Bill Alderman, a partner in the San Francisco office, concentrates his practice on business litigation and dispute resolution. He has broad experience in matters involving federal and state securities, corporate governance, technology, trade secrets, business torts and international disputes.

Bill is additionally recognized for the results he has obtained in insurance coverage, employee benefits, and federal and state antitrust disputes. He commits a substantial part of his time to pro bono representation and to representation of the firm.

Representing clients in class and derivative actions, Bill's approach is to minimize his clients’ overall cost through careful strategic planning, dispositive motions and aggressive negotiation. Only three of the many securities class actions he has defended have resulted in any settlement payment by his client or its carrier. Of his nearly 100 motions to dismiss securities class, mass or derivative actions since 1996, more than 90 percent were granted in their entirety (most with prejudice), while others were granted in part or led to a successful motion for summary judgment.

The following are some of Bill's more notable securities class, derivative and individual actions.

  • Deckers Outdoor Corp. Securities Litigation. (C.D. Cal., D. Del., Santa Barbara Superior, Cal. Ct. App. 2012-2014). Bill represented the company and its three top executives in defending two class actions and two derivative actions. All four actions were dismissed with prejudice on initial motions; on appeal in the derivative actions, dismissal was affirmed.
  • Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Novation Companies, Inc. (N.Y. Supreme, 2012-present). Bill represents an RMBS sponsor in the defense of an action by the trustee on behalf of FHFA seeking repurchase of loans in the trust.
  • Woori Bank v. RBS Securities (S.D.N.Y. 2012). Bill represented a CDO issuer in defense of an action by an institutional buyer; obtained dismissal with prejudice.
  • National Credit Union Administration Board v. RBS Securities, Inc. et al. (D. Kan., 10th Cir., U.S. Supreme Court 2011-present). Bill represents an MBS issuer in an action by the liquidation agent for a failed credit union/buyer.
  • Cambridge Place Inv. Mgmt., Inc. v. Morgan Stanley, et al. (D. Mass, MA state court 2010-12). Bill represented a sponsor of MBS offerings in two actions brought by an MBS investor; obtained dismissal on initial motion.
  • In re 2007 NovaStar Financial, Inc. Sec. Litig. (W.D. Mo. 2007-08; 8th Cir. 2009). Bill represented the company and three officers in defense of class actions alleging accounting errors in connection with subprime lending. Obtained dismissal with prejudice on initial motion; dismissal affirmed on appeal; related derivative actions settled without cost to client.
  • New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc., et al. (S.D.N.Y., 2d Cir. 2009-present). Bill represents a subprime mortgage lender and four of its officers in defense of a class action brought by buyers of interests in securitized mortgage pools against the lender, bond underwriters, and rating agencies. Obtained dismissal with leave to amend on initial motion and subsequent dismissal with prejudice; dismissal reversed on appeal.
  • In re McKesson HBOC Securities Litigation; U.S. v. Hawkins; SEC v. Hawkins (N.D. Cal., S.F. Superior 1999-2005). Bill represented the former CFO in defense of multiple civil, criminal and regulatory actions arising out of a US$9 billion one-day loss of market capitalization following restatement of earnings of an acquired company. He obtained an acquittal following a criminal trial, voluntary dismissal of an SEC action, and dismissal of various state and federal claims, with prejudice. Additional actions were settled without cost to client.
  • In re Hewlett-Packard Company Consolidated Derivative Litigation (Santa Clara Superior 2006-08). Bill represented the former general counsel in defense of derivative litigation relating to use of alleged pretexting to obtain confidential telephone records; settled without cost to client.
  • In re: Gap Inc. Derivative Litigation (San Francisco Superior 2006-07). Bill represented 34 present and former officers and directors in obtaining voluntary dismissal of derivative actions alleging stock option backdating.
  • Gillam v. PG&E Corp. (N.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2001-03). Bill represented the parent of a major utility and its principal officers in obtaining dismissal, with prejudice, of a class action claiming multibillion-dollar overstatements of revenues and earnings in connection with California energy crisis. Dismissal of the case was affirmed on appeal.
  • In re NovaStar Financial Sec. Litig. (W.D. Mo., Missouri and Maryland State Courts 2004-08). Bill represented the company and various officers and directors in the defense of class and derivative actions brought by open market purchasers. All matters settled without cost to clients.
  • In re Levi Strauss Sec. Litig. (N.D. Cal. 2004-08). Bill represented the CEO, CFO and controller in defense of a class action on behalf of purchasers of more than US$1 billion in corporate bonds; case settled without cost to clients.
  • Landau v. Bechtle (S.F. Superior 2004-2006). Bill represented the directors of Charles Schwab Corporation in obtaining the voluntary dismissal of derivative actions relating to alleged market timing and late trading in mutual funds managed by a company subsidiary.
  • In re Callidus Software Sec. Litig. (N.D. Cal. 2004-2006). Bill represented the company, officers and directors in obtaining dismissal of class action alleging misleading projections.
  • Operating Engineers v. IMPAC Medical Systems (N.D. Cal. 2004-05). Bill represented the company and principal officers in obtaining voluntary dismissal of class action.
