$1.7 billion in the balance in Tennessee, with both the shareholder seeking to overturn the sale of Clayton Homes to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Blount County housing company bringing in big guns to fight.
The stakes – whether a jury will decide the merger’s fate – are high enough to cause 19 attorneys to participate in the writing of briefs filed with the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
Representing the Denver Area Meat Cutters and Pension Plan are four law firms, including one of the best-known names in securities class-action litigation – the San Diego firm Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach.
On the other side of the aisle for Clayton Homes are three law firms, including Hunton & Williams, a leading corporate defense firm based in Richmond, Va., with 850 lawyers in 17 offices around the world.
“Those are two heavy hitters,” said Larry Soderquist, a corporate and securities law professor at Vanderbilt University. “You have two big time law firms fighting it out there.”
Joan Heminway, a University of Tennessee law professor, said both firms are highly visible in the practice of corporate litigation.
“Everybody is familiar with Milberg Weiss,” Heminway said. “They are highly experienced in class-action litigation, certainly in securities class action. They are zealous advocates for their clients.”
Hunton & Williams, likewise, has a “very outstanding reputation in the Virginia market and I think nationwide,” she said.
Milberg Weiss bills itself as the world’s leading class-action law firm and advertises on its Web site more than 59 companies that it’s suing. In the securities field alone, the firm says it has recovered about $20 billion for shareholders.