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Christopher S. Williams Partner

Chris has been co-chair of Calfee’s Litigation Department since 2010, and he regularly represents clients in wide-ranging corporate and commercial business litigation matters, including ERISA disputes.  As lead counsel, Chris has prevailed in multi-million dollar jury and bench trials in and out of Ohio.

 

Recent examples of Chris’ work include the following cases:

Commercial Litigation

  • In 2017, and stretching back to 2012, represents two of Ohio’s four casinos, and obtained judgment in the casinos’ favor with respect to federal and state constitutional claims asserted by a national anti-gambling organization and its Ohio members.  The losing plaintiffs have filed three separate appeals, including to the Ohio Supreme Court, and an appeal before the Franklin County Court of Appeals remains pending.
  • In 2016 and presently, represents Ohio’s largest health care insurer in connection with multi-million dollar real estate disputes arising from failed sale-leaseback transactions and syndicated commercial mortgages.
  • In 2016 represented one of Ohio’s largest steel companies in a multi-million dollar three-week jury trial arising from a $100 million construction project gone awry.
  • In 2014, defended a publicly held Ohio bank against federal court allegations of lending and collections fraud, and negotiated a nuisance value settlement of plaintiff’s claims.
  • In 2012, presented oral argument to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and obtained final judgment affirming the district court’s order dismissing the adverse parties’ myriad federal claims arising from alleged fraud, RICO and conspiracy activities relating to failed Florida real estate investments.
  • Successfully established a lack of personal jurisdiction in Ohio, and obtained a final judgment in 2012 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, for a large North American parking management company in a dispute with a competitor arising from their joint venture at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • In 2011, summary judgment was awarded to Calfee’s publicly held client in a case alleging alter ego and corporate veil theories against the client arising from a failed Cleveland real estate venture.
  • In 2010, represented a publicly owned Ohio bank in a class-action lawsuit arising from alleged false and fraudulent mass mailing advertisements; the case was dismissed with prejudice by the court with the granting of Calfee’s motion to dismiss.
  • In 2010, obtained summary judgment for a plaintiff bank against one of Ohio’s largest auto dealers arising from a fraudulent loan and auto purchase scam.
  • In 2008, successfully mediated and settled, at a 98% discount, improper lending and financing claims against Calfee’s client that were valued at greater than $40 million.
  • In 2007, settled at a 97% discount from the plaintiff’s alleged damages, fiduciary duty, RICO and contract claims against an Ohio-based publicly held bank.

ERISA/Health Care Litigation

  • In 2016, and presently, represents a publicly-held Cleveland commodities company in connection with multi-million dollar claims against it arising from golden parachute/change-in-control agreements entered into with former company executives.  Final judgment in favor of Calfee’s client was entered by the trial court in 2016, was affirmed shortly thereafter by the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals, and the losing plaintiffs are now seeking Ohio Supreme Court review of their claims.
  • In 2016, and beginning in 2012, defended Ohio’s largest health care insurance company in separate, but related, multi-million dollar billing fraud lawsuits, one of which resulted in a final judgment disposing entirely of the plaintiffs’ $22 million causes of action, and the other of which resulted in a negotiated zero cost dismissal with prejudice.
  • In 2013, while representing the public company employer, obtained a federal court preliminary injunction freezing the current and prospective assets of all four adverse parties in a multi-million dollar ERISA healthcare benefits dispute arising from the mismanagement and underfunding of welfare plans.
  • In 2012 appeared for a preliminary injunction hearing in Newark, NJ federal court, the hometown of the opposing party, one of the world’s 10 largest insurers, and defeated the insurer’s request for an order prohibiting Calfee’s client from assigning to a third-party a multi-million dollar administrative services agreement.
  • Following extensive fact and expert discovery and summary judgment briefing before the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, favorably settled, in 2011, ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims filed by the bankruptcy trustee on behalf of an insolvent public company against its former officers and directors.
  • In 2010, following oral argument, obtained affirmation from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of a summary judgment award in an ERISA case involving Plan Administrator discretion, the appropriate standard of appellate review and the interplay between written Plan terms and alleged conflicting oral representations.
  • In 2009, finalized a $27 million settlement against an international financial adviser arising out of the Calfee pension plan client’s losses due to investments made in Bernard Madoff-related funds.
  • In 2009, on cross-motions for summary judgment filed after three days of evidentiary hearing, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the administration of a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
  • In 2008, Chris appeared in Dayton federal court for a class-action fairness hearing and reached an agreement to settle on favorable terms ERISA and RICO class-action claims arising from pension plan consulting and actuarial services.
  • Arguing ERISA preemption and standing issues before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005, Chris obtained judgment affirming the Louisiana district court’s summary judgment on behalf of three clients.  The companies had been sued in Louisiana state court for $2.4 million, arising from their alleged violations of Louisiana’s bad faith insurance statute.
  • In 2005, Chris obtained an American Arbitration Association award on behalf of Ohio’s largest Medicaid healthcare provider following state court litigation and a multi-day arbitration hearing arising from Medicaid billing fraud and breach of contract allegations against the client.

In 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, based on statewide voting by Ohio lawyers, Chris was selected by Thomson Reuters as a Top 100 Ohio Super Lawyer and a Top 50 Cleveland Super Lawyer.  Chris’ name also appears annually on the U.S. News-Best Lawyers list, and for 2016 Chris was recognized by U.S. News-Best Lawyers as its Cleveland ERISA Litigation “Lawyer of the Year,” a distinction reserved for one lawyer per practice area each year.  Chris has also been named by Benchmark Litigation as an Ohio “litigation star” for the past five years, including 2017.

In addition to co-chairing the Litigation Department, Chris currently serves on Calfee’s Executive Committee, its Diversity Committee, its Business Development & Marketing Committee, and as Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.  Since 2012, Chris has served on the Board of Directors of the Columbus-based Ohio State Legal Services Association, and in June 2016, Chris was re-elected to a new three-year term on OSLSA’s Board.