Blair A. Nicholas

Partner
Tel: +1 (858) 720-3183
Fax: +1 (858) 793-0323 Download vCard

Mr. Nicholas is a senior and managing partner of the firm and widely recognized as one of the leading securities and consumer litigators in the country. He has extensive experience representing prominent private and public institutional investors in high-stakes actions involving federal and state securities and consumer laws, accountants’ liability, market manipulation, antitrust violations, shareholder appraisal actions, and corporate governance matters.  Mr. Nicholas has recovered billions of dollars in courts throughout the nation on behalf of some of the largest mutual funds, investment managers, insurance companies, public pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, and hedge funds in North America and Europe.

Mr. Nicholas has been widely and prominently recognized in national legal publications for his exemplary achievements on behalf of prominent institutional investors.  His professional honors and recognitions include being named an “Attorney of the Year” by The Recorder; a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation; a “Recommended Lawyer in M&A Related Shareholder Litigation” by Legal 500; a “Top Attorney in San Diego” by The New York Times; a “Southern California Super Lawyer” and a “San Diego Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers; one of the “Top 20 Lawyers Under 40” by the Daily Journal; a “Leading Lawyer in Commercial Litigation” by Best Lawyers in America; and one of the “Fab Fifty Young Litigators” by The American Lawyer.  

In addition, Lawdragon magazine has named Mr. Nicholas one of the “100 Securities Litigators You Need To Know,” and regularly names him one of the “500 Leading Lawyers in America.”  He was featured by Lawdragon as a leading lawyer in America as part of its “Lawyer Limelight” special series, which published a profile discussing his career achievements (available here).  Profiled as a “Rainmaker” by prominent legal newswire Law360, Mr. Nicholas was recently the subject of a special feature in which he shared some anecdotes and insights into his commitment to representing institutional investor clients (available here).

Mr. Nicholas is also a frequent commentator in nationally circulated news articles, lectures at institutional investor and continuing legal educational conferences throughout the United States, and has written numerous articles relating to the application of the securities laws.  

Representative Cases

On behalf of institutional investor clients, Mr. Nicholas currently serves, and has served in prior litigation, as counsel in a wide variety of high-profile actions.  Select representations include the following

  • Vale S.A. Securities Litigation – Representing public pension funds as lead plaintiffs in a securities fraud action against Brazilian mining company Vale S.A. and certain of its top executives.  The case relates to the recent catastrophic collapse of the massive Fundão mining dam, which killed at least 17 people, destroyed an entire city, and polluted numerous rivers and other waterways.  
  • Safeway Appraisal  Retained by prominent institutional stockholder and resolved appraisal claim for a 26% premium over the buyout price. By proactively exercising its appraisal rights and not passively accepting the buyout price approved by other shareholders, BLB&G’s institutional client received over $105 million in additional proceeds over the buyout price.
  • RMBS Trustee Actions – Currently representing BlackRock, PIMCO, and nine other prominent institutional investors in six representative actions pending in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York against the principal financial crisis-era RMBS trustee banks: U.S. Bank National Association; Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas; The Bank of New York Mellon; Wells Fargo; HSBC Bank USA, National Association; and Citibank N.A. The actions are brought by the plaintiffs in their representative capacity on behalf of over 2,200 RMBS trusts issued between 2004 and 2008. The suits allege that the trustees breached contractual, statutory and common law duties owed to the trusts and certificate-holders. Click here to see feature coverage in The American Lawyer on these filings.
  • Petrobras Direct Actions  Currently representing prominent life insurance companies, mutual fund complexes, public pension funds, and other institutional money managers concerning direct claims against Petroleo Brasileiro to recover damages incurred as a result of the corruption scandal at the Brazilian oil giant, the largest corruption scandal in Brazil's history.
  • AIG Direct Action – Representing PIMCO in a direct action against American International Group (AIG) arising out of the insurer’s massive undisclosed exposure to the housing and subprime mortgage markets in the years leading up to the financial crisis. 

