Securities and Commodities Litigation & Enforcement

Back to Practice Areas

The trial lawyers at Williams Montgomery & John regularly represent clients in securities and commodities litigation, regulatory enforcement proceedings, and internal and regulatory investigations.  We draw upon our knowledge of the industries and markets we serve and our breadth of experience to assist clients in avoiding or mitigating regulatory actions, resolving disputes effectively and as expeditiously as possible, and taking cases to trial and through appeal when appropriate.  Our experience includes complex and sensitive litigation matters filed in federal and state courts and arbitration tribunals throughout the country. We also have argued appeals in federal and state courts involving novel securities law issues of first impression. 

We have extensive experience defending issuers, officers, directors, underwriters and others in securities class actions, shareholder derivative suits and related litigation arising out of public offerings, mergers, tender offers, bankruptcies, or following release of disappointing information to the market.  Our experience includes a wide variety of allegations―such as fraud on the market, insider trading, accounting fraud, fraudulent earnings forecasts, and market manipulation―and it spans numerous industries, including financial services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, mining, computer hardware and software, insurance, and healthcare.  

We also have deep experience pursuing claims to recover losses and damages for our clients.  We have obtained numerous high-dollar judgments and settlements for our clients for securities fraud claims brought under state and federal securities statutes.

In addition, our attorneys have represented clients in conducting internal investigations, as well as in responding to investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and other enforcement agencies and bodies.

Our attorneys also regularly represent clients in FINRA arbitration proceedings involving a variety of types of claims.

A list of representative matters can be found by clicking on the “Representative Matters” link above.  Firm attorneys practicing in the securities and commodities litigation have been recognized by publications such as Best Lawyers in America, Leading Lawyer, and Super Lawyers.

The firm’s securities and commodities litigation and enforcement practice is led by partner Christopher J. Barber, who has a background in accounting and financial services. Mr. Barber has tried more than 140 cases - trials, arbitrations and regulatory enforcement proceedings - to completion.

 For more information about the firm’s securities and commodities litigation and enforcement practice, please call Mr. Barber at 312.443.3277 or cjb@willmont.com.  


Partners Practicing in this Area




Plaintiffs’ Cases

  • Huizenga Managers Fund, LLC v. A.R. Thane Ritchie, et al.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District

    We obtained a judgment based upon a finding that certain defendants violated the Delaware Securities Act.  The case arose out of investments in a defendant hedge fund created to purchase an array of “risk-linked investments” in various insurance and reinsurance sectors and involved defendants’ attempt to securitize a large pool of life settlement investments.

    The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the judgment.  It also ordered the trial court to enter judgment for an additional investment, including prejudgment interest. 

  • Kemper High Yield Series, et al. v. Gleacher NatWest, et al.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

    Securities fraud action arising out of the sale of high-yield bonds to finance a steel mill in Thailand by a U.S. subsidiary of Nakornthai Strip Mill PLC (NSM) prior to NSM’s restructuring in the Central Bankruptcy Court of Thailand in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

  • Teachers Retirement System of Illinois v. ARK Asset Management, Inc.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

    Breach of fiduciary duty action arising out of the liquidation of a retirement fund investment portfolio.

  • Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company, et al. v. BAA, PLC, et al.

    Circuit Court, Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Maryland Court of Special Appeals; Court of Appeals of Maryland

    Jury trial in fraudulent conveyance action arising out of the sale of a U.S. subsidiary after investors purchased $109 million of notes.

  • In re Griffin Trading Company

    U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois; English Commercial Court, London

    Breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims arising out of futures commission merchant’s collapse triggered by London Futures Exchange trades.

  • Kemper Financial Services Inc. v. Merrill Lynch & Co.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

    Securities fraud action arising out of Merrill Lynch’s sale of $600 million in notes for Orange County, California.  The sales occurred before Orange County filed for bankruptcy protection after it lost $1.7 billion on its investments.

  • Stark Trading, et al. v. Falconbridge Limited, et al.

    U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

    Securities fraud action arising out of a takeover bid based upon alleged market manipulation and dissemination of false information to shareholders in violation of federal securities laws.

  • Peltz, as Liquidating Trustee of the USN Liquidating Trust v. Hatten, et al.

    U.S. District Court, District of Delaware

    Fraudulent conveyance action arising out of the bankruptcy filing of USN Communications, Inc. less than a year after it used initial public offering proceeds to acquire a reseller of cellular and other phone and data services.

  • The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company v. A. David Silver

    U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

    Obtained a judgment, including attorneys' fees, in a securities fraud action against the promoter of a venture capital fund.

Defense Engagements

  • In re Allstate Insurance Company Litigation

    U.S. District Court, District of Arizona

    Defended the underwriters of an Arizona municipal bond offering that raised funds to construct an events center. The underwriters were sued in three separate actions that were consolidated. After defeating the class motion and obtaining dismissal of all but one claim on motions following discovery, the case was successfully resolved.

  • DeAngelis v. Corzine, et al.

    U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

    Represented one of the individual defendants in a class action and an opt-out action filed by commodities customers arising out of the collapse of MF Global, a broker-dealer and futures commission merchant. When MF Global sought bankruptcy protection in October 2011, it was the eighth-largest bankruptcy filing in the history of the United States and the largest Wall Street firm to go under since Lehman Brothers.  The cases involved more than $1 billion in allegedly missing funds and allegations regarding transfers of assets out of segregated accounts maintained for the protection of customers pursuant to the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.

