Julie Goldsmith Reiser is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and Co-Chair of the firm’s Securities Litigation & Investor Protection practice. Ms. Reiser focuses on public pension plans, institutional investors, retirees and plan participants, representing them in high-stakes, complex litigation, including securities, ERISA, and antitrust litigation.
Ms. Reiser is recognized as one of the top 25 Influential Women in Securities Law (Law360) and is named among the Lawdragon 500, recognizing the leading lawyers in America. She is also highly regarded by clients and co-counsel alike for her tenacious advocacy, shrewd understanding of complex financial and economic issues, meticulous preparation, and dynamic leadership.
Ms. Reiser has led litigation teams in several of the country’s most complex class actions and landmark settlements, including a $500 million settlement related to Countrywide’s issuance of mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) and the Fifth Circuit affirmation of an investor class in the BP securities fraud litigation, stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which settled for $175 million.
Ms. Reiser has generated remarkable results for the classes she represents.
Currently, Ms. Reiser is litigating the following notable matters:
- Bank of America Corp. Stock Lending Markets Antitrust Lawsuit (S.D.N.Y.): Ms. Reiser represents Iowa PERS, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, Orange County Employees Retirement System and Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association in this ground-breaking lawsuit, in which plaintiffs allege collusion among six of the world’s largest investment banks to prevent modernization of the securities lending market, a critical component of a strong economy.
- Public School Teacher’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago v. Bank of America Corporation, et al. (S.D.N.Y.): Cohen Milstein is Co-Lead Counsel in this lawsuit charging a number of the world’s largest investment banks with conspiring to engineer and maintain a collusive and anti- competitive stranglehold over the interest rate swaps (IRS) market –one of the world’s biggest financial markets. Ms. Reiser represents the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association.
- New York State Common Retirement Fund, et al. v. Stephen A. Wynn, et al. (Eighth Jud. Dist. Crt., Clark Cty., Nev.): Ms. Reiser represents the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the New York City Pension Funds, plaintiffs in a derivative shareholder lawsuit against certain officers and directors of Wynn Resorts, Ltd. in light of their failure to hold Mr. Wynn, the former CEO and Chairman of the Board, accountable for his longstanding pattern of sexual abuse and harassment of company employees. The lawsuit seeks to preserve stockholder value in Wynn Resorts, Ltd. by strengthening procedures for responding to claims of harassment and creating stronger governance and risk management controls at the Board level.
- In Re General Electric Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): Ms. Reiser represents Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma in a putative securities class action against GE for alleged omissions and misstatements related to, namely, its failure to timely impair tens of billions of dollars in goodwill and for misrepresenting the quality and performance of its H-class gas turbines. Cohen Milstein is Lead Counsel in this case.
- LR Trust, et. al. v. Larry Page, et al. (Sup. Crt. Cal., Santa Clara Cnty.): Ms. Reiser represents Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund as Co-Lead Counsel in a putative shareholder derivative class action against the Board of Directors of Alphabet, Inc. Shareholders allege that the tech giant violated state and federal law through its secretive practices regarding workplace sexual harassment issues and a serious data breach.
- In re American Realty Capital Properties Inc. Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): Ms. Reiser represents the New York City Employees Retirement Systems, a class representative, in this securities class action. Plaintiffs allege ARCP, a real estate investment trust now known as VEREIT, Inc., misrepresented its financials, including manipulating its adjusted funds from operations, a key measure of performance. Beyond the class action, criminal charges led to a guilty plea from ARCP’s former chief accounting officer and a June 2017 conviction of its former chief financial officer.
- In re Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. Third-Party Payor Litigation (D.N.J.) Ms. Reiser represents a putative class of third-party payors arising from an alleged Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act scheme perpetrated by Valeant, its top executives, and co-conspirators at affiliated specialty pharmacies to shield the company’s drugs from competition, fraudulently inflate the prices of its products, and artificially boost sales at the expense of third party payors.
Ms. Reiser’s successes include:
- NovaStar Mortgage Backed Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): Cohen Milstein was Lead Counsel in this certified MBS class action. Ms. Reiser represented Iowa PERS, one of the class representatives. In March 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted final approval of a $165 million all-cash settlement, bringing this decade-long lawsuit, the last of 11 MBS class actions Cohen Milstein successfully handled, to conclusion.
- In re BP Securities Litigation (S.D. Tex.): Ms. Reiser represented the New York State Common Retirement Fund as Co-Lead Plaintiff in a securities class action filed in 2010, alleging that BP injured investors by intentionally downplaying the severity of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and preventing investors from learning the magnitude of the disaster. Ms. Reiser took the lead in all aspects of this litigation: case development, motion practice, oversight and implementation of discovery strategies, depositions, expert discovery and argument. After successfully arguing for class certification to the district court, Ms. Reiser presented plaintiffs’ defense of that court’s decision to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which affirmed the class. The case settled for $175 million a few weeks before trial was set to begin.
- Countrywide Mortgage Backed Securities Litigation (C.D. Cal.): Ms. Reiser represented the Iowa, Oregon and Orange County public retirement systems in class action litigation related to Countrywide’s issuance of mortgage-backed securities, which culminated in a landmark $500
- million settlement. Over the course of the litigation, Ms. Reiser argued on investors’ behalf at the motion to dismiss stage. She also handled various arguments related to discovery disputes and oversaw merits and expert discovery. She took a majority of the fact depositions and was recognized for having teased a number of salient points from witnesses during the depositions. Ms. Reiser also took the lead in working with experts to maximize damages.
- Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago, et al. v. Bank of America, NA, et al. (S.D.N.Y.): Ms. Reiser developed and litigated this novel class action, challenging trustee inaction in preventing investor losses. She represented the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System, IPERS and Chicago Laborers in the case, which settled for $69 million. Ms. Reiser worked with plaintiffs’ statistician to develop a sampling methodology for testing whether mortgages were underwritten properly and with plaintiffs’ economist in the bid for class certification and approach to damages. At the final hearing, Judge Katherine B. Forrest commended the investors’ legal team: “This is a very, very good result for the plaintiffs … [and] is something of which plaintiff counsel can be proud.”
- ERIC v. Read (D. Or.): Oregon became the first state in the nation to implement a defined contribution savings program for private sector employees who either work for companies that don’t offer a retirement plan or aren't eligible to participate in their employer’s retirement plan, called OregonSaves. In October 2017, the ERISA Industry Committee, a national group representing large businesses filed a lawsuit, arguing that the program is preempted by ERISA. Ms. Reiser, retained as outside counsel, successfully defended OregonSaves from ERISA challenges, resulting in a settlement in March 2018.
Ms. Reiser also maintains an active pro bono practice. Recent notable successes include:
- Vivian Englund v. World Pawn Exchange, LLC (Cir. Crt., Coos Cty., Or.): Cohen Milstein successfully represented the estate of a Kirsten Englund in a wrongful death case of first impression in Oregon state court and nationally, addressing the legal liability for federally licensed firearms dealers involved in online straw sales. The landmark settlement (October 2018) establishes important legal precedent at the state and federal levels regarding gun dealer responsibility for online sales of firearms. Given the precedential significance of this lawsuit, Cohen Milstein was named to The National Law Journal’s “2019 Pro Bono Hot List” and won Public Justice Foundation’s “2019 Trial Lawyer of the Year – Finalist” award.
In addition, Ms. Reiser has represented plaintiffs in employment cases. In Wade v. Kroger (W.D. Ky.), she represented African American employees who received a $16 million settlement to resolve claims that the retailer Kroger had discriminated against them in pay and promotions. She was also involved in Beck v. The Boeing Co. (W. D. Wash.), a case alleging sex discrimination in compensation and promotions that settled for $72.5 million.
Ms. Reiser is recognized by peers as among the top legal practitioners in her area of of law. Ms. Reiser is ranked one of the “25 Most Influential Women in Securities Law” (Law360), she is named among the Lawdragon 500, recognizing the leading lawyers in America, and she won one of The National Law Journal’s “Elite Women of the Plaintiffs Bar” in 2018. Annually, she is recognized by Law Dragon and Super Lawyers.
Ms. Reiser has twice been named a winner of the Burton Awards, placing her among the “finest law firm writers” in the nation. She was a winner of the Burton Awards in 2019, as a co-author of “INSIGHT: Holding Firearms Dealers Accountable for Online Straw Sales,” Bloomberg Law (December 19, 2018), and in 2016 for “Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses: Taking the Alternative Out of Dispute Resolution,” Bloomberg BNA, Class Action Litigation Report (December 11, 2015). After the publication of “Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses,” Paul Bland, Executive Director of Public Justice wrote: “This is invaluable advocacy that takes industry-side advocacy and exposes its flaws and failings. I’m very glad to see this kind of very high-quality advocacy and critical thinking.”
Ms. Reiser also is the author or co-author of “Event-Driven Litigation Defense,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (May 23, 2019); “INSIGHT: Sandy Hook Decision Reins in Gun Industry Shield Law,” Bloomberg Law (March 28, 2019); “The Critical ABCs of Financial Antitrust Litigation & Recovery Opportunities,” an ISS Securities Class Actions Services White Paper (February 18, 2019): “Trends in ERISA Litigation in 2017,” Law360 (December 17, 2017); "Carefully Tailored ERISA Claims After Amgen V. Harris," Law360 (January 25,2017); “Omnicare: Negligence is the New Strict Liability When Pleading Omissions Under the Securities Act,” Bloomberg BNA, Corporate Law & Accountability Report (April 10, 2015); the author of “Dodd Frank’s Protections for Senior Citizens: An Important, Yet Insufficient Step,” University of Cincinnati Law Review, Volume 81, Issue 2 (May 30, 2013); “Why Courts Should Favor Certification of MBS Actions,” ABA Securities Litigation Journal, Volume 22, Number 1 (Fall 2011); and the co-author of “The Misapplication of American Pipe Tolling Principles,” ABA Securities Litigation Journal, Volume 21, Number 2 (Winter 2011). She also co-authored “Opt-Outs: Making Private Enforcement of the Securities Laws Even Better,” featured in the Winter/Spring 2008 edition of the ABA's Class Action and Derivative Suit Committee Newsletter and “Companies in the Cross Hairs: When Plaintiffs Lawyers Choose Their Targets, They Look for These Employment Practices,” The Legal Times (February 21, 2005).
Ms. Reiser is a noted speaker, often called on to discuss important issues such as the ABCs of antitrust litigation for investors and trends in ERISA litigation.
Ms. Reiser attended Vassar College, graduating with honors, and earned her J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law. She has served as a board member at Seattle Works and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.