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Robert Y. Sperling

Robert Sperling is a litigation partner with more than 35 years of experience in complex litigation. Mr. Sperling has concentrated his litigation practice in defending securities, antitrust, and commercial litigation and has represented companies such as AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Bank of America, as well as a subsidiary Merrill Lynch prior to their merger; Bank One, and its subsidiary First USA Bank; Cendant Corporation, and its subsidiary Credentials Services International, Inc.; ChoicePoint Inc., and its subsidiary OSI, Inc.; Credit Suisse; Discover Financial Services; Goldman Sachs & Co.; Household International; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Lehman Brothers; and Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Sperling’s most recent trial victory was as lead trial counsel for Discover Financial Services in its successful defense of a long-running antitrust MDL alleging that credit card issuers conspired to adopt and maintain arbitration provisions with class action waivers in their cardholder agreements. On April 10, 2014, following a six-week bench trial and months of post-trial briefing, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered judgment for the issuers on plaintiffs’ antitrust claims for injunctive relief against the challenged arbitration provisions

In a recent pivotal victory for Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Premium Plus Partners LP Litigation, Mr. Sperling defeated class certification in connection with this large commodities case that has been pending for four years. This representation included a successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

On behalf of Morgan Stanley in the Morgan Stanley/Chicago Parking Meters Class Action, Mr. Sperling also recently won dismissal of a putative 2.8 million-person class action that sought nearly a billion dollars in damages over the privatization of the City of Chicago’s parking meters.

In addition, Mr. Sperling has represented the directors of various companies in derivative shareholders actions and ERISA actions that related to securities claims filed against those companies.

Mr. Sperling's significant securities cases include:

