Merrill G. Davidoff
Merrill G. Davidoff is Chairman Emeritus and a Executive Shareholder, in addition to his continuing work as Co-Chairman of the Antitrust Department and Chairman of the Environmental Group. Mr. Davidoff has litigated and tried a wide range of antitrust, commodities, securities and environmental class actions.
In In re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1409, Mr. Davidoff was co-lead counsel in class actions that resulted in settlements of $386 million.
In a long-running environmental class action on behalf of property owners whose land was contaminated by plutonium from a neighboring nuclear weapons facility (Rocky Flats near Denver, Colorado), Mr. Davidoff served as lead counsel and lead trial counsel in a 2005-2006 trial that resulted in a $554 million jury verdict, third largest of 2006. In 2009 the Rocky Flats trial team, led by Mr. Davidoff, received the prestigious Public Justice Award for “Trial Lawyer of the Year.” A 2010 decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment that had been won in the district court, but Berger Montague persevered and sought entry of judgment under alternative state law grounds. After losing this battle in the district court, plaintiffs appealed to the 10th Circuit again, and, after an appeal argued by Mr. Davidoff, the Court of Appeals (by then-judge, now Justice, Neil Gorsuch) reversed and held that plaintiffs could proceed on state law nuisance grounds. Just before competing petitions for certiorari were to be decided by the Supreme Court, a settlement of $375 million was announced in May 2016. The settlement received final approval on April 28, 2017.
Mr. Davidoff also concentrates his practice in representation for commodities futures and options traders as well as derivatives matters. He was co-lead counsel for the customer class in In re MF Global Holdings Limited Investment Litigation, which settled for well over a billion dollars and resulted in the recovery and return of 100% of lost customer funds after MF Global’s October 31, 2011 collapse.
Mr. Davidoff has represented diverse clients, including many companies, sports organizations, trading firms and governmental entities. In the Qwest securities litigation, Mr. Davidoff represented New Jersey, securing a $45 million “opt-out” settlement, and also represented New Jersey in “opt-out” litigation against the former public accounting firm for Lehman Brothers Inc.
Mr. Davidoff served as co-lead and trial counsel for a plaintiff class in the first mass tort class action trial in a federal court which resulted in a precedent-setting settlement for class members, In re Louisville Explosions Litigation. In the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) Decisions (Challenge Communications, Ltd. v. Bell Canada), Mr. Davidoff was lead counsel for Applicant (plaintiff) in three evidentiary hearings before the CRTC. The hearings resulted in the first precedent-breaking Bell Canada’s monopoly over the telecommunications equipment which was connected to its telephone network. He was lead counsel in the Revco Securities Litigation, an innovative “junk bond” class action, which settled for $36 million. Mr. Davidoff was lead plaintiffs’ counsel and lead trial counsel in In re Melridge Securities Litigation tried to jury verdicts for $88 million (securities fraud) and $240 million (RICO). He was co-lead counsel for the class in In re Graphite Electrodes Antitrust Litigation, an international price-fixing case which yielded settlements ranging from 18% to 32% of the plaintiffs’ and class’ purchases from the defendants (aggregate settlements totaled $134 million). He was one of co-lead counsel in the Ikon Securities Litigation, in which a settlement of $111 million was obtained. He was co-lead counsel and designated lead trial counsel in the In Re Sunbeam Securities Litigation, where settlements of $142 million were reached. One of his areas of concentration is representation in commodities futures and options matters, and expertise in derivatives. He has represented market-makers on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, where he owned a member firm in the 1990s, as well as broker-dealers and market-makers on other exchanges.
