Michael S. Stein is the firm’s chair and managing partner. He specializes in general commercial litigation, chancery litigation, legal ethics, and appellate advocacy. He has substantial trial and appellate experience in both state and federal courts, concentrating his practice primarily on complex and sophisticated corporate, business and probate disputes. He also serves as an advisor to the firm’s corporate clients on a wide variety of matters, including partnership and shareholder disputes, intellectual property rights, antitrust matters, professional malpractice, chancery litigation, legal ethics, land use and restrictive covenants.
Clients come to Mike for matters big and small, knowing that he will roll up his sleeves, sweat the details, always make himself available to offer careful and thoughtful counsel from beginning to end, and be fully prepared to aggressively try the case should settlement efforts prove unsuccessful. In addition, Mike is routinely engaged as counsel and local counsel by major multinational AmLaw 100 firms to meet their regional litigation needs. The combination of Mike’s years of experience, his work ethic, his knowledge of New Jersey’s judicial culture, and, most importantly, the depth and strength of the Firm’s litigation bench, puts him at the forefront of our state litigation bar and makes him one of the go-to litigators in New Jersey for major “bet the business” litigations.
From Chambers USA 2020 Reports:
"Michael Stein offers vast experience in civil litigation, spanning breach of contract disputes and business torts. Interviewees endorse him as a 'strategic thinker and a knowledgeable, high-caliber attorney.'"
- Represented prominent cardiology group and individual cardiologists in a business tort case brought against them by a specialty hospital asserting claims of tortious interference and unfair competition relating to the group’s referral practices. Retained after the trial court had just denied defendants’ motions for summary judgment and facing a trial that was expected to last several months, we spearheaded the filing of new motions for summary judgment that raised dispositive issues that had not yet been addressed in the more than seven-year-old litigation. Following extensive briefing, the trial court dismissed all of the hospital’s claims with prejudice. The hospital had been seeking nearly $30 million in compensatory damages and an award of punitive damages. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of 99% of the hospital’s damages claim and remanded for further proceedings on claims valued at less than $300,000. The case settled during trial, shortly after the parties selected a jury and delivered opening statements.
- Represented a leading heart valve manufacturer in a patent licensing dispute involving rights to a minimally invasive method for repairing and replacing aortic heart valves (transcatheter aortic valve replacement therapy).The dispute focused on whether only a particular patent or an entire family of patents to the revolutionary heart valve device and procedure had been licensed. Following an evidentiary hearing on our application for summary judgment, the matter was resolved through a confidential settlement.
- Representing the plaintiff in an oppressed minority shareholder suit concerning issues of oppression in a closely held corporation. This case resulted in the New Jersey Supreme Court issuing a precedential decision clarifying the State's oppressed shareholders jurisprudence and provided needed guidance on the question of the proofs necessary to trigger the availability of remedies under the oppressed shareholder statute. The case was remanded and is on appeal again following the entry of a $25 million judgment in our client’s favor on remand. In post-judgment enforcement proceedings, assisted in collecting more than $20 million on a judgment through various execution avenues from both individual and corporate judgment debtors. Successfully tried a fraudulent transfer claim, resulting in an opinion and order requiring the return of $18 million in funds secreted overseas.
- In what is believed to be one of the largest estate litigations in New Jersey, Pashman Stein together with co-counsel successfully defended the trustee of a trust against allegations that the trustee exerted undue influence over his father, who established the trust, causing his father to make certain lifetime transfers of business interests, alter his trust, and reduce plaintiff's share of the estate by upwards of $500 million. Following a highly publicized trial that lasted 85 days and included more than 50 witnesses, Superior Court Judge Estela M. De la Cruz issued a 119-page opinion rejecting plaintiff’s claims and ruling in favor of the trustee. The court found that even though the father suffered from a debilitating form of Parkinson’s disease that affected his speech and movement, he was fully competent to choose his heirs.
- Representing two attorneys brought up on ethics charges by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) for allegedly instructing a paralegal to "friend" a represented adversary on Facebook in an underlying personal injury case, the first time that any New Jersey court has opined on issues pertaining to the application of our rules of ethics to the social media.
