Civil Dispute Resolution
– Complex Commercial Litigation
Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP, has a high-caliber civil litigation practice that covers all manner of disputes, and focuses on complex commercial litigation. K&F has a deep bench of experienced trial lawyers who can efficiently resolve disputes. The firm’s civil litigators have courtroom and arbitration experience, but also know how to resolve a matter without a trial– or even litigation – when warranted.
The practice is led by Claude M. Millman, a partner with over 30 years of civil litigation experience, who is a Senior Fellow of “Litigation Counsel of America” and ranked in Best Lawyers for Commercial Litigation, and Super Lawyers for Business Litigation. K&F’s civil litigation associates are extraordinarily experienced, as evidenced by one associate’s inclusion on Best Lawyers’ “Ones to Watch” list for Commercial Litigation in New York.
K&F deploys its strengths as a boutique firm to litigate effectively and efficiently. K&F attorneys regularly find themselves litigating against top-ranked litigation teams from some of the largest law firms in the country. K&F knows how to handle those cases, in part because Mr. Millman is a former partner of one such firm, as well as because K&F attorneys developed their litigation skills by facing such opponents when they were government lawyers or training as associates at large law firms. Further, as a boutique firm, K&F is readily accessible to clients and can nimbly pivot as required by a matter.
While the firm handles cases in state and federal courts across the country, K&F has particular experience in the New York Supreme Court (including the Commercial Division); the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division (First, Second, and Third Departments); New York Surrogate’s Court; the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; the U.S. Court of International Trade; and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal and Second Circuits.
Many of K&F’s cases are highly complex, involving international and cross-border issues, multiple jurisdictions, numerous parties, extensive documentation, parallel criminal and civil proceedings, or unusual procedural questions. K&F’s cases often draw on the firm’s deep bench of experienced professionals who focus on specific areas of law, such as taxation, trusts and estates, and government procurement. The firm is also sometimes called on to represent clients in simpler matters, including tort litigation.
K&F’s diverse practice ranges from business disputes (e.g., breach of contract, business tort, breach of fiduciary duty, business dissolution or “divorce,” corporate governance, unfair competition, and theft of trade secrets) to disputes involving governmental policies and decisions (e.g., challenges to government regulations, licensing decision reviews, and “impact litigation” raising public policy questions).
K&F’s experience with employment matters is extensive. K&F attorneys help employers avoid or navigate disputes with employees, prospective employees, former employees, and competitors. The firm also provides employers and executives advice about employment contracts, breach of contract, trade secrets, employee confidentiality, restrictive covenants (e.g., non-compete and non-solicitation agreements), “cease and desist” letters, and claims of employment discrimination. K&F handles employment-related litigation directly, and sometimes assists clients in monitoring counsel designated by insurance carriers.
Secured dismissal in the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, of a putative class action brought by grocery stores against K&F’s not-for-profit clients, Public Health Solutions (PHS) and Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital.
Filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to obtain the dismissal of a complaint against a foreign company’s corporate officer in a putative securities class action.
Secured a judicial stay, pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court, for a business professional in a fraudulent transfer action brought by a court-appointed monitor in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada who is seeking to claw back over $10 million in compensation paid to K&F’s client by an entity that was subsequently placed under the monitor’s supervision.
Helped companies address contract cancellation issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including “force majeure” claims.
Asserted clients’ claims of breach of contract and fraud in an arbitration concerning health insurance.
Successfully represented an accounting firm in securing a stay of a federal action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in favor of arbitration.
Settled a breach of contract action brought by a technology provider in New York Supreme Court, Nassau County.
Persuaded the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to accept K&F’s clients’ proposed judgment in a purported wage and hour action against a pharmaceutical industry employer.
Successfully represented Denis Field, the former CEO of BDO Seidman, in a major tax shelter trial in the Southern District of New York. After Mr. Field had initially been convicted on all counts, K&F obtained his acquittal on all counts at re-trial in a case described by the government as the largest criminal tax fraud in history.
Obtained an acquittal on all 36 counts brought against an accountant who prepared tax returns on the theory that wages and salaries cannot be legally taxed. The case was a retrial of the same charges that had resulted in a hung jury, split six to six. Experts in the field, and the government itself, called the result “astonishing.”
Filed an “Article 78” proceeding in New York Supreme Court, Albany County, for families whose children were unlawfully denied admission to New York City’s “Specialized High Schools.”
