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Eric A. Kuwana

Partner
eric.kuwana@kattenlaw.com
Washington, DC Office
p+1.202.625.3705
f+1.202.295.1107
Overview

Eric A. Kuwana is a first-chair trial lawyer sought by clients to defend them in their toughest, high-exposure cases, including high-profile and contentious corporate and shareholder securities actions, product liability and catastrophic torts, large real estate and commercial disputes, and bet-the-company lawsuits across the country and in the riskiest venues. As a result of his winning trial record, he was selected by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's top litigators in "A Special Report: Winning," published in 2015. Eric currently co-chairs the firm's Securities Litigation and Enforcement practice, and serves on the firm's Diversity Committee.

Throughout the past few decades, Eric has defended and tried cases for his clients with total exposures in the billions of dollars. Eric's recent trials as lead trial and defense counsel include:

  • In 2015, he successfully turned the defense of a publicly traded real estate finance client in a federal court trial into a monetary judgment against plaintiff Lennar, a national publicly traded homebuilder, for more than $235 million;
  • In 2016, he successfully defended the head of a hedge fund and former chairman of a publicly traded company in a breach of fiduciary duty trial brought in federal bankruptcy court resulting in a favorable settlement with the bankruptcy trustee; and
  • In 2017, he successfully defended a national warehouse retailer, a manufacturer and two supply chain defendants by obtaining a unanimous defense jury verdict in a complex wrongful death and product liability trial brought in Los Angeles Superior Court, arising from one of the nation's largest food borne outbreaks.

Throughout his career, Eric has served as trial and lead counsel for clients in their most challenging cases in the following areas: (1) shareholder, securities, breach of fiduciary duty and corporate governance disputes; (2) commercial, real estate, financing and financial services disputes; (3) product liability, product recall, product investigations, product regulatory matters, consumer product litigation, foodborne outbreaks and toxic torts, and premises and catastrophic torts; (4) trade secret and business torts; and (5) sensitive political, constitutional and government regulatory matters. He has been lead counsel for clients in federal and state courts in more than thirty (30) states, and has significant experience with international matters in the Far East, Europe and the UK.

Eric also regularly represents companies, their officers and directors, and board committees in internal investigations, corporate governance matters, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement matters, and other government investigations. With a degree in economics, Eric takes pride in being able to give legal advice in the context of the markets and business demands of his clients, and understands that a favorable settlement may be the best result for his clients.

Eric thrives on spending time with his clients in order to understand their businesses, get to know their personnel, communicate frequently, delve deep into scientific and economic subjects, change the dynamics of lengthy and expensive litigation, identify settlement opportunities, and secure their trust. He brings his diverse experience to bear to solve his clients' biggest problems.

Eric formerly served on the firm's Board of Directors for six years and also as the deputy chair of the firm's National Litigation department. Prior to joining the firm in 2006, Eric was the deputy chair of the Litigation department and chair of the Securities Litigation practice at a large Washington, DC-based law firm.

Prior to entering private practice, Eric served in the White House, Office of Counsel to the President, under President George H. W. Bush. He has regularly advised political parties, individuals and companies in government litigation, regulatory challenges, congressional investigations, enforcement actions, government subpoenas and politically charged disputes. He also served as an attorney in the US Department of Transportation.

Eric served as deputy general counsel to the Presidential Inaugural Committee for the 2001 inauguration of President George W. Bush and worked on constitutional litigation and other legal issues for both of President Bush's inaugurations. He also served as a counsel to the Platform Committee at the Republican National Conventions in 2000 and 2004 and has represented the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign in various high-profile disputes, subpoenas, congressional investigations and other matters throughout the years.

Shown below is a selection of Eric’s engagements.

