STEVEN R. POPOFSKY

PARTNER

Steve Popofsky handles a variety of complex business litigation matters for corporations, partnerships and individuals, and provides ongoing advice and counseling regarding a wide range of issues including employment relations. Steve’s focus is on resolving matters cost-effectively to the extent possible and litigating them creatively and forcefully when necessary.

Practices

About

Steve represents defendants and plaintiffs in federal district and bankruptcy courts, the New York state courts, and before various arbitration tribunals including the American Arbitration Association and FINRA. He has successfully argued appeals before the Second Circuit and First and Second Departments of the Appellate Division.

Steve has been named a “New York Super Lawyer” every year since 2008.

Experience

  • Litigated in federal court and arbitration to obtain multimillion-dollar price reduction from Saab International due to fraud and material adverse changes in connect with the purchase of a jet-engine repair company.
  • Obtained a $5 million arbitration award, plus seven-figure legal fee reimbursement, in an international arbitration on behalf of a hedge fund’s portfolio company against the world’s largest mining company.
  • Obtained a million-dollar summary judgment award against a national parking-garage operator on behalf of a former executive.
  • Played a key role in winning a seven-figure arbitration award for a hedge fund against its prime broker.
  • Defended an arbitration against a global financial services firm on behalf of a small company for which he not only avoided all liability but also recovered money on its counterclaim.
  • Obtained dismissal on behalf of a Swiss investment advisor sued in the U.S. for securities fraud and related claims in connection with allegedly inadequate due diligence on Madoff investments.
  • Obtained settlements on behalf of an investment management firm executive, and a charitable foundation trustee, substantially in excess of the amounts which those clients were ready to accept.
  • Obtained a license on favorable terms for a client to perform work on an adjacent owner’s property after suing under New York’s Real Property Law.
  • Obtained substantial relief with regard to right of first refusal in connection with real estate dispute.
  • Defended an oil company against creditors who failed to defeat its reorganization plan despite several alleged breaches of contract
  • Represented hedge fund in arbitration defending against failure to redeem investments over prolonged period and obtained the right to make most of the redemptions in kind rather than in cash.
  • Represented a Danish bank in collecting on undelivered oil warrants purchased from two global financial services firms.
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims in action brought against entity which borrowed money to construct mobile power units that did not get built.
  • Played a key role in defeating motion to dismiss, and ultimately obtaining favorable settlement, on behalf of international investors in connection with disputed real estate transactions impacted by recession conditions.
  • Devised a strategy that obtained full payment for a work of art sold by a collector to a foreign dealer who was engaged in widespread fraud.
  • Obtained complete relief with prejudice in connection with suits brought in New York and Argentina against a multinational automation technology company.
  • Defended broker-dealers and their principals and employees successfully in multiple arbitration contexts.
  • Obtained substantial arbitration awards and settlements in favor of employees and former principals seeking damages for claims including discrimination, relief from non-compete commitments, and avoidance of forgivable loan from a global financial services firm.
  • Handled various adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court including successfully representing an individual supermarket operator alleged to have participated in auction bid-rigging.
  • Obtained substantial relief on behalf of a minority member and former employee asserting claims of individual liability against a managing member of an LLC.
  • Represented a club operator in invalidating a general release on the grounds of duress.
  • Litigated on behalf of owner of landmarked commercial building to obtain a license, over adjoining property owner’s objection, to perform repair work above neighboring property.
  • Obtained declaratory relief against an insurer wrongfully refusing to defend its insured.
  • Defended credit card independent sales organization in defeating preliminary injunction motion arising out of claims for fraud, mistake, and breach of contract.
  • Won appellate division decision on behalf of broker-dealer denying plaintiff ability to pursue claim against deep-pocket successor entity.
  • Played a key role in obtaining an eight-figure settlement for an international business consultant without filing litigation.
  • Obtained return of down payment plus additional compensation on behalf of real estate purchaser whose prospective seller was unable to satisfy lease covenant in connection with sale of property.
  • Obtained a settlement for ten percent of claimed liability on behalf of contractor alleged to have inflated billings from subcontrators.
  • Obtained a written public apology together with monetary payment on behalf of investment advisor alleging breach of fiduciary duty by former colleague.
  • Represented a family with extensive real estate holdings in various litigations in federal and state court.
  • Regularly advised property owners in connection with various contested real estate issues including lease disputes, restrictive covenants, estoppel certificates and interpretation and implementation of contractual provisions.
  • Obtained dismissal of most causes of action alleging fraud and related claims against international antique timepiece company.
  • Represented an individual art collector in obtaining relief against a major international auction house in connection with a dispute over the manner of exhibition of the art.
  • Represented modeling agencies in various litigations and was later hired by former adversaries.
  • Litigated successfully on behalf of several small companies in various fields such as contracting, recruitment, cosmetics, information technology, and non-profit and for-profit preschools.
  • Represented various individuals in connection with diverse matters including favorably resolving wrongful-death action; retaining proceeds claimed by client’s ex-wife from sale of Martin Johnson Heade painting; defense of holdover proceeding and return of deposit for purchase of coop apartment; minimizing liability on personal guarantee in connection with textile imports from Far East; and obtaining substantially outdated expenses incurred by fashion photographer.
  • Represented various UK car service companies in successful litigation and negotiation with U.S. partner firms.
  • Represented a restaurant/tenant in protracted efforts to avoid proceedings and handled other litigations and negotiations on behalf of other restaurants and their principals.
  • Negotiated resolutions of financing disputes within matrimonial proceedings.

