Joseph H. Meltzer leads the firm’s Fiduciary, Consumer Protection and Antitrust groups.
A pioneer in prosecuting breach of fiduciary duty cases, Joe has been lead or co-lead counsel in numerous nationwide class actions brought under fiduciary laws including ERISA. Joe represents institutional investor clients in a variety of breach of fiduciary duty cases and has some of the largest settlements in fiduciary breach actions including several recoveries in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The firm also has a robust Consumer Protection department which represents individuals, businesses, and governmental entities that have sustained losses as a result of defective products or improper business practices. Kessler Topaz is highly selective in these matters – the firm litigates only complex cases that it deems suitable for judicial resolution.
In his antitrust work, Joe represents clients injured by anticompetitive and unlawful business practices, including overcharges related to prescription drugs, health care expenditures and commodities. Joe has also represented various states in pharmaceutical pricing litigation as a Special Assistant Attorney General.
Some examples of recoveries below. Joe’s recoveries for clients and the classes they represent are in the billions.
- In re: Loestrin Fe 24 Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2472 (D.R.I.) Kessler Topaz represented direct purchasers in an antitrust litigation challenging the alleged unlawful delayed entry of generic versions of Loestrin 24 Fe, Minastrin 24 Fe, and Lo Loestrin Fe into the marketplace. After several years of litigation, which included dozens of depositions, expert reports and rebuttals, two separate rounds of summary judgment, successful certification of a class, the submission of motions in limine, pre-trial memoranda, trial exhibits, and proposed trial deposition testimony, the case settled for $120 million on the eve of jury selection.
- Vista Healthplan, Inc. v. Cephalon, Inc., No. 2:06-cv-1833 (E.D. Pa.) Kessler Topaz represented a class of end payors in an antitrust action alleging that Defendants violated federal antitrust, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws by participating in an unlawful “reverse payment” scheme involving the wakefulness promoting drug Provigil. The prosecution of claims asserted in the action spanned over 12 years, involving the retention of highly qualified experts, intensive and protracted discovery, dozens of depositions, extensive motion practice, lengthy court hearings concerning discovery, class and dispositive issues, appellate proceedings, and involvement in ancillary proceedings. The case ultimately settled for $65.8 million on behalf of certain end payors with total recoveries exceeded $100 million.
- In re: Flonase Antitrust Litigation, No. 08-cv-3149 (E.D. Pa.) Kessler Topaz served as a lead counsel on behalf of a class of direct purchaser plaintiffs in an antitrust action brought pursuant to Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15, alleging, among other things, that defendant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2, by engaging in “sham” petitioning of a government agency. Specifically, the Direct Purchasers alleged that GSK unlawfully abused the citizen petition process contained in Section 505(j) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and thus delayed the introduction of less expensive generic versions of Flonase, a highly popular allergy drug, causing injury to the Direct Purchaser Class. Throughout the course of the four year litigation, Plaintiffs defeated two motions for summary judgment, succeeded in having a class certified and conducted extensive discovery. After lengthy negotiations and shortly before trial, the action settled for $150 million.
- On behalf of the Attorneys General of Alaska, Montana and Utah, successfully prosecuted lawsuits asserting various claims arising out of the marketing, promotion and sale of certain atypical antipsychotic drugs. Millions of dollars were paid to those states in settlement of the actions.
- Kessler Topaz represented plaintiffs in actions against depositary institutions BNY Mellon, CitiGroup, and JPMorgan Chase Bank, all of which alleged the same misconduct involving ADR conversions. Plaintiffs alleged that the depositary institutions assigned improper conversion rates to ADR holders, resulting in dividends and cash distributions that were owed to ADR holders but were instead unlawfully retained by the depositary institutions. Each of the three actions resulted settlements on behalf of the ADR holders: BNY Mellon - $72.5 million; CitiGroup - $14.75 million; and JPMorgan Chase - $9.5 million.
- Plaintiffs Reach Settlement with BNY Mellon over its Forex Practices - Launched the first class action brought on behalf of Bank of New York Mellon Corp’s (BNY Mellon) Forex (FX) trading clients. On behalf of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Pension Fund and a class of similarly situated domestic custodial clients of BNY Mellon, Plaintiffs alleged that BNY Mellon secretly assigned a spread to the FX rates in BNY Mellon’s automated “Standing Instruction” FX service. BNY Mellon determining this spread by executing its clients’ transactions at one rate and then, typically, at the end of the trading day, assigned a rate to its clients which approximated the worst possible rates of the trading day, pocketing the difference as riskless profit. This practice was undertaken by the bank despite BNY Mellon’s contractual promises that its Standing Instruction service was designed to provide “best execution,” was “free of charge” and provided the “best rates of the day.” The case asserted claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty on behalf of BNY Mellon’s custodial clients and sought to recover the unlawful profits that BNY Mellon earned from its unfair and unlawful FX practices. The case was litigated in collaboration with separate cases brought by state and federal agencies. Kessler Topaz served as lead counsel and Mr. Meltzer was a member of three person executive committee overseeing the private litigation. After extensive discovery, including more than 100 depositions, over 25 million pages of fact discovery, and the submission of multiple expert reports, Plaintiffs reached a settlement with BNY Mellon of $335 million. Additionally, the settlement was administered with separate recoveries by state and federal agencies which brought the total recovery for BNY Mellon’s custodial customers to $504 million. The settlement was finally approved on September 24, 2015. In approving the settlement, Judge Lewis Kaplan praised counsel for a “wonderful job,” recognizing that they were “fought tooth and nail at every step of the road.” In further recognition of the efforts of counsel, Judge Kaplan noted that “[t]his was an outrageous wrong by the Bank of New York Mellon, and plaintiffs’ counsel deserve a world of credit for taking it on, for running the risk, for financing it and doing a great job.”
- Board of Trustees of the AFTRA Retirement Fund v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. – Consolidated Action No. 09-cv-00686 (SAS) (S.D.N.Y.) Plaintiffs brought this action on behalf of all entities that were participants in JPMorgan’s securities lending program that incurred losses on investments made by JPMorgan, in its capacity as a discretionary investment manager, in medium-term notes issue by Sigma Finance, Inc. – a now defunct structured investment vehicle. The losses of the Class were approximately $500 million. The complaint asserted claims for breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as well as common law breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and negligence. Over the course of discovery, the parties produced and reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, took dozens of depositions (domestic and foreign) and exchanged numerous expert reports. The case settled for $150 million two days before trial was set to begin.
- Transatlantic Holdings: Reinsurer paid $75M in binding arbitration - Arbitrator’s award of $75 million for Transatlantic Holdings, Inc., and its subsidiaries (TRH) in a case alleging that American International Group, Inc. (AIG) breached its fiduciary and contractual duties and committed fraud in connection with its securities lending program. Until June 2009, AIG was TRH’s majority shareholder and administered TRH’s securities lending program. Plaintiffs alleged that AIG breached its fiduciary obligations by imprudently investing the majority of the cash collateral obtained from TRH under its lending program in risky mortgage-backed securities, including Alt-A and subprime investments. Plaintiffs further alleged that AIG concealed the extent of TRH’s subprime exposure and that when the collateral pools began experiencing liquidity problems in 2007, AIG unilaterally carved TRH out of the pools so that it could provide funding to its wholly owned subsidiaries to the exclusion of TRH.
Joe lectures on ERISA litigation, Fiduciary Litigation and Antitrust Litigation as well as on issues related to class certification. He is a member of the ABA’s Section Committees on Employee Benefits and Antitrust Law and has been recognized by numerous courts for his ability and expertise in these complex areas of the law.