Richard A. Speirs is Of Counsel at Cohen Milstein and a member of the firm’s Securities Litigation & Investor Protection practice group. He has worked on many of the mortgage-backed securities fraud cases that were successfully litigated by the firm. Currently, in addition to litigating securities fraud cases, Mr. Speirs is principally responsible for developing and litigating the firm’s derivative and merger-related lawsuits.
Since joining the firm, Mr. Speirs has litigated the following notable matters:
- Bear Stearns Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): $505 million settlement by JPMorgan Chase & Co. to settle a class action litigation arising from Bear Stearns' sale of $27.2 billion of mortgage-backed securities that proved defective during the U.S. housing and financial crises.
- RALI MBS Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): $335 million settlement with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and UBS. Cohen Milstein was lead counsel in a class action litigation alleging RALI and its affiliates sold shoddy MBS securities that did not meet the standards of their underwriters. Mr. Speirs was a critical member of the team of litigators, conducting fact discovery, deposing economic experts and preparing witnesses.
- Harborview MBS Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): $275 million settlement with Royal Bank of Scotland. Cohen Milstein was lead counsel in a complex case, in which presiding Judge Loretta A. Preska, of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, commented on the “job well done” by the Cohen Milstein team.
- NovaStar Mortgage Backed Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): $165 million settlement on behalf of investors in a Securities Act litigation involving billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities underwritten by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Wachovia and Deutsche Bank.
HEMT MBS Litigation (S.D.N.Y.): $110 million settlement on behalf of investors in mortgage-backed securities issued and underwritten by Credit Suisse after more than seven years of litigation, which included the first written decision certifying a Securities Act class of mortgage-backed securities in the country.
Sino-Forest Corp. Securities Litigation (Sup. Crt., New York Cnty., N.Y.): Cohen Milstein served as lead counsel for U.S. investors in securities fraud class action brought on behalf of investors in Sino-Forest Corp., a Canadian corporation, which achieved $150 million in settlements from numerous defendants.
In re Alphabet Shareholder Derivative Litigation (Sup. Crt. Cal., Santa Clara Cnty.): Cohen Milstein, as Co-Lead Counsel, represented Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund in a shareholder derivative lawsuit against the Board of Directors of Alphabet, Inc. Shareholders alleged that the tech giant’s Board violated its fiduciary duty by enabling a double standard at Alphabet that allowed powerful executives to sexually harass and discriminate against women without consequence. On November 30, 2020, the Court granted final approval of a historic settlement, including a $310 million commitment to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Alphabet-owned companies, and workplace and corporate governance reforms including limiting non-disclosure agreements and ending mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation-related disputes.
Wynn Resorts, Ltd. Derivative Litigation (Eighth Jud. Dist. Crt., Clark Cnty., Nev.): Cohen Milstein represented New York State Common Retirement Fund and the New York City Pension Funds as Lead Counsel in a derivative shareholder lawsuit against certain officers and directors of Wynn Resorts, Ltd., arising out 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. In March 2020, the Court granted final approval of a $90 million settlement in the form of cash payments and landmark corporate governance reforms, placing it among the largest, most comprehensive derivative settlements in history.
FirstEnergy Shareholder Derivative Litigation (S.D. Ohio; N.D. Ohio): Cohen Milstein represented the Massachusetts Laborers Pension Fund in two shareholder derivative actions against certain current and former officers and directors and nominal defendant FirstEnergy related to the Company’s involvement in Ohio’s largest public bribery schemes. On August 23, 2022, the Court granted final approval of a $180 million global settlement of all shareholder derivative cases.
Intuitive Surgical Inc. Derivative Litigation (Sup. Crt., Cal.): Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel in a now settled derivative action against the company’s directors and officers, asserting breaches of fiduciary duties and insider trading claims in connection with concealing regulatory compliance problems and safety defects in the company’s flagship product, the da Vinci robotic surgery system.
Ocwen Financial Corp. Derivative Litigation (D.V.I.): Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel in a derivative action alleging that Ocwen’s board of directors breached their fiduciary duties by permitting a pervasive scheme of wrongdoing in violation of applicable federal and state consumer financial protection laws. The defendants had exposed Ocwen to substantial harm by concealing failures with respect to the Company’s compliance with regulations governing the servicing of mortgage loans, failing to establish adequate internal controls, permitting former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer to be involved in a series of improper self-dealing transactions and allowing insiders to trade on material adverse information. The litigation resulted in a settlement involving the adoption of significant corporate governance measures.
Mr. Speirs’ current notable matters include:
- Choi, et al. v. Tower Research Capital (S.D.N.Y.): Representing Korean traders in a Commodity Exchange Act class action against a high frequency trading firm alleging manipulation of the market for KOSPI 200 futures contracts (the representative stock market index of South Korea and one of the most widely traded futures in the world) using spoofing or faked trades.
Mr. Speirs is also actively involved in several matters involving derivative claims and related books and records demands under Delaware or other relevant state laws.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Mr. Speirs has been lead or co-lead attorney in a number of securities class actions where the court has issued an important decision under the federal securities laws. Among the issues decided were: the improper grouping of unaffiliated investors in a lead plaintiff motion (In re Telxon Corp. Securities Litigation, No. 5:98-cv-02876-KMO, 67 F. Supp. 2d 803 (N.D. Ohio 1999)); recommendation of default sanction against auditing firm for discovery misconduct involving electronic audit work papers (Hayman v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, No. 1:01-CV-1078, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27295 (N.D. Ohio July 2, 2004)); and liability under Section 10(b) of a non-issuer for disclosures made by the issuer (In re BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust Securities Litigation, No. 2:06-cv-01505-MJP, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83007 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 26, 2007)).
Mr. Speirs has appeared on numerous panels and legal events to discuss securities fraud and investor protection. He attended Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where he received a B.A., cum laude, and earned his J.D. at Brooklyn Law School, where he earned the Order of the Coif.