corporations, as well as officers, directors and significant individuals, in all phases of complex high-stakes civil, criminal and regulatory matters. His work on behalf of these clients spans more than four decades and includes many sensitive and high-profile matters, including governmental and regulatory inquiries and related civil litigation involving allegations of insider trading, market manipulation, accounting irregularities, stock options backdating and other financial fraud. Mr. Naftalis has also served as counsel to audit and special committees of a number of major public companies in connection with regulatory issues.Mr. Naftalis’ most notable work on behalf of clients includes his successful defense of Michael Eisner, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in the shareholder derivative lawsuit related to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Mr. Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts. The National Law Journal chose the Disney decision as one of the top defense wins of that year. Mr. Naftalis also successfully secured dismissal for Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange Compensation Committee, of all charges brought against him by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso. Following a decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court directing dismissal of the lawsuit, the attorney general announced he would not appeal and dropped the case.
Other notable matters include the representation of the city of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the World Trade Center, in which no charges were brought against the city, any of its agencies or its officials, and the defense of Sirius XM Radio in a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking $330 million in damages, in which Mr. Naftalis secured summary judgment in favor of Sirius dismissing the case. The court found that the “clear, unambiguous language” of the contract defeated Stern’s claim. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the dismissal of Stern’s lawsuit. More recently, Mr. Naftalis defended Rajat K. Gupta, the former Managing Director Worldwide of McKinsey, in both a high-profile criminal insider trading trial and parallel SEC enforcement action, where he obtained a precedent-setting decision challenging the attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to utilize an administrative process rather than go to court.
Mr. Naftalis has long represented numerous securities industry clients in sensitive “bet the company” matters, including federal and state criminal actions, SEC investigations, and civil litigation. He successfully defended Salomon Brothers in the federal criminal and SEC investigations of U.S. Treasury auction bidding practices, and Kidder, Peabody in connection with the Wall Street insider trading scandal. In both instances, he persuaded the U.S. government not to bring criminal charges. He also represented Kidder, Peabody in multiple related civil litigations in which the company faced more than $2 billion in damage claims.
In addition to the many honors he has received over the course of his career from within the legal profession, Mr. Naftalis was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Benedict XVI. He also received the Robert M. Morgenthau Award for the Legal Profession by the Police Athletic League, the George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award by American Friends of the Hebrew University, the Law and Society Award by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award by the Citizens Union of the City of New York, the Judge Simon H. Rifkind Award by the Jewish Theological Seminary and the John J. McCloy Award by The Fund for Modern Courts.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Naftalis served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. He also served as Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee investigating abuses in the nursing home industry.