Joshua E. D'Ancona

Partner

EDUCATION
  • Wesleyan University
    B.A. 1999, with honors
  • Temple University Beasley School of Law
    J.D. 2007, magna cum laude, Received Hon. S.R. Beckett Memorial Scholarship and Law Faculty Scholarship. Member of the Temple Law Review and Moot Court Honors Society
ADMISSIONS
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • USDC, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • USDC, District of New Jersey
  • USCA, Second Circuit
  • USCA, Third Circuit
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Joshua E. D’Ancona, a partner of the Firm, litigates complex matters on behalf of institutional and individual clients. Josh focuses his practice on cases involving violations of federal and state laws prohibiting securities fraud, as well as claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, fraud and negligence, and breaches of state statutes established for the protection of financial institutions and individuals.  

Josh has litigated in various federal and state courts, and before the American Arbitration Association.  Josh served as a law clerk to the Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2009.

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.

  • In September 2018, Kessler Topaz was appointed to represent a putative class of investors in consolidated actions in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against pharmaceutical giant Celgene and several of its executive officers.  This securities fraud case involves Celgene’s concealment of a critical drug metabolite discovered during the clinical development of the multiple sclerosis drug Ozanimod and the company’s ongoing misrepresentations to investors that Ozanimod was on track to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pursuant to the company’s timeline.  Unbeknownst to the public, the discovery of the metabolite required substantial, additional studies mandated by the FDA that imperiled the timeline for regulatory approval.  After Celgene filed a facially deficient new drug application with the FDA, the agency issued a rare, “refuse-to-file” letter, causing investors to question the company’s prior assurances and the company’s stock price to plummet. 

    On December 19, 2019, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vasquez issued a 49-page opinion sustaining the shareholders’ claims.  The case is now in discovery.  

  • The win keeps this case on track for a February 18, 2020 jury trial.

    Since December 2014, Kessler Topaz has served as co-lead counsel on behalf of two institutional Lead Plaintiffs and a Class of investors who acquired SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., common stock in the period from August 29, 2013 through August 12, 2014 (the “Class Period”).  Lead Plaintiffs claim that SeaWorld and its former executives (“Defendants”) issued materially false and misleading statements during the Class Period about the impact of Blackfish, an highly publicized documentary film released in 2013, on SeaWorld’s business, in violation of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5. Defendants repeatedly told the market over the roughly 11-month Class Period that the film and related public outrage were not affecting SeaWorld’s attendance or business at all—representations that Lead Plaintiffs maintain were false and misleading.  When the underlying truth of Blackfish’s impact on the business finally came to light in August 2014, SeaWorld’s stock price lost approximately 33% of its value in one day, injuring Class members.  In November 2017, Judge Michael M. Anello of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California certified the Class, appointed Lead Plaintiffs as Class Representatives, and appointed Kessler Topaz as co-Class Counsel.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Defendants’ petition to appeal that order in mid-2018.  And in April 2019, after the close of fact and expert discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims.

    Summary judgment represented Defendants’ last and best opportunity to avoid a jury trial on the Class’s claims through a dispositive motion.  But, after full briefing and an October 2019 oral argument, the Court held, in a 98-page Order dated November 6, 2019, that Lead Plaintiffs had successfully shown that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment on all elements of their claims, and the claims should go to a jury.  The Court set a trial date of February 18, 2020.  Kessler Topaz, along with co-lead counsel, will prosecute the case on behalf of Lead Plaintiffs and the Class.    

Representative Outcomes
  • Obtained a $2.4 billion settlement in litigation against Bank of America (BoA) relating to its merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. (Merrill). Our clients, Dutch National pension fund PGGM and Swedish National pension fund AP4, alleged that BoA gave shareholders false and misleading information about Merrill’s financial condition and obligations prior to a key vote on the merger. 

    The settlement, which included an undertaking to improve corporate governance policies, was the 6th-largest ever in a securities class action and the largest so far to come out of the subprime meltdown and credit crisis.

  • This securities fraud class action in Vermont federal court involved allegations that Green Mountain and its former chief executive officer and chief financial officer misrepresented the true state of demand for the coffee giant’s products.  The investor class alleged that the defendants concealed the company’s ballooning inventory and slackening demand in order to prop up Green Mountain’s stock price, while the company’s CEO and CFO were engaged in massive insider selling, reaping tens of millions of dollars at the expense of shareholders.    

    The case was resolved in 2018 for $36.5 million, following a significant appellate victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which reversed the district court’s initial dismissal of the action and provided important guidance on the role of insider trading allegations in establishing scienter (or intent to defraud) under the federal securities laws.  This is believed to be the largest settlement of a securities suit in the history of the District of Vermont.

  • Served as co-lead counsel on behalf of Norwegian mutual fund manager SKAGEN A/S in this securities fraud class action against Satyam Computer Services Limited (Satyam) and certain of its former officers and directors and its former auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd. (“PwC”), relating to Satyam’s disclosure that its former chairman had falsified the company’s financial reports by inflating reported cash balances by more than $1 billion.

    The news caused the price of Satyam’s common stock and American Depository Shares to collapse. On behalf of the defrauded investors, we secured a $125 million settlement from Satyam as well as $25.5 million settlement from PwC, which allegedly signed off on the misleading audit reports. 

  • Arbitrator’s award of $75 million for Transatlantic Holdings, Inc., and its subsidiaries (TRH) in a case alleging that American International Group, Inc. (AIG) breached its fiduciary and contractual duties and committed fraud in connection with its securities lending program.

    Until June 2009, AIG was TRH’s majority shareholder and administered TRH’s securities lending program.  We alleged that AIG breached its fiduciary obligations by imprudently investing the majority of the cash collateral obtained from TRH under its lending program in risky mortgage-backed securities, including Alt-A and subprime investments. We further alleged that AIG concealed the extent of TRH’s subprime exposure and that when the collateral pools began experiencing liquidity problems in 2007, AIG unilaterally carved TRH out of the pools so that it could provide funding to its wholly owned subsidiaries to the exclusion of TRH.

  • Kessler Topaz represented the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System as Co-Lead Counsel in a certified class action challenging a brazen insider trading scheme by Valeant Pharmaceuticals to tip Bill Ackman’s hedge fund Pershing Square Capital (“Pershing”) that it intended to launch a hostile takeover attempt to buy rival pharma company Allergan. The case was brought on behalf of Allergan investors who sold stock while Pershing was buying on the basis of this inside information. After three years, Kessler Topaz settled the case just weeks before trial (set for January 2018) for $250 million. At the final approval hearing, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter commented as follows about the litigation and the efforts of plaintiffs’ counsel: “Let me just humbly say, it’s been quite a walk. It has been an extraordinary unique case and extraordinarily well litigated.”

Awards/Ranking

Pennsylvania “Super Lawyers” Rising Star in the area of Securities Litigation in 2013, 2014 and 2015

Community Involvement

Josh supports the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and charitable organizations including Philabundance.