Experience
  • Lead trial and national coordinating counsel for four defendants—a national warehouse retailer, manufacturer and two supply-chain companies—in a product liability and wrongful death trial in Los Angeles Superior Court in California arising out of one of the largest foodborne outbreaks of Hepatitis A in the nation. Plaintiffs sought eight figures in compensatory damages and many multiples of that in punitive damages. After a three-week trial in October 2017, the jury delivered a unanimous defense verdict in our clients’ favor.
  • Lead defense counsel for a publicly traded bank and its officers and directors in a shareholder securities class action and related derivative actions brought in federal and state courts in California with potential nine-figure exposure. A tentative settlement was successfully negotiated with the shareholder securities class action plaintiff in November 2017.
  • Lead defense and trial counsel for defendant iStar Financial in a complex federal court lawsuit filed by plaintiff Lennar in a real estate and real estate finance dispute where Lennar alleged environmental, breach of contract and other claims in highly contentious litigation spanning eight years. Implementing an aggressive defense and launching counterclaims, iStar achieved the rare complete trial victory as a defendant: it successfully defended all claims brought against it and won on its counterclaims. After a multiple-week trial in 2014 before then-Chief Judge Deborah Chasanow finding that Lennar acted in bad faith trying to avoid its contractual obligations, judgment was entered in favor of our client, defendant iStar, and against plaintiff Lennar in a total amount exceeding $235 million. The judgment was affirmed by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2017, and the US Supreme Court denied Lennar's petition for certiorari. U.S. Home Corporation v. Settlers Crossing LLC, et al. (D. Md.).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel for the head of a hedge fund and former chairman of a public company in breach-of-duty litigation brought in federal bankruptcy court by the Chapter 7 trustee with eight-figure exposure. During a multiple-week trial in 2015, the case was favorably settled on behalf of the client. In re Roomstore, Inc. (Bankr. E.D. Va.).
  • Lead trial and national coordinating counsel for four defendants—a national warehouse retailer, manufacturer and two supply-chain companies—for product liability cases in federal and state courts across 10 western states arising out of one of the largest foodborne outbreaks in the nation. Plaintiffs’ counsel brought hundreds of individual cases and a consolidated class action with eight-figure exposure. The first case was tried and a defense verdict was obtained in October 2017. Trials remain pending in both federal and state courts
  • Lead trial counsel in the successful defense of a publicly traded company at trial in a wrongful death action arising from the death of a senior executive of a competitor. Katten obtained a defense verdict for our client at the third and final trial of the matter after an eight-figure jury demand by a nationally known Florida plaintiff lawyer. DeRycke v. Packaging Corporation of America (St. Petersburg, Florida).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel in multiple wrongful death actions brought in state and federal courts against a publicly traded company arising out of an incident at a Louisiana manufacturing facility in early 2017.
  • Lead counsel in the representation of the chairman and CEO, interested members of the board of directors, and the lead private equity firm in shareholder litigation relating to an almost $4 billion "taking-private" transaction by management and several private equity firms with nine-figure exposure. The case was dismissed with prejudice by the trial court, but after being reversed and remanded by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the case was successfully settled for our clients after confirmatory discovery in France. In re Laureate Education Corporation (Baltimore County, Maryland).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel representing the owner and management group of an apartment complex in a premises liability and wrongful death case arising from a fire involving multiple deaths, code violations in an apartment where deaf residents resided, and a nine-figure jury demand in state court in Texas. Case was tried to verdict due to the high settlement demand, and the judgment against the clients was contained to the low single digits. Burks v. MRMG Asset Management (Dallas, Texas).
  • Lead counsel in a misappropriation of trade secrets litigation where preliminary and permanent injunctive relief was obtained on behalf of the client. Case then was successfully settled for client. Neustar, Inc. v. Afilias USA, Inc., et al. (Loudoun County, Virginia).
