2022 Public Funds Forum
September 6-8, 2022
Montage Laguna Beach
30801 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Paul J. Geller | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Paul J. Geller, managing partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP’s Boca Raton, Florida office, is a founding partner of the Firm, a member of its Executive and Management Committees, and head of the Firm’s Consumer Practice Group. Mr. Geller’s 29 years of litigation experience is broad, and he has handled cases in each of the Firm’s practice areas. Notably, before devoting his practice to the representation of consumers and investors, he defended companies in high-stakes class action and multi-district litigation, providing him with an invaluable perspective. Mr. Geller has tried bench and jury trials on both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ sides and has argued before numerous state, federal, and appellate courts throughout the country.
Mr. Geller was recently selected to serve in a leadership position on behalf of governmental entities and other plaintiffs in the sprawling litigation concerning the nationwide prescription opioid epidemic. In reporting on the selection of the lawyers to lead the case, The National Law Journal reported that “[t]he team reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in mass torts.” Mr. Geller was also a critical member of the team that negotiated over $26 billion in settlements against certain opioid distributors and manufacturers. Prior to the opioid litigation, Mr. Geller was a member of the leadership team representing consumers in the massive Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” emissions case. The San Francisco legal newspaper The Recorder labeled the group that was appointed in that case, which settled for more than $17 billion, a “class action dream team.”
Mr. Geller is currently serving as a Lead Counsel in In re EpiPen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Mktg., Sales Pracs. & Antitrust Litig., a nationwide class action that alleges that pharmaceutical company Mylan N.V. and others engaged in anti-competitive and unfair business conduct in its sale and marketing of the EpiPen auto-injector device. The case was recently settled for $609 million.
Some of Mr. Geller’s other recent noteworthy successes include the largest privacy class action settlement in history – a $650 million recovery in a cutting-edge class action in In re Facebook Biometric Info. Privacy Litig., concerning Facebook’s use of biometric identifiers through its “tag” feature. In addition to the monetary recovery, Facebook recently disabled the tag feature altogether, deleting user facial profiles and discontinuing the use of facial recognition software.
Mr. Geller serves on the Advisory Board of Emory University School of Law and the separate Board of The Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims at Emory. He is a member of the Trial Law Institute and the Diversity Law Institute of the Litigation Counsel of America. Mr. Geller is also a member of the Supreme Court Historical Society. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Advisors for The Center on Civil Justice at New York University School of Law. In these roles and others, Mr. Geller frequently lectures on class action and MDL issues at judicial seminars, bar conferences, and academic programs. Mr. Geller is also a member of the faculty of the Mass Torts MDL Certificate Program at the Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law.
Mr. Geller has been rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell (the highest rating available), twice named one of the nation’s top “40 Under 40” by The National Law Journal, and named one of “Florida’s Top Lawyers” by Law & Politics and South Florida Business Journal. He has also been named a Legend, a Leading Lawyer in America, a Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer, and a 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyer by Lawdragon; a Leading Lawyer by Chambers USA; a Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Trailblazer by The National Law Journal; one of Florida’s “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend magazine; and one of “Florida’s Most Effective Lawyers” by American Law Media’s Daily Business Review. Additionally, Best Lawyers® named Mr. Geller a Best Lawyer in America and a Florida Best Lawyer in the area of “Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs,” and he was additionally chosen as Lawyer of the Year in that same category. Super Lawyers Magazine has also named Mr. Geller a Florida Super Lawyer for 15 consecutive years.
Mr. Geller earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Florida, where he was a member of the University Honors Program. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Emory University School of Law, with Highest Distinction, where he was an editor of the Emory Law Journal, a member of the Order of the Coif Legal Honor Society, and awarded multiple American Jurisprudence Book Awards for earning the highest grade in class.
Mark Solomon | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Mark Solomon is a founding and managing partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and leads its international litigation practice. Over the last 29 years, he has regularly represented United States and United Kingdom-based pension funds and asset managers in class and non-class securities litigation in federal and state courts throughout the United States. He was first admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister (he is non-active) and is an active member of the Bars of Ohio, California, and various United States federal district and appellate courts.
