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 prosecutes and defends complex financial, securities and investment suits and defends corporate clients in consumer class actions. 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 lenders, consumer credit and charge card companies, hedge funds and 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.

Renewable Energy Litigation

Clay has represented businesses in a wide range of disputes involving renewable energy projects. He has represented clients such as power transmission companies, solar energy project developers and wind energy producers.

Consumer Class Actions

Clay defends companies facing consumer class actions. He has particular experience in matters involving alleged violations of the consumer lending statutes — including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act, The Lanham Act (governing false advertising and trademark infringement litigation), and the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Representative Experience

Financial Litigation

  • Defending the General Motors General Unsecured Claims Trust against class action and individual plaintiffs alleging harms caused by automobile ignition switch defects that GM failed to disclose prior to its 2009 bankruptcy. Includes related claims by the Trust against General Motors LLC (the purchaser of old GM’s assets) seeking over $1 billion in additional contributions to GM’s bankruptcy estate/
  • 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.
  • Representing banking and investment management firm in an arbitration arising from fraudulent guarantee documents submitted by commercial borrower. Includes negotiation of settlement with purported guarantor and prosecution of contract and tort claims against borrower’s former CEO.
  • Prosecuted suit by unsecured bondholders against Caesars Entertainment Corporation based on violations of the Trust Indenture Act and governing indenture agreements. 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.
  • 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 properly invest trust assets following the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Prosecuted interpleader 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/leveraged buyout suit by unsecured creditors of national home improvement chain. Obtained judgment in favor of client after bench trial in the District of Delaware. Subsequently prevailed on appeal.

Energy Litigation

  • Representing developer and seller of solar energy project in contract dispute with purchaser regarding alleged delays in project completion.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

False Advertising/Labeling

  • Defended nation’s leading health care company against state Attorney General suit based on alleged false marketing of leading anti-psychotic medication.
  • Defended nation’s leading health care company against multiple false advertising claims for its dominant no-calorie sweetener brand. Included litigations in multiple jurisdictions commenced by industry competitors and consumer class action plaintiffs. All class actions dismissed after denial of class certification. Competitor claims settled after five-week jury trial in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Law Firm Defense/Partnership Disputes

  • Defended national law firm against alleged malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising from client’s representation of federal qui tam relator.
  • Defended international law firm against breach of fiduciary duty claims asserted by departing senior partner. Involved contested transfer of high-profile litigation and white collar practice.
  • Prosecuted fiduciary duty claims against major law firm on behalf of two departing partners.
  • Involved challenges to firm partnership agreement's treatment of departing partners under New York ethics rules.
  • Defended law firm against attorney malpractice claims arising from Continental Airlines bankruptcy.

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 impact cases, 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
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