David Kessler


  • The American University
    B.S.B.A. 1988
  • Emory School of Law
    J.D. 1994, with distinction
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • United States Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • Supreme Court of New Jersey
  • Supreme Court of New York
  • USDC, District of New Jersey
  • USDC, Southern District of New York
  • USDC, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • USDC, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • USCA, Second Circuit
  • USCA, Third Circuit
  • USCA, Sixth Circuit

By any standard, David Kessler is a worldwide leader in securities litigation. His reputation and track record earn instant credibility with judges and bring opponents to the bargaining table in complex, high-stakes class actions. David has been recognized for excellence by publications including Benchmark Plaintiff and Law Dragon.

As co-head of the firm’s securities litigation practice, David has led several of the largest class actions ever brought under the federal securities laws and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Since the financial crisis began in 2008, he has helped recover well over $5 billion for clients and class members who invested in financial companies such as Wachovia, Bank of America, Citigroup and Lehman Brothers.  Prior to 2008, David guided some of the largest cases both in size—including allegations of a massive scandal regarding the unfair allocation of IPO shares by more than 300 public companies—and in notoriety—including the Tyco fraud and mismanagement litigation that resolved for over $3 billion. 

David brings his background as a certified public accountant to bear in actions involving complex loss causation issues and damages arising from losses in public offerings, open market purchases, and mergers and acquisitions. As head of the firm’s settlement department, David also has extensive experience in mediation, settlements, claims administration and distributions.

A sought-after lecturer on securities litigation issues, David has been invited to speak by plaintiffs’ firms, defense firms, mediators and insurance carriers on a variety of topics related to securities class actions. He recently assisted in authoring a chapter on mediations in a publication soon to be released by a federal mediator.

Representative Outcomes
  • This securities fraud class action in Manhattan federal court arose out of Pfizer’s concealment of clinical results for two arthritic pain drugs, Celebrex and Bextra. Despite being aware of significant cardiovascular adverse events in clinical trials, Pfizer misrepresented the safety profile of the drugs until the U.S. Food & Drug Administration discontinued a key trial, forced the withdrawal of Bextra from the market, and issued an enhanced warning label for Celebrex. Following a summary judgment order dismissing the case several weeks before trial was set to begin, we successfully appealed the dismissal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the case was remanded for trial.

    After twelve years of litigation, the case resolved in 2016 with Pfizer agreeing to pay the shareholder class $486 million, the largest-ever securities fraud settlement against a pharmaceutical company in the Southern District of New York.

  • Obtained a $2.4 billion settlement in litigation against Bank of America (BoA) relating to its merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. (Merrill). Our clients, Dutch National pension fund PGGM and Swedish National pension fund AP4, alleged that BoA gave shareholders false and misleading information about Merrill’s financial condition and obligations prior to a key vote on the merger. 

    The settlement, which included an undertaking to improve corporate governance policies, was the 6th-largest ever in a securities class action and the largest so far to come out of the subprime meltdown and credit crisis.

  • This landmark $3.2 billion settlement included the largest securities class action recovery from a single corporate defendant in history ($2.975 billion), and the second largest auditor settlement ($225 million) in securities class action history at the time. 

    The action asserted federal securities claims on behalf of all purchasers of Tyco International, Ltd. (Tyco) securities over a two-and-a-half-year period during which Tyco allegedly overstated its income through a multitude of accounting manipulations, and was subject to looting and self-dealing by its officers and directors. Developing critical areas of law, the litigation overcame defendants’ arguments that the class should recover nothing because Tyco had been defrauded by its own management. 

  • In one of the most significant cases arising out of the financial crisis, we recovered $627 million for purchasers of certain Wachovia Corporation (Wachovia) preferred securities.

    Our client, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Pension Fund, alleged that registration statements, prospectuses and prospectus supplements used to market 30 separate offerings had contained materially false and misleading statements and omissions regarding Wachovia’s liquidity and portfolio value. The settlement included a $37 million recovery from the company’s outside auditor. 


Benchmark Litigation Stars, 2020 

Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer, 2019-2021

Law Dragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2013 & 2014)

Benchmark Plaintiffs’ Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Plaintiff Firms & Attorneys (2012)

The American Lawyer’s Litigator of the Week – December 8, 2011              

Community Involvement

Emory Law School Board of Advisors

Kessler Family Diversity Scholarship – Emory Law School

Congregation Or Ami Board of Trustees

Abrahmson Cancer Center Board of Trustees

Topaz-Kessler Cancer Center Equipment Fund

The William Penn Charter EITC Financial Aid Program