  • Khader v. Affymetrix Corp. (N.D. Cal. 2003-04). Bill represented issuer, directors and officers in obtaining dismissal of class action claiming misleading projections.
  • In re Onyx Software Corp. Securities Litigation. (W.D. Wash. 2001-03). Bill represented the company, directors and officers in the defense of class and derivative actions claiming improper revenue recognition in connection with restatement. Obtained dismissal of 10b-5 claim balance settled without payment by clients.
  • In re Metricom Sec. Litig. (N.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2001-2006). Bill represented underwriters in obtaining dismissal, with prejudice, of class and individual actions for IPO and open-market purchasers; dismissal affirmed on appeal.
  • In re Clarent Corp. Sec. Litig.; Ahlstrom v. Clarent (N.D. Cal., D. Minn. 2002-05). Bill represented former CFO in defense of class and mass actions claiming improper revenue recognition in connection with restated financial statements. Obtained dismissal of 10b-5 claim; balance settled without payment by client.
  • Herman v. Salomon Smith Barney (S.D. Cal. 2002-03). Bill represented broker-dealer in obtaining dismissal, with prejudice, of a class action challenging alleged practices in sale of municipal bonds.
  • Olson v. Salomon Smith Barney (N.D. Cal. 2002). Bill obtained voluntary dismissal of class action challenging alleged practices in sale of municipal bonds.
  • Behrens v. Cygnus Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2002). Bill obtained voluntary dismissal on behalf of company, officers, and directors of class action claiming non-disclosure of material information.
  • Autodesk Securities Litigation (N.D. Cal. 2000). Bill represented the underwriter/analyst in obtaining dismissal of a class action involving open market trading.
  • Lippitt v. Raymond James Financial (S.F. Superior, N.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2001-04). Bill represented broker-dealer in class action claiming that marketing of callable CDs is an unfair business practice. Following the denial of a motion to remand, Bill obtained voluntary dismissal. The case settled after prior denial of remand was reversed on appeal.
  • FPA Securities Litigation (S.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 1999-2005). In Madden v. Deloitte & Touche and Amin v. S.G. Cowen, Bill represented the financial advisor in obtaining a dismissal, with prejudice, of mass actions arising out of acquisition of managed care medical corporations. Dismissal of the case was affirmed on appeal.
  • Bergen Capital Trust I Securities Litigation (C.D. Cal. 1999-2002). Bill represented the managing underwriters in defense of a class action involving a $300 million debt offering and open market trading, which was settled without payment by clients.
  • Myers v. Merrill Lynch (N.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 1998-2001). Bill represented the investment banking firm in defense of class action claiming that “penalty bids” imposed by underwriters to discourage flipping by IPO purchasers violate California unfair competition law and other laws. He obtained dismissal, with prejudice, on his initial motion which was affirmed on appeal.
  • In re Fritz Companies Securities Litigation (N.D. Cal., 9th Cir., S.F. Superior, California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court 1996-2003). Bill represented the company and its directors in defense of class actions involving open market trading. Federal and state actions were dismissed with prejudice on initial motion. He also obtained a judgment from the California Supreme Court reinstating the dismissal of another state case on behalf of holders.
  • In re Triteal Corp. Securities Litigation (S.D. Cal. 1997-99). Bill represented the lead underwriters in the defense of class actions involving secondary offering and open market trading. The case settled without payment by clients.
  • Chan v. Orthologic Corp. (D. Ariz. 1997-98). Bill represented the lead underwriters in defense of a class action involving open market trading and obtained dismissal with prejudice on the initial motion.
  • Steckman v. Hart Brewing, 143 F.3d 1293 (S.D. Cal., 9th Cir., San Diego Superior 1996-98). Bill represented the lead underwriters in defense of a class action arising out of a US$50 million IPO and open market trading. He obtained dismissal, with prejudice, of the federal action on the initial motion and voluntary dismissal of state court actions. The dismissal was affirmed on appeal.
  • In re KENETECH Securities Litigation (N.D. Cal. 1995-99). Bill represented lead underwriters in defense of class actions arising out of a US$100 million IPO of common stock, US$100 million offering of preferred depositary shares and open market trading. He obtained dismissal of Section 11 claims by open market purchasers and summary judgment on remaining claims.
  • In re Software Toolworks, Inc. Securities Litigation, 50 F.3d 615 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 907 (1995). Bill represented the Securities Industry Association as amicus curiae in support of the affirmance of summary judgment for underwriters on due diligence defense.
  • In re Worlds of Wonder Securities Litigation, 814 F. Supp. 850 (N.D. Cal. 1993), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 35 F.2d 1407 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 868 (1995). Bill represented the lead underwriters in defense of class actions alleging federal securities claims and common law claims arising out of a US$120 million IPO. He represented the sole underwriter in defense of a similar class action arising out of an US$80 million public offering of convertible debentures. In both cases, he defended against open market trading claims. Summary judgment for the underwriters was affirmed on appeal.