  • Ross v. Bank of America, et al., Nos. 04-civ-5723; 05-civ-7116 (S.D.N.Y., 2014)
    Lead trial counsel for Discover Financial Services in successful defense of long-running antitrust MDL alleging that credit card issuers conspired to adopt and maintain arbitration provisions with class action waivers in their cardholder agreements. On April 10, 2014, following a six-week bench trial and months of post-trial briefing, the Southern District of New York issued a 92-page judgment holding that plaintiffs “did not sustain their burden” of proving an antitrust violation under controlling law. Based on the extensive trial record, the Court concluded that plaintiffs’ conspiracy theory was a “bridge too far” and entered judgment for the issuers on plaintiffs’ antitrust claims for injunctive relief against the challenged arbitration provisions.
  • In re Credit Default Swaps Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y., 2013)
    Counsel for Goldman Sachs & Co. and affiliates in MDL litigation of several nationwide class actions alleging that swaps dealers unlawfully conspired to block exchange trading and other competitive developments in multi-billion dollar derivatives market.
  • Premium Plus Partners, L.P. v Peter J. Davis, et al., No. 04 C 1851 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Goldman, Sachs & Co. in a shareholder class action alleging violations of the Commodities Exchange Act for allegedly manipulating the U.S. Treasury market and injuring holders of short positions who were forced to cover at higher prices. Class certification was denied and the case was resolved pursuant to Rule 68 on an individual basis only.
  • Chicago Parking Meters LLC v. City of Chicago (2012)
    Trial counsel on behalf of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM) with regard to its arbitration claim against the City of Chicago for breach of contract stemming from its 75-year, $1.15 billion parking meter Concession Agreement. After a multi-day evidentiary hearing, the AAA Panel ruled on CPM’s $13 million claim relating to excessive use of parking meters by Exempt Persons under the Concession Agreement, and the ruling remains confidential at this time.
  • Independent Voters of Illinois, et. al. v. Amer Ahmad, City Comptroller and Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (Cir. Ct. Cook Co., Ill., 2012)
    Trial counsel on behalf of CPM with regard to a constitutional challenge by a group of Chicago voters seeking to void the $1.15 billion, 75-year parking meter privatization contract between the City of Chicago and CPM, a consortium led by Morgan Stanley. We successfully argued that the contract was constitutional because it did not result in an unlawful delegation of the City’s police power and did not result in “purely” private benefits to CPM. Plaintiffs had argued that the City had “sold” its police powers to CPM and that the contract violated the Illinois Constitution’s public purpose provision. In a lengthy opinion, Judge Richard J. Billik of the Circuit Court of Cook County entered summary judgment in favor of CPM and the City, fully adopting our arguments and rejecting each of plaintiffs’ claims. The ruling sets a precedent for future public-private partnerships between municipalities and private contractors.
  • Bunting v. William Blair, et. al. (Cir. Ct. Cook Co., Ill.)
    Trial counsel on behalf of Morgan Stanley and CPM wherein we recently won dismissal of a putative 2.8 million-person class action that sought nearly a billion dollars in damages over the privatization of the City of Chicago’s parking meters. We defeated plaintiff’s claim that CPM, a consortium led by Morgan Stanley, conspired with William Blair & Company ― the City’s outside investment advisor ― to undervalue the City’s parking meter assets. The City leased its parking meters to CPM in a $1.15 billion, 75-year privatization contract. Plaintiff, who sought class status on behalf of all residents of the City, alleged that William Blair breached its fiduciary duty to the City and its residents by failing to properly value the parking meter assets, and that CPM colluded with William Blair in breaching that duty.
  • Hughes V. Accretive Health, Inc., et al., No. 13 C 3688 (N.D. III.)
    Defended Goldman, Sachs & Co., Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, JPMorgan Securities Inc., and other bank underwriters in a putative securities class action filed in the aftermath of Accretive Health's plan to issue a multi-year restatement. Plaintiff named the company, its directors, and officers as well as the underwriters for the IPO and SPO as defendants. Winston represented the underwriters in Section 11 and Section 12 claims. After defeating plaintiffs' attempts to obtain additional time to file an amended complaint, Winston secured a voluntary dismissal of all claims against the underwriters.
  •  Independent Voters of Illinois, et al. v. Chicago Loop Parking, LLC, et al. (Cir. Ct. Cook Co., III., 2013)
    Trial counsel on behalf of Chicago Loop Parking, LLC (CLP), a consortium led by Morgan Stanley, with regard to a constitutional challenge by a group of Chicago voters seeking to void a $563 million, 99-year parking garage privatization contract between the City of Chicago and CLP. We successfully argued that the case should be dismissed because the taxpayers had no standing to challenge the deal. The ruling sets a precedent regarding taxpayer standing to challenge government partnerships with private contractors.
  • Hassinger v. JPMorgan Chase, No. 06 2931 (E.D. La.)
    Lead trial counsel on behalf of JPMorgan in an action brought by a faction of convertible debenture holders seeking recovery under an anti-dilution clause in a trust agreement. JPMorgan prevailed on summary judgment. The ruling was affirmed on appeal by the Fifth Circuit.
  • Tomlinson, et al. v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., No. 09 C 1543 (N.D. Ill.)
    Trial counsel on behalf of Goldman, Sachs & Co. in an action under the Commodity Exchange Act seeking damages for alleged market manipulation immediately preceding a Treasury announcement. Goldman prevailed in dismissing the case upon a motion to dismiss. The dismissal was affirmed on appeal by the Seventh Circuit.
  • JANA Master Fund Ltd., et al. v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., et al., No. 06/604005 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co., N.Y.)
    Successfully represented JPMorgan Chase & Co. and J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. in litigation related to the private placement of debt securities issued by Sons of Gwalia Ltd., alleging various New York common law claims.
  • Mary Nell Douglas v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., No. 03 158 MJR (S.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. in a class action brought incident to the 21st Century Telecom Group, Inc./RCN Corporation merger.
  • ING USA Annuity Life Insurance Company, et al. v. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., et al., No. 1:07 C 1459-CC (N.D. Ga.)
    Currently representing J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. related to the private placement of debt securities issued by Sons of Gwalia Ltd., alleging violations of the Georgia Blue Sky Statute, Georgia RICO statute, and Georgia common law claims.
