Patricia I. Avery is a senior partner of Wolf Popper. She holds a B.A. from New York University (1973) and is a graduate of New York University School of Law (J.D., 1976), where she was a staff member and then an editor of the Moot Court Board. Since graduation from NYU, she has concentrated on securities and other complex civil litigation, including antitrust and consumer fraud. Ms. Avery has had sole or major responsibilities for many leading decisions in the securities field and in the general area of Federal Civil Procedure. Ms. Avery has repeatedly been named to the Super Lawyers (R) (New York Metro Edition) list in Securities Litigation, the latest in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and she has continued to hold Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating for legal ability and ethical standards for decades.
Since joining Wolf Popper in 1982, Ms. Avery has been involved principally in securities (both class action and derivative), antitrust, and consumer fraud litigation. In addition to playing major roles in many of the leading decisions and substantial judgments obtained by the Firm over the years, she has had sole or principal responsibility at the Firm for numerous securities and other cases, including, among many others:
- McLaughlin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA., No. C 15-02904 WHA (N.D. Cal.), in a precedent setting Order under the Truth in Lending Act’s (“TILA”) Regulation Z, the Court in the Northern District of California, in denying the motion to dismiss of Wells Fargo Bank, held that the bank is required under TILA to indicate the amount of property insurance proceeds held by the bank on the plaintiff customer’s payoff statement. The Court noted that “[n]o decision from our court of appeals has ever addressed the issue of whether TILA compels lenders to include ‘potential’ credits in payoff statements.” In holding for the plaintiff, the Court found, “[a]s a matter of law, the bank is wrong on this one.” McLaughlin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA., No. C 15-02904 WHA, Order that TILA Required Insurance Proceeds to be Reflected in Payoff Statement (N.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2015). On March 15, 2017, the Court granted final approval of a settlement providing Damages Class members with 88% of the maximum available monetary recovery under TILA and requiring Wells Fargo to alter its mortgage payoff statement practices to comply with TILA. Damages Class members received over $2,500 per account.
- In re: PHC, Inc. Shareholder Litigation, 1:11-cv-11049-PBS (D. Mass.): Ms. Avery is a member of the trial team in this litigation on behalf of shareholders of a behavioral health company, for damages arising from an unfairly priced stock-for-stock merger in which the company’s CEO and chief negotiator also received a cash payment of several million dollars. Following a two-week jury trial in which the jury found that the CEO controlled the company and failed to demonstrate that the merger was entirely fair to the minority shareholders, the Court ordered the CEO to disgorge $2,964,396, plus interest. The Court also complemented counsel, stating "I think you all [ ] did a great job trying this case. I was telling my law clerks you don't often see commercial litigation actually go to trial so [this is] a great example not only it being litigated but also, you know, the skills . . . . and I thank the folks in [your office] for so much support that they've given along the way because I know it's a big case with a lot of paper.... And someone should study the case in terms of how attorneys should treat one another, and I appreciate that…." The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit complimented counsel and subsequently affirmed the award, noting that the issues on appeal were “intricate, entangled, and in some instances novel.” MAZ Partners LP v. Shear (In re PHC, Inc. S'holder Litig.), Nos. 17-1821, 17-1904, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18035, *1 (1st Cir. July 2, 2018).
- Jamison v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 2:16-cv-00422-KJM-AC, 2016 WL 3653456 (E.D. Ca., July 7, 2016), the Court in the Eastern District of California found the reasoning of the McLaughlin case prosecuted by Ms. Avery and described above "to be persuasive and consistent with TILA's remedial purpose. . .As a result, an 'accurate' payoff statement should have disclosed the [insurance] proceeds."
- Retirement Plan v. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 120 A.D.3d 1052, 992 N.Y.S.2d 220 (N.Y App. Div. 1st Dept. 2014), as a counsel for appellant shareholders, helped to successfully reverse dismissal of request under Business Corporation Law §624 and the common law for inspection of the defendant corporation’s books and records in connection with claim that defendant failed to properly oversee wrongdoing at the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC.
- In re Atheros Communications, Inc. Shareholder Litig., 2011 Del. Ch. LEXIS 36 (March 4, 2011), as Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiff shareholders, secured an injunction against $3.1 billion acquisition of Atheros Communications, Inc. by Qualcomm Incorporated pending further disclosures to shareholders.
- Huberman v. Tag-It Pacific, Inc., 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 2780 (9th Cir. Jan. 16, 2009) (Ninth Circuit reversed grant of summary judgment to defendants and directed that District Court grant class certification as requested by Plaintiff). Subsequent settlement approved by the Court in December 2009.
- Middlesex Retirement System v. Quest Software, Inc., 527 F.Supp.2d 1164 (C.D. Cal. 2007); and Middlesex Retirement System v. Quest Software, Inc., CV 06-6863 DOC (RNBx), Amended Order (C.D. Cal. July 10, 2008) (decisions primarily denying defendants’ motions to dismiss in options backdating case); Middlesex Retirement System v. Quest Software, Inc., Order, CV 06-6863-DOC (RNBx) (C.D. Cal. Jul. 8, 2009), aff’d, Order (C.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2009) (order granting Plaintiff’s motion to compel); and Order, CV 06-6863-DOC (RNBx) (C.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2009) (Granting Lead Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification). After extensive discovery, in December 2009, the court preliminarily approved the settlement, stating counsel “really have the court’s profound congratulations and compliments.” The court thereafter gave final approval to the $29.4 million settlement in April 2010.
