September 21, 2023
The Firm acts as co-lead counsel, with Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP, in this putative class action on behalf of plaintiff municipalities that used tax exempt bonds known as “VRDOs” (variable-rate demand obligation bonds) to fund major municipal projects. The antitrust complaint alleges that a group of defendant banks, including Bank of America Corp., Barclays Bank PLC, and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, conspired with each other to artificially inflate interest rates of these VRDO bonds for their own benefit and to plaintiffs’ detriment. The Firm has previously defeated the banks’ motions to dismiss these antitrust claims. The Firm now wins another consequential victory: over Defendants’ strenuous objections, the Court has certified the plaintiff class, officially appointed the Firm as co-class counsel, and rejected Defendants’ motions to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses.
A brief summary of this important decision follows. After “careful scrutiny” of the relevant class considerations, the District Court rejected each of Defendants arguments against class certification, which focused on the question of “predominance—that is, whether the proposed classes are “sufficiently cohesive to warrant adjudication representation” (Opinion at 19). The Court rejected Defendants’ main argument that class certification required individualized determination of common injury (id. at 22-25), as well as its arguments concerning variable synthetic fixed rate structures (id. at 25-27), conduit issuances (id. at 27-28), and timeliness (id. at 28-29), finding that Plaintiffs satisfy the predominance and superiority requirements for class certification (id. at 30). The Court then certified the nationwide class of “all persons and entities who directly paid interest expenses on VRDOs that had interest rates reset on a weekly or daily basis pursuant to remarketing agreements with Defendants at any point from February 1, 2008 through November 30, 2015” (id. at 31) and a related sub-class of “all persons and entities who were party to a remarketing agreement with any Counterparty Defendant that applies to VRDOs that had interest rates reset on a weekly or daily basis pursuant to remarketing agreements with Defendants at any point from February 1, 2008 through November 30, 2015” (id.).
This important antitrust action, captioned City of Philadelphia et al. v. Bank of America Corporation, et al., No. 19-cv-1608 (JMF), is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Court’s September 21, 2023 Opinion and Order granting class certification, denying Defendants’ motion to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, and appointing WMD as co-class counsel will be uploaded as soon as it becomes publicly available.