Gerald E. Burns
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Gerald E. Burns

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Philadelphia, PA
 
 
 

Gerald E. Burns is a trial lawyer who represents clients in complex civil litigation. He has tried cases to juries, judges and arbitrators, and he has won substantial awards as both a plaintiff and a counterclaiming defendant. He has also defended corporate defendants against multi-million dollar claims, both at trial and through pre-trial practice.

Jerry's trial and litigation experience has encompassed such diverse areas as contract disputes, business torts, corporate governance, fiduciary liability, intellectual property, eminent domain, insurance coverage and product liability.

Jerry's major trial experience includes the following representative cases:

  • Won a $2 million award at trial in Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, in an action on behalf of a national telecommunications company to pierce the corporate veil and hold an individual defendant liable for the debts of his companies. The award represented the full amount of our client's claim and was upheld on appeal. MCI WorldCom Communications, Inc. v. Atiyeh, 2006 WL 4757479 (Lehigh County C.C.P.), aff’d, 963 A.2d 471 (Pa. 2008).
  • As part of a trial team, obtained a complete trial victory for client Cook Composites and Polymers in a five-week federal jury trial stemming from a $405 million lawsuit brought by two manufacturers of luxury sport-fishing yachts.
  • Obtained a complete defense verdict for a regional bank in a jury trial in Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, in a case alleging breach of fiduciary duty and malicious prosecution arising out of the administration of a probate estate.
  • Represented a supermarket chain in trial in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn. Jerry persuaded the court to deny nearly all of the $2 million in damages sought by the plaintiff, our client's former landlord, and to award our client $700,000, including punitive damages, on its counterclaim. Country Club Associates, LLC v. Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc., 2009 WL 1537952 (D. Conn.)
  • Defended a supermarket chain in federal court in Boston in a trial relating to development of a shopping center. The trial resulted in a complete judgment in our client’s favor dismissing the plaintiff's million-dollar claim and awarding our client the entirety of its substantial six-figure counterclaim.
  • Represented a stevedoring company in civil action against international and local longshoremen's unions seeking damages as a result of unlawful picketing. After an arbitration hearing that spanned 14 days of testimony, obtained a judgment in excess of $500,000 in our client's favor against the unions.

In addition, Jerry's experience includes the following representative matters that were resolved prior to trial:

Product Liability

  • Defended a $20 million toxic tort claim in federal court in Waco, Texas. After taking over the case mid-stream, Jerry obtained rulings excluding the plaintiff’s causation experts and granting summary judgment for our client, a chemical manufacturer. Johnson v. Arkema, Inc., 685 F.3d 452 (5th Cir. 2012).

Corporate Governance

  • Obtained a victory for the minority directors of Watergate East, Inc. in a corporate governance dispute in Delaware's Court of Chancery. The court held that our opponents, the majority directors, had improperly agreed to sell property to a developer who sought to convert the adjacent Watergate Hotel into apartments. Baring v. Condrell, 2004 WL 5389666 (Del. Ch.); "Watergate Co-Op Owners Win Ruling," Washington Post, E1, October 19, 2004.
  • Defended the founder of a start-up company in a case in Delaware Chancery Court alleging claims for fraud and interference with conduct. Encite, LLC v. Soni, et al., 2008 WL 2973015 (Del. Ch.)

Civil Fraud

  • Defended operators of several trucking schools in bankruptcy court litigation alleging fraudulent transfers arising out of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by a student loan company. After three years of hard-fought litigation, the bankruptcy trustee's $18 million claim against our client was resolved for a nominal settlement.
  • Represented a national bank as a plaintiff in a series of cases arising from alleged $25 million fraud. PNC Bank, N.A. v. Pence, 2010 WL 3947516 (S.D. Ind.); PNC Bank, N.A. v. Hall, 2010 WL 3947506 (S.D. Ind.)

Commercial Disputes

  • Served as lead counsel in the defense of a $250 million contract and tort claim against a national telecommunications carrier. After four years of litigation in two courts, the case was resolved with a multi-million dollar judgment for our client on its counterclaim.
  • Obtained a multimillion-dollar judgment on behalf of state employees' pension fund in a complex real estate partnership dispute.
  • Obtained dismissal of New York federal court action alleging theft of customer base and interference with contract against a national telecommunications carrier. Allworld Communications Network, LLC v. MCI WorldCom, Inc., 2000 WL 1013956 (S.D. N.Y).
  • Won summary judgment dismissing a $4 million contract and tort claim against a national telecommunications carrier in a Cherokee County, Ga., state court. The judgment was upheld on appeal. Communications Network Services, Inc. v. MCI WorldCom Communications, Inc., 573 S.E.2d 461 (Ga. App.).
  • Obtained a substantial seven figure settlement for a Philadelphia-area hotel, in a case arising from stormwater flooding caused by a construction project on adjacent land.
  • Won summary judgment on behalf of a regional trust company, defeating claims of malicious prosecution in the administration of a probate estate. Langman v. Keystone Nazareth Bank & Trust Co., 672 F. Supp. 691 (E.D. Pa. 2009).
  • Defended national health insurance company against tens of millions of dollars in claims in a series of reimbursement disputes brought by Connecticut-based hospitals.

Insurance Coverage

  • Obtained complete defense judgment in a federal court bad faith and insurance coverage lawsuit involving a novel issue of Pennsylvania law. Women's Christian Alliance v. Executive Risk Indemnity, Inc., 2003 WL 21961434 (E.D. Pa.)
  • Represented insurer in coverage lawsuit involving $25 million claim on fiduciary liability policy.

Eminent Domain

  • In an eminent domain case, won a complete defense verdict on behalf of a national telecommunications carrier after a hearing before a board of view. In a separate eminent domain case, obtained an award of $1 million in favor of the operator of a bus terminal after a trial to a board of view.

Jerry frequently speaks on commercial litigation topics, and in recent years, he has lectured at the American Layer Media seminar on "Recent Developments in Directors' and Officers' Liability," the Pennsylvania Bar Institute seminar "Preparing the Real Estate Valuation Case," and the PBI Annual Real Estate Institute. Jerry was selected by his peers for inclusion in 2015-2019 The Best Lawyers in America® list in the category of Commercial Litigation. Since 2007, Jerry has been consistently selected to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list. He has also been selected to the Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers® list for a number of years.

Jerry is also active in the community. He has been appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as a hearing committee member of the court's Disciplinary Board. In addition, he is a member of the Leadership Council of the Wistar Institute, a leading biomedical research facility located in Philadelphia.