- Thurber v. Mattel, Master File No. CV-99-10368-MRP(CWx) (C.D. Cal.) (§10(b) claims) and Dusek v. Mattel, Master File No. CV-99-10864-MRP(CWx) (C.D. Cal.) (§14(a) claims), Wolf Popper was a member of the Executive Committee of Plaintiffs' counsel, but was also specifically appointed by the Federal Court to have primary responsibility for the prosecution of the Dusek v. Mattel §14(a) claims. After more than three years of extremely hard-fought litigation in which Ms. Avery handled the day-to-day prosecution of the case, including motions, the production of millions of documents, and the taking or defending of more than 40 depositions, both cases settled for the aggregate sum of $122 million, with $61 million allocated for the Dusek v. Mattel §14(a) claims, believed to be the then largest settlement of a §14(a) case. Upon approving the settlement, the Judge complimented counsel saying that the settlement was an "awfully good result."
- Stanley v. Safeskin, Lead Case No. 99cv454-BTM(LSP)(Consolidated) ($55 million settlement approved by the Court in 2003) (the Court complimented plaintiffs' co-lead counsel, Ms. Avery on behalf of Wolf Popper, for their work, noting that plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel "are highly skilled in these cases," who "vigorously" and "diligently" prosecuted the case and "procured an exceptional award for the class," that they had a "great deal of experience in class action litigation" and are "highly regarded in this area of the law"; indeed, the Judge noted "I was kind of looking forward to trying this case, because it would have the best lawyers in the country trying this case. . . ."; paying them perhaps the ultimate compliment, the Court further said, “From the plaintiffs’ perspective . . . you handled it on a much higher plane, probably on a textbook or ideal plane. If they would teach people how it should be done in law school, this would be the example. . . .”).
- Bell v. New Horizons Worldwide, Inc., Case No. BC 289898 (Complex Litigation Program) (Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles) (innovative settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers who had purchased technical training courses from Computer Learning Centers).
- In re Grand Casinos, Inc. Sec. Litig., Master File No. 4-96-890 (JRT/RLE) (settlement approved in August 2001, one of the very early decisions sustaining various claims brought under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, finding that plaintiffs met the rigorous pleading standards of the then new Act, 988 F. Supp. 1270 (D. Minn. 1997)).
- Jonas v. Aspec Technology, Inc., Lead Case No. CV775037 (Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara).
- In re Adac Laboratories Sec. Litig., Master File No. C-98-4934-MHP ($20 million settlement).
- In re Community Psychiatric Centers Sec. Litig., SA CV-91-533-AHS (Eex) (C.D. Cal.) ($54.5 million settlement).
- In re Pacific Enterprises Sec. Litig., CV920841 JSL (EEx) (C.D. Ca., March 28, 1994) ($35 million settlement) (where the Judge complimented plaintiffs' co-lead counsel as being "outstanding lawyers" who "could not be improved on for this kind of litigation," and "this group of lawyers merits it [respect].").
- Abzug, et ano. v. Kerkorian, et al., CA 000981 (Superior Court, Los Angeles, Cal.) (in which Ms. Avery was co-trial counsel in an action settled during trial for $35 million).
- Grobow v. Dingman, Civil No. 575076 (Superior Court, San Diego, Cal.) and Civil No. 87-0889 JLI (IEG) (S.D. Cal.) (settlement comprised of monetary and equitable relief valued by experts at in excess of $52 million).
- Weinberger v. Shumway, Civil No. 547586 (Superior Court., Cal.) (derivative settlement comprised of damages and equitable relief valued at in excess of $20 million).
Ms. Avery has also prosecuted numerous consumer fraud and antitrust cases. For example, Ms. Avery was the primary litigator at the firm responsible for negotiating the settlement of a consumer fraud action in New Jersey, negotiating a settlement for 90% of the single damages, plus a 20-year injunction against the alleged misconduct, as well as other relief. Ms. Avery also successfully negotiated a settlement against a nationwide chain of computer training centers involving the sale of packages of computer training programs. Ms. Avery has also been largely involved in many of the antitrust cases prosecuted by the firm.
Ms. Avery also has significant trial experience including, serving as trial or co-trial counsel in a variety of federal and state court cases. Most recently she served as a member of the trial team in In re PHC, Inc. Shareholder Litigation, which was tried for two weeks in federal court in Boston in February-March 2017, in which the Court ordered PHC's CEO to disgorge almost $3 million, which decision was affirmed on appeal. She served as lead trial counsel in a shareholder corporate freeze-out case in Delaware, and in business transaction trials in New York (both state and federal court), and in several bankruptcy court trials in the Southern District of New York. She was also co-trial counsel in, among other cases, Abzug, et ano. v. Kerkorian, et al, in Superior Court, Los Angeles, California (settled before jury verdict rendered), and Citron v. E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co. in Delaware Chancery Court (co-trial counsel with a senior partner of the Firm) in which the Vice-Chancellor complimented counsel "for the able way in which they presented the case" and the "good job" done. Ms. Avery was also the sole lead trial counsel in the defense of a $100 million arbitration on behalf of an international airline that was in arbitration hearings for many weeks over the course of two years, successfully reducing damages 99% before settlement. (Ms. Avery also has served as trial or co-trial counsel in other matters tried to panels of arbitrators.)
Ms. Avery was an annual contributor to the Survey of Securities Class Actions and Derivative Suits, American Bar Association, Litigation Section, Securities Litigation Committee, Subcommittee, for five years. She is also the co-author of "To Stay or Not to Stay," Practicing Law Institute (1996); "Selection of Lead Plaintiff Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995," Practicing Law Institute (1996); as well as the co-author (or ghost writer) of a number of other articles on securities law practice and procedure published by the Practicing Law Institute;"The State Court Class Action--A Potpourri of Differences," The Forum, ABA, Vol. XX, No. 4, Summer 1985; and "Proving Damages in Non-Class Securities Cases," presented at the Commercial Law section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, annual convention, July l986. She was admitted to the New York Bar in January 1977. She is a member of the American Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association.