As some corporations plan layoffs and furloughs amid COVID-19, Regina Calcaterra and Janine Pollack quietly launched their very own New York plaintiffs agency final month. Calcaterra, previously at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and Pollack, who left the identical agency in 2018, recruited 5 of their colleagues to Calcaterra Pollack—associate Michael Liskow, an affiliate and three workers members—in addition to a senior affiliate from Kelley Drye & Warren.
The brand new agency plans to pursue class actions on behalf of shareholders and customers alleging fraud, significantly throughout the pandemic, in addition to these asserting constitutional rights violations regarding the latest protests.
I spoke with Calcaterra and Pollack about their women-owned agency and variety in the plaintiffs bar.
This Q&A has been edited for size and readability.
What made you go off by yourself?
Calcaterra: I labored at Wolf Haldenstein from Could 2016 going ahead, and earlier than that, in authorities. Whereas I used to be on the agency, I used to be making an attempt to vary the variety of the agency. Extra just lately, in and round February, I began serious about opening up my very own agency.
Finally, I began placing collectively the idea of the agency in March, and did a gentle launch of the agency in April.
Did you hesitate in any respect to launch the agency within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Calcaterra: We have been in a position to proceed with our plans to launch this agency in the midst of a disaster when most corporations have been shedding, furloughing or lowering salaries. Everyone seems to be in search of one thing good and good to occur in a pandemic. We noticed our agency as a delivery. We thought it was a really optimistic factor to do. Everybody has been so enthusiastic about it—that it was a women-owned, women-led agency with unbelievable range. And we had the power and the flexibility to place this collectively in a really brief time however put it collectively the best approach and have all the nice optimistic power that goes with that.
Many ladies appointed to management positions at school actions and multidistrict litigation have began their very own corporations, moderately than transfer up the ladder inside plaintiffs’ corporations. Why?
Pollack: Through the years, within the plaintiffs bar, the lads actually have been on the forefront. However there may be plenty of ladies who’re unbelievable litigators, they usually simply haven’t been in a position to break by way of that barrier, and the lads are realizing that the judges need the ladies to play vital roles as leaders. That was the factor that catapulted ladies into the fore. The ladies are extremely certified, and judges wish to ensure they’ve the chance, and the plaintiffs bar has not been that good at that for a few years. What you’ve bought is a metamorphosis, and the judges and juries wish to see ladies and minorities in cost.
Calcaterra: You want the best shoppers to do it. Loads of shoppers in antitrust MDLs, industrial MDLs, are public entities. They’re governments, state and native entities on the market, which are extra apt to rent MWBE [minority/women-owned business enterprise] and minority legislation corporations, and so, by the point we’re searching for positions in MDLs, we’ve bought the shopper behind us as nicely.
What sort of instances do you intend to carry, significantly associated to COVID-19 points?
Pollack: We now have a broad array of instances. We now have class actions we’re persevering with to pursue which are shopper deception, false promoting, product legal responsibility. Additionally, we have now class motion antitrust issues. Additionally, wrongful dying particular person actions, and securities class actions.
One of many issues we’re anticipating to occur right here is that the present local weather goes to trigger two issues to occur: one from the attitude of the buyer, and one from company America. One causes the opposite. This type of local weather does are inclined to lend itself to some improve in dangerous company conduct, and when that occurs, you usually get a rise of shopper consciousness of what’s taking place. Our job is to reply to that, examine each grievance, to see if legal guidelines are damaged. We count on a surge not solely due to company America, but in addition persons are working from house, have extra time on their palms, and are in a foul place and apprehensive about issues.
Calcaterra: Additionally, we have now a social justice observe, which, proper now, consists of representing adults who have been sexually assaulted as youngsters. We’re anticipating to be representing individuals who have been subjected to constitutional rights violations within the midst of all of the protests happening. We’re suited to do this due to our expertise
Do you suppose there will likely be many lawsuits regarding the protests?
Calcaterra: We count on social justice instances to be on the rise throughout the U.S. One, extra alongside the thought of sophistication actions, can be a big group of individuals prevented from protesting peacefully, as a result of that’s their proper below the First Modification. And the opposite can be particular person instances of those that are detained in violation of their constitutional rights.