Christopher M. Mason

Christopher M. Mason



Chris Mason is a litigator well known for his extensive experience in class action defense, arbitration, and complex financial disputes. He typically represents consumer products, technology, financial services, private equity or industrial companies in state or federal trial and appellate courts, in domestic arbitration and mediation or in regulatory inquiries. Chris also leads the firm’s Arbitration team of over 150 attorneys and has extensive experience in mediation, both representing parties and as a neutral.

What do you focus on?

My primary goal as a lawyer is to help businesses manage the risks and outcomes of significant disputes.

I have defended many large class or mass actions and prosecuted or defended significant cases in more than half of the states in the country, in numerous federal courts and before the American Arbitration Association, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, and FINRA. I have successfully resolved well over 100 cases in mediation as a mediator or party.

  • In the Delaware Supreme Court, I won affirmance of a significant Chancery Court decision of first impression (which I had also won) concerning an attempt to substitute an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing for fiduciary duties that had been waived in a limited liability company agreement.
  • In the largest consumer class action in history, with over 200 million class members and minimum statutory damages of $500 billion to well over $1 trillion, I successfully represented a prominent data company that refused to settle when the others in its industry did.
  • I have handled many wireless telecommunications cases, including cases for each of the three largest domestic carriers and for the largest international carrier. Among other things, I have won the first appellate decision under New York law upholding class action waivers against claims of unconscionability and have made new law in the Fifth Circuit as to whether governmental entities can be members of putative consumer classes.
  • For a leading technology company, I eliminated both a mass action and a mass arbitration that threatened to disrupt its unique sales and distribution channels.
  • For the world’s largest wine company, I settled a nationwide class action over millions of bottles of allegedly fraudulent wine, not only for less than seven figures, but for less than the settlement paid by the client’s major competitor. I have also represented that client in defeating multiple lawsuits alleging the presence of arsenic in their wines, including defeating efforts to create a multidistrict litigation and eventually achieving dismissals in five different jurisdictions.
  • I have successfully resolved or defeated claims in multiple class actions in multiple jurisdictions for leading providers of consumer information about cars and trucks.
  • For several financial services clients, I have pioneered a unique jurisdictional technique in the resolution of certain kinds of disputes over structured products.
  • For the world’s leading luxury jewelry brand, I won a seven figure award in a complex purchase price dispute arbitration.

What do you see on the horizon?

Procedurally, the landscape on alternative dispute resolution is continuing to change. Having drafted some of the most widely used arbitration clauses in the country, I believe now is the time for many companies to reassess their contracts and dispute resolution programs.

Substantively, I see a resurgence in private antitrust theories, new emphasis on litigation over consumer products related to basic needs as opposed to products involving only discretionary spending (accompanied, however, by an evolving view of what is “basic”), constant risks with respect to the volume and use of data and a continuing need to simplify disputes over complex financial products for businesses.

Clerkships

Law Clerk to the Honorable J. Clifford Wallace, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Representative cases