  • SSA Antitrust Litigation – Currently representing prominent public pension funds in antitrust class action litigation against some of the largest dealers of supranational, sub-sovereign, and agency bonds (“SSA bonds”). The cases concern Defendants’ collusive activities to fix the prices of SSA bonds sold to and purchased from investors in the secondary market.

  • Towers Watson Appraisal – Representing a prominent mutual fund complex and other institutional investors who are asserting their shareholder appraisal rights in connection with the merger of Towers Watson & Co. with Willis Group Holdings plc.
  • ARCP Direct Actions – Currently representing BlackRock, PIMCO, and other prominent institutional investors pursuing direct actions against American Realty Capital Properties (k/n/a VEREIT, Inc.) to recover damages incurred as a result of a multi-year accounting fraud at one of the largest real estate investment trusts in the world. 
  • Genworth Securities Litigation   Represented public pension fund as co-lead counsel in a securities fraud action resolved for $219 million, pending court approval, which is the largest recovery ever obtained in a securities class action in Virginia. 

  • Jarden Appraisal – Representing prominent institutional investor asserting its shareholder appraisal rights in connection with the $15 billion acquisition of Jarden Corporation by Newell Rubbermaid Inc. 

  • Wilmington Trust Securities Litigation – Representing pension and Taft-Hartley funds as the court-appointed lead plaintiffs in a securities fraud action against Wilmington Trust Corporation and certain of its former top executives.   

  • Tyco Direct Action   Lead Counsel on behalf of prominent mutual funds, hedge funds and a public pension fund in a direct action against Tyco International and certain of its former officers, which was successfully resolved for over $105 million.

  • International Rectifier Securities Litigation  Co-Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resolved for $90 million.

  • AXA Rosenberg Breach of Fiduciary Duty Action  Recovered over $65 million for investors in AXA Rosenberg’s funds and strategies who incurred losses as a result of an error in the company’s quantitative investment model.
  • Maxim Integrated Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in a stock options backdating action which resulted in $173 million cash for investors – the largest backdating recovery in the Ninth Circuit.
  • Dendreon Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resulting in $40 million cash settlement for investors. 
  • Qwest Direct Action  Represented prominent mutual funds in a direct action which resulted in significant and confidential recovery.
  • Legato Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resolved for $85 million.
  • Gemstar Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in a securities fraud action which was successfully resolved for $92.5 million.
  • Countrywide Equity Direct Action  Represented seventeen prominent institutional investors, including many of the largest in the world, in a direct action that was successfully and confidentially resolved against Countrywide Financial, certain of its former executive officers, and KPMG LLP. 
  • BP Direct Action – Currently representing prominent institutional investors against British Petroleum and certain of its former officers arising out of the Company’s material false statements and omissions about its safety practices and the severity of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Williams Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in a securities fraud action resolved for $311 million.
  • Marsh & McLennan Direct Action - Successfully resolved direct securities action against Marsh & McLennan on behalf of several prominent mutual funds.
  • Informix Securities Litigation  Co-Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resolved for $142 million.
  • Toyota Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resulting in $25.5 million settlement arising out of Toyota’s concealment of unintended acceleration. 
  • Clarent Securities Litigation  Co-Lead Trial Counsel in a securities fraud action prosecuted in the Northern District of California. After a four-week jury trial, in which Mr. Nicholas delivered the closing argument, the jury returned a rare securities fraud verdict in favor of the shareholders against the Company’s former CEO.
  • Countrywide RMBS Direct Action  Represented prominent institutional investors, including money managers and insurance companies, in a direct action that was successfully and confidentially resolved against Countrywide Financial.
  • LIBOR Manipulation Actions  Currently representing the Los Angeles County Employees' Retirement Association and the County of Riverside in actions on behalf of investors and municipalities who were damaged by the LIBOR rate-setting banks conspiracy to manipulate this critical financial benchmark.
  • Morgan Stanley RMBS Direct Action  Currently representing two prominent insurance companies against Morgan Stanley arising out of its fraudulent sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. 
  • Network Associates Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resolved for $70 million.
  • J.P. Morgan RMBS Direct Action  Representing a prominent insurance company in an action alleging fraud claims arising from J.P. Morgan's sale of residential mortgage pass-through certificates.
  • Finova Securities Litigation  Lead Counsel in securities fraud action resolved for $42 million.
  • Deutsche Bank RMBS Direct Action  Successfully represented a prominent institutional investor in a securities fraud action against Deutsche Bank arising out of its fraudulent sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.
  • Assisted Living Concepts   As Lead Counsel for the Class, obtained settlement for $12 million in cash, subject to Court approval.

