Stefan is a former United States Congress committee lawyer and long-time litigator who has mediated, arbitrated, tried and appealed cases in numerous courts across the country. He leverages leading-edge technology and trial presentation specialists and retains exceptional experts with the aim to win cases. Stefan brings to his cases skillful, carefully-crafted advocacy and unboxed lateral thinking. He is highly responsive to client needs, recognizing the importance a significant legal dispute can have on a client’s professional and personal life. He handles civil litigation, trials and appeals in a few core areas of the law:
- Yacht-related warranty disputes
- Consumer rights, including state and federal unfair or deceptive acts or practices statutes
- Financial services litigation
- Employee-side employment litigation
- Torts and injuries resulting from professional or personal negligence
- Construction litigation
- Child custody and visitation disputes for fathers
In the summer of 2015, Stefan led a team of lawyers that won a $1,063,071 judgment following a two week federal jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In September 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the defendant's challenges to the judgment and affirmed the trial court decision in all respects. The decision can be read here. The case involved a multi-million dollar luxury yacht owned by Stefan’s client. Winning the case required navigating a complex litigation path that included multiple parties from different states, numerous expert witnesses, many depositions and substantial pre- and post-trial motion practice. At trial, Stefan's team used the latest in animation graphics technology and employed high-tech trial consultants to help tell the client's story in a compelling way. The result speaks for itself.
Stefan represents employees that have been wrongfully terminated or denied rights and benefits protected by federal and state law. He is presently serving as lead counsel in a class action case seeking benefits for some 7,000 state employees wrongfully denied benefits for many years. He also represents individual employees with employment claims, including members of closely-held corporations who have been frozen out of operational decisions in entities they co-founded.
Stefan's construction litigation experience includes the following:
1) Representing the design team of Gillette Stadium in a major professional negligence and breach of contract action.
2) Representing a national engineering firm in a $50 million securities fraud lawsuit brought by six mutual funds against the firm and Goldman Sachs concerning municipal bonds issued to finance a Midwestern waste-to-energy plant.
3) Representing a large engineering firm in a $40 million federal court action in which the FDIC (as receiver for the Bank of New England) sued the engineer and a multinational law firm over the financing of a New York co-generation power plant.
4) Representing owners or designers of high-end custom homes in disputes with contractors and others. In one case, he obtained a favorable mediation settlement for the owners of a Back Bay brownstone involved in a protracted dispute with a general contractor. In another, he represented a Newton homeowner and achieved $230,000 settlement in a case involving flooding damage caused by construction activities on several adjacent lots.
Stefan has represented clients in appellate courts across the country, including the Supreme Court of the United States. He served as counsel of record for the Conference of State Banking Supervisors (CSBS) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) on petition and merits-stage briefs filed in a 5-4 Supreme Court victory in Cuomo v. Clearing House Ass'n and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 557 U.S. 519 (2007). He previously was counsel of record for CSBS in State Farm Bank v. Reardon, an OTS preemption case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Stefan also served as a legal consultant to the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General in connection with a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States seeking review of the preemption case SPGGC, LLC v. Ayotte, 488 F.3d 525 (1st Cir. 2007).
Stefan has also briefed and presented oral argument repeatedly before a variety of federal and state appeals courts, including winning reversal of trial court final judgments, a rare feat. He has repeatedly represented clients with matters pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In 2017, for example, the First Circuit affirmed in all respects a $1,063,071 trial court judgment in a case in which Stefan served as lead trial counsel and lead appellate attorney. In another case in the First Circuit, Stefan successfully settled a client's Service members Civil Relief Act claim before oral argument. In a separate state court matter, Stefan obtained a reversal of a trial court's dismissal of a client's claims on statute of limitations grounds. The successful appellate court outcome led directly to a very large settlement of the client's claims (the precise amount of which cannot be disclosed due to a highly specific confidentiality agreement).
