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Commercial Litigation

Steptoe’s Commercial Litigation Group handles virtually every kind of complex dispute, including contract claims and business torts such as fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and corporate governance issues, in courts and in arbitrations throughout the Unites States and abroad.  Our experience and ability to resolve contentious disputes have been recognized by such publications as The Legal 500 and The Lawyer magazine.

Clients seek out Steptoe when cases need to be taken to trial, often asking us to step in as “11th hour trial lawyers.”  Several of our first-chair trial lawyers have been recognized as “Trial Aces” by Law360, and our litigators have garnered accolades from Chambers and other leading legal directories as aggressive and effective advocates for clients. 

We emphasize creative strategies, efficiency and trial preparation.  Steptoe lawyers work collaboratively with clients to determine whether litigation can be avoided, and if not, how quickly and economically a matter can be resolved.  We believe that outcomes are made better by communicating constantly with clients and sharing the important decisions that shape the cost and trajectory of a litigation.  In international litigation, we coordinate efforts of seasoned litigators in all nine of our offices, offering clients a multidisciplinary perspective and pragmatic business results.

Representative Matters

  • Represented ExxonMobil in proceedings that converted a multibillion-dollar award from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) into a judgment in an ex parte proceeding in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Represent DPTS Marketing LLC and Dakota Petroleum Transport Solutions LLC against claims arising from the Lac-Mégantic railway fire and explosion in Canada, in litigation pending in courts in Illinois, Maine, and Texas as well as the Bankruptcy Court in Maine overseeing the reorganization of the railroad.  The cases arise from the explosion in Lac-Mégantic of a 70-car trainload of Bakken oil when brakes were not set on the train and it rolled several miles downhill, derailing in the small Canadian town.  Suits were filed in the US and in Canada.  The US cases were consolidated in Maine; the Canadian cases are pending in Quebec Province.  Damages sought are in excess of $500 million.
  • Represent Toys “R” Us, Inc. (TRU) in a claim for breach of contract and defense of breach of warranty counterclaims against one of TRU’s vendors and a toy manufacturer, arising from the vendor’s refusal to defend properly and ultimately to reimburse TRU for its payment of a $19 million judgment arising from a product defect also insured and settled by the vendor, leaving TRU as the only defendant at trial.
  • Represent Otkritie Financial Corporation in multiple matters, including its efforts to recover significant funds diverted by former employees, and in a $120 million fraud case against another financial institution.
  • Secured a victory for ARTEL, LLC in a breach of contract suit brought by Global Telecom & Technology (GTT) in a jury trial before the Fairfax County Circuit Court (VA) concerning the installation of a multimillion-dollar secure telephone network for the US State Department.
  • Obtained $2 billion federal court judgment for Motorola Credit Corporation in fraud suit against owners of Turkey’s second-largest telecommunications company, as well as $2 billion arbitration award against the telecommunications company itself.  
  • Obtained summary judgment for DynCorp International in two breach of contract actions filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The plaintiff asserted that DynCorp breached the parties’ contract by paying into a bank account identified by the plaintiff’s managing director rather than to the account originally specified in the contracts.  Steptoe argued that the plaintiff’s damages theory failed as a matter of law and the court entered summary judgment for DynCorp.  Both summary judgments were affirmed by the Fourth Circuit in separate appeals.
  • Won a motion to dismiss for CACI International Inc in a suit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in which a contractor sought to hold CACI liable for allegedly leading the plaintiff to believe it had been awarded a government contract to provide meals for troops in Iraq.  The court agreed with CACI’s position that a contractor is prohibited as a matter of law from reasonably relying on the existence of contractual relations with the United States absent a signed contract from the contracting officer.
  • Secured a summary judgment for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) three weeks before a trial on the merits in a breach of contract dispute in California state court.  The case involved claims by a construction management company that PG&E owed it significant sums for supporting and working around PG&E facilities in the course of performing contracts for the city and county of San Francisco.
  • Represented a national accounting firm in a class action securities and professional malpractice litigation arising from the bankruptcy of a major homebuilder.  Plaintiffs sought $95 million in actual damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.  After a 66-day jury trial, a verdict was obtained for the defense.     


  • The Lawyer, Global Litigation 50, 2016-2017
  • Legal 500 US, Dispute Resolution: General Commercial Disputes, 2015-2017
  • Legal 500 US, Dispute Resolution: International Litigation, 2017
  • Legal 500 UK, Dispute Resolution: Commercial Litigation, 2010-2017
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers; Litigation: General Commercial (Arizona), 2008-2017
  • BTI’s Litigation Honor Roll, 2017
  • Law360, Top 50 Firms For Litigation, 2016

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