Since 1993, Mr. Solomon has spearheaded the prosecution of many significant securities fraud cases. He has obtained multi-hundred million-dollar recoveries for plaintiffs in pre-trial settlements and significant corporate governance reforms designed to limit recidivism and promote appropriate standards. Prior to the most recent financial crisis, he was instrumental in obtaining some of the first mega-recoveries in the field in California and Texas, serving in the late 1990s and early 2000s as class counsel in In re Informix Corp. Sec. Litig. in the federal district court for the Northern District of California, and recovering $131 million for Informix investors; and serving as class counsel in Schwartz v. TXU Corp. in the federal district court for the Northern District of Texas, where he helped obtain a recovery of over $149 million for a class of purchasers of TXU securities as well as securing important governance reforms. He litigated and tried the securities class action In re Helionetics, Inc. Sec. Litig., where he won a $15.4 million federal jury verdict in the federal district court for the Central District of California.
Mr. Solomon is currently counsel to a number of pension funds serving as lead plaintiffs in cases throughout the United States. He represents the UK’s Norfolk Pension Fund in Hsu v. Puma Biotechnology, Inc. where, in the federal district court for the Central District of California, after three weeks of trial, the Fund obtained a jury verdict valued at over $54 million in favor of the class against the company and its CEO. Mr. Solomon also represents Norfolk Pension Fund in separate class actions currently pending against Apple Inc. and Apple executives in the federal district court for the Northern District of California and against Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and former Anadarko executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Texas. He represented the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme and the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme in Smilovits v. First Solar, Inc. in the federal district court for the District of Arizona, in which the class recently recovered $350 million on the eve of trial. That settlement is the fifth-largest recovered in the Ninth Circuit since the advent in 1995 of statutory reforms to securities litigation that established the current legal regime. Mr. Solomon also represents the same coal industry funds in the recently filed class action against Citrix Inc. and Citrix executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida, and he represents North East Scotland Pension Fund in a class action pending against Under Armour and Under Armour executives in the federal district court for the District of Maryland. In addition, he is currently representing Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association in a class action pending against FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy executives in the federal district court for the Southern District of Ohio and he is representing Strathclyde Pension Fund in a class action pending against Bank OZK and its CEO in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Before working with the Firm, Mr. Solomon practiced at the international firm Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio, between 1987 and 1990, followed by practicing at the Los Angeles office of New York’s Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. At these firms, his representations included the defense of securities fraud and other white-collar crimes, antitrust, copyright, commercial and real estate litigation, and reinsurance arbitration. While practicing in Los Angeles, acting for plaintiffs as sole counsel, Mr. Solomon took to trial and won complex commercial contract and industrial real estate actions in the Orange County and Los Angeles Superior Courts, respectively.
Mr. Solomon has lost one trial (in a Florida state court in 2007) which involved a dispute among former business partners. Robbins Geller absorbed all of the related fees, costs, and expenses on behalf of its clients in the case.
Mr. Solomon is a past chair of the American Bar Association Directors, Officers Liability Sub Committee and the Accountants Liability Sub-Committee, and is the author of the UK National Association of Pension Funds 2012 “Securities Class Actions made simple” guide; the 2015 “Securities Fraud and Investors Remedies made simple” guide; and the 2018 “Global Securities Fraud Litigation made simple” guide.
