to Rule 23.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He also represented Merrill Lynch in one of Law360’s “Securities Cases of the Decade” (Jan. 20, 2010), Lentell v. Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit adopted a standard for pleading noncausation that has been cited hundreds of times. In addition, he won summary judgment in favor of Merrill Lynch in what has been termed a “landmark” case addressing the rights of parties to credit default swap agreements. Mr. Kasner is responsible for a number of other precedent-setting securities cases. He won for Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. the first class action appeal arising from the auction rate securities market collapse, despite an SEC brief calling for the decision’s reversal — a move that could have exposed a wide range of financial institutions to liability. The decision has been cited in more than 160 cases since November 2011. He also successfully defended Bank of America and Merrill Lynch against two double-derivative actions, securing a decision at both the district and circuit court levels that set new standards for such claims.
During the past few years, Mr. Kasner has advised numerous clients in class action and other litigation stemming from the credit crisis, including Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, UBS, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays plc, BNP Paribas, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. In addition, he has counseled scores of underwriters of securities issued by financial institutions, including Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, Barclays plc and Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc. in litigation relating to such issues. Mr. Kasner also achieved a complete victory on behalf of Student Loan Corporation (SLC) and its former officers, as well as Citigroup Inc. and Discover Financial Services, in securing the dismissal with prejudice of a shareholder class action alleging SLC failed to maintain adequate loan loss reserves and issued false and misleading financial disclosures. Recently, he represented Bank of America and certain of its current and former directors in the dismissal of a shareholder derivative action for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty related to purportedly improper residential mortgage-backed securitization practices and alleged manipulation of LIBOR. In addition, Mr. Kasner is advising a number of clients in connection with litigation arising from the decline of energy prices, including Seadrill Limited and Vivint Solar, Inc., as well as the underwriters in class action litigation for Cobalt International Energy, Inc. and Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), among others. Mr. Kasner also represented Vivint Solar, Inc., several of its officers and directors, and The Blackstone Group in securing a significant Second Circuit decision in a case of first impression that created a circuit split on the standard for determining the disclosure of interim financial data in a prospectus. The court’s decision affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of a putative securities class action complaint stemming from Vivint Solar’s Oct. 1, 2014, initial public offering, rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that centered around the “extreme departure” disclosure standard set forth in the First Circuit’s ruling in Shaw v. Digital Equipment Corp., and instead, holding that law of the Second Circuit is the materiality test set forth in DeMaria v. Andersen, which Mr. Kasner also successfully argued on behalf of the underwriters in 2003.
In transactional-related litigation, Mr. Kasner has advised HDS Investment Holding, Inc., a company formed by Bain Capital, Carlyle Group and Clayton Dubilier, in a post-closing purchase price dispute, and related litigation against The Home Depot, Inc. He also has handled litigation arising from corporate control contests, which traditionally require expedited litigation, including for Anheuser-Busch; Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Becton, Dickinson & Company; Birmingham Steel Corporation; Burger King Holdings, Inc.; Chandler Insurance Company, Ltd.; Dynamics Corporation of America; Grupo Mexico S.A.B. de C.V.; North Fork Bancorporation; Stena AB; SunTrust Banks, Inc.; and United Rentals, Inc.
Mr. Kasner has received the Business Trial Lawyer Award for Excellence from Chambers and also has repeatedly been named a leading securities litigation lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America, Legal 500 U.S., Law360, Lawdragon and The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers.
In February 2017, Mr. Kasner received the Judge Joseph M. Proskauer Award from the UJA-Federation of New York, given to distinguished individuals who have shown a deep commitment to philanthropy and whose conduct and service exemplifies the highest ideals of the law. In 2014, he received the Judge Simon G. Rifkind Award presented by the Jewish Theological Seminary in recognition for his demonstrated commitment to the letter of the law and for distinguished public service. Additionally, in 2010, he received the 40th Anniversary George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award from the American Friends of The Hebrew University Lawyers’ Division, Greater New York Region.