June Gladiators of the Month: Michael Dowd, Spencer Burkholz, Daniel Drosman, Luke Brooks and Maureen Mueller
In honor of our Gladiators video and being referred to as gladiators in the courtroom, this series highlights Robbins Geller attorneys who have shown exceptional merit in a case or have a historical track record of success.
It was last June when the record-breaking $1.575 billion recovery was reached for the shareholder class in Jaffe v. Household Int’l, Inc., just hours before the second jury trial was set to commence. The recovery is the largest ever following a securities class action trial and was achieved after 14 years of hard-fought litigation. It is for this reason that attorneys Michael Dowd, Spencer Burkholz, Daniel Drosman, Luke Brooks and Maureen Mueller are the newest Gladiators of the Month.
The first trial of the Household case occurred in 2009, when the trial team obtained a jury verdict in favor of the shareholder class. The verdict was reversed in part in 2015, and in May 2016, the team moved back to Chicago to try the case again. In June 2016, the settlement was reached on the morning of the second jury trial. Dowd, Burkholz, Drosman, Brooks and Mueller successfully overcame defendants’ repeated attempts to derail the litigation after the verdict, which included several post-trial motions to invalidate the verdict, objections to thousands of claims by injured class members, and an appeal of the verdict. Not only is the $1.575 billion recovery the largest ever following a securities fraud class action trial, it is also the largest securities fraud settlement in the Seventh Circuit and the seventh-largest settlement ever in a post-PSLRA securities fraud case.
In approving the settlement in October 2016, the Honorable Jorge L. Alonso noted the team’s “skill and determination” while recognizing that “Lead Counsel prosecuted the case vigorously and skillfully over 14 years against nine of the country’s most prominent law firms” and “achieved an exceptionally significant recovery for the class.”
Each member of the team has an impressive track record backing them that goes beyond the success of Household Int’l, Inc. For instance, Dowd has practiced in the area of securities litigation for 20 years, prosecuting dozens of complex securities cases and obtaining significant recoveries for investors in cases such as UnitedHealth ($925 million), WorldCom ($657 million), AOL Time Warner ($629 million), Qwest ($445 million), and Pfizer ($400 million). Additionally, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of California from 1987 to 1991 (and again from 1994 to 1998), where he handled dozens of jury trials and was awarded the Director's Award for Superior Performance. No stranger to accolades, Dowd was named Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer and one of the “Top 100 Lawyers” by the Daily Journal. The National Association of Corporate Directors’ NACD Directorship magazine also named him to their “Directorship 100,” which recognizes those individuals who have had a profound impact and the greatest influence on corporate governance.
For 20 years, Burkholz has successfully prosecuted several high-profile securities class actions that resulted in record-breaking recoveries for investors, like the $500 million settlement in the Countrywide MBS case – the largest residential mortgage-backed securities purchaser class action recovery in history. After almost nine years of litigation, Burkholz and his team of attorneys revealed that Countrywide made false claims regarding the quality of the loans underlying billions of dollars of MBS issued and/or sold by Countrywide. Leading up to the settlement, Burkholz fought defendants’ repeated attempts to remove the case to federal court, which included appeals to not just the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but both the California Supreme Court (where review was denied) and the U.S. Supreme Court (where certiorari was denied). Burkholz has been named a Top Plaintiff Lawyer by the Daily Journal, a Recommended Lawyer by The Legal 500, a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation for three consecutive years and a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine for two consecutive years. He has also been recognized as a Top Lawyer in San Diego by San Diego Magazine every year since 2013.
A former federal prosecutor, Drosman has obtained billions of dollars on behalf of investors. For instance, he helped secure a $388 million recovery for investors in J.P. Morgan residential mortgage-backed securities in Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. On a percentage basis, that settlement is the largest recovery ever achieved in an RMBS class action. In a pair of cases – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, et al. v. Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. (“Cheyne” litigation) and King County, Washington, et al. v. IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG (“Rhinebridge” litigation) – Drosman also led a group of attorneys prosecuting fraud claims against the credit rating agencies, where he is distinguished as one of the few plaintiffs’ counsel to defeat the rating agencies’ traditional First Amendment defense and their motions for summary judgment based on the mischaracterization of credit ratings as mere opinions not actionable in fraud. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the parties reached a confidential settlement encompassing both SIV cases just weeks before the Cheyne trial was scheduled to begin. Recognized for his work in securities fraud and other complex civil litigation, he has also been named a Recommended Lawyer by The Legal 500 and a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine.
Brooks has successfully prosecuted several high-profile securities class actions that have resulted in record-breaking recoveries. With Drosman, he served as trial counsel in Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., in which plaintiffs recovered $388 million for investors in J.P. Morgan residential mortgage-backed securities, and in Cheyne and Rhinebridge, in which plaintiffs obtained a settlement from the major credit rating agencies and Morgan Stanley arising out of the fraudulent ratings of bonds issued by the Cheyne and Rhinebridge structured investment vehicles. Brooks has been named a Recommended Lawyer by The Legal 500, as well as a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation.
In the last few years, Mueller has successfully prosecuted several high-profile securities class actions that resulted in record-breaking recoveries, making her an integral partner to Robbins Geller. The depth of her experience and dedication has helped shareholders recover more than $3 billion. In addition to Household, she was also a key member of the team of attorneys responsible for recovering a record-breaking $925 million for investors in In re UnitedHealth Grp. Inc. PSLRA Litig., the largest stock option backdating recovery to date, and served as co-lead counsel and obtained $627 million in In re Wachovia Preferred Securities and Bond/Notes Litig., one of the largest credit crisis recoveries involving Securities Act claims. She was recently named a Top Woman Lawyer by the Daily Journal and a Recommended Lawyer by The Legal 500.