Lester L. Levy is Of Counsel to Wolf Popper LLP and was the Chairman and Managing Partner of the Firm from 1992 to 2016. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Mr. Levy has prosecuted hundreds of class actions and has recovered over one billion dollars for the class members he has represented. He is a recognized leader in complex class action litigation and has lectured in complex litigation at the University of Illinois and the University of Miami Law Schools.
Mr. Levy's ability to prosecute sophisticated class actions successfully has often been the subject of judicial recognition.
Most recently, in certifying a class action supervised by Mr. Levy against Procter & Gamble for mislabeling certain toilet wipes as "flushable" and "safe for sewers and septic systems," Judge Jack B. Weinstein stated that Wolf Popper has "handled the case with great skill and full attention." See Belfiore v. Procter & Gamble, 14-cv-4090 (E.D.N.Y. March 27, 2017).
In the Motorola Securities Litigation, No. 03 C 287 (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois), Mr. Levy represented the lead plaintiff, the State of New Jersey, Department of Treasury, Division of Investment. While approving a $190 million recovery, the Court stated: "You did a great very professional job here. This was hard fought, but extremely professionally fought battle and I appreciate it. Thank you."
Mr. Levy directed the prosecution of the action, in Superior Court, Hudson County, New Jersey (State of New Jersey v. Merrill Lynch & Co., L-3855-09), that arose out of New Jersey’s 2008 investment in Merrill Lynch preferred shares, and New Jersey’s subsequent conversion of those preferred shares into common shares. The Superior Court of the State of New Jersey denied Merrill Lynch’s motion to dismiss New Jersey’s complaint, and subsequently denied Merrill Lynch’s motion for summary judgment. The action was resolved approximately one month before the scheduled trial for $45 million. New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa stated, in announcing the settlement, that “this is a fair and equitable outcome, and we are pleased to be recovering a substantial amount of dollars on behalf of New Jersey taxpayers.”
In In re Providian Financial Securities Litigation, MDL No. 1301 (E.D. Pa), Mr. Levy was co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class and obtained a $38,000,000 judgment from the defendants. The Court, in approving the settlement in June, 2002, remarked on the "extremely high quality" and "skill and efficiency" of plaintiffs' counsel's work.
Judge James F. Holderman remarked on the quality of counsel's efforts in In re Salton/Maxim Securities Litigation, Docket No. 91 C 7693 (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois), an action in which Mr. Levy was plaintiffs' co-lead counsel. At the hearing approving the settlement, the Court stated:
I want to not only compliment you lawyers for the professionalism that you showed in the course of reaching this compromise resolution, but I want to compliment you on the professionalism that you showed during the course of the litigation. This was a hard fought litigation. It was well briefed. The issues were presented crisply. . . . [A]s a judge presiding over this case, it was a pleasure to preside over it because of the skill and the quality of the lawyering on everyone's part in connection with this case.
Mr. Levy was co-lead counsel in one of the largest class actions brought in New Jersey State Court, Princeton Economics Group, Inc. v. American Telephone and Telegraph Company, (N.J. Super. Ct. 1995). That case resulted in a settlement valued at $85-90 million. At the conclusion of the case, the Court noted the high level of skill possessed by class counsel and stated that... "If not for the skill and the experience of class counsel, a settlement may not have been reached or, if it had been reached, may have resulted in a significantly diminished recovery for the class."
Mr. Levy also headed the class action litigation against American Bankers Ins. Group Inc. He obtained a nationwide class determination [Taylor v. American Bankers Ins. Group Inc., 700 N.Y. S. 2d 458 (1st Dept. 1999)] and achieved a complete recovery for class members as the defendant agreed to pay the class members' disputed coverage claims in full. The defendant also agreed to revise its solicitations to prevent a recurrence.
Mr. Levy was plaintiffs' co-lead counsel in Seidman v. Stauffer Chemical Co., (United States District Court, District of Connecticut) where at the successful conclusion of the case, Chief Judge Daly remarked that plaintiffs' co-lead counsel had acted throughout the litigation "...in accord with the highest standards of the bar, and it was a pleasure to deal with you and to listen to you, and to review your work...".
Mr. Levy played a leading role in the landmark Joseph v. Shell Oil Litigation, wherein the plaintiff stockholders successfully petitioned the Delaware Chancery Court to enjoin the proposed merger of Shell Oil Company and Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. At the conclusion of the litigation, which resulted in a $205,000,000 recovery for the class, the Court said that "the results achieved in this case for the class are outstanding".
In In re Fidelity Medical, Inc. Securities Litigation, 92-1908 (United States District Court, District of New Jersey), where Mr. Levy was a member of plaintiffs' Executive Committee that prosecuted the case, the Court at the conclusion of the case complimented counsel for their skill and professionalism and thanked them for the way the litigation was conducted.
Mr. Levy was in charge of the team of lawyers that prosecuted In re Coordinated Title Insurance Cases. That action against several large title insurance companies, resulted in the largest recovery in a consumer class action in Nassau County, New York. The presiding Justice commented, in approving the settlement on July 29, 2005, that the prosecution by the Firm "was lawyering of the highest quality."
Mr. Levy was co-lead counsel in the TJX Companies Retail Security Breach Litigation, (United States District of Mass.). At the end of the case, the Court commented that co-lead counsel was "quite creative" in crafting an "excellent settlement" for the class.
The periodical, Securities Class Action Alert, noted in reporting on the Borman's Inc. class action, wherein Mr. Levy was the Class Counsel:
Lester Levy of Wolf Popper Ross Wolf & Jones made short work of this case by winning a quick handsome return for shareholders. In one of the highest payout ratios in recent memory, eligible investors recovered 93% of the money they were deprived of. Levy obtained the settlement in just 15 months and investors received their checks within 6 months after the claim deadline date!
Securities Class Action Alert, p.60 (April 1991).
Other important class actions, wherein Mr. Levy was either lead counsel or co-lead counsel include:
- CLRB Hanson,etc v. Google, Inc., (United States District Court, Northern District of Calif.);
- In re Archer Daniels Midland Co. Securities Litigation, (United States District Court, Central District of Illinois);
- In re Caremark Securities Litigation, (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois); and
- Zinberg v. Washington Bancorp, Inc., (United States District Court, District New Jersey) (recovery for the class members of 200% of their damages).
Mr. Levy argued before the New York Court of Appeals in Tanzer v. Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, 91 N.Y.2d 850 and won a unanimous decision upholding a class action complaint on behalf of insureds who had been denied medical insurance coverage. Thereafter, the class received 100% of their damages.
Mr. Levy is also active in charitable work. He has received the Lifetime Trustee Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for "outstanding service to the MS community."