James N. Benedict is a partner in the New York office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, chairman of the firm’s Litigation & Arbitration Group and head of its Securities Litigation Practice Group. Prior to joining Milbank in 2004, Mr. Benedict was a partner at Clifford Chance (formerly Rogers & Wells) since 1982 where he served as head of the Global Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice and, before that, as managing partner for the Americas Region.
Primary Focus & Experience
Mr. Benedict focuses in complex commercial litigation, with emphasis on multiparty class and derivative suits in state and federal courts throughout the nation. In his more than 35 years of practice, Mr. Benedict has handled a wide variety of trial and appellate civil litigation involving securities, antitrust and other issues for some of the largest and best known corporations in America, including Citigroup, Inc., MasterCard International Incorporated, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Prudential Financial and The Coca-Cola Company.
Mr. Benedict has handled several hundred major class and shareholder derivative actions alleging violations of state and federal antitrust and securities laws including some of the largest class actions in the nation. For example, he has acted as the lead attorney defending clients in In re Initial Public Offering Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), In re Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Research Reports Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), In re Enron Corporation Securities, Derivatives and ERISA Litigation (S.D. Tex.), In re Mutual Funds Investment Litigation (D. Md.), and In re VisaCheck/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.).
In addition, Mr. Benedict has had more than 35 years of experience representing mutual fund investment advisers and their affiliates in litigation under the federal securities laws. During this period, he has successfully defended more than 100 excessive management fee suits and other actions mounted against some of the largest investment advisers in the nation, including AllianceBernstein, American Century, Capital Research, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Dreyfus, Federated, Fidelity, ING, Legg Mason, Merrill Lynch, Neuberger Berman, Prudential, and SunAmerica. These suits include Gartenberg v. Merrill Lynch Asset Management, Inc., which was the first case of its kind to be tried on the merits under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and remains the leading case in that area; and Krinsk v. Fund Asset Management Inc., the first case to be tried involving the propriety of a Rule 12b-1 distribution plan.
Most recently, Mr. Benedict successfully tried the Capital Research excessive fees action, which challenged the receipt by Capital Research and its affiliates of more than $15 billion in investment advisory, Rule 12b-1, and administrative fees paid by eight of the largest American Funds over the period 2003-2009. After a two week trial, the court rendered a 105 page opinion dismissing plaintiffs' complaint with prejudice. In re American Mutual Funds Fee Litigation, 2009 WL 5215755 (C.D. Cal. 2009). The district court's judgment was unanimously affirmed on appeal. 2011 WL 3701742 (9th Cir. 2011). This case was one of the largest (if not the largest) securities actions ever to go to trial, and was the first excessive fee case in the mutual fund industry to be tried to judgment in more than 20 years.
Mr. Benedict is currently handling numerous securities class actions and derivative suits resulting from the current credit crunch and previous mutual fund scandal. These cases involve a wide variety of products and issues, including subprime mortgages, auction rate securities, collateralized debt obligations, initial public offerings, prospectus disclosures and mutual fund management fees.
Recognition & Accomplishments
Mr. Benedict has been consistently honored by Chambers USA as one of the nation’s leading securities litigators, and in 2009 was the recipient of Chambers USA Award for Excellence in Securities Litigation. He has been selected each year by Lawdragon magazine as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Lawdragon has also selected him as one of the nation’s 500 top litigators, and as one of the 100 Lawyers You Need to Know in Securities Litigation. Mr. Benedict has also been recognized as a leading litigator by The Best Lawyers in America, The Legal 500, Benchmark: Litigation, the Guide to the World’s Leading Litigation Lawyers, The International Who's Who of Commercial Litigators, and New York Super Lawyers.
Mr. Benedict regularly lectures at industry conferences and other forums, and has published more than three dozen articles which have appeared in numerous publications, including the Cornell Law Review, New York University Law Review and The Review of Securities and Commodities Regulation. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Mutual Fund Directors Forum, and a member of the Board of Editors of The Review of Securities and Commodities Regulation, the Securities and Class Action Litigation Report, and the Villanova Journal of Law and Investment Management.
Mr. Benedict is a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation Board and a member of the Board of Trustees of Albany Law School at Union University. He has previously served as a Trustee for St. Lawrence University, as President of both his college and law school alumni associations, and as a director of several other charitable and community organizations.