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Christopher D. Thomas



A trial lawyer with 35 cases-to-jury verdict, Chris Thomas focuses his practice on the aggressive representation of people, businesses and nonprofits. Major clients include universities, utilities, construction and pharmaceutical companies.

What do you focus on?

My major focus is on civil litigation in the commercial space, including disputes related to contracts and trade secrets. The defense of tort claims and white collar matters are also a significant part of what I do.

At any given time I am conducting work that spans the entire breadth of litigation, from fact development, to trial, to the defense of verdicts on appeal.

What do you see on the horizon?

Within the next three years, nearly all large document reviews will be conducted using predictive coding. Clients are demanding this as a way of controlling costs and improving results.

Tort Litigation

Chris Thomas represents various industries in defense of personal injury and wrongful death litigation:

  • Aviation and Aerospace: Representation of major airlines and aerospace companies in personal injury tort litigation, including mass death multi-district litigation.
  • Pharmaceutical: Regional counsel to international pharmaceutical corporation in multi-district litigation.
  • Credit Correction Industry: National defense counsel to credit correction entity facing class action alleging violations of CROA.
  • Public Utilities: Representation of public utility companies against all manner of tort claims related to gas and electric transmission and sale.
  • Product Liability: Defense of wide range of products against defect claims.

Crime/Investigations

Chris Thomas conducts investigations and defends criminal matters. Representative matters include:

  • Successful representation of individual against claims he was involved in wide conspiracy to distribute hundreds of kilos of cocaine. Three-month jury trial ended in acquittal on conspiracy charge.
  • Representation of a global chemical manufacturer against conspiracy allegations that company acted in concert with other industry members regarding the health effects of vinyl chloride in state and federal cases around the country.
  • Representation of major retailer in a trade espionage case initiated by the FBI and the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
  • Representation of a public utility company in a public corruption case initiated by the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York.
  • Representation of a major transportation company against claims by the New York State Office of the Attorney General that it violated state safety laws.
  • Representation of an international wholesaler of wine and spirits against an industry-wide investigation of that industry initiated by the New York State Office of the Attorney General.
  • Defense of a dairy farmer from a felony charge of harboring illegal aliens. Used aggressive investigation and pre-indictment depositions to obtain a major reduction in charges and minimal fine.

Shale Gas

Chris Thomas provides representation to major players in New York’s Marcellus Shale initiative.

  • Local counsel in Baker, et al. v. Anschutz Exploration Corporation, et al.; 11-CV-611CJS. Plaintiffs assert various environmental claims related to defendants’ drilling and operation of a natural gas well in Upstate New York. Matter is being aggressively litigated, with an emphasis on science and the use of Lone Pine motion to narrow claims.
  • Defense of gas driller in claims related to allegations of serious physical injuries suffered by independent contractor at pump station. Pleace v. Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Index No.134542
  • Defense of equipment supplier in case involving death of employee at well pad.
  • Representation of major exploration company in relation to mandatory integration.

First Amendment and Press Freedom

Chris Thomas represents newspapers, television stations, reporters and entertainment personalities against various claims related to free speech, reporting, and access to records. Representative matters include:

  • Successful representation of Gannett Company in Varrenti v. Gannett Co., Inc., 33 Misc. 3d 405 (Sup. Ct. Monroe Cty. 2011) (Anonymous internet speech protected by the First Amendment; newspaper not required to disclose the identities of anonymous posters to online news articles).
  • Representation of Jay Leno and NBC against defamation claim.
  • Representation of media intervenors against the New York State Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader related to access to budget records.
  • Representation of one of nation’s largest media companies against claims of defamation and in support of access to records.
  • Defense of dozens of subpoenas served upon various media providers.

Construction Defect Litigation

For nearly 15 years, Chris Thomas has handled a wide range of construction defect claims:

  • Schalmont Central School District v. Bast Hatfield, et al: Represented an asbestos monitoring company in a multi-million dollar asbestos release case. Litigated case through discovery and to trial, where we successfully negotiated a favorable settlement prior to verdict.
  • Hohl v. NRG—mediated resolution for large energy company in a plant construction dispute in New York State Supreme Court.
  • Successfully handled one of the nation’s largest claims of property damage related to mold infestation.
  • Defense of claims related to project defect and delay caused by the incidental disturbance of asbestos, and other causes.
  • Representation of international builder of bridges against construction defect claim.

