Richard St. John is a litigation partner with Munger Tolles whose practice includes representing leading financial institutions, telecommunications providers and technology concerns in high-stakes civil litigation, as well as internal investigations and counseling. Mr. St. John’s practice emphasizes complex, multi-jurisdictional representations and class action defense.
Over the past 11 years, Mr. St. John has represented banks, broker-dealers and private equity firms including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, UBS Securities, UBS Financial Services, E*TRADE, Merrill Lynch, Oaktree Capital Management and Hancock Park Associates in matters collectively involving billions of dollars.
Mr. St. John’s current engagements include representation of Bank of America in actions around the country relating to the failure of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker – once the largest independent mortgage originator in the U.S. That litigation includes the multi-billion dollar bankruptcy of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker itself, as well as lawsuits by investors in a $1.75 billion commercial paper facility for which Bank of America served as indenture trustee.
His experience in the financial sector began with the representation of E-Trade Securities in the crisis arising from the meltdown of MJK Clearing – the largest failure of a SIPC-insured institution to that date. Mr. St. John and his colleagues were originally retained to defend E-Trade against contractual claims arising from multi-broker securities lending transactions. With close analysis of the available records, however, Mr. St. John and his team came to believe that E-Trade had been set up as the unwitting victim of a grand international conspiracy. They took discovery around the world and filed suit against the apparent wrongdoers – including two large foreign banks. Over the next four years, Mr. St. John and his team pieced together a devastating body of evidence, achieved a series of pre-trial motion victories and ultimately obtained very substantial recoveries from the institutional and other defendants.
More recently, Mr. St. John has represented Oaktree Capital Management in a dispute with a fund manager who resigned abruptly to launch his own private equity firm. Mr. St. John and his colleagues defeated the manager’s claims for additional incentive compensation and developed a factual record that demonstrated pre-departure misconduct on the part of the manager. Based on that record, Oaktree was awarded compensatory damages and fees of more than $20 million.
He has also advised numerous clients seeking to mitigate their exposure to the recent upheavals in the credit markets. In two such engagements, Mr. St. John has advised large mortgage originators on the framework for responding to massive volumes of repurchase requests received from stakeholders including investors, trustees and monoline insurers. Mr. St. John also recently counseled a large multi-national manufacturer on the strategy for successfully terminating its private label credit card program in light of imperatives in the credit and consumer markets.
Mr. St. John has defended putative class actions brought in state and federal courts against financial institutions, telecommunications carriers, Internet service providers, and companies engaging in commercial solicitation.
Mr. St. John represented MCI Communications in the state of Washington, where plaintiffs sought more than $6 billion in statutory damages for alleged violation of state telemarketing laws. After removing the case from state to federal court based on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, Mr. St. John obtained a dismissal of the action with prejudice on grounds of both state substantive law and federal preemption. Mr. St. John then represented MCI before the 9th Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal.
Mr. St. John recently represented Verizon Online in a putative class action challenging the marketing of Internet speed. The plaintiffs challenged Verizon’s description of its services as “up to” a specific speed, arguing that the description was misleading insofar as certain customers were unable to reach the top of the “up to” range. After removing the case the federal court, Mr. St. John obtained dismissal of the action with prejudice.
An involved member of the community, Mr. St. John is a board member of the International Visitors Counsel of Los Angeles and the Adam Leventhal Memorial School and Museum. He also is a member of Pacific Council on International Policy.
Bank of America, as both plaintiff and defendant in some of its most significant litigation arising from the mortgage crisis.
International law firm Covington & Burling, in defending litigation brought by the bankruptcy trustee of Heller Ehrman, that charged Covington with aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty resulting in the failure of Heller Ehrman.
E-Trade, in a crisis arising from the meltdown of MJK Clearing – the largest failure of a Securities Investor Protection Corp.-insured institution to that date.
Oaktree Capital Management, in a dispute with a fund manager who resigned abruptly to launch his own private equity firm.