Torts and Professional Negligence
In a matter involving a complex trust instrument drafted more than forty years ago and intricate statute of limitations issues, Stefan represented a trust beneficiary at the trial and appellate court level. He achieved a large settlement for his client following mediation and Stefan's successful advocacy before an appeals court that resulted in the reversal of an adverse trial court ruling that would otherwise have terminated the client's claims. In a professional negligence case, he represented a drug therapy patient who received a $212,500 settlement from a methadone clinic and its insurers due to the "boundary" violations committed by its employee counselor, who had engaged in a sexual affair with the patient. Stefan has also successfully defended design professionals facing disciplinary action by the Board of Professional Licensure.
In the family law context, Stefan has represented parents involved in complex custody, visitation, parental alienation and reunification matters. In one representative case, Stefan obtained modification of an adverse court judgment to help a father get regular visitation after his minor child’s mother had blocked visitation and limited other contact for years. Stefan is a member of the Massachusetts Executive Committee of the National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501(c)(3) organization focused on promoting shared parenting, where both parents have equal standing raising children after a separation or divorce.
Stefan previously served as Majority Counsel to the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, DC. As a Committee staff member, Stefan was involved in the development and passage of several significant pieces of financial services legislation, including the "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act" (GLBA) and the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998, which legislatively overturned the holding in National Credit Union Admin. v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust Co., 522 U.S. 479 (1998).
After leaving Capitol Hill, Stefan litigated "Winstar" claims in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of financial institutions seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government for breach of contract in connection with the 1989 S&L bailout legislation, the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). The legal theories supporting these claims were validated by the efforts of a Washington, DC, firm with which Stefan was associated. Those efforts included the successful representation of one of three lead appellees before the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark government contracts case, United States v. Winstar, 518 U.S. 839 (1996). The Winstar decision has subsequently been cited in more than 3,200 other court decisions, secondary sources and legal briefs.
In the consumer rights area, Stefan has leveraged state and federal unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes, including Massachusetts' Chapter 93A. In a representative case for a homeowner client, he achieved a substantial settlement from a mortgage broker on claims of Chapter 93A unfair/deceptive acts or practices violations involving high-cost sub-prime lending practices.
- National Law Journal, "Former Detroit Mayor's Suit Raises Novel Issues"
- Boston Globe, "Banks denied class status against TJX"
- Boston Business Journal, "Banks and credit unions: Partners in the M&A dance?"
- Member, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers
- Member, Boston Bar Association
- Member, Massachusetts Bar Association
- Member, Massachusetts Executive Committee of the National Parents Organization
- Supreme Court of the United States
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
- Iowa (inactive)
- Washington, DC (inactive)
- University of Iowa College of Law (J.D., with distinction, 1996); member, Iowa Law Review, 1995-1996
- University of Florida (B.A., with high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, 1993)
- Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, "Startups and lost profits in the wake of LightLab" (with Christian G. Samito, Ph.D.)
- American Banker, "Ruling in Cuomo Can be Pro-Industry"
- American Banker, "Provision May Spark Preemption Fight"
- American Banker, "Where Watters Decision May Lead Us" (with Kevin Handly)
- American Banker, "Supreme Court Unwisely Backed OCC in Watters"
- Banker & Tradesman, "Even Small Banks Should Note Changes to Rules of Civil Procedure"
- SumNews (a publication of the Mass. Society of CPAs), "New Options for CPA Clients Facing Foreclosure"
Panel Speaking Engagements
- BU Morin Center For Banking and Financial Law and the Boston Bar Association's Banking and Financial Services Committee: "The Buck Starts Here"
- Weston & Sampson Risk Management Seminar: "Contracts: Basics, Bad Clauses and Battles"
- Boston Bar Association "Update on Federal Financial Regulatory Reform"
- American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators 20th Annual Conference, Savannah, Georgia,
(discussion of the impact of Cuomo v. Clearing House Ass'n on state mortgage regulation).
- Boston Bar Association "Federal Preemption and the Future of the Dual Banking System"
- Boston Bar Association "E-Discovery and Electronic Document Retention Issues Affecting Financial Institutions"
- Lorman Education Services "Taking and Defending Effective Depositions in Massachusetts"