Thomas R. Ajamie
Tom Ajamie is an internationally-recognized trial lawyer who has successfully represented clients in complex commercial litigation and arbitration. The authoritative Chambers USA has described Tom as “relentless, energetic and intelligent” and a “hard-working and successful trial lawyer who never quits.” He has handled a number of high-profile cases, including groundbreaking securities and financial cases, cross-border litigation, business contract disputes and employment issues. Tom has won two of the largest awards ever handed down by an arbitration panel for investors, including a $429.5 million award. He has also won a record $112 million civil RICO jury verdict — the largest in United States history.
Tom has been recognized by numerous legal publications and directories, including Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation, and Super Lawyers. The National Law Journal has named Tom one of its 50 Litigation Trailblazers. He was also honored as one of the nation’s 500 Leading Lawyers by Lawdragon, as well as that publication’s “100 Lawyers You Need to Know in Securities Litigation.” The Martindale-Hubbell law directory, which ranks the legal ability of lawyers, gave Tom an AV rating. He is also a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, whose membership is limited to attorneys who have won multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements–fewer than 1% of U.S. attorneys.
Tom is regularly invited to give legal analysis by news media outlets including ABC, CNN, CNBC, NPR and BBC, and his work has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The American Lawyer. He is the co-author of the book Financial Serial Killers: Inside the World of Wall Street Money Hustlers, Swindlers, and Con Men. His work in exposing disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is featured in the instant New York Times bestseller She Said, by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. His work on behalf of investors in the Bre-X gold scandal is featured in the book Fools’ Gold: the Making of a Global Market Fraud, by Brian Hutchinson.
The Ajamie Scholarship Fund was created by Tom as a way of promoting tolerance and equality among our youth. The Scholarship Fund offers university scholarships to students who display respect and support diversity initiatives in our society, without regard to race, religion, creed, skin color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation.
- University of Notre Dame Law School, J.D., 1985
- London Law Programme, 1983-1984
- Arizona State University, B.A., cum laude, 1982
- Student Body President, 1980-1981
- University of Louvain, Belgium
- New York
- Settled for $79 million a federal court class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Company on behalf of its former financial advisors who were wrongfully forced to forfeit their deferred compensation when they left the company.
- First to uncover and report on convicted Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s crimes. