Commercial Litigation Partner Discusses Fraud Suits
John Ansbro is a seasoned litigator based in New York specializing in complex commercial litigation representing large, sophisticated clients in their most important matters in state and federal courts across the country. He has secured over $1 billion in damages when acting as plaintiffs’ counsel, and he has secured dismissals at the pleading stage and summary judgment dismissals when defending his clients.
A front line advocate, John has deep experience in all aspects of litigation in the trial courts, on appeals, and arbitration. He has handled a wide range of matters that include a host of different contract disputes, issues arising from the 2008 Financial Crisis involving residential home mortgage backed securities (RMBS), bankruptcy litigation, insurance recovery, consumer class actions, and commercial real estate foreclosure. John has also served as an arbitrator on an ICC International Court of Arbitration panel in a cross-border contract dispute.
John currently is lead counsel to Hemlock Semiconductor Operations LLC (majority owned by Dow Corning Corporation and Corning, Inc.) in seven actions pending in Michigan and New York courts seeking $3 billion in damages where Hemlock asserts breaches of long-term supply agreements against defendants located in Japan, Germany, China and Taiwan. In a case of first impression in Michigan, John won the dismissal of an attempt by a Japanese conglomerate to avoid $1.4 billion in purchase obligations on the theory that alleged illegal acts by the Chinese Government constituted an “act of government” under the parties’ force majeure provision. The Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed that dismissal. In another of these actions, John recently obtained summary judgment against a German company along with a damages award of $793 million. John regularly travels to Japan to coordinate strategy with the team of Japanese attorneys defending Hemlock in the Tokyo District Court against alleged breaches of the antitrust laws of Japan.
Since 2011 John has been a senior member of the Orrick team that represents Credit Suisse Securities USA in actions brought by monoline insurers seeking to deny coverage under financial guarantees they issued covering a number RMBS. He also defends Credit Suisse in several actions brought by RMBS investors alleging breaches of representations and warranties. As lead counsel, John obtained a dismissal—from the bench, after lengthy argument—of a $46 million fraud action in which the issuer of a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) claimed it was fraudulently induced to guarantee a credit default swap referencing $396 million of CDO certificates underwritten by Credit Suisse. John demonstrated to the court that based upon public information and other facts known to the issuer, it was on sufficient notice of the alleged fraud well before the expiration of the statute of limitations. John argued and won a unanimous appellate affirmance of that dismissal.
John is also a senior member of Orrick’s team representing one of the nation’s largest mortgage loan servicers. This engagement covers all of the company’s RMBS related legal issues, including allegations by various certificate holders and RMBS trustees of faulty loan servicing under the trust agreements. None of these allegations have been successful.
Beyond these examples, John’s depth of experience includes handling matters in a wide variety of industries, as shown by the examples below of his engagements.
Prior to joining Orrick, John was a Litigation Associate at Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine LLP.
Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities. Senior member of the team that represents Credit Suisse Securities (USA) in connection with lawsuits seeking several billion dollars in alleged damages pending in the New York Supreme Court brought by (i) monoline insurers seeking to deny coverage under financial guarantees covering residential mortgage-backed securitizations and (ii) investors in residential mortgage-backed securitization alleging breaches of representations and warranties relating to the loans underlying securitizations. Has argued numerous motions and appeals. Among other wins, in CIFG Assurance N. Am. Inc. v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, obtained dismissal on statute of limitations grounds of a $46 million action in which CIFG alleged that it was fraudulently induced to guarantee a credit default swap referencing $396 million of CDOs underwritten by Credit Suisse, dismissal affirmed on appeal.
Represented the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) as amicus curiae in MBIA v. Countrywide on an appeal in the New York Appellate Division, First Department, involving key issues in lawsuits by monoline insurers against issuers of residential mortgage-backed securities.
Long-Term Supply Agreements. Lead counsel to Hemlock Semiconductor Operations LLC in seven actions pending in Michigan federal and state court and New York state court arising from breaches of long-term contracts for the supply of polycrystalline silicon used in the manufacture of solar panels. The actions seek over $3 billion in damages against defendants located in Japan, Germany, China and Taiwan, and involve numerous disputed legal issues, including the contracts’ take-or-pay and liquidated damages provisions, as well as defenses raised under the anti-trust laws of Japan and the EU, the doctrines of force majeure, commercial frustration and impracticability, among many other defenses.
Among other wins, obtained dismissal of buyer’s attempt to be excused from $1.4 billion in performance obligations on the theory that Chinese government’s illegal disruption of the market constituted an “act of government” force majeure event. Kyocera Corporation v. Hemlock Semiconductor LLC, 886 N.W.2d 445, 447 (Mich. Ct. App. 2015), appeal denied, No. 153238, 2016 WL 6909949 (Mich. Nov. 23, 2016). Obtained summary judgment on liability and an award of $793 million against a buyer that raised numerous defenses, including under EU and German antitrust laws, illegality, and frustration of purpose, among others. Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. v. Deutsche Solar GmbH, No. 13-CV-11037, 2016 WL 3743130 (E.D. Mich. July 13, 2016).
Consumer Class Action Defense. As lead counsel, obtained dismissal with prejudice of a putative nationwide class action against Rail Europe, Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of European railroad tickets and related services, in an action alleging deceptive sales practices, fraud, negligence and violations of consumer protection statutes.
Import and Distribution Litigation. As lead counsel for Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CV-CNF), defeated applications by its former exclusive U.S. importer and distributor for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that threatened to cripple CV-CNF’s U.S. operations. CV-CNF produces the best-selling champagne in France and is the fifth largest selling brand in the United States.
Bankruptcy Litigation. Trial counsel for the court-appointed representative of future asbestos personal injury claimants in a five-week hearing of the multibillion dollar estimation phase of in In re W.R. Grace & Co., Case No. 01-1137 (JKF), in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
Information Technology Outsourcing. Trial counsel for Capgemini US LLP in a three-week arbitration arising from a complex IT outsourcing contract. Successfully obtained a panel ruling that rejected almost all of the claimant’s request for more than $10 million.
Commercial Real Estate Foreclosure. Counsel for a national U.S. bank acting as trustee to the AFLCIO Building Investment Trust in foreclosure on a $56 million mortgage on a high-end condominium tower in downtown Manhattan.
Reinsurance Arbitration. Represented several Lloyd’s of London syndicates in run-off in an arbitration in New York arising from alleged fraudulent inducement into a complex reinsurance program brokered in England.
Accountants’ Liability. Represented PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP legacy United Kingdom firms against a complex action relating to U.K. audit and business review services, brought by a major European bank in California state court.
Environmental Insurance Coverage. Represented Wyeth (formerly known as American Home Products Corporation) in a complex declaratory judgment action to determine Wyeth’s right to insurance coverage for liability imposed against the company as a result of environmental contamination at 37 sites located in more than a dozen jurisdictions.
Criminal. Second-seated three homicide trials as a pro bono assistant district attorney with the Homicide Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.