Seth R. Lesser is a founding partner of Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP and he practices in the areas of consumer advocacy, wage and hour litigation, and corporate governance, primarily on behalf of defrauded consumers, employees, and businesses. He is admitted to the bars of New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, as well as two dozen federal courts, listed below.
Mr. Lesser is a graduate of Princeton University, A.B., summa cum laude (1983); Oxford University, D.Phil. in Modern History, recipient of a Marshall Scholarship (1985); and Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude (1988), where he was an editor of the Harvard Journal of International Law and of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. In addition, he was the Princeton University Varsity Heavyweight coxswain in 1982 & 1983 and the coxswain of the victorious Oxford Blue Boat in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in 1984 & 1985.
Summary Of Professional Activities
Since 1995, Mr. Lesser has primarily represented plaintiffs in individual, class, collective and mass tort cases. He regularly speaks and writes on these topics, and is a co-editor of a treatise on class action law.
He has been the lead plaintiffs’ counsel in dozens of successful individual, class and/or collective actions in the areas of securities, employment, privacy and mass tort litigation. The cases in which he has personally been a lead counsel have returned over a half a billion dollars to his clients and the cases in which he has been co-counsel several times that amount. In addition to many class actions where he was lead plaintiffs’ counsel but which cases were not Federal Multidistrict Litigation proceedings, the MDLs where he has served as lead counsel have including, among others, MDL-1346 (In re Amazon-Alexa); MDL-1352 (In re Doubleclick); MDL-1708 (In re Guidant Implantable Heart Devices); MDL-1739 (In re Grand Theft Auto Video Game Consumer Litigation); MDL-1903 (In re Pepsico, Inc. Bottled Water Sales Practices); and MDL-2025 (In re Staples, Inc. Wage & Hour Employment Practices Litig.). He has also served on numerous MDL Executive/Steering Committees, including the Executive Committee in MDL-1845 (ConAgra Peanut Butter Products Liability Litigation), and serving as Law & Briefing Co-Chair of the Government Actions Committee in MDL-1657 (Vioxx Products Liability Litigation). Among other things, he was the lead New York class counsel in the Fen/Phen diet drug litigation, in that case obtained the first certification under New York law for a medical monitoring class, and was the New York class counsel in the MDL settlement with American Home Products. In one case, a federal court judge, addressing Mr. Lesser in approving a settlement, stated, “the court already held that class counsel was adequate in the context of class certification. But more than just adequate, class counsel’s performance in this case has been exemplary.” Wilson v. Gloucester County, 06-cv-1368 (JEI/AMD) (D.N.J.) (final approval obtained March 18, 2010).
He has successfully taken cases to trial. In 2009, he won a verdict one of the first Fair Labor Standards misclassification collective cases taken to a jury, resulting in a judgment of $5 million on behalf of 342 collective action plaintiffs, Stillman v. Staples, Inc., No. 07-cv-849 (D.N.J.), a result which led to the $42 million nationwide settlement of MDL-2025. More recently, and in addition to a number of other FLSA and state law class and collective action settlements, he was lead counsel in other recent wage and hour class settlements that obtained recoveries of $34 million (Nash v. CVS Caremark Corp., 1:09-cv-00079 (D.R.I.)), $20.9 million (Craig v. Rite Aid Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2658, at *38 (M.D. Pa.)), $14 million (Youngblood, et. al. v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., No. 09-cv-3176 (S.D.N.Y.)), $16.5 million (Thorn v. Bob Evans, No. 12-cv-768 (S.D. Ohio)); $13.9 million (Jacob v. Duane-Reade, No. No. 11-cv-160 (S.D.N.Y.); $10 million (LaPan v Dick’s Sporting Goods, No. 13-cv-11390 (D. Mass.). The settlement in the Nash v. CVS Caremark Corp. case was termed by District Judge McConnell “magnificent” at the final approval hearing. Order Granting Final Approval, Nash v. CVS Caremark Corp., No. 1:09-cv-00079 (D.R.I. Apr. 9, 2012), while the final approval decision in Craig v. Rite Aid Corp. (where Mr. Lesser was lead counsel), stated that “To say that Class Counsel vigorously prosecuted this action would be a gross understatement.” Craig, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2658, at *31.
Mr. Lesser was the National Association of Consumer Advocates’ Attorney of the Year in 2005 and was Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of that organization from 2008 through 2013. From 1998 through 2001, he served as the representative of the American Council on Consumer Interests to the United Nations. At present, he is on the Second Circuit Courts Committee of the Federal Bar Council, is active in the Members Consultative Groups of the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Third, Restitution and Unjust Enrichment project. In 2017, he joined the Board of Public Justice. He also been on the Amicus Committee of the American Association for Justice and was the Co-Chair of the Food-Borne Illness Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. He is a member of, inter alia, the American Law Institute; the American Bar Association; the Second Circuit Federal Bar Council; the Bar Association of the City of New York; the National Association of Consumer Advocates; the American Association for Justice; and the National Employment Lawyers Association.
Other professional organizational appointments have included being the Chair of American Bar Association’s Business Law Section’s Environmental Litigation Subcommittee (1995-2002); the Co-Chair of the ABA’s Business Law Section’s Annual Review of Litigation (1995-1998); a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Committees on Consumer Affairs (1995-1998) and Federal Courts (1998-2001); a member of the Federal Bar Council’s Second Circuit Courts Committee (2006 to date); and Co-Chair of the American Association for Justice’s Food-borne Illness Litigation Group (2007-2010). He also was the Chair of the National Association of Securities and Consumer Attorneys’ Consumer Committee from 2003 to 2005. He was asked to draft revisions to New York State’s class action law (2002-2003; Report, 2003), as well as having been involved in the drafting of numerous recommendations, testimony, reports, and other materials for various professional organizations. His election to the American Law Institute was in 2008 and he actively participated in the Members Consultative Group to the ALI’s 2009 adoption of the Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation. In addition, Mr. Lesser has served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Class Action Law Monitor.
Mr. Lesser has been repeatedly chosen as a Superlawyer®, both as a Superlawyer® in the New York Metropolitan Area in the area of class actions and also as one of the 25 best lawyers in Westchester County, N.Y.