  • Lead counsel in the successful representation of a Fortune 500 biotechnology and medical device company in an international trade secret and tortious interference lawsuit relating to licenses for intellectual property and enforcement of intellectual property rights for biotechnology products in Japan. The case was successfully settled for the client. Becton, Dickinson and Company v. Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, California).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel in the successful representation of a tire company in a product liability and catastrophic tort lawsuit involving a Ford Explorer rollover, quadriplegic injuries, a three-month trial and a nine-figure exposure. Successfully kept the plaintiff from obtaining a verdict (hung jury), and an innovative settlement put in place while the jury deliberated protected the client from a second trial. Gifford v. Daniels Tire Service (Orange County, California).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel in the successful representation of a bicycle helmet manufacturer and major retailer in a product liability and catastrophic tort lawsuit involving substantial brain injuries, a multiple-week trial and an eight-figure jury demand. Obtained a defense verdict for the client. Stacy v. Protective Technologies Inc. (E.D.Cal.).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel in the representation of a manufacturer of safety lanyards in litigation involving paraplegic injuries at a construction site and a request for eight-figure damages. A defense verdict was obtained at the trial court. Lead appellate counsel and successfully argued and won the appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Pritt v. Elk River Inc. (E.D.Va., Fourth Circuit).
  • Counsel to the Republican National Committee in historic litigation over the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act). McConnell v. FEC (DDC, DC Circuit, Supreme Court).
  • Lead counsel in the representation of an investment manager and its founder in civil litigation arising from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation lost $215 million invested with a hedge fund. In re MDL Capital Management, Inc. (S.D.Ohio).
  • Lead counsel for AIG in a dispute arising from a ground lease at the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas. On motion, the entire bankruptcy was dismissed. JPMCC 2002-CIBC4 Highland Retail LLC v. American General Life and Accident Insurance Company (Bankr. W.D. Tex.).
  • Lead counsel for former officers and directors of a bankrupt issuer in multibillion-dollar complex, consolidated securities fraud actions relating to the allocation of shares of stock in initial public offerings of technology companies by issuers and underwriters. Case was successfully settled for client. In re IPO Allocation Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.).
  • Lead counsel for officers and directors of a bank holding company in shareholder litigation relating to the $1 billion purchase by Washington Mutual. The case was successfully settled for the client. In re Commercial Capital Bancorp Inc. (Las Vegas, Nevada).
  • Lead counsel in defense of the Presidential Inaugural Committee of President George W. Bush in constitutional litigation brought by protester groups. Case was successfully settled for client. International Action Center v. 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee (D.C. Cir.).
  • Lead counsel for the former chief executive officer of a company in a civil fraud and breach of contract case. The case was successfully settled for the client. Charter Jet Travel, LLC v. NCA MaxJet, Inc. (E.D. Va.).
  • Lead counsel in the defense of a maker of food storage, home storage, disposable cookware and tableware, and trash disposal products in an industrial accident involving traumatic brain injuries. The case was successfully settled for the client. Lucas v. Pactiv Corporation (W.D. Va.).
  • Lead counsel for public and private companies, audit committees, special committees, nonprofits and political parties for internal, external and government investigations – all of which are non-public and confidential.
  • Lead counsel in the representation of an investment manager and its founder in civil litigation brought by the SEC and the US Government for securities fraud arising from the IPO of eChapman.com, Inc. In re Nathan A. Chapman (D.Md).
  • Lead trial counsel in the successful representation of a company in a premises liability and catastrophic tort lawsuit involving quadriplegic injuries from a swimming pool incident and a request for eight-figure damages. After a long trial, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed with prejudice after a nominal jury verdict. Chesla v. Post Properties (Fulton County, Georgia).
  • Lead defense and trial counsel in the representation of a publicly traded company in a catastrophic tort lawsuit involving a wrongful death claim and quadriplegic injuries with an eight-figure jury demand. After a two-week jury trial in state court in Miami-Dade County, a defense verdict was obtained for the client. Probkevitz v. National Dairy (Miami, Florida).
  • Lead defense counsel for a senior finance executive based in the United Kingdom and working for a multinational company relating to government investigations and shareholder securities litigation. A successful and non-public result was obtained for the client.

Recognition

Legal 500, 2014
National Law Journal, "A Special Report: Winning" Top Litigator, 2015
Eric A. Kuwana

Education

  • JD, The University of Kansas School of Law
  • BA, The University of Chicago

Bar Admissions

  • Missouri
  • District of Columbia
  • New York

Court Admissions

  • US Supreme Court
  • US District Court, District of Columbia
  • US District Court, District of Colorado
  • US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • US Court of Federal Claims
  • US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • US District Court, District of Maryland
  • US District Court, Southern District of New York

Recognition

Legal 500
2014
National Law Journal, "A Special Report: Winning" Top Litigator, 2015
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Memberships

  • District of Columbia Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
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