Clay J. Pierce

Partner

Overview

Clay Pierce is an accomplished courtroom advocate who handles high-stakes litigation and arbitration matters in jurisdictions throughout the United States. Clay regularly prosecutes and defends complex financial, investment, and securities suits and defends consumer lenders in class action litigation. He represents a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 100 companies in the financial, renewable energy, technology and health care industries, as well as individual bond holders, fund managers, project developers, trustees, liquidators and entrepreneurs.

Finance and Securities Litigation

Clay has litigated complex financial, securities and bankruptcy-related disputes for over two decades. He has represented some of the country’s largest commercial and consumer finance companies, corporate trustees, asset management firms, individual secured and unsecured bondholders, and C-level executives. He has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar judgments for his clients and has defeated claims seeking hundreds of millions of dollars of liability.

Consumer Class Actions

Clay frequently defends companies facing consumer class actions. Clay has defended numerous litigations arising from the collection of student loans post-bankruptcy. He also has particular experience in matters involving alleged violations of the consumer lending statutes — including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Energy Litigation

Clay has represented businesses in a wide range of disputes involving energy projects. He has represented a wide array of clients in this area, including some of the country’s largest equity investors, project developers, and energy producers.

Representative Experience

Financial Litigation

  • Prosecuting claims for payment on secured notes by minority holders following disputed strict foreclosure action orchestrated by issuer and majority holders. Prevailed on all liability issues before the New York Court of Appeals.
  • Defending private equity affiliate of leading U.S. bank against claims by fintech portfolio company founder for alleged violation of company operating agreement and fiduciary duties.
  • Defending manufacturing company’s commodities trading division against claims for improper “wash trades” by U.S. regulatory authority.
  • Prosecuted claims for an additional $1 billion contribution from reorganized GM on behalf of the trustee for the general unsecured claims trust in the General Motors bankruptcy.
  • Defending a $50 million fraud suit by two offshore CDO funds (each formerly controlled by Patriarch Partners and Lynn Tilton) against the CEO and Chairman of a failed Chinese media conglomerate (Xinhua Sports & Entertainment Ltd.). Obtained orders dismissing negligent misrepresentation claim on the pleadings, striking all references in complaint to parallel criminal proceedings against client, and striking plaintiffs’ jury demand. Orders affirmed after interlocutory appeal.
  • Prosecuted suit by unsecured bondholders against Caesars Entertainment Corporation based on violations of the Trust Indenture Act. Obtained settlement for clients worth over six times the amount at which their bonds were trading at the commencement of litigation.
  • Prosecuted suit by secured bondholder trustee against Norske Skogindustrier based on disputed €110 million exchange offer transaction. Transaction withdrawn after Court ruled on preliminary injunction motion that transaction would breach secured bondholders’ rights under indenture.
  • Prosecuted claims by institutional investor for payment of $150 million in commercial paper notes issued by failed structured investment vehicle (Victoria Finance, Ltd.). Favorable settlement following discovery against SIV’s collateral trustee, investment advisers and transaction counsel.
  • Defended nation’s largest commercial lender against $125 million fraudulent conveyance suit by unsecured creditors of national home improvement chain. Obtained judgment in favor of client on all claims following bench trial in the District of Delaware. Subsequently prevailed on appeal.

Class Action Litigation

  • Defending leading student lender against multiple individual and nationwide class action suits alleging improper debt collection activities post-bankruptcy. Numerous individual actions settled for no or de minimis liability.
  • Defended Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action claims against leading credit card issuer arising from alleged misleading statements concerning credit card issuers’ obligation to file 1099 forms with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Obtained dismissal on the pleadings of class action claims for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty brought against indenture trustee by holders of $160 million in municipal bonds. Claims arose from alleged failure to invest trust assets properly following the 2008 financial crisis.

Energy Litigation

  • Defended arbitration claims against equity investors in renewable energy project based on dispute over the calculation of internal rate of return thresholds. Obtained final award for clients after multiple rounds of briefing and discovery.
  • Prosecuted suit brought by Indiana wind energy producer against the country’s largest utility based on breach of 20-year purchase power agreement. Negotiated advantageous settlement after Seventh Circuit granted summary judgment for client on all liability issues.
  • Represented developer and seller of solar energy project in contract dispute with purchaser regarding alleged delays in project completion.
  • Defended power transmission company in declaratory judgment action brought by two wholesale power marketers. Obtained dismissal of all claims pursuant to doctrine of primary jurisdiction.

Credentials

Bar Admissions

New York

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Education

Fordham University School of Law
J.D. Order of the Coif, Fordham Law Review - Associate Editor (1995)

Columbia University
B.A. (1990)

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

Clay has represented clients on a pro bono basis in numerous individual and class action litigations. He currently serves as lead counsel for a putative plaintiff class asserting claims for breach of their procedural due process rights by the New York City Transit Authority. Clay has partnered with numerous legal services organizations in this and prior litigations, including the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the New Economy Project, Legal Aid, and MFY Legal Services.

Professional Associations

  • Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Federal Bar Council Inn of Court

Honors

  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020
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