Johnston (Jay) de F. Whitman, Jr.

Partner

EDUCATION
  • Colgate University
    A.B. 1989, cum laude
  • Fordham University School of Law
    J.D. Dean’s List, Fordham International Law Journal, 1994
ADMISSIONS
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • USDC, Southern District of New York
  • USDC, Eastern District of New York
  • USDC, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • USDC, District of Colorado
  • USCA, Second Circuit
  • USCA, Third Circuit
  • USCA, Fourth Circuit
  • USCA, Eleventh Circuit
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Johnston de Forest Whitman, Jr. (Jay) is a partner of the Firm, and his primary practice area is securities litigation.

Jay represents individual and institutional investors pursuing claims for securities fraud.  In this capacity, Jay has helped clients obtain substantial recoveries in numerous class actions alleging claims under the federal securities laws, and has also assisted in obtaining favorable recoveries for institutional investors pursuing direct securities fraud claims.

Experience
Ongoing Cases
  • In August 2018, Kessler Topaz was appointed to represent a putative class of investors in consolidated actions pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Acuity Brands Inc., its former CEO, Vernon J. Nagel, and its former CFO, Richard K. Reece.  Following an extensive investigation, in October 2018 Kessler Topaz filed a complaint alleging that Defendants failed to disclose to investors their knowledge of the adverse impact of increased competition in the LED market on Acuity’s financial performance and also that Defendants falsely touted Acuity’s business relationship with its largest customer, Home Depot, while failing to disclose that increased LED competition was eroding Acuity’s sales to Home Depot.  The complaint further alleged that Defendants sought to conceal the negative impact of competition through aggressive sales practices, including widespread quarter-end shipments.

    On August 12, 2019, U.S. District Judge Mark H. Cohen sustained in part Plaintiff’s claims, finding that the complaint adequately alleged that Defendants knowingly or recklessly issued false or misleading statements concerning the impact of increased competition on Acuity and with respect to the strength of Acuity’s sales to Home Depot.  Discovery is ongoing.

Representative Outcomes
  • This securities fraud class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York stemmed from the “London Whale” derivatives trading scandal at JPMorgan Chase. Shareholders alleged that JPMorgan concealed the high-risk, proprietary trading activities of the investment bank’s Chief Investment Office, including the highly volatile, synthetic credit portfolio linked to trader Bruno Iksil—a.k.a., the “London Whale”—which caused a $6.2 billion loss in a matter of weeks. Shareholders accused JPMorgan of falsely downplaying media reports of the synthetic portfolio, including on an April 2012 conference call when JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon dismissed these reports as a “tempest in a teapot,” when in fact, the portfolio’s losses were swelling as a result of the bank’s failed oversight. 

    This case was resolved in 2015 for $150 million, following U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels’ order certifying the class, representing a significant victory for investors.