Political and Election Law

  • Successful representation of the City of Rochester in two lawsuits challenging (1) the authority of the former Acting Mayor to execute mayoral duties and (2) the City’s Council decision to hold a special election to fill the mayoral vacancy. Matter of Davis v. Carballada, 31 Misc. 3d 728 (Sup. Ct. Monroe Cty. 2011).
  • Successful representation of voter in New York’s 28th Congressional District challenging the validity of the designating petition of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s Democratic Party primary opponent. Matter of Brown v. Egriu, 76 A.D.3d 799 (4th Dept. 2010), lv denied 15 N.Y.3d 704 (2010).
  • Successful representation of Rochester City Council Member in election law proceeding challenging the validity of primary opponent’s ballot access petition.
  • Representation of citizen-objector challenging the validity of designating petitions in race for New York State Assembly for the 137th Assembly District. Matter of Ward v. Cruz and Lightfoot, Index No. 2012/8373.

Contract and Business Disputes

  • Successfully represented co-owner of optometry practice in opposing charges of fraud and embezzlement and in prosecuting claim for contract reformation. Litigation settled in the successful sale of the entire business to the client.
  • Paetec v. Alcatel-Lucent: Successfully resolved case for global telecommunications company on breach of contract, indemnity and patent infringement.
  • Representation of prison medical services provider in a breach of contract action commenced by the County of Monroe.
  • Representation of an analytics company against claims of breach of contract and prosecution of cross claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty.

Land Use and Planning Litigation

  • Basset Group, Inc. et al v. Town of Greece Town Board et al, 2012 NY Slip Op 4514 (4 th Dep’t 2012): Successfully represented developer in opposing a challenge to a rezoning alleging violations of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and unconstitutional spot-zoning.
  • Successful representation of local developer against claims of a homeowners’ association (HOA) that Phase II of project was not contemplated during Phase I and not authorized under relevant chain of title.
  • Successful representation of regional developer against claims of international developer that rezoning was improper due to alleged violations of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Court orders Pittsford board to approve controversial Westport Crossing

Democrat & Chronicle | September 14, 2018

Rochester Complex Commercial Disputes partner Chris Thomas is quoted in this article for his representation of a developer in its efforts to build a luxury apartment complex in Pittsford, NY.

Discussing the NFL's new national anthem policy

WXXI-AM (NPR affiliate in Rochester) | May 23, 2018

Rochester complex commercial disputes partner Chris Thomas participated in this NPR panel discussion about the NFL’s new policy regarding player protests during the U.S. national anthem.

'Crisis doesn't discriminate': Center for Youth opens Owen's House crisis nursery

The Democrat and Chronicle | May 11, 2018

Rochester commercial litigation partner Chris Thomas is mentioned in this article about Owen’s House, a new crisis nursery named after Chris’ late son.

Monroe County Bar Association ends judicial candidate ratings

Rochester Business Journal | April 18, 2017

Rochester commercial litigation partner Chris Thomas is quoted in this article about the Monroe County Bar Association’s decision to do away with judicial candidate ratings.

Column: Real news matters; fake news fails us

Democrat and Chronicle | March 03, 2017

Rochester commercial litigation partner Christopher Thomas is quoted in this column about media attacks from the Trump administration and the importance of the First Amendment.

Civil lawsuits could benefit from a second opinion

Rochester Business Journal | December 09, 2016

Rochester commercial litigation partner Christopher Thomas is quoted throughout this article exploring if and when businesses should seek a second legal opinion.

Will we see LDC criminals sentenced?

Democrat and Chronicle | May 03, 2016

Rochester commercial litigation partner Chris Thomas is noted as representing Democrat & Chronicle in a story about its challenge to a request to ban video cameras from the upcoming sentencing of three men involved a high-profile LDC corruption case.

Connections with Evan Dawson: The Future of Libel Law

WXXI (PBS Rochester) | April 13, 2016

Rochester partner Christopher Thomas discusses the potential impact of Donald Trump’s desire to change libel law if elected president.

Contact

Christopher D. Thomas

Counsel

Rochester

Phone: 585-263-1087


Fax: 866-947-0571

State University of New York at Albany, B.A., magna cum laude (with Departmental Honors in Political Science)

State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law, J.D., (Law Faculty Award, National Association of Public Interest Law Award)

New York

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

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

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

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

Christopher was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 in the fields of Commercial Litigation, Litigation—Construction, Product Liability Litigation—Defendants, and Trade Secrets Law. Christopher has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2015 and was named Litigation—Construction “Lawyer of the Year” in Rochester, NY in 2017 and 2019.

Christopher has also been recognized for exceptional standing in the legal community in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2018 for Litigation: General Commercial (New York (Upstate)).

He was also selected to the Upstate New York Super Lawyers list in 2011-2015. His primary areas of practice are civil litigation defense and business litigation.

 

Chris Thomas is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Monroe County Bar Association.

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