  • Liska v. Motorola, Inc.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

    Represented the defendant in a retaliatory discharge or “whistleblower” action filed by Motorola’s former Chief Financial Officer alleging that he was fired and subsequently defamed for warning Motorola officials about allegedly misleading financial forecasts for its cell phone division.

  • Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. v. Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.

    New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

    Represented the claimant in an action seeking a declaration that it was not required to return nearly $8 million in connection with a stock loan transaction, claiming it had been defrauded. The respondent counterclaimed for return of the funds. The NYSE Arbitration Panel ruled in favor of the claimant and the award was confirmed by the federal district court.   

  • Picard Chemical Inc. Profit Sharing Plan v. Perrigo Company, et al.

    U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan

    Obtained dismissal of many claims and then summary judgment in favor of the Perrigo Company and certain officers and directors who were sued in a securities fraud class action seeking more than $300 million in damages. The case arose out of a $443 million secondary public offering, then the largest secondary offering in NASDAQ history. 

  • In re: Stock Exchanges Options Trading Antitrust Litigation

    U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

    Consolidated class action involving allegations of conspiracy to restrict listing and trading of equity options.

  • In re Suprema Specialties, Inc. Securities Litigation

    U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey

    Represented one of the underwriters of a secondary public offering of Suprema Specialties, Inc. in a securities fraud class action arising out of an elaborate scheme to inflate the company’s sales and inventory. The scheme led to the criminal convictions of some of Suprema’s officers. In the civil class action, we obtained dismissal of the Rule 10b-5 claim against our client, which led to a favorable settlement of the one remaining claim under Section 11 of the Securities Act.

  • In re Merck & Co., Inc. Sec. Litig.

    MDL No. 1658 (SRC), Case No. 3:05-CV-01151-SRC-TJB (D. N. J.)

    Successfully represented an insurer in a securities fraud class action arising out of Merck’s decision to remove a drug from the market.  We obtained dismissal of the case against our client.  

  • Frederick v. Laurienti, et al.

    Superior Court, Los Angeles County, California; California Court of Appeal

    Shareholder derivative suit arising from alleged market manipulation of technology company stock.

  • Market Street Securities, Inc. v. Racing Champions Corp., et al.

    U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

    Represented a manufacturer and several of its officers and directors in a securities fraud class action that alleged that the corporation made false and misleading statements to the market concerning the impact of an acquisition. Following completion of discovery, the client was able to settle the case for substantially below insurance policy limits. 

  • Crotteau v. Addus Homecare Corp.

    U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

    Represented the underwriters in securities class action arising out of a corporation’s initial public stock offering.  The plaintiffs alleged that the corporation had overbooked accounts receivables. The case was settled without our clients contributing any amount to the settlement.

Regulatory Actions and Investigations

  • U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. MF Global Inc., et al.

    U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

    Represented the former assistant treasurer of MF Global in an enforcement action filed by the CFTC arising out of the firm’s collapse, as well as in multiple and overlapping investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, several committees of the U.S. Senate and House, and the trustees overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings of MF Global’s holding company and regulated entity.  The allegations concerned transfers of funds out of commodity customer accounts during the final days of MF Global’s existence.

  • Regulation SHO Investigation

    Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

    Represented a registered broker-dealer in an investigation related to Regulation SHO, which the SEC adopted to control the harmful effects on market prices and the volatility caused by naked short selling.  The focus of the investigation included (1) failures to properly locate securities available for borrowing before effecting short sales in those securities, (2) failures to properly document securities located for short sales, and (3) failures to establish adequate policies, procedures and a supervisory system reasonably designed to achieve compliance.  The matter was resolved by a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent pursuant to which the broker-dealer paid a fine but was not required to hire a compliance consultant.

  • Research MNPI Compliance Procedures Investigation

    Securities and Exchange Commission

    Represented a registered broker-dealer in an investigation related to alleged failures to establish, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures to prevent the misuse of material, nonpublic information as required by Section 15(g) of the Securities Exchange Act.  The focus of the investigation included an affiliated (but now closed) hedge fund that invested in issuers covered by the broker-dealer’s research department.  The matter was resolved by a cease-and-desist order pursuant to which the broker-dealer was censured and paid a civil money penalty.

  • Fee-in-Lieu Investigation

    Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

    Represented a registered broker-dealer in an investigation related to the broker-dealer’s failure to establish and maintain an adequate supervisory system for customers in certain fee-based accounts in which customers paid fees based upon a percentage of eligible assets as opposed to paying commissions based upon trading activity.  The matter was resolved by a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent pursuant to which the broker-dealer paid a fine and restitution to certain customers.

"Raiding" Cases

  • Broker-Dealer Recruiting Cases

    We were counsel in six of the top ten FINRA arbitration awards involving “raiding” allegations―four times for the claimant and twice for the respondent.

  • Huron Consulting Services LLC v. F. Lisa Murtha, et al.

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District

    Novel case arising from a number of employees leaving a consulting practice group to join an international law firm.

  • Huron Consulting Services LLC v. Prism Healthcare Partners, Ltd

    Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

    State court case that arose out of the departure of employees to a new consulting firm comprised in part of former employees who had sold their consulting practice to the plaintiff years earlier. 

    U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

    Related federal court case that, among other things, alleged violations of the Lanham Act in industry advertisements and presentations.