Education

Columbia University School of Law (J.D.)

Columbia Law Review, Editor

University of Pennsylvania (B.A., magna cum laude)

Bar Admissions

New York

U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

Accolades

Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar

Insights

Private Investment Funds & Capital Commitments: Force Majeure as Investors’ Defense Du Jour?

April 8, 2020

Investment funds continue to grapple with COVID-19, responding to fluctuating financial markets and the ongoing economic, strategic and practical challenges facing them. During this tumultuous period, the funds’ limited partners, perhaps struggling with liquidity issues of their own, may be at risk of defaulting on capital calls triggered by the funds and their general partners. These defaults…

The Force May Be With You: COVID-19 and Force Majeure Provisions

March 31, 2020

COVID-19 has caused major disruption to businesses, commerce and the financial markets. With the CDC and WHO projecting that the coronavirus is only in its early stages in the United States, businesses and individuals may feel the burden of the effects of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. As the flow of goods and services continues…

Supreme Court Finds the SEC’s In-House Enforcement Proceedings To Be Unconstitutional: An Easy Fix

June 27, 2018,

On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, finding that the SEC’s system of appointing administrative law judges (ALJs) by the SEC staff, rather than by the SEC commissioners themselves, is unconstitutional.   The case resolved a split between the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the…

In Somers, the Supreme Court Narrows the Law Governing Retaliation Against Whistleblowers – but the Ruling May Hurt Employers in the Long Run

February 23, 2018,

Overview: On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, resolving disagreement among the Second, Fifth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals and the SEC concerning the scope of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, applicable to…

Supreme Court Limits SEC’s Recovery on Disgorgement Claims

June 7, 2017,

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision of significant consequence to securities industry participants, holding that disgorgement claims under the federal securities laws are “penalties” under 28 U.S.C. § 2462, and therefore are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange…

The Value of Domestic Cooperation in Dealing with Foreign Corruption

June 16, 2016,

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice recently have sought to persuade companies to self-report violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The SEC has announced non-prosecution agreements with two companies, Akamai Technologies and Nortek Inc., respecting bribes paid to Chinese officials by Chinese subsidiaries. Each U.S. company was required to disgorge…

Two Federal Judges in New York Reject Bids To Enjoin SEC Administrative Proceedings Against Securities Fraud Defendants

July 1, 2015,

On June 30, 2015, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams handed down an important decision affecting the SEC’s controversial practice of bringing insider trading enforcement actions in the form of in-house administrative proceedings instead of as civil court actions. In a 23-page opinion, Judge Abrams refused to enjoin the SEC from continuing with an ongoing administrative…

Federal Court Chips Away at SEC’s Use of In-House Administrative Proceedings Against Insider Trading Defendants

June 11, 2015,

On June 8, 2015, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May handed down an important decision affecting the SEC’s practice of bringing insider trading enforcement actions in the form of in-house administrative proceedings instead of civil court actions. In a 45-page opinion, Judge May enjoined the SEC from continuing with an ongoing administrative proceeding on the…

SEC Issues Guidance Regarding Administrative Proceedings

May 11, 2015,

On Friday, May 8, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidance to its staff to assist in determining whether to bring enforcement actions in federal district court or as administrative proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge. The administrative proceedings have become highly controversial in recent years, as many defendants in the proceedings have complained…

Class Assertion of State Law Fraud Claims relating to Certain Securities Is Now Easier in New York, Connecticut and Vermont

May 5, 2015,

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in In re Kingate Management Limited Litigation, recently made it significantly easier for plaintiffs in the Second Circuit and New York, Connecticut and Vermont state courts to bring class actions alleging violations of state law in litigation involving certain types of securities. By allowing these claims…

Issuer Liability for Opinions in Registration Statements

March 27, 2015,

On March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision setting standards for opinions in issuers’ registration statements. In Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, the Court held that an issuer of securities must ensure that representations of opinion in registration statements are (1) sincerely held and…

SEC’s Co-Chief of Enforcement (Asset Management Unit) Describes Enforcement Priorities for the Year

March 3, 2015

The Co-Chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Asset Management Unit (the “AMU”) recently provided a revealing and important glimpse into the SEC’s priorities in bringing enforcement actions in the investment fund community. Julie M. Riewe gave an overview of the AMU’s capabilities and accomplishments in the five years since it was formed, and provided…

First Department Extends Common Interest Privilege

December 9, 2014,

In a decision sure to affect the behavior of parties in transactional and other contexts, the New York Appellate Division for the First Department on December 4, 2014 eliminated the “pending or reasonably contemplated litigation” requirement from the common interest privilege. Thus, the presence of a third party at an otherwise privileged communication will not…

An arbitration by any other name…

April 30, 2014

When entering into a contract, parties need to know that they could be agreeing to arbitration without knowing it. A New York federal court recently held that the parties’ agreement to utilize a third-party appraisal procedure in the event of a dispute entitles the successful party to exercise important enforcement rights relating to arbitration, even…