The following cases illustrate some of Bill's other areas of expertise in securities matters.

  • Unfair Competition Litigation. Bill has won more than 20 recent class and private attorney general actions under Section 17200 of the California Business & Professions Code on behalf of such clients as Citigroup, Salomon Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley and Verizon.
  • Private Finance Litigation. In Z Auction v. Salomon Smith Barney (Los Angeles County Superior Court 1999-2001), Bill represented the investment banker in defense of a US$1 billion claim for damages arising out of a private financing engagement and obtained dismissal of entire case with prejudice on demurrer.
  • Merger and Acquisition Litigation. In Medtronic v. Dieck (Arbitration 1998-99), Bill represented 10 former shareholders of an acquired company in defending a demand by the acquirer for rescission of US$72 million merger. He obtained summary judgment and an award of attorney’s fees from an arbitration panel.
  • Customer Litigation. In Estate of Joslyn v. Estate of Cash (NASD arbitration 1999 - 2001). Bill represented a broker-dealer in defense and favorable settlement of a claim that the customer suffered US$16 million in damages from unsuitable investments.
  • Fiduciary Litigation. In Rutledge v. Smith Barney (D. Haw. 1998-99), Bill represented the financial advisor in obtaining a dismissal with prejudice of ERISA and common law claims based on services to union trust funds.
  • Intra-company Disputes. Bill has represented numerous companies and/or shareholders in resolving disputes between majority and minority shareholders.
  • Partnership Disputes. Bill has represented numerous partnerships and their constituencies in disputes over partnership or general partner action.
  • Tender Offer Litigation. Bill has represented both offerors and offerees in federal and state litigation relating to corporate or partnership tender offers.
  • Regulatory Investigations. Bill has represented clients in numerous public and non-public investigations and informal inquiries by the SEC, NASD, NYSE, AMEX, PCX and FINRA: In 2004 and 2005, he represented clients in producing documents and/or testimony to the SEC in nine separate matters, without any having resulted in enforcement action.
  • Advisory Litigation. In Nicolino v. Automated Security (Holdings) plc (Contra Costa Superior Court; Court of Appeal 1997-98), Bill represented the financial advisor in obtaining the dismissal of a claim for alleged breach of acquisition agreement. Dismissal of the case was affirmed on appeal.
  • Internal Investigations. Bill has conducted internal investigations and represented special committees or audit committees for clients such as Salomon Smith Barney, Gap Inc., Restoration Hardware, Walt Disney Co., Onyx Software, Calypte Biomedical, Harper Group and Wells Fargo Bank.