- American Association for Justice
- Public Justice Foundation
- Served on the subcommittee of the American Bar Association Antitrust Section which prepared the 1985 supplement to the “Antitrust Civil Jury Instructions”
- Speaker at American Trial Lawyers Association meetings and seminars including for the Environmental and Toxic Torts Section at the National Convention of ATLA
- “Class counsel did a remarkable job in representing the class interests.” – Judge Marvin Katz, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- “Throughout the course of their representation, the attorneys at Berger Montague . . . who have worked on this case have exhibited an unusual degree of skill and diligence, and have had to contend with opposing counsel who also displayed unusual skill and diligence.” – Judge Helen J. Frye, District of Oregon
- “Examination of the experience-studded biographies of the attorneys primarily involved in this litigation and review of their pioneering prosecution of many class actions in antitrust, securities, toxic tort matters and some defense representation in antitrust and other litigation, this court has no difficulty in approving and adopting the hourly rates fixed by Judge Aldrich.” – Judge William K. Thomas, Northern District of Ohio
- “. . . the counsel has been of the highest ability, frankly on both sides, which seems to me to mean not only does one reward able plaintiffs’ counsel but they get rewarded because they deal with able defense counsel, more so.” “. . . the plaintiffs’ counsel is at the top of the profession in this regard and certainly have used their expertise to craft an extremely favorable settlement for their clients, and to that extent, they deserve to be rewarded.” – Judge Peter J. Messitte, District of Maryland
- “The attorneys involved in this litigation are extremely experienced and skilled in their prosecution of antitrust litigation and other complex actions.” – Judge Krupansky, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- “It is no surprise to me that the judges rated this among the best programs they have attended in recent years.” – Stephen M. Feiler, Director of Judicial Education, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Common Pleas Court Judges of PA regarding CLE to trial judges
- “Despite the extreme uncertainties of trial, plaintiffs’ counsel were able to negotiate a cash settlement of a not insubstantial sum, and in addition, by way of equitable relief, substantial concessions by the defendants . . .” – Judge Donald W. Van Artsdalen, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Prominent Judgments and Settlements
- Mr. Davidoff served as one of two co-lead counsel in In re MF Global Holdings Limited Investment Litigation, which settled for well over a billion dollars and resulted in the recovery and return of 100% of lost customer funds after MF Global’s October 31, 2011 collapse.
- In the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant class action where Mr. Davidoff served as lead counsel, the district court held the U.S. Department of Energy in contempt of court after a one week trial in November 1995 (reported at 907 F. Supp. 1460 (D. Colo. 1995)). In 2005-2006, this class action finally went to trial (with Mr. Davidoff as lead trial counsel) and, in February 2006, the jury returned a special verdict for the plaintiffs for $554 million, the largest property damage class action jury verdict ever. The verdict was the third-largest jury verdict of 2006 in the U.S., according to The National Law Journal. In 2008, after extensive post-trial motions, the district court entered a $926 million judgment for plaintiffs in this case. In July 2009, the trial team led by Mr. Davidoff won the Public Justice “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award for its work on the Rocky Flats case. The jury verdict, in that case, was vacated on appeal. In 2015, on a second trip to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Plaintiffs secured a victory with the case being sent back to the district court. On May 18, 2016, the parties announced they had reached a $375 million settlement. The settlement received final approval on April 28, 2017.
- In In re Foreign Currency Fee Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1409, where Mr. Davidoff and Berger Montague served as co-lead counsel, the district court approved a class action settlement of $336 million with Visa, MasterCard, and a number of their member banks, which drew millions of claims from class members in one of the largest consumer antitrust class actions. A subsequent settlement with American Express brought total settlements to $386 million.
- In Brown, et al. v. Kinross Gold, U.S.A., et al., No. 02-cv-00605 (D.N.V.), Mr. Davidoff was one of two co-lead counsel that achieved a settlement valued at some $36 million in this case alleging that a leading gold mining company illegally forced preferred shareholders to tender their shares at an unfavorable price. The recovery exceeded 100% of damages, even after fees and costs.
In the News
- Berger Montague’s Antitrust Practice Group, Department Co-Chairs Ranked in Chambers USA 2020
- Berger Montague’s Antitrust Practice Group, Department Co-Chairs Ranked in Chambers USA 2019
- Berger Montague Named 2018 Elite Trial Lawyers by The National Law Journal
- Berger Montague's Antitrust Practice Group, Notable Practitioners Ranked in the Chambers USA 2018 Guide