The Legal 500 has named Mr. Solomon a Recommended Lawyer in its nationwide category of “Securities Litigation – Plaintiff,” citing his dual qualifications in English and U.S. law and his leadership of the Firm’s international litigation practice. He has also been named a Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer by Lawdragon and a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. He earned his law degrees at Trinity College, Cambridge University, England, Harvard Law School, and the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
Michael Phelps | Most Decorated Olympic Athlete in History
Michael Phelps is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He captured 28 Olympic medals, including a record-setting 23 gold medals, and set 39 world records over the course of his distinguished career. Mr. Phelps utilized his performance bonus for winning eight gold medals in 2008 to establish the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety, healthy living (physical and mental), and the pursuit of dreams. The Foundation’s signature program – IM – is implemented through strategic partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics International. Mr. Phelps courageously opened up about his own mental health challenges, becoming one of the first and most prominent athlete voices who have helped catapult the important conversation across sports and pop culture. His advocacy for water safety and mental health have earned the recognition of the American Image Awards, BBC Sports, Child Mind Institute, The Kennedy Forum, Laureus World Sports Awards, PR Week, the Ruderman Family Foundation, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. In addition, Mr. Phelps served as an Executive Producer, Narrator, and featured talent in the HBO documentary The Weight of Gold, which explores the mental health challenges Olympic athletes often face. He also appeared in the iNDIEFLIX documentary Angst, which explores anxiety among middle school students and their families.
Symone D. Sanders | Author and Seasoned Political Strategist
Symone D. Sanders rose to prominence in 2016 as the national press secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ then-presidential campaign. At 25, she became the youngest presidential press secretary on record and was named to Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election. At 29, she published her first book, No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America and served as a senior advisor for President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. At 31, Ms. Sanders was appointed as a senior member of the Biden-Harris administration, serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris.
A communicator with a passion for problem solving and social justice, Ms. Sanders served as the national chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice before joining Senator Sanders’ campaign. There, she worked to raise the profile of young voices in the fight for juvenile justice reform and brought millennial perspectives to policy conversations. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Ms. Sanders was principal of The 360 Group, where she helped clients find sound solutions to tough political and social problems.
Ms. Sanders is a former political commentator for CNN and resident fellow of both Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School and the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future.
She is a native of North Omaha, Nebraska and currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé, Shawn.
Dana Carvey | Multi-Emmy Nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-Winning Actor and Comedian
Multi-Emmy nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian Dana Carvey is best known for his iconic and indelible Saturday Night Live characters – most memorably Church Lady, Grumpy Old Man, Hans, of the Hans and Franz body building duo, and of course, Garth of Wayne’s World. Mr. Carvey has received much praise for his uncanny comedic impersonations of American political figures (popular with both audiences and the subjects of his impersonation), including the elder George Bush, Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, David Duke, and Bob Dole.
Mr. Carvey made his feature film debut in This Is Spinal Tap, and other earlier works include Racing with the Moon, One of the Group, Tough Guys, and the comedy Opportunity Knocks. Other notable films for Mr. Carvey include Alan Parker’s The Road to Wellville for Columbia Pictures, Zanuck’s Clean Slate for MGM, and Twentieth Century Fox’s Trapped in Paradise. In 2004, Mr. Carvey starred in The Master of Disguise, a family comedy where Mr. Carvey took on 36 different identities and spoke in 14 different languages as the hapless titular character.
In 2016, Mr. Carvey appeared as the expert-in-residence on USA Network’s comedic half hour series First Impressions. The show featured amateur impressionists competing against each other in a weekly battle of celebrity impressions with Mr. Carvey mentoring each contestant. Also, Mr. Carvey’s Netflix Special Straight White Male, 60, was released in 2016, to much acclaim. Most recently, Mr. Carvey lent his voice to bring “Pops” the dog to life in the 3D animated mega-hit, The Secret Life of Pets and The Secret Life of Pets 2.
Henry C. Levy | Treasurer, Alameda County
Henry C. Levy is honored to work at the County Treasurer-Tax Collector (TTC), where he works diligently with his expert staff of 54 dedicated employees in Oakland and Hayward. Mr. Levy leads the office with integrity, efficiency, and transparency, and looks forward to collaborative working relationships with all other departments and leaders of the County. Mr. Levy was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the remaining term of the former TTC through December 2018, and was elected to office during the June 2018 election for a four-year term.
Mr. Levy is dedicated to educating all County residents about the County’s financial affairs and welcomes questions and concerns from all constituents.
The office of the TTC has three major functions:
Mr. Levy is also an ex-officio trustee on the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association (ACERA), which has responsibility for providing pension and other post-employment benefits to County retirees.