Posts by: William Alderman

What to Watch for From the New SEC Chairman

Last Thursday, Jay Clayton was officially sworn in as the new Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As the new Chairman takes office, here are a few things we’re keeping an eye on:

Will Chairman Clayton take a position on the recently introduced bipartisan bill that would increase civil monetary penalties in SEC enforcement actions?  The “Stronger Enforcement of Civil Penalties Act of 2017” would significantly increase civil monetary penalties in enforcement actions to as much as $1 million per violation for individuals and $10 million per violation for entities, or three times the money gained in the violation or lost by the victims.  The current maximum civil monetary penalties are $181,071 and $905,353 per violation for individuals and entities, respectively.

Will the new Chairman preserve the directive reportedly issued by former Acting Chairman Michael Piwowar to re-centralize authority to issue formal orders of investigation?  In 2009, the SEC adopted a rule that delegated authority to issue formal orders initiating investigations to the Director of Enforcement, who then “sub-delegated” it to regional and associate directors and unit chiefs within the Enforcement Division.  In February, Piwowar reportedly revoked the “sub-delegated” authority, ordering it re-centralized exclusively with the Director of Enforcement.

Will enforcement actions against public companies increase or decrease after hitting their highest level since 2009 last year?  A recent report issued by the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business and Cornerstone Research found that the 92 actions the SEC brought against public companies and their subsidiaries in 2016 is more than double the level of enforcement activity from just three years prior. READ MORE

A Fraud By Any Other Name: Seventh Circuit Holds That SLUSA Extends to Class Actions That Could Be Pursued Under Federal Securities Fraud Laws

A divided panel of the Seventh Circuit recently held that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (“SLUSA”) requires any covered class action that “could have been pursued under federal securities law” to be brought in federal court.  The plaintiff maintained an investment account at LaSalle Bank, which was later acquired by Bank of America.  Each night, LaSalle invested (“swept”) the account’s balance into a mutual fund approved by the plaintiff.  Without the plaintiff’s knowledge, LaSalle also allegedly pocketed the fees that some of the mutual funds paid each time a balance was transferred.  When the plaintiff found out, he brought a class action in state court, arguing that LaSalle had breached its contractual and fiduciary duties to its customers by secretly paying itself fees generated by their accounts.

LaSalle and Bank of America successfully argued before the district court that SLUSA required removal of the case to federal court. SLUSA authorizes defendants to demand removal of any class action with at least fifty members that alleges “a misrepresentation or omission of a material fact in connection with the purchase or sale of a covered security.”  Congress drafted SLUSA to force securities class actions out of state courts and into federal courts, where plaintiffs must clear higher pleading hurdles.

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No Longer a Mirage: FCPA Compliance and Cooperation Has Its Benefits

On September 12, 2016, the SEC announced that it had reached a settlement with Jun Ping Zhang (“Ping”), a former executive of a Chinese subsidiary of Harris Corporation (“Harris”), regarding alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). The settlement was unusual, in that the SEC declined to also bring charges against Harris, an international communications and information technology company.

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CDX Holdings, Inc. v. Fox: Chancery Court’s Decision Is Affirmed, But Dissent Blasts Use of “Hindsight Bias” Analysis

Building

On June 6, 2016, the Supreme Court of Delaware affirmed a decision of the Chancery Court finding that corporate directors and officers involved in a sales transaction breached a contract with option holders to fairly value their options (see here for a thorough explanation of the Chancery Court decision, and in particular, the Court’s criticism of the retained financial advisers that provided a valuation analysis).  The Supreme Court decision also included a disproportionately lengthy dissent condemning both the Chancery Court’s findings and its reliance on “social science studies” to reach them.