- Representing a liquidating trustee appointed by a federal bankruptcy court on an appeal to the New Jersey Appellate Division concerning more than $200 million in claims against the corporate parents and affiliates of an insolvent entity relating to environmental liabilities for pollution of the Passaic River.
- Successfully represented a group of limited partners with a minority interest in a commercial real estate company in a dispute with the general partners, who sought to amend the partnership agreement on terms which would have an adverse impact on the limited partners’ rights and devalues their shares. The general partners agreed to a consent order that prohibited them from amending the agreement, and after extensive motion practice, we entered mediation and secured a mutually agreeable settlement.
- Successfully defended a trustee in a suit claiming breaches of fiduciary duties related to the management of several family trusts holding substantial closely held real estate asset interests resulting in a settlement of all claims, reformation of numerous trusts, and the removal of the disgruntled beneficiary from the trusts/family businesses.
- Represented shareholders in major New Jersey company involving an internal shareholder dispute among the stakeholders alleging shareholder oppression, conspiracy, single enterprise theory, and attendant valuation disputes. Much of the hard-fought litigation took place up front with Orders to Show Cause and an application for temporary restraints. Our attorneys front-loaded litigation efforts with extensive fact-gathering, research and briefing on complex issues of oppression that effectively gutted plaintiff’s most valuable claim in the case. The matter was ultimately resolved through private mediation.
- Represented a prominent nationally recognized trial law firm in a fee dispute with another law firm. Arbitration resulted in a mutually agreeable confidential resolution.
- Obtained settlement of all claims against our client in a multi-district federal antitrust litigation involving numerous corporate and individual defendants.
- Obtained a successful settlement on behalf of a prestigious New Jersey law firm in a fee dispute in which that firm's client refused to pay its contingency fee after a decade-long legal battle.
- In re Earle Asphalt Co., 198 N.J. 143, 966 A.2d 460, 461 (2009)
- Kiken v. Kiken, 149 N.J. 441, 694 A.2d 557, 557 (1997)
- Sipko v. Koger, Inc., 214 N.J. 364, 70 A.3d 512, 514 (2013)
- In re Estate of Payne, 186 N.J. 324, 895 A.2d 428, 429 (2006)
- Strahan v. Strahan, 402 N.J. Super. 298, 953 A.2d 1219, 1222 (App. Div. 2008)
- Sun Coast Merch. Corp. v. Myron Corp., 393 N.J. Super. 55, 922 A.2d 782, 784 (App. Div. 2007)
- Puder v. Buechel, 183 N.J. 428, 430, 874 A.2d 534, 534-35 (2005)
- Syncsort Inc. v. Sequential Software, Inc., 50 F. Supp. 2d 318, 321 (D.N.J. 1999)
- Fancaster, Inc. v. Comcast Corp., 832 F. Supp. 2d 380, 388 (D.N.J. 2011)
Honors & Recognitions
- Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star - Litigation, 2016
- Best Lawyers, Commercial Litigation, 2013-2022, Appellate Practice, 2022
- Chambers USA, Leading Individual New Jersey Litigation: General Commercial, 2013-2020
- New Jersey Super Lawyers, 2012-2021
- Martindale Hubbell, AV Preeminent
The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings list is issued by Martindale-Hubbell. A description of the selection methodology can be found at http://www.martindale.com/Products_and_Services/Client_Review_Ratings.aspx.
The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found at http://www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html.
The Best Lawyers list is issued by Woodward/White, Inc. A description of the selection methodology can be found at https://www.bestlawyers.com/About/MethodologyBasic.aspx.
The Chambers USA ranking list is published by Chambers & Partners. A description of the selection methodology can be found at https://chambers.com/about-us/methodology.
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News & Insights
Community & Professional
- Member, Editorial Board, New Jersey Law Journal
- Member, Vineyard Power Cooperative’s Advisory Committee
- Past Member, Professional Responsibility Rules Committee
- Past Member, Civil Practice Rules Committee
- Past Chair, District II-B Ethics Committee
- Supreme Court Approved Mediator
- Past Chair and Member, Montclair Cooperative School, Board of Trustees
- New Jersey
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
B.A., Duke University, 1984
J.D., Rutgers University School of Law, 1989