Mr. Levy has been a CPA since 1987, has worked for large accounting firms, and began to build his practice in Oakland in 1991, where he created a firm from its beginnings in his home to a bustling practice centered at College Avenue in Oakland that employed over 30 people in six offices in Northern California. Although Mr. Levy is no longer an owner, The Henry Levy Group, A CPA Firm, still exists, specializing in tax compliance and planning, small business accounting, entity and tax structuring, political treasury reporting, non-profit & labor union accounting work, litigation support, and forensic investigations. In the early part of his working life, he was a car and forklift mechanic and a journalist.
Mr. Levy has long been extremely involved in trying to better his community, serving on numerous non-profit boards and civic committees. He has been involved either as a member or board member of OCCUR, Machinists Local 64, Plant Closures Project, Oakland School District Budget Advisory Committee, City of Oakland Citizen and Business Budget Advisory Committees, City of Oakland Political Reform Act Advisory Committee, North Atlantic Books, La Pena, Conciliation Forum, Pogo Park, Rockridge Soccer Club, Rockridge District Association, and the East Bay Chapter of the California Society of CPAs, among others. He was a board member and president of the KPFA Radio Station Board from 1992 to 1997, served on the Alameda County Assessment Appeals board from 2004 to 2017, and was the proud PTA president of Peralta Elementary School during the years 1983-1985. Mr. Levy continues to train income tax preparers in the VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) program at the Hayward Area Recreation District.
An Oakland and Berkeley resident for over 45 years, he has raised four children, and assisted their sports and school clubs and teams. Mr. Levy began umpiring baseball games during his youngest son’s involvement with the sport and went on to train as a high school and college level umpire. He has umpired games, including men’s baseball, vintage baseball, and women’s softball, all over the county and surrounding counties, including umpiring at San Quentin prison. He recently authored a personal memoir in a book on umpiring.
Mr. Levy is an accredited community college instructor. He has taught accounting, employee benefits, and economics at San Francisco Community College, Laney College, and San Francisco State University, as well as teaching through the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Haas School of Business.
An East Coaster by birth, Mr. Levy came out to California in his early twenties. Mr. Levy was married to Marcia Goodman for almost 32 years until she passed away from complications from Ovarian Cancer on December 5, 2017. He is proud of the happy family they created together.
Mr. Levy received his B.A. (History) from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, his M.A. (Industrial Arts) from San Jose State University, and his accounting education from California State, Hayward (now Cal East Bay) and Golden Gate University.
Van Jones | CNN Host and Dream Corps Founder
Van Jones is a CNN host, political commentator, Emmy Award-winning producer, and author of three New York Times bestselling books: The Green Collar Economy (2008), Rebuild the Dream (2012), and Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together (2017).
Mr. Jones has also found success as a social entrepreneur, having founded and led many thriving enterprises, including the REFORM Alliance, Color of Change, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the Dream Corps, which works to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity in the green and tech economies.
In 2009, as the Green Jobs Advisor to the Obama White House, Mr. Jones oversaw an $80 billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs.
Mr. Jones was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
Mr. Jones has stewarded several bipartisan legislative and advocacy efforts, racking up wins under the last four U.S. Presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Mr. Jones’ most recent victory was advocating successfully for the passage of the First Step Act, which The New York Times calls the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation.
A Yale-educated attorney, Mr. Jones has won numerous awards, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation, Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done,” TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World,” the 2010 NAACP Image Award, a 2017 Webby Special Achievement Award, a 2019 Lumiere Award, and a 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
Darren J. Robbins | Partner, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Darren J. Robbins is a founding partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. Over the last two decades, Mr. Robbins has served as lead counsel in more than 100 securities class actions and has recovered billions of dollars for investors.
Mr. Robbins recently served as lead counsel in In re Am. Realty Cap. Props., Inc. Litig., a securities class action arising out of improper accounting practices, recovering more than $1 billion for class members. The American Realty settlement represents the largest recovery as a percentage of damages of any major class action brought pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and resolved prior to trial. The $1+ billion settlement included the largest personal contributions ($237.5 million) ever made by individual defendants to a securities class action settlement.