  • Appert v. Morgan Stanley, No. 08 C 7130 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Morgan Stanley in a putative class action seeking the recovery of postage and handling fees associated with tens of thousands of securities transactions from 1998 to the present. The case was successfully dismissed upon motion, and was dismissed again after the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. In March 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of all claims.
  • City of Chicago, et al. v. Citigroup Inc., et al., No: 10-L-4132 (Cir. Ct. Cook Co., Ill.)
    Currently representing Goldman, Sachs & Co. in a qui tam action alleging violations of the Illinois False Claims Act and the Chicago False Claims Act related to public banking contracts and subprime lending activities.
  • Evergreen Fund, Ltd., et al. v. McCoy, et al., No. 00 C 767 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Bank One Corporation in a national consolidated shareholders’ class action brought by the shareholders incident to the First Chicago NBD Corporation/Banc One Corporation merger, alleging violations under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.
  • Thomas E. Levitan v. John B. McCoy, et al., No. 00 C 5096 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Bank One Corporation in a national consolidated shareholders’ class action brought by the shareholders of First Commerce Corporation incident to the First Commerce Corporation/Banc One merger in 1998, alleging violations under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.
  • Harry R. Larson, et al. v. Bank One Corporation, et al., No. 00 C 2100 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Bank One Corporation in a national consolidated shareholders’ class action brought by the shareholders of First Chicago NBD incident to the First Chicago NBD/Bank One Corporation merger, alleging violations under Sections 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.
  • In re Bank One Shareholders Class Actions, No. 00 C 880 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Bank One Corporation and its subsidiary First USA in a national consolidated shareholders’ class action alleging violations under Section 10(b)(5) of the Securities Act of 1934.
  • United States v. CVP I, et al., No. 08 CIV 7194 (SHS) (S.D.N.Y.)
    Trial counsel on behalf of the owners/developers of a New York City apartment building in an action brought by the Department of Justice alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act. The action is in the discovery phase of litigation.
  • Mann, et al. v. Bank One Corporation, No. 04 CH 10458 (Ill.)
    Lead trial counsel on behalf of Bank One in an action brought by carriers seeking a declaration that there is no insurance coverage for three securities class action settlements.
  • Cisco Systems, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. C 01 20418 JW (HRL) (N.D. Cal.)
    Successfully represented Cisco Systems and 12 of its current and former Board members and executives in connection with a securities fraud class action brought against the Company, 12 current or former Board members and employees, and the Company’s accountants, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The action was brought on behalf of Cisco Systems shareholders during the period August 1999 through February 2001 and asserted claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, alleging securities fraud in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and insider trading under Section 20A of the Act. The complaint asserted a wide variety of allegations on which the claims are based, including alleged improprieties in connection with the Company’s accounting practices (including practices relating to revenue recognition and reserves), and securities disclosure requirements.
  • Chaz Campton v. Ignite Restaurant Group, Inc., et al., No. 4:12 C 02196 (S.D. Tex.)
    Currently representing underwriters Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc., Lazard Capital Markets LLC, and others in connection with a putative securities class action case stemming from alleged misrepresentations relating to the Company’s IPO. The case is currently in motion practice as to the first amended complaint.
  • Central Laborers’ Pension Fund v. SIRVA, Inc., et al., No. 04 C 7644 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs, CS First Boston, Deutsche Bank Securities, Citigroup Global Markets, and Morgan Stanley, among others, as lead underwriters of two public offerings by SIRVA, Inc., in a purported shareholder class action alleging violations of Sections 11 and 12 of the 1933 Act. Following the court’s ruling granting in part the underwriters’ motion to dismiss, the parties reached an agreement to settle the action with no payment due from the underwriters.
  • In re Household International, Inc. ERISA Litigation, No. 02 C 7921 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Household International, Inc. in a national class action alleging violations of ERISA incident to the investment of corporate pension monies.
  • Lawrence E. Jaffe Pension Plan v. Household International, Inc., et al., No. 02 C 5893 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented all of the independent directors of Household International in a national consolidated shareholders’ class action alleging violations under Section 10(b)(5) of the Securities Act of 1934 and Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933.
  • The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, et al. v. Banc of America Securities LLC, et al., No. 01 C 1226 (S.D.N.Y.)
    Successfully represented Goldman, Sachs & Co. in a securities action alleging fraud incident to a securitization of credit card receivables.
  • Thomas G. Ong, et al. v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., et al., No. 03 C 04142 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Morgan Stanley in a class action against SRAC, its parent, Sears Roebuck & Company, various officers and directors, and the lead underwriters of three 2002 debt offerings, claiming violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b)(5) and Section 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The parties reached an agreement to settle with no payment due from the underwriters.
  • Avery Jackson v. Van Kampen Funds, Inc., et al., No. 03 L 2036 (S.D. Ill.)
    Presently representing Van Kampen Series Fund, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a class action brought against Van Kampen in connection with an internal examination and investigation of various practices performed by Morgan Stanley’s mutual fund business.
  • Dorothy Nelson v. AIM Advisors, et al., No. 01 C 0282 MJR (S.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Goldman, Sachs & Co. in a national class action alleging excessive advisory fees being charged by various mutual fund advisers.
  • Donald J. Williamson v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., et al., No. C N 03 0057 HDM VPC (D. Nev.)
    Successfully represented Goldman, Sachs & Co. in a class action alleging unlawful naked short sales of shares of SPRI stock.
  • VTEX Energy, Inc. v. Knight Securities, L.P., et al., No. C N 03 0071 DWH VPC (D. Nev.)
    Successfully represented Spear, Leeds, and Kellogg in a class action alleging unlawful naked short sales of shares of VTEX stock.

