Joseph A. Fonti
OverviewJoseph A. Fonti concentrates his practice on prosecuting complex securities and investment-related matters on behalf of institutional investors.
Joseph’s client commitment, advocacy skills, and results have earned him recognition as a Law360 "Rising Star." Joseph was one of only five securities lawyers in the country—and the only investor-side securities litigator—to receive the distinction.
In recent years, Joseph has played a significant role in several high-profile cases at the center of the global financial crisis. For instance, he is responsible for prosecuting the shareholder suit against Morgan Stanley, relating to the bank’s multi-billion trading loss on its sub-prime mortgage bets. Joseph also prosecuted the shareholder action against Fannie Mae, which was at ground-zero of the nation’s financial collapse. He is also active in Labaton Sucharow's prosecution of claims on behalf of domestic and international private-sector investors in over $5 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).
With over a decade of experience in investor litigation, Joseph’s career is marked by notable and historic success in the area of auditor liability and stock options backdating. Joseph represented shareholders in the $671 million recovery in In re HealthSouth Securities Litigation. Particularly, Joseph played a significant role in recovering $109 million from HealthSouth’s outside auditor Ernst & Young LLP, one of the largest recoveries to date against an auditing firm. Joseph also contributed to securing a $160.5 million settlement in In re Broadcom Corp. Securities Litigation, which, at the time, was the second largest cash settlement involving a company accused of options backdating. The case against the auditor, Ernst & Young, settled for $13 million.
In addition to representing several of the most significant U.S. institutional investors, Joseph has represented a number of Canada’s most significant pension systems. Currently, Joseph is responsible for prosecuting the securities litigation against Computer Sciences Corporation on behalf of one of Canada’s largest pension investors. Joseph also led the prosecution of In re NovaGold Resources Inc. Securities Litigation, which resulted in the largest settlement under Canada’s securities class action laws.
Additionally, Joseph has achieved notable success as an appellate advocate. Joseph successfully argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Celestica Inc. Securities Litigation. The Second Circuit reversed an earlier dismissal, and turned the tide of recent decisions by realigning pleading standards in favor of investors. Joseph was also instrumental in the advocacy before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the In re Broadcom Corp. Securities Litigation. This appellate victory marked the first occasion a court sustained allegations against an outside auditor related to options backdating.
Prior to joining the Firm, Joseph practiced securities litigation at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, where he prosecuted several high-profile matters involving WorldCom, Bristol-Myers, Omnicom and Biovail. Joseph’s advocacy contributed to historic recoveries for shareholders, including the $6.15 billion recovery in the WorldCom litigation and the $300 million recovery in the Bristol-Myers litigation.
Joseph began his legal career at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he represented Fortune 100 corporations and financial institutions in complex securities litigations and in multi-faceted SEC investigations and enforcement actions.
During his time at New York University School of Law, Joseph served as a law clerk to the Honorable David Trager, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Joseph was also active in the Marden Moot Court Competition and served as a Student Senator-at-Large of the NYU Senate.
Joseph is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
An active member of his legal and local community, Joseph has represented victims of domestic violence in affiliation with inMotion, an advocacy organization that provides pro bono legal services to indigent women.