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Current Developments in Federal Civil Practice 2015

 
Author(s): Lauren E. Aguiar, Jonathan L. Frank
Practice Area: Litigation, Pro Bono
Published: Feb 2015
PLI Item #: 58356
CHB Spine #: H976

Jonathan L. Frank joined Skadden in 1999 after years as an executive assistant district attorney, special prosecutor and homicide prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a prosecutor, Mr. Frank successfully tried numerous high-profile murder cases and was nationally recognized for his work.

Mr. Frank, likewise, has been nationally recognized for his commercial litigation work at Skadden, being listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers For Business where he is described as “wicked smart.” He also is named as a Leading Lawyer in the Legal 500 U.S. His practice at Skadden is focused on a variety of complex commercial disputes, including real estate, bankruptcy and securities litigations, as well as related white collar criminal matters, emphasizing the creation and execution of litigation strategies and tactics; trial, international and U.S. arbitral proceedings; the assessment of claims; and settlement negotiations. He has acted as counsel in numerous high-profile business litigations and arbitrations.

Mr. Frank recently co-led the bankruptcy trial team that successfully secured a complete victory on behalf of NextEra Energy, Inc. against the Adelphia Recovery Trust in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court against fraudulent transfer action, and then secured an affirmance, based on a de novo review, in the Southern District Court of New York. Employing a novel argument that combined analysis of two traditionally independent concepts — solvency and access to capital — the team convinced both courts that the plaintiff failed to carry its burden of establishing that Adelphia was insolvent or would have been unable to raise adequate financing to continue its operations at the time of the alleged fraudulent transfer, notwithstanding the undisputed facts that Adelphia (i) had committed $400 million of financial fraud; (ii) exceeded the permissible leverage ratios in its loan documents; and (iii) had no unencumbered assets.

Mr. Frank was a lead member of the trial team that won a defendant’s verdict on all claims in favor of DaimlerChrysler AG against Tracinda Corporation, owned by Kirk Kerkorian. The trial in the U.S. District Court of Delaware involved securities fraud claims of more than $1 billion, making it the largest securities case ever tried in federal court. The National Law Journal awarded the team the “2005 Top Defense Win of the Year.”

In the international arbitration arena, among other successes, Mr. Frank co-led the trial team that obtained a complete victory for Anglo Irish Bank in its arbitration against Peninsula Real Estate Fund I GP. The arbitration stemmed from a real estate development partnership the bank funded. Following weeks of factual and expert testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, extensive post-hearing briefing and a day of closing arguments, the tribunal awarded the bank removal of the general partner and denied the general partner’s claims for more than $75 million in damages. Mr. Frank also co-developed the litigation strategy, together with Irish counsel, that led to the bank’s successful defense against related fraud claims brought in the Irish Commercial Court by a group of investors in the partnership.

Mr. Frank has conducted more than 30 jury trials, briefed and argued more than 30 appeals, and directly supervised dozens more of each. In addition to his Chambers and Legal 500 listings, Mr. Frank has been profiled in the New York Law Journal for his skills and persuasiveness, both as a trial lawyer and as an appellate advocate. Mr. Frank also was selected by the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals as a member of his Advisory Council on the Commercial Division of the New York Supreme Court.


Lauren Aguiar is a litigation Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where she represents clients in federal and state court business litigation.  Her diverse practice focuses on complex, high-profile cases and trials involving a wide range of commercial matters including false advertising, copyright, trade secret, breach of contract, fraud and fiduciary duty litigation, joint venture and partnership disputes, and shareholder class actions.  Ms. Aguiar is the Chairperson of the Skadden Foundation, which runs the Skadden Fellowship Program. She serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.  She also is a member of the Board of Directors of Covenant House International, a shelter in the U.S. and Central America for homeless and trafficked youth.  Ms. Aguiar received her B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Connecticut College, and her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was the Managing Editor of the Annual Survey of American Law.  She is recognized as a leading lawyer in general commercial litigation by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business; she is a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America (an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society); and is honored as a Rising Star in the upcoming edition of Benchmark Litigation.  She speaks and writes frequently on issues related to civil litigation and trial practice, including at the Practicing Law Institute, the New York State Bar Association, and the New York City Bar.