Defeated multiple “Article 78” petitions challenging zoning variances granted to a Manhattan synagogue at both the trial court level and in the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, and then defeated a second round of “Article 78” petitions filed in the trial court to block a K&F client’s lawful land use when those zoning variances were amended.
When a major litigation firm representing a pharmaceutical company’s management team sought expedited discovery, preliminary injunctive relief, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against a K&F client, the company’s owner, obtained a quick dismissal of the action in the New York Supreme Court, New York County, Commercial Division, prior to the taking of any discovery, on multiple grounds including forum non conveniens and lack of personal jurisdiction.
Defended a construction contractor in an action filed by a major litigation firm in the New York Supreme Court, New York County, Commercial Division, on behalf of billionaires alleging a cross-border scheme to defraud them in connection with the renovation of an offshore vacation and retirement home.
Stepped in as new counsel in a “business divorce” arbitration, on the eve of trial, when prior counsel was disqualified after years of litigation, and then successfully resolved the matter through mediation.
Defended a lawyer, sued in his individual capacity by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, by defeating the bank’s motion for summary judgment in the trial court and then, when the bank appealed to New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, filing a cross-appeal and winning the dismissal of all claims against him.
Persuaded the New York Surrogate’s Court, New York County, to dismiss fraud claims brought against a decedent’s wife by her stepsons, as executors of decedent’s estate, alleging that she had defrauded the decedent in connection with the transfer of an asset in the year prior to his death.
Assisted a successful Bitcoin entrepreneur in reaching a settlement of claims in connection with a business “divorce.”
Negotiated voluntary dismissal of a judicial dissolution action that the minority shareholder of an affordable housing development and management company brought in New York Supreme Court, Richmond County, Commercial Division.
Served as local counsel for the Home Depot, Inc. in a putative class action seeking relief under the New York General Business Law and Uniform Commercial Code in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York.
Used mediation to secure a favorable settlement for client in an action brought in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County, alleging fraud and breach of contract in connection with the sale of a bluestone refinement and distribution company.
While serving as “conflict counsel” in a proceeding in the Delaware Court of Chancery brought by one of the world’s largest investment groups, obtained third-party discovery from major financial institutions.
Obtained a favorable settlement for a large regional moving company in a class action brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania labor laws.
Won a motion to dismiss, terminating the case and granting costs in K&F client’s favor, to end a breach of lease case brought in the New York Supreme Court, New York County, by a cooperative apartment building sponsor against K&F clients, several owners, and board members.
After being designated by the U.S. Department of Justice to represent a prison official in a Bivens lawsuit, persuaded the Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s demand that K&F client be held personally liable for injuries allegedly arising from the inmate’s work detail.
Represented civic leaders and organizations as “friends of the court” in a lawsuit about New York City’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” by submitting briefs to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, and the New York Court of Appeals.
Invoked the U.S. Constitution’s “dormant commerce clause” in a “Section 1983” action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to obtain a temporary restraining order, and then a preliminary injunction, blocking efforts by the New York City Business Integrity Commission to put a major regional waste hauling company out of business.
Resolved a former employee’s claim, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, that client’s decision to repurchase the employee’s shares in the start-up company violated the Massachusetts Wage Act, through a settlement achieved after K&F moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
After being designated by the U.S. Department of Justice to represent a physician in a Bivens lawsuit, persuaded the Court to dismiss an estate’s claim that client was legally responsible for damages allegedly arising from an inmate’s prison suicide.
While representing a national network of environmental testing laboratories in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, won the dismissal of a federal, state, and city False Claims Act lawsuit by invoking the “public disclosure” bar.
Persuaded the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to dismiss, on the basis of Colorado River abstention, an action for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract that an AriZona Iced Tea company co-founder filed against its Chief Executive Officer.
Represented an association of office furniture moving companies in successfully overturning the New York City Comptroller’s prevailing wage schedule, with complete successes in the trial court and the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.
Persuaded a business owner to abandon a complaint that he filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against K&F clients, two former corporate officers, by moving for indemnification and advancement of legal fees.
Represented a “net winner” in a fraudulent transfer action brought by the Bernie Madoff receiver in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to claw back amounts paid to client in the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Represented the developer of a resort in upstate New York in breach of contract action in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire over commissions allegedly due to marketing and public relations.