Writing/Speaking

Mr. Nicholas frequently lectures at institutional investor and continuing legal educational conferences throughout the United States.  He has written numerous articles relating to the application of the federal and state securities laws, including:

  • “Institutional Investors and Class Action Tolling,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (July 2, 2016) – available here.
  • “Concerns Rise with Foreign Litigation: Action May Be Only Way to Recoup Losses,” Pensions & Investments (January 2013) (co-author)
  • “Regulations Needed for Healthy Market,” The Recorder (March 2011)
  • “Why Institutional Investors Opt-Out of Securities Fraud Class Actions and Pursue Direct Individual Actions,” Securities Litigation and Enforcement Institute (PLI, July 2009) (co-author)
  • “Credit Rating Agencies: Out of Control and in Need of Reform,” Securities Litigation & Regulation Reporter (June 30, 2009) (co-author)
  • “Ruling Warns Funds to Follow Class Actions,” Pensions & Investments (December 2008) (co-author)
  • “South Ferry: Applying Tellabs, 9th Circuit Lowers The Bar for Pleading Scienter Under the PSLRA,” Securities Litigation & Regulation Reporter (October 2008)
  • “The 7th Circuit Sends a Strong Message: Institutions Must Monitor Securities Class Actions Claims,” The NAPPA Report (August 2008)
  • “Industry-Wide Collapse Defense Falls Flat in Recent Subprime-Related Securities Fraud Decisions,” Securities Litigation & Regulation Reporter (July 2008) (co-author)
  • “Auditor Liability: Institutional Investors Pursue Opt-Out Actions To Maximize Recovery of Securities Fraud Losses,” Securities Litigation and Enforcement Institute (PLI, 2007) (co-author)
  • “Reforming the Reform Act and Restoring Investor Confidence in the Securities Markets,” Securities Reform Act Litigation Reporter (July 2002)

Mr. Nicholas also oversees the firm’s Real-Time Speakers Series, webinars that feature candid conversations with academics, policy makers, commentators and other experts about the financial markets and issues of importance to the institutional investor community.  He has co-hosted several of its recent episodes, including:

  • “Supreme Court Vacancy, Its Impact Now and for the Future” with guest speaker Erwin Chemerinsky (May 2016)
  • "Control And The Imperial CEO – A Conversation with Professor Bill Black" (February 2016) 

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Boards and Other Professional Affiliations

Mr. Nicholas is a Fellow at the American College of Investment Counsel (ACIC), and is an active member of both the Litigation Group and Securities Litigation Committee for the American Bar Association (ABA) and serves on the Affiliate Membership Committee for the California State Association of County Retirement Systems (SACRS).  He served as Vice President on the Executive Committee of the San Diego Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and is an active member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers of San Diego, Consumer Attorneys of California, Litigation Section of the State Bar of California, and the San Diego County Bar Association. He is also an active member of a variety of state, regional and national organizations dedicated to investor education and advocacy, including: National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA), California Association of Public Retirement Systems (CALAPRS), and Council of Institutional Investors (CII).  

 

Education:

  • University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., Economics
  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D.; Lead Articles Editor of the San Diego Law Review

Bar Admissions:

  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Southern, Central and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin