Chris is a nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyer with more than 35 years of experience in complex real estate, commercial, corporate and banking litigation. His extensive appellate experience includes a number of precedent setting cases in the Second Circuit and New York State Courts of Appeals, and he is a recognized authority in cases involving real estate loan workouts and distressed debt. Chris is a preeminent figure in the New York legal landscape and is frequently called upon to handle high-stakes cases, either by companies in need of expert legal counsel or by other top-tier law firms conflicted out of representation.
Chris regularly represents lenders, owners, developers and investors in litigation concerning complex real estate-related transactions; creditors’ rights, including mortgage and UCC foreclosures, workouts and restructuring of real estate secured debt, bankruptcy proceedings and judgment collection; partnership and joint venture disputes; mezzanine loans and intercreditor relationships; hotel development and operation; and land use and construction.
From the courtroom to the boardroom, Chris provides litigation representation and strategic advice to corporate boards, committees, directors and top executives on issues of critical importance to them. Chris has particular expertise in litigation involving the break-up or restructuring of privately held corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. He is often retained by law firms and other professional practices in connection with disputes among the partners or owners, and is a sought-after expert in legal malpractice matters. He also assists in structuring transactions, drawing on insights from the firm’s Corporate & Securities, Tax, and Real Estate practices to minimize litigation risks and costs. Chris is often asked by other law firms and their attorneys to give second opinions on pending litigation as an outside expert. He also represents litigation funders in the assessment of business opportunities.
Through his representation of Am Law 100 law firms and individual attorneys, Chris has helped to shape the rules for the legal profession itself. He was appellate counsel in two leading cases in New York involving the fiduciary duties owed by lawyers to their law firms. One of these cases, Graubard v. Moskovitz, is credited with fundamentally reframing the fiduciary responsibility of lawyers when they leave their firms.
Fluent in French, Italian and Chinese, Chris is a go-to resource for many international clients seeking to advance their interests in the United States and internationally.
- New York University School of Law (JD)
- Catholic University of America (BA)
Real Estate Litigation
- Represented a public REIT in litigation in the New York area for over 25 years.
- Won a $21 million judgment for the seller of a controlling interest in a public REIT.
- Won a $31 million judgment after trial for a partner in a New York real estate partnership.
- Represented an Israeli bank in successfully foreclosing on or restructuring close to $1 billion in defaulted construction loans.
- In a case of first impression on behalf of an Irish bank, obtained a court order permitting a statutory rents receiver in a $200 million mortgage foreclosure action to complete construction of the mortgagor’s unfinished condominium project in Manhattan.
- Won a trial in the Kings County Supreme Court to determine title to two parcels of property in Brooklyn Heights.
- Successfully enjoined UCC foreclosure sale of pledged ownership interest case in a $350 million project in Minneapolis, MN.
- Represented major money center banks in securitized debt litigation.
- Represented hard money lenders in lender liability and usury litigation around the country.
- Won a bench trial in the SDNY on behalf of a community Chinese bank.
Complex Commercial Litigation
- Representing an association of 525 garment contractors in a jury trial in the Southern District of New York, successfully removed the defendants from control of the association and (through the association) a significant part of the garment industry in New York City.
- Won a jury trial in the New York Supreme Court against a management company for wrongfully transferring interests in management contracts.
- Won a jury trial in the Southern District of New York for breach of a financial services consulting contract.
- Successfully defended the majority owners of a closely-held bread crumb manufacturer in Brooklyn in 12 consecutive shareholder litigations.
- Lead trial counsel for public company in insurance coverage lawsuit that was settled for over $63 million.
- Lead trial counsel for corporate client in racketeering case against European lenders that was settled for over $50 million.
Legal and Accounting Malpractice
- Won a million dollar judgment for legal malpractice arising out of reinsurance arbitration.
- Representing a major New York City law firm in pending legal malpractice lawsuits.
- Successfully enforced post-employment restrictive covenants in various litigations involving accounting firms, insurance agencies and manufacturers.
- Won summary judgment dismissing sex discrimination claims against New York City law firm.
- Successfully defended a major New York City law firm in a series of litigations filed by a partner who was effectively expelled when the firm dissolved and reconstituted without her.
- Successfully invalidated as an unreasonable restraint on alienation an option between business partners regarding the sale of stock in their corporation.
- Won judgment after trial dismissing claims against group of law partners who left their firm with client relationships.
- Defended in a precedent setting case a group of law partners who left their firm with major client relationships.
Unusual and Interesting
- Successfully invalidated on ERISA pre-emption grounds a section of the New York Business Corporation Law that was being used to impose personal liability on the owners of closely held companies for penalties under a collective bargaining agreement.
- Won partial judgment in the Eastern District of New York invalidating as illusory a Halachically based contract for the sale of properties in Brooklyn, NY.
- Overturned the decision of a Bet Din religious tribunal on a motion to vacate the arbitration award.
- Defeated a series of constitutional challenges to a defamation lawsuit against a group of religious figures involving the issuance of a “heter me’ ah rabbanim.”
Recognition & Awards
- Best Lawyers in America: Litigation - Real Estate (2022)