James C. Kelly, born and raised in New York City, has been litigating complex commercial lawsuits in courts throughout New York and the United States for over 12 years.
After graduating law school with high honors, Mr. Kelly joined the law firm Wolf Popper LLP and dedicated his career to protecting the interests of defrauded investors and consumers. After 7 years at Wolf Popper, Mr. Kelly started his own practice.
Mr. Kelly has extensive experience litigating class actions. For example, at Wolf Popper, he helped litigate claims against Google, Inc., on behalf of Google’s customers (advertisers) that placed ads on Google and were allegedly overcharged. After extensive motion practice in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, a settlement was reached in the amount of $20 million. He also recovered over $1 million in losses for purchasers of alleged improper tax shelters from a major banking institution, and successfully litigated product mislabeling claims in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, against Campbell Soup Company, in which he obtained over $1 million for plaintiffs. In another case, he successfully convinced the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, to set aside proceeds from an insurance policy owned by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., to be applied towards his clients’ litigation claims against Jackson Hewitt.
While at Wolf Popper, he also litigated a case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of American International Group Inc. (AIG) investors that suffered losses to investments in AIG common stock contained in their employee 401(k) plans as a result of alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by plan fiduciaries, including AIG’s CEO. After successfully defeating defendants’ motions to dismiss the consolidated complaint, on October 7, 2008, AIG settled the litigation for $24.2 million. In another example, while at Wolf Popper, he recovered damages for investors who purchased Tag-It Pacific, Inc., stock and suffered losses as a result of alleged fraudulent omissions and misstatements made by the company. The Tag-It Pacific case was a hard fought lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where the parties went all the way through the summary judgment stage and prepared for trial. Although the plaintiffs initially lost in the district court, plaintiffs appealed the district court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained a complete reversal of the district court’s opinion. Shortly thereafter, the parties settled the lawsuit for $5.75 million, nearly 100% of the damages claimed by defendants.
Mr. Kelly is currently prosecuting a class action against Citibank, N.A. along with the law firm Schoengold & Sporn, P.C., on behalf of Citibank customers that were damaged as a result of Citibank reporting to the IRS that certain customers received income from Citibank as a result of receiving promotional airline miles that the customers received for opening up checking and/or savings accounts at Citibank. The previous practice in the industry was that banks would not report said promotional airline miles as income. Not only did Citibank not disclose that it wold report the miles as income to the IRS, but it valued the miles approximately 150% more than what they were worth, subjecting customers to hundreds of dollars of unexpected taxes. On May 13, 2015, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial, by Judge Deborah A. Batts, of a motion by Citibank seeking to compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims.
Mr. Kelly is also currently prosecuting a class action against Blue Diamond Growers, along with the law firm Wolf Popper LLP, for misleading consumers in connection with the sale of its Almond Breeze labeled almond milk products in not disclosing that said products contain only 2% almond content. The class action alleges that Blue Diamond Growers falsely labeled its Almond Breeze products as being made from almonds, being certified by the American Heart Association as heart healthy as a result of its almond content therein, and containing at least a cup of almonds. We have already achieved significant results from this class action as Blue Diamond Growers has removed the approximate cup of almonds pictured on its Almond Breeze products, has removed the claim that the product was certified by the American Health Association, has changed the statement on its product that it is made “from” almonds to made “with” almonds, and has removed all health claims on its website with respect to almonds. Further, the lawsuit has created significant press which informed consumers across the nation that Almond Breeze barely contained any almonds and taught consumers how to make almond milk at home, saving consumers tens of millions of dollars a year as Almond Breeze almond milk sales plummeted in 2015.
In addition to litigating class actions, Mr. Kelly dedicates a substantial part of his practice to litigating shareholder, partner, or LLC member disputes. The cases he has litigated involve breach of fiduciary duty or breach of contract actions against companies and/or officers and directors, for alleged improper treatment of shareholders, partners, or investors, including freeze-out or buyout offer situations, and disputes concerning business valuation. His clients include majority or minority owners of real estate companies, construction companies, installation and maintenance companies, restaurant and retail companies, medical and dental companies, internet and software companies, and various other business ventures. Some of the larger cases he litigated include shareholder buyouts involving public companies such as Nassda Corp., Mossimo, Inc., William Lyons Homes, The Topps Company, Inc., James River Group, Inc., Playboy Inc., and Bioenvision, Inc.
Mr. Kelly is admitted to the Bar of the State of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Bar of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the Bar of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
James C. Kelly is a summa cum laude graduate of Brooklyn Law School (2004), where he received various awards including the CALI Award for Excellence in Securities Regulation, Secured Transactions, and Federal Tax Practices and Procedures. He was also a Carswell Scholar at Brooklyn Law School and received the Samuel P. Sporn and Ellen L. Sporn Scholarship, the Attorney-CPA Foundation Scholarship, the Edith C. Blum Foundation Prize for exceptional achievement in the area of Taxation, and the Professor Philip K. Yonge Memorial Prize for exceptional achievement in Commercial Law or Bankruptcy. Mr. Kelly obtained a B.S. in Accounting from the State University of New York at Binghamton (1999), where he was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, National Honor Society. During law school, Mr. Kelly interned for the Honorable Allan L. Gropper at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, S.D.N.Y., and interned for the New York City Department of Finance, Office of Legal Affairs. Prior to practicing law, Mr. Kelly served a short stint as a certified public accountant. Mr. Kelly has been designated by Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in 2014 and 2015 (See Super Laywers Website Here).