  • Miller v. HCP Trumpet Investments, LLC, No. 107, 2018 Del. LEXIS 429 (Del.). In this case, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed a significant decision of first impression that Chris had won in the Chancery Court, Miller v. HCP & Co., C.A. No. 2017-0291-EG, 2018 Del. Ch. LEXIS 40 (Del. Ch.). The Miller cases involved about the extent to which an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing can be used—or not—to substitute for fiduciary duties that had been waived in a limited liability company agreement.
  • Ackal v. Centennial Beauregard Cellular, L.L.C., 700 F.3d 212 (5th Cir.). In a decision of first impression in any court, the Fifth Circuit reversed certification of a class in part because of inclusion of governmental entities as absent class members. Chris represented the successful defendants, subsidiaries of AT&T, in the trial court and on appeal.
  • Merizon Grp. Inc. d/b/a Modern Bus. Mach. v. Canon U.S.A., Inc., No. 12 Civ. 2744 (LDW) (E.D.N.Y.). In this case, Chris represented former Canon office imaging equipment dealers suing for violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and Section 2 of the Robinson-Patman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2, and 13, as well as Iowa and Wisconsin state law, to secure access to necessary parts and supplies following termination. The case concluded successfully when the parts became available to the former dealers.
  • Fresco v. R.L. Polk & Co., Case No. 07-60695-Civ-Martinez/Bandstra (S.D. Fla.). This case, settled for a modest amount of attorney’s fees, no economic relief to the plaintiffs, and an injunction on consent that, for the most part, simply codified the client’s existing internal controls, involved the defense of a nationwide class action for violation of federal statutory privacy protections brought against the oldest database company in the United States. The nature of the statute, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721-25, meant that the minimum statutory damages for the class probably exceeded $1 trillion. The class itself was probably the largest in history, comprising all persons in the United States who, at any time during more than a decade, had ever had a driver’s license.
  • Davis v. Carfax, Inc., No. CJ-04-1316 L (Okla. Dist. Ct.), appeal dismissed, No. 103008 (Ok Sup. Ct.). In this case, Chris defeated class certification and won dismissal of a statewide class action asserting breach of contract and violation of consumer protection statutes. On appeal, the case was used as a vehicle to settle, on terms very favorable to the client, all claims in other parallel state court class actions commenced in California, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • Digital Documents Store v. Xerox Corp., Case No. 72 155 Y 00474 08 JENF (AAA) and Elite v. Global Imaging Sys. Inc., No. BC379155 (Cal. Super. Ct.). Lead cases and arbitration of claims of over $1 billion for breach of contract, antitrust or unfair competition, and misuse of confidential information by a large group of Xerox agents and dealers. Through pretrial proceedings, the various lawsuits were stayed or dismissed and the damages claimed in the arbitration were reduced many-fold. The remaining claimants settled their disputes on terms highly favorable to Xerox and its subsidiary, Global Imaging Systems, rather than continue any further.
  • Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Ams. as Trustee v. LaCrosse Fin. Prods., LLC, No. 08 CV 0955 (LAK) (S.D.N.Y.). In this, and other similar cases such as Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Ams. v. Elliot Int’l, L.P., No. 09 CV 5242 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y.), and U.S. Bank N.A. v. Black Diamond CLO 2005-1 Adviser, L.L.C., 11 Civ. 5675 (JSR) (S.D.N.Y.), Chris has pioneered the use of federal statutory interpleader in combination with a little-known federal lien enforcement statute to provide world-wide quasi in rem jurisdiction to resolve disputes over the interpretation of structured debt products involving hundreds of millions of dollars at a time.
  • Morrissey v. Nextel Partners, Inc., Index No. 3194-06 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). In this case, a purported national class by disgruntled cellphone subscribers, Chris defeated national class certification in the trial court, and defeated all efforts on appeal at class certification except for the possibility of a partial class of New York-only customers—as to which there are almost no net damages that could be claimed.
  • Orcutt v. Nat’l Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., No. 6:12-CV-0513 (GTS/TWD) (N.D.N.Y.). This putative nationwide class action claiming violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) ended in a voluntary dismissal by the individual plaintiffs without class certification.
  • Zeller v. Constellation Brands, Inc., Case No. BC443338 (Cal. Super. Ct.). This is the lead case of several consumer class actions, triggered by fraud convictions in France against a number of wine sellers in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, involving claims of a proposed class of all United States purchasers of certain pinot noir wines from 2005 to 2008. The plaintiffs asserted that the wines were falsely labeled as pinot noir following the huge increase in demand for that varietal that occurred after the hit movie Sideways. After dismissal of several of the plaintiffs’ cases, the remaining case was settled for a very modest amount on a claims made basis.
  • In re the Reserve Fund Secs. and Derivative Litig., 09 MD. 2011 (PGG) (S.D.N.Y.). In this case, Chris—after an initial flat denial—persuaded the trial court to reverse its initial decision 180 degrees and recalculate the client’s multimillion dollar entitlement to payment with respect to money fund redemptions in the infamous “break the buck” cases triggered by the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy.
  • Ranieri v. Bell Atl. Mobile, 304 A.D. 2d 353, 759 N.Y.S. 2d 448 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t). In this significant decision, the court (with respect to an arbitration clause drafted by Chris), concluded that in New York “a contractual proscription against class actions” in a form consumer contract “is neither unconscionable nor violative of public policy.”
  • D.S. Meyerson Assocs., Inc. v. Allen, No. 00 Civ. 5772 (S.D.N.Y.). In a unique role as settlement counsel after years of dispute and litigation by other lawyers, Chris achieved a swift and favorable settlement of all claims.
  • Campbell v. AirTouch Cellular, Case No. GIC 751725 (Cal. Super. Ct.). In this case, at the time one of the largest class actions in history, Chris achieved a successful settlement covering multiple different class actions after several years of litigation.
  • Miletich v. Bookmeier, Index No. 00/114972 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). Chris resolved this difficult shareholder derivative suit with a highly favorable settlement for the client.
  • In re Cellco Consumer Litig., Master File No. L-9435-96 (N.J. Super. Ct.). Chris secured a dismissal after a number of years of litigation (including a successful decertification fight) of this multistate, consolidated consumer class action involving tens of millions of putative class members.
  • Quick Page of New Jersey, Inc. v. Cellco P’ship, Case No. 13 494 00811 00 02 (AAA). In this case Chris won an arbitration award under the Lanham Act and other theories to enjoin advertising and infringing behavior by a former distributor.
  • AXA Réassurance S.A. v. Chase Manhattan Bank, Index No. 99/121290 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). In this proceeding Chris won dismissal of all claims against a well-known motion picture producer, allowing the producer to pursue his own claims in arbitration.
  • Federated Strategic Income Fund v. Mechala Grp. Jamaica Ltd., No. 99 Civ. 10517 (HB) (S.D.N.Y.). This case ended with Chris obtaining for the client an unprecedented injunction on Trust Indenture Act grounds against a tender offer for debt securities.
  • Omnipoint Commc’ns, Inc. v. New York Yankee P’ship, Index No. 601910/97 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). Chris won summary judgment on all counts in this case involving substantial breach of contract and tortious interference claims for advertising in Yankee Stadium.