Mr. Robbins also led Robbins Geller’s prosecution of wrongdoing related to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) prior to the global financial crisis, including an RMBS securities class action against Goldman Sachs that yielded a $272 million recovery for investors. Mr. Robbins served as co-lead counsel in connection with a $627 million recovery for investors in In re Wachovia Preferred Securities & Bond/Notes Litig., one of the largest securities class action settlements ever involving claims brought solely under the Securities Act of 1933.
One of the hallmarks of Mr. Robbins’ practice has been his focus on corporate governance reform. In UnitedHealth, a securities fraud class action arising out of an options backdating scandal, Mr. Robbins represented lead plaintiff CalPERS and obtained the cancellation of more than 3.6 million stock options held by the company’s former CEO and secured a record $925 million cash recovery for shareholders. He also negotiated sweeping corporate governance reforms, including the election of a shareholder-nominated director to the company’s board of directors, a mandatory holding period for shares acquired via option exercise, and compensation reforms that tied executive pay to performance. Recently, Mr. Robbins led a shareholder derivative action brought by several pension funds on behalf of Community Health Systems, Inc. that yielded a $60 million payment to Community Health as well as corporate governance reforms that included two shareholder-nominated directors, the creation and appointment of a Healthcare Law Compliance Coordinator, the implementation of an executive compensation clawback in the event of a restatement, the establishment of an insider trading controls committee, as well as the adoption of a political expenditure disclosure policy.
Mr. Robbins was named California Lawyer’s Attorney of the Year and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top securities litigators by numerous organizations and publications, including The American Lawyer, which commended him for helping “set the pace for [his] peers,” and Chambers USA, which called him “a prominent figure in the field of securities litigation” and “one of the leaders of the plaintiff Bar.” Mr. Robbins was also recognized as a Litigator of the Week by The American Lawyer for his work in In re Valeant Pharms. Int’l, Inc. Sec. Litig. In 2022, Mr. Robbins was awarded California Lawyer of the Year by the Daily Journal.
Richard A. Bennett | President & Chief Executive Officer, ValueEdge Advisors LLC
Richard A. Bennett is President and CEO of ValueEdge Advisors, a firm he founded in summer 2014 to help institutional investors engage with their portfolio companies. From 2006 he was CEO and then Chairman of GMI Ratings and its predecessor, The Corporate Library, a globally recognized investment research firm specializing in corporate governance and ESG with offices in London, New York, San Diego, and Portland, Maine. In August 2014, GMI Ratings was sold to MSCI.
He worked as Director of Corporate Governance for LENS, an institutional activist fund, from 1997 to 2002. He served from 2004 to 2016 as a non-executive director of Trucost, Plc, a U.K.-based firm offering products and services that allow companies, governments, and fund managers to better understand their environmental performance. From 2009 to 2014, he served on the Board of Governors of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), and currently serves on the ICGN Nominating Committee. He is an independent director of Biddeford Internet Corporation d/b/a GWI (an ISP and telecom business), Atlantic Trust (Maine) (a fiduciary trust company), and Quoddy Inc. (a footwear brand enterprise).
Mr. Bennett has an extensive background in politics and government service as well as a wide range of private sector experience. A former president of the Maine State Senate, Mr. Bennett served four terms in the Maine Senate and two terms in the state’s House of Representatives. From 2013 to 2017, he was Chairman of the Maine Republican Party and a member of the Republican National Committee. In 2014, he volunteered as a member of the MainePERS ESG Integration Task Force.
Directorship magazine has recognized Mr. Bennett six times in its annual list of the 100 "most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom." In December 2010, he was named by Global Proxy Watch as one of the "10 people around the world who had the most impact on corporate governance in the previous year."
Mr. Bennett was a member of the board of trustees of Hebron Academy from 2010 to 2019. He was a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships from 2005 to 2009. He graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1986 and received his M.B.A. from the University of Southern Maine in 2000.