Mr. Sperling also has represented companies such as Morgan Stanley; Discover Financial Services; Cendant Corporation, and its subsidiary, Credentials Services International, Inc.; Bank One Corporation, and its subsidiary, First USA Bank, N.A.; and ChoicePoint Inc., and its subsidiary, OSI, Inc., in the following national class actions:

  • CF&H Insurance Agency, Inc., et al. v. ChoicePoint, Inc., et al., No. 02L100
    Presently representing ChoicePoint, Inc. in a national consumer class action alleging fraud and trade secret violations.
  • CSI Investment Partners v. Cendant Corp., No. 00 C 1422 (S.D.N.Y.)
    Trial counsel on behalf of Cendant Corporation, Henry Silverman, and Samuel Katz in a Section 10(b) case stemming from Cendant’s 1998 purchase of Credentials Services International, Inc. Plaintiffs prevailed on a single count on summary judgment and the order was affirmed on appeal.
  • CSI Investment Partners II, L.P., et al. v. Cendant Corporation, et al., No. 600797/00 (Sup. Ct. of the St. of N.Y.)
    Successfully represented Cendant Corporation and its subsidiary, Credentials Services International, Inc., in a fraud and breach of contract action.
  • Burkett v. First USA Bank, N.A., No. IP01 0215C Y/G (S.D. Ind.)
    Successfully represented First USA Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of Bank One Corporation, in a consumer class action.
  • Choquette v. Greenwood Trust Company, et al., No. 98 C 11901 RGS (D. Mass.)
    Successfully represented Greenwood Trust Company, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national consumer class action.
  • Christopher v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, et al., No. 97 2458 SBA (N.D. Ca.)
    Successfully represented Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in a national consumer class action.
  • Coppolo, et al. v. Discover Financial Services, Inc., et al., No. 99 0856 (S.D. Fla.)
    Successfully represented Discover Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a state class action alleging violation of the Florida Consumer Fraud Statute.
  • Duane E. Arndt v. First USA Bank N.A., et al.
    Successfully represented First USA Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of Bank One Corporation, in a consumer fraud action.
  • Fisher, et al. v. Lechmere, Inc., et al., No. 97 C 3065 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Discover Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national consumer credit card class action alleging violation of TILA.
  • Follansbee v. Discover Financial Services, Inc., No. 99 C 3827 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Discover Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national class action alleging violation of TILA.
  • Frerichs v. Credentials Services International, Inc., et al., No. 98 C 3684 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented Credentials Services International, Inc., a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation, in a national class action alleging violation of Federal Credit Repair Act.
  • In re General Electric Capital Corp. Consumer Bankruptcy Debtor Class Action Litigation, MDL No. 1192 (JPML)
    Successfully represented Discover Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national consumer class action alleging violation of TILA.
  • Johnson v. NOVUS Services, Inc., No. 97 C 8139 (N.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented NOVUS Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a consumer class action.
  • Lafromboise, et al., v. Greenwood Trust Company, et al., No. 97 30091 MAP (W.D. Mass.)
    Successfully represented Greenwood Trust Company, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national credit card class action alleging violation of TILA.
  • Mangone, et al. v. First USA Bank, N.A. and Bank One Corp., No. 00 881 (S.D. Ill.)
    Successfully represented First USA Bank, N.A. and Bank One Corporation in a national credit card class action involving alleged improper late fees.
  • Martin and Glenda Hunter, et al. v. Bank One, Dayton, N.A., No. 3948 (Cir. Ct. Fayette Co., TN, Twenty-Fifth Judicial District)
    Successfully represented Bank One, Dayton, N.A., a subsidiary of Bank One Corporation, in a national class action involving satellite dish financing charges.
  • Morkavage v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., et al., No. 99 40114 (C.D. Mass.)
    Successfully represented Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a national credit card class action.
  • Reyes v. Staples, Inc., et al., No. CA 97 564 T (D.R.I.)
    Successfully represented Morgan Stanley and subsidiary Greenwood Trust Company in a national class action involving a private label credit card.
  • Smith v. Dean Witter, Discover & Co., et al., No. SA 97 CA 1106 (W.D. Tex.)
    Successfully represented Dean Witter, Discover & Co., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, in a state class action alleging violation of the Texas Consumer Fraud Statute.

Mr. Sperling received an A.B. in History from the University of Illinois in 1969 and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1972, where he was a member of the DePaul University Law Review.

Mr. Sperling’s court admissions include the following:

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit

Honors & Awards

Mr. Sperling is recognized as a leading litigator in Chambers USA for general commercial litigation in Illinois for the years 2005 to 2014. He also was honored in Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition in 2006-2012 and Leading Lawyers Network in 2006-2013.

Activities

Mr. Sperling served as a member of the board of trustees of the University of Illinois from 2003 to 2009. While he was a trustee, he served as vice-chair of the Committee on Finance and chair of the Committee on Athletics. In addition, he currently serves as a trustee to the Museum of Science and Industry and has held this position since December 2007. He also is a member of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Law and Litigation sections; the Illinois State Bar Association’s Antitrust Law, Civil Practice and Procedure; and the Chicago Bar Association.

Mr. Sperling was a lecturer at the Stanford Senior Executive Leadership Forum in Hong Kong in May 2012. He has frequently lectured on complex civil litigation before various bar association and business groups.

Admissions

  • Illinois

Education

  • DePaul University, JD, 1972
  • University of Illinois, AB, 1969