June 01, 2022

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC's Daniel H. Silverman has scored important class certification wins, including on behalf of animators who successfully forced major film studios to settle no-poach allegations, making him one of the competition attorneys under age 40 honored by Law360 as Rising Stars.

His biggest case:

Silverman was part of the Cohen Milstein team that negotiated nearly $170 million in deals with major Hollywood studios such as The Walt Disney Co., Pixar and Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC to resolve allegations that they agreed not to poach each other's animators. Labor-side antitrust cases hadn't yet fully become an important feature of class action litigation, meaning that to win class certification, Silverman said his team had to navigate "novel and interesting and challenging issues," especially in trying to show that an array of different workers in different jobs earning different salaries all suffered the same kind of injury that could be lumped together.

"What makes it kind of unusual there is that we're trying to get a class certified that involved these animation workers with hundreds if not thousands of different job titles," Silverman said. "So there were people in all sorts of different jobs in that industry. All part of the same class. That's unusual as compared to a normal antitrust class action where you're representing consumers who all bought the same product."

Another notable case:

Silverman is one of the attorneys representing Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters suing UFC over an alleged anti-competitive "scheme" to keep their earnings low by buying up competitors or locking up top fighters in exclusive multiyear contracts, and they are now hoping for a long-awaited decision for formal class certification.

Working with UFC fighters has meant navigating a case "full of drama and intrigue," said Silverman, who's been fascinated by the world of the sport. Silverman had watched some UFC fights beforehand, but he said supporting the expert work, his main role in the case, involved a considerable learning curve. He read everything he could on the economics of mixed martial arts and of professional sports amid an industry shift to a free-agent system.

"It was really important to get a really granular understanding of how the sport actually works, the business of the sport and how the sport functions," he said.

Silverman is particularly proud that U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware has said he plans to grant class certification. He pointed to the dedication of the fighters he represents.

"They work so hard, they get injured," he said. "They really put everything on the line every time they get in the octagon. And to feel that we were able to have some success on their behalf was just really gratifying."

What motivates him:

Silverman says he is driven by digging deep to understand legal and economic issues that intersect in the antitrust practice.

"Getting to the precise, correct answer and actually figuring out how to explain complicated economic concepts to lay judges, I think that's fundamentally what motivates me," he said. "Being able to really take complicated ideas and boil them down in language that lawyers and judges can understand."

Why he's an antitrust attorney:

Silverman said he particularly enjoyed science and math as an undergraduate physics major, and he even spent a year before law school working at an engineering lab affiliated with MIT.

"One of the things that I found fascinating about antitrust law is the way that social science and economics and econometrics can actually drive the evolution of the law itself," he said. "I don't know if there's any other area of the law I can think of where social scientific work has played such [an] influential role in actually driving the path of the doctrine itself. The Supreme Court itself has often been persuaded by arguments from economists and social scientists in terms of how we should think about the normative goals of the antitrust laws."