Kit A. Pierson is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and a member of the firm’s Antitrust practice group. Mr. Pierson has also had the honor of serving as Co-Chair of the Antitrust practice (2010-2017). Under his leadership, the Legal 500 recognized Cohen Milstein as a Leading Plaintiff Class Action Firm for seven years in a row and Law360 selected the Antitrust practice group as a Competition Law Practice Group of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Mr. Pierson has served as lead or co-lead counsel in many antitrust cases on behalf of the victims of corporations engaged in price-fixing, market monopolization and other unlawful conduct. Prior to joining Cohen Milstein in 2009, Mr. Pierson spent more than 20 years primarily representing defendants in a broad range of complex matters. Some of the companies he represented included Microsoft Corp., 3M Corp. and other major corporations, national associations and individuals in class actions and other antitrust litigation. As a result of his experience as a defense lawyer, Mr. Pierson possesses deep insight into defense strategies, understands the dynamics of the other side and is someone who has earned the respect and credibility of opposing counsel.
Mr. Pierson is a hands-on litigator who has litigated and tried antitrust lawsuits and other complex civil cases in many jurisdictions, helping to win settlements and judgments cumulatively totaling more than $1.8 billion in the past several years. Currently, he is lead or co-lead counsel in many antitrust cases at the firm. Some of Mr. Pierson’s recent successes include:
- Domestic Drywall Litigation: Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel in an antitrust litigation alleging that the seven major U.S. manufacturers of drywall conspired to manipulate prices. Mr. Pierson ran the case for Cohen Milstein and in 2015 took the lead for the direct purchaser plaintiffs in arguing against the defendants’ summary judgment motions (which were denied by the Court for four of the five defendants). The Court granted final approval to settlements totaling $190 million.
- Ductile Iron Pipe Fittings Litigation: Cohen Milstein, as co-lead counsel, represented direct purchasers in a price-fixing class action against the three largest manufacturers of ductile iron pipe fittings—McWane Inc., Sigma Corporation and Star Pipe Products—and a monopolization case against McWane for excluding significant competition in the domestic ductile iron pipe fittings market. In May 2018 the Court granted final approval to final, outstanding settlement ending the litigating and bringing the total recovery to more than $17.3 million.
- Cast Iron Soil Pipe & Fittings Litigation: Cohen Milstein, as co-lead counsel, represented direct purchasers against the two largest soil pipe and fittings manufacturers in the country (McWane Inc. and Charlotte Pipe & Foundry) and the trade association they control (Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute) in a class action alleging that the defendants engaged in a nationwide price-fixing conspiracy and other anticompetitive actions. Mr. Pierson directed the litigation team. In May 2017, the Court granted final approval of a $30 million settlement.
- Urethanes (Polyether Polyols) Antitrust Litigation: Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel for direct purchaser plaintiffs in an antitrust class action alleging a nationwide conspiracy to fix the prices of chemicals used to make polyurethane foam. Four defendants—Bayer, BASF, Huntsman and Lyondell—settled for a total of $139.5 million, while the case against the fifth manufacturer, Dow Chemical, went to trial. After a four-week jury trial, in which Mr. Pierson was one of the trial lawyers for the class, the jury returned a $400 million verdict for the plaintiffs, which was trebled under federal antitrust law to more than $1 billion, the largest verdict in the country in 2013, as reported by The National Law Journal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the judgment, and the case against Dow Chemical was settled for $835 while the matter was pending before the United States Supreme Court (resulting in a total recovery of $974.5 million in the case).
- Community Health Care System Litigation: Cohen Milstein was co-counsel representing an emergency room doctor and nurse who brought claims against Community Health Care System under the False Claims Act for allegedly defrauding the federal government in connection with health care bills. Mr. Pierson led Cohen Milstein’s team in the case which was resolved for $94 million.
- Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation: Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel in a class action lawsuit alleging that Apple and five of the leading U.S. publishers conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books. Mr. Pierson led the Cohen Milstein team, which secured class certification, defeated motions to exclude the class expert, and successfully moved for exclusion of most of Apple’s expert testimony. The five publishing defendants settled for $166 million and a settlement was reached with Apple shortly before trial for an additional $450 million.
- Guantanamo Litigation: Mr. Pierson represented Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a young man who had been arrested with many others while residing in a house in Pakistan and was then incarcerated in Guantanamo without a judicial hearing for more than seven years. After filing a habeas corpus petition, Mr. Pierson represented Mr. Ahmed at a multi-day evidentiary hearing before a United States District Court judge. At the conclusion of the hearing, the District Court ruled that the evidentiary record did not support Mr. Ahmed’s detention and ordered that he be released from Guantanamo and returned to his home country.
Mr. Pierson was named one of the 500 leading lawyers in the United States in 2013, 2014 and 2016 by LawDragon 500 and was one of six lawyers selected by Law360 in 2014 as an MVP in the field of competition law. In 2017 and 2018, he was recognized by Legal 500 as a Leading Lawyer in the area of Antitrust Class Actions.
A champion for civil rights, he is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, a national organization, and a Member of the ACLU of Maryland’s Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities. Mr. Pierson is also a Board member of the Washington Urban Debate League.
Mr. Pierson has taught Complex Litigation as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law School, a class that focused primarily on legal, ethical and strategic issues presented by class action litigation.
Mr. Pierson attended Macalester College, earning a B.A., magna cum laude, in Economics and Political Science, and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude, where he was a Note Editor of the Michigan Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. Following law school, he served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Harry T. Edwards, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, from 1983-1984 and as a law clerk for the Honorable Chief Judge John Feikens, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, from 1984-1985.