James C. Kelly has been litigating class actions and complex commercial lawsuits in courts throughout the United States for over 19 years.
After graduating law school, Mr. Kelly joined the law firm Wolf Popper LLP, and concentrated his practice on securities and consumer fraud class actions. After 7 years at Wolf Popper, Mr. Kelly started his own practice.
Mr. Kelly has extensive experience litigating class actions. For example, at Wolf Popper, he helped litigate claims against Google, Inc., on behalf of Google’s customers (advertisers) that placed ads on Google and were allegedly overcharged. After extensive motion practice in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, a settlement was reached in the amount of $20 million. He also recovered over $1 million in losses for purchasers of alleged improper tax shelters from a major banking institution, and successfully litigated product mislabeling claims in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, against Campbell Soup Company, in which he obtained over $1 million for class members. In another case, he successfully convinced the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, to set aside proceeds from an insurance policy owned by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., to be applied towards his clients’ litigation claims against Jackson Hewitt.
While at Wolf Popper, he also litigated a case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of American International Group Inc. (AIG) investors that suffered losses to investments in AIG common stock contained in their employee 401(k) plans as a result of alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by plan fiduciaries, including AIG’s CEO. After successfully defeating defendants’ motions to dismiss the consolidated complaint, on October 7, 2008, AIG settled the litigation for $24.2 million. In another example, while at Wolf Popper, he recovered damages for investors who purchased Tag-It Pacific, Inc., stock and suffered losses as a result of alleged fraudulent omissions and misstatements made by the company. The Tag-It Pacific case was a hard fought lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where the parties went all the way through the summary judgment stage and prepared for trial. Although the plaintiffs initially lost in the district court, plaintiffs appealed the district court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained a complete reversal of the district court’s opinion. Shortly thereafter, the parties settled the lawsuit for $5.75 million, nearly 100% of the damages claimed by defendants.
The Law Office of James C. Kelly has prosecuted a class action against Citibank, N.A. along with the law firm Schoengold & Sporn, P.C., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. This class action was on behalf of Citibank customers that were damaged as a result of Citibank reporting to the IRS that certain customers received income from Citibank as a result of receiving promotional airline miles that the customers received for opening up checking and/or savings accounts at Citibank. The previous practice in the industry was that banks would not report said promotional airline miles as income. Not only did Citibank not disclose that it would report the miles as income to the IRS, but it valued the miles approximately 150% more than what they were worth, subjecting customers to hundreds of dollars of unexpected taxes. After years of litigation, a trial before the Late Honorable Deborah A. Batts, and two appeals before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, we negotiated a nationwide settlement estimated to have a value of approximately $10 million, which was approved by Judge Batts.
The Law Office of James C. Kelly also prosecuted a class action against Blue Diamond Growers, along with the law firm Wolf Popper LLP, in the United States District Court for the Southern District, for misleading consumers in connection with the sale of its Almond Breeze labeled almond milk products in not disclosing that said products contain only 2% almond content. The class action alleged that Blue Diamond Growers falsely labeled its Almond Breeze products as being made from almonds, being certified by the American Heart Association as heart healthy as a result of its almond content therein, and containing at least a cup of almonds. The class action also alleged that Almond Breeze products contained carrageenan, without failing to disclose that carrageenan was a potential cancer causing ingredient. We have achieved significant results from this class action as Blue Diamond Growers has removed the approximate cup of almonds pictured on its Almond Breeze products, has removed the claim that the product was certified by the American Health Association, has changed the statement on its product that it is made “from” almonds to made “with” almonds, has removed all health claims on its website with respect to almonds, and has removed carrageenan from its products, very shortly after the court denied defendant's motion to dismiss. See Albert v. Blue Diamond Growers, 151 F. Supp. 3d 412 (S.D.N.Y. 2015). Further, the lawsuit has created significant press, including being discussed on the Dr. Oz show, which informed viewers that Almond Breeze barely contained any almonds and taught consumers how to make almond milk at home. This lawsuit was resolved along with other class actions that were brought against Blue Diamond Growers in a $9 million nationwide settlement that was approved in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Arkansas.
EDUCATION & ADMISSIONS
James C. Kelly is a summa cum laude graduate of Brooklyn Law School (2004), where he received various awards including the CALI Award for Excellence in Securities Regulation, Secured Transactions, and Federal Tax Practices and Procedures. He was also a Carswell Scholar at Brooklyn Law School and received the Samuel P. Sporn and Ellen L. Sporn Scholarship, the Attorney-CPA Foundation Scholarship, the Edith C. Blum Foundation Prize for exceptional achievement in the area of Taxation, and the Professor Philip K. Yonge Memorial Prize for exceptional achievement in Commercial Law or Bankruptcy.
During law school, Mr. Kelly interned for the Honorable Allan L. Gropper at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, S.D.N.Y., and interned for the New York City Department of Finance, Office of Legal Affairs.
Mr. Kelly obtained a B.S. in Accounting from the State University of New York at Binghamton (1999), where he was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, National Honor Society.
Prior to practicing law, Mr. Kelly was a certified public accountant concentrating on the preparation and audit of corporate financial statements.
Mr. Kelly has been designated by Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in 2014 and 2015 (See Super Laywers Website here).
Mr. Kelly is admitted to the Bar of the State of New York, the Bar of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and the Bar of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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