Publications

Presentations

  • “Ten Years Later: The Credit Crisis Revisited and Lessons Learned,” Nixon Peabody LLP, November 14, 2017
  • “Ethics and Professionalism: Best Practices for Attorneys 2015,” New York City Bar Association, May 18, 2015
  • “Developments in Arbitration 2014 for the Health Care Industry,” American Arbitration Association Healthcare Dispute Resolution Innovation & Strategy Conference, November 14, 2014
  • “Ethics & Professionalism: Best Practices for Attorneys 2014” (Program Chair), New York City Bar Association, October 10, 2014
  • “The Legal Ethics of Social Media,” Nixon Peabody LLP, December 5, 2012
  • “Common Uses and Abuses of Statistics in Commercial Litigation,” Nixon Peabody LLP, July 16, 2008
  • “Errors in Electronic Ethics,” Nixon Peabody LLP, April 17, 2008
  • “Commercial Arbitration: Recent Developments, Emerging Trends & Future Issues,” New York City Bar Association, March 4, 2008
  • “E-Discovery—How Does Your Legal Department Stack Up?” 19th Annual General Counsel Conference, June 4, 2007
  • “Developments in Class Action Litigation” Professional Indemnity Agency, 2007.
  • “When and How to Use Mediation to Your Advantage” New York State Bar Association/ADR Committee Annual Program, 2007.
  • “Building the Mediation Profession: Are We Certifiable?” Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York, 2006.
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution—What Corporate Counsel Need to Know to Effectively Manage Business Challenges,” 18th Annual General Counsel Conference, 2006.
  • “Factors in Choosing a Mediator for a Business Dispute,” Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution of the New York State Bar Association, 2006.
  • “Electronic Discovery Today,” Annual California MCLE Program, 2006.
  • “Foreign Corrupt Practice Act Basics,” Annual California MCLE Program, 2006.
  • “Shoring Up Your Defenses: Thoughts for Corporate Counsel about Defending Future Class Actions,” Marcus Evans Conference on How to Effectively Master, Settle, and Manage Your Insurance Litigation, 2005.
  • “The Class Action Fairness Act and the New York State Courts (And Some Other Interesting Class Action Developments),” New York State Bar Association, 2005.
  • “Corporate Dissolution in New York State: The Basics and Some Advanced Issues,” New York State Judicial Institute, 2005.

Press

9th Circ Amazon Ruling Opens New Driver Exemption Battles

Law360 | August 26, 2020

In this article on the Ninth Circuit’s decision which found that Amazon delivery drivers are exempt from mandatory arbitration, New York Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Mason is quoted for his thoughts on arbitration agreements and the importance of how choice of law clauses operate.

$4.8B Akorn ruling more outlier than shift at Chancery

Law360 | October 14, 2018

In the following coverage, Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green, Complex Commercial Disputes partners Rick McGuirk and Carolyn Nussbaum, and New York City Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Mason analyze a key ruling by the Delaware Chancery Court that affirmed the existence of a material adverse event allowing German pharmaceutical company Fresenius to back down from a merger with Akorn, Inc.

Delaware Chancery Court issues rare decision finding Material Adverse Effect justifying termination of merger

Law360 | October 14, 2018

In the following coverage, Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green, Complex Commercial Disputes partners Rick McGuirk and Carolyn Nussbaum, and New York City Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Mason analyze a key ruling by the Delaware Chancery Court that affirmed the existence of a material adverse event allowing German pharmaceutical company Fresenius to back down from a merger with Akorn, Inc.

Del. Justices uphold duty waiver in $43M LLC sale

Law360 | September 20, 2018

This article mentions Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Mason as counsel in the Delaware Supreme Court affirmance in Miller v. HCP Trumpet Investments, LLC.

Del. Justices probe LLC duty waiver in $43M sale appeal

Law360 | September 12, 2018

This article describes Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Mason’s appellate argument before all five Delaware Supreme Court justices in Miller v. HCP Trumpet Investments, LLC.

State AGs at odds over Google privacy pact at high court

Law360 | September 05, 2018

This article mentions Complex Commercial Disputes partners Chris Mason, Sarah André, Dan Deane and Seth Horvath as counsel for The New York Bar Foundation and The New York State Bar Association in an amicus brief—filed with the United States Supreme Court—in support of the approval by a California District Court, and the Ninth Circuit, of Google’s settlement involving a “cy pres” remedy in a privacy-related case.

Contact

Christopher M. Mason

Partner
Deputy Leader, Class Actions and Aggregate Litigation
Leader, Arbitration Team
Member, Firm Policy Committee
Member, Firm Pro Bono Committee

New York

Phone: 212-940-3017


Fax: 866-947-2229

Duke University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude (Order of the Coif)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa)

New York

District of Columbia

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

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

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

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

U.S. District Court, District of the District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

Chris was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020 and 2021 in the field of Commercial Litigation.

Chris has been recognized each year from 2016 to the present for his exceptional standing in the legal community in the area of Business Litigation in New York Super Lawyers.

Chris has successfully represented clients in a number of substantial class actions and other complex cases in the past several years.

Chris is a member of the Board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination. He has served on the Executive Advisory Committee of CPR: International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution. He is a member of the American Bar Association (Litigation Section, Committee on Commercial and Banking Litigation; Antitrust Section); the New York City Bar Association (former member of the Professional Discipline Committee, the Professional Responsibility Committee, the Consumer Affairs Committee; and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee); the New York State Bar Association (Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee); and the Federal Bar Council. He has taught at the New York State Judicial Institute and is regularly appointed as a mediator by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He has also served on the mediation panel for the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Commercial Division. Chris is a former law clerk to the Honorable J. Clifford Wallace of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Chris serves and has served as an officer or board member for various educational, charitable, or religious organizations at the local and national level, ranging from a charity doing long-term recovery work on the Hurricane Sandy disaster in New York City (of which he was a founding officer), to a multibillion-dollar pension fund (of which he was the chair of the governance committee and a member of the executive committee), to one of the country’s largest protestant Christian denominations (of which he is the co-chair of its corporation, an entity dating back to 1799). He also serves as the Moderator of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of New York City, in effect the chief judge in New York City for ecclesiastical litigation in that denomination.

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