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Mark Cuban Challenges the Referee: the Constitutionality of SEC In-House Courts

in-house courts

After the repeated challenges to the SEC’s in-house courts as previously reported, Mark Cuban joined the debate by filing an amicus curiae brief in support of petitioners Raymond J. Lucia Companies, Inc. and Raymond J. Lucia (collectively “Lucia”) in Lucia v. SEC.  Cuban, describing himself as a “first-hand witness to and victim of SEC overreach” in a 2013 insider trading case brought against him in an SEC court, argued that the D.C. Circuit should grant the petitioners’ appeal because SEC in-house judges are unconstitutionally appointed.

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Another Round of Favorable SEC Settlements, But Only for Underwriters that Self-Reported

Pen and Calculator

The SEC has rolled out its second wave of enforcement actions against 22 municipal underwriting firms for alleged securities violations in municipal bond offerings in connection with its Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (MCDC) Initiative.  As previously reported, the MCDC initiative was announced in March 2014 to address potential securities violations by municipal bond underwriters and issuers.  Under this initiative, the SEC offered favorable settlement terms to those who self-reported by the end of 2014.

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District Judge Takes Jab at SEC’s Home-Court Advantage in Administrative Proceedings, But Defense Bar May Not Have a Slam Dunk

The defense bar recently won a significant victory in the battle to challenge the SEC’s expanded use of administrative proceedings, following the 2010 enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, to seek penalties against unregulated individuals and entities.  As we previously wrote in SEC’s Administrative Proceedings: Where One Stands Appears to Depend on Where One Sits and There’s No Place Like Home: The Constitutionality of the SEC’s In-House Courts, SEC administrative proceedings have recently faced growing scrutiny, including skepticism about whether the administrative law judges (ALJs) presiding over these cases are inherently biased in favor of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  The Wall Street Journal recently reported that ALJs rule in favor of the SEC 90% of the time in administrative proceedings. Administrative proceedings have also been criticized for the ways in which they differ from federal court actions, including that respondents are generally barred from taking depositions, counterclaims are not permissible, there is no equivalent of Rule 12(b) motions to test the allegations’ sufficiency, and there is no right to a jury trial.

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Additional Avenues May Be Available for Federal Regulators to Curtail Deceptive Practices in High Frequency Trading

We first heard about the SEC’s increased focus on high-frequency trading in June 2014 when the SEC announced its desire to promulgate new rules on high frequency trading to address the lack of transparency in dark pools and alternative exchanges and to curtail the use of aggressive, destabilizing trading strategies in vulnerable market conditions.  However, the SEC and other regulators may not need to rely on new rules to regulate high frequency trading.  The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission special counsel Greg Scopino recently published an article in the Connecticut Law Review arguing that certain high frequency trading tactics violate federal laws against spoofing and wash trading.

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Keep Your Unreasonable Opinions to Yourselves: The Supreme Court Hears Argument in Omnicare

On November 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument in Omnicare v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund. As discussed in earlier posts, from March 18, 2014 and July 22, 2014, the Supreme Court in Omnicare has been asked to resolve a circuit split regarding the scope of liability under Section 11 of the Securities Act: does an issuer violate Section 11 if it makes a statement of opinion that is objectively false, or must the issuer also have known that the statement was false when made?

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Does Being an ‘Expert’ Make You an Expert?

Matrix

Earlier this month, Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York issued his opinion certifying a class of buyers of the common stock of a company created by a Chinese reverse merger.  McIntire v. China MediaExpress Holdings, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113446 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 15, 2014).  In doing so, he rejected defendants’ Daubert motion challenging the qualifications and methodology of plaintiffs’ expert witness on market efficiency, Cynthia Jones, and concluded that the market was efficient enough to support the Basic presumption of reliance and to permit class certification.  READ MORE