Stephen Wagner, a founding partner of the firm, heads the litigation team at CTSW. A business advisor as well as litigator, Stephen approaches each case understanding that drawn-out disputes are never in a company’s business plan. He manages each case to advance a client’s business goals, and to prevent the process from overwhelming or undermining the value a business is protecting.
This approach has anchored Stephen’s experience in every case he and the firm handles, whether contract breaches, insurance disputes, securities fraud, product liability, employment law, and complex aviation disputes. Even when retained as coordinating attorney in highly complex commercial disputes involving numerous lawyers and firms, he works with both colleagues and other firms’ litigators to prevent the process from undermining the client’s business goals. As a result, Stephen’s relationships with clients last long beyond when a particular trial ends, and many rely on his judgment for day-to-day business affairs.
Stephen leads a team of trial attorneys that have defended clients in hundreds of disputes against the country’s largest law firms. This team brings proven chemistry and well-honed skills to every stage of the litigation process, from initial strategizing on how best to defend a client’s interests to litigating jury or bench trials to verdict. Stephen also works closely with the firm’s corporate and transactional attorneys, consulting with them on issues related to the clients represented across a range of practice areas at the firm. Clients benefit from this small team dynamic in a single office, in which business goals govern everything the firm does.
Prior to joining CTSW, Stephen was a litigation partner at Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky, and then moved to Gratch Jacobs & Brozman to head its litigation department.
Stephen is a member of Yeshiva University’s Counsel's Council, a committee of lawyers that provides advice and pro bono work to the General Counsel of the University.
He is also active in his community. He served on the Board of Trustees and Board of Education of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaways, and on the Board of Trustees and Executive Board of his local synagogue, The Young Israel of Woodmere. In that capacity, Stephen has chaired the committee responsible for revamping this 1,000-family synagogue’s constitution and by-laws, and as chair of the legal committee.
Stephen was included in the 2013 edition of the Super Lawyers publication.
• Defense of a trilogy of lawsuits related to a CTSW client’s investment in an international satellite company. Plaintiff minority shareholders sought more than $6 billion in damages from our client (the majority shareholder) and other defendants in actions alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and other related claims. Stephen and his team successfully obtained a dismissal of the lawsuits, which dismissal was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
• In a related lawsuit, representing that client in litigation initiated by the satellite company's major lender in New York State Supreme Court, obtained dismissal of that lawsuit, and then led the team that negotiated the multi-million dollar buyout of the lender.
• Successfully defended this client in an action initiated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by a major German company seeking damages for breach of contract and fraud. The court dismissed all claims prior to trial.
• Appeared at an arbitration in Warsaw, Poland, in which a major telecommunications utility alleged that certain equipment supplied by CTSW’s client failed, seeking millions of dollars in damages. Stephen proved during the arbitration that the system failure was unrelated to the condition of the equipment.
• Led the team that successfully defended a client against a major freight carrier related to the lease of an aircraft and four engines. The freight carrier sought damages related to certain alleged contractual breaches, and the client counterclaimed for damage caused to the airframe and engines. Prior to trial, the carrier abandoned its claims against the client, and paid the client several million dollars to resolve the counterclaims.
• Represented a multi-national company in a complex case involving alleged breaches of several contracts. In a hard fought battle resulting in lengthy opinions issued by the bankruptcy court, the parties settled prior to trial on very favorable terms for the client.
• Represented one of the partners in a dispute between the partners of two multi-million dollar off-loading cargo facilities located at the St. Louis and Kansas City airports, respectively. The case resulted in a favorable settlement after the first day of trial.
• Represented two separate hedge funds against their respective insurance carriers. These clients, each of which had been sued in multi-million dollar underlying litigation, retained CTSW to recover the millions of dollars in defense and settlement fees incurred in the underlying litigations from their primary and excess insurance carriers.
• Leading the team representing a major health care provider in a purported class action seeking millions of dollars on behalf of employees alleging failure to pay overtime and other payments.