For almost thirty years, Jonathan Polonsky has helped clients resolve business disputes, primarily concerning breach of contract or warranties, breach of fiduciary duty, or fraud, through both litigation and alternative dispute resolution. His clients have included financial institutions, building owners and general contractors, engineering firms, hospitals, manufacturers, and other commercial entities. In each case, he has brought to bear an understanding of potential business solutions to avoid litigation, cost-effective techniques to reduce litigation expenses, and creative approaches to claims, defenses, and motion practice. He has been first chair trial counsel in more than 20 trials and has argued numerous appeals in state and federal courts.
Prior to entering private practice, as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Economic Crimes Bureau of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, Mr. Polonsky investigated and prosecuted financial frauds, forged documents and false statements, labor racketeering, extortion, and embezzlement.
Mr. Polonsky's core competencies include: commercial litigation; corporate governance; securities class actions and derivative claims; bankruptcy and creditors’ rights; insurance coverage; internal investigations; commercial contracts; D&O liability; product liability and mass torts; consumer class actions; ERISA, discrimination, and employment litigation; trade secrets; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; accounting and auditing E&O; antitrust; fraud; and breach of contract, warranty, or duty.
Examples of Mr. Polonsky's most recent experience include:
- Bankruptcy litigation counsel for the official creditors or equity committees for four hospitals, a large residential real estate project, a technology company, two manufacturers, and a hedge fund.
- Defended a bank against claims brought by a bankruptcy trustee for over $10 million in fraudulent transfers (which the bank admitted it received) and over $50 million for breach of a warehouse lending contract (which the bank admitted cancelling). Settled prior to discovery for $225,000.
- Defended a Swiss bank against over $58 million in claims for lender liability and fraud brought by a Texas billionaire and a Utah insurance company. Obtained an injunction from the Utah state court staying the Texas state court trial. Settled the claims in a Fifth Circuit mediation for a low six-figures amount on the eve of trial and after summary judgment had been denied by the Texas trial court.
- Won summary judgment for the board of directors of a bank mutual holding company on claims of breach of fiduciary duty brought by a leading bank shareholder activist and arising from corporate governance and restructuring issues.
- Obtained near policy limit insurance coverage for Morse Diesel, as general contractor, to cover claims by an owner based on a subcontractor’s gross negligence.
- Defended a securities class action against Sharper Image and its directors and received a voluntary dismissal by the class action plaintiffs. Also, defended Sharper Image in consumer fraud class actions.
- On behalf of global institutional investors, obtained a mid-eight figure settlement against two major accounting firms that were the auditor and the administrator for an offshore hedge fund that was falsifying its trading results. In the course of the litigation, pierced the veil through to a Swiss verein.
- For 6+ years, acted as primary U.S. counsel for the Consumer Products Services group of Bureau Veritas. Worked with the Director of Legal Affairs and Risk Management on contracts, risk management and litigation; served on BV’s crisis response team; provided litigation avoidance and liability minimization advice; counseled on issues arising from global factory inspections and employee claims; reviewed and negotiated services agreements; developed standard terms and conditions. In July 2016, won summary judgment dismissing $74 million in claims for tortious interference, negligence, product disparagement, and antitrust brought by a Brazilian manufacturer.
- National defense counsel for a Quebec asbestos mine in property damage litigation. Directed legal strategy and managed local outside counsel in 15 states.
- Managed a docket of more than 23,000 personal injury cases in New York for Daimler Chrysler and served as lead trial counsel for the New York cases.
- Lead trial counsel in New York for Bechtel for a docket of several hundred cases arising at powerhouse construction sites in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Saudi Arabia.
- Appeared on a pro hac vice basis before state and federal courts in California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Mr. Polonsky was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® in 2019 and 2020 for Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants.
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Yale Law School, J.D.
Yale Legal Services Organization, Board Member
Yale Legal Services Program, Co-Director
The Quarterly (a Yale literary magazine), General Counsel
Harvard University, A.B. (1979) magna cum laude, with high honors
New York (1983)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Kids in Need of Defense (immigration)
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (immigration)
Monday Night Law (pro bono clinic)
Legal Outreach (education enhancement for urban youth)
Federal Defenders Capital Habeas Project (death penalty habeas corpus for mentally challenged defendants)
New York City Bar Association
American Bar Association
Litigation Section: Commercial Litigation Committee, Privacy and Data Security Committee, Civil Rights Committee
Business Law Section: Community Bank and MSA Subcommittee, Business Bankruptcy Committee
Dispute Resolution Section
Russian Childrens’ Welfare Society (pro bono litigation)
Rye Brook United (pro bono litigation)
Election Protection (through the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights)
Rebecca Kelly Ballet Company, Board Member
Appleby Foundation, Board Member
Rye Brook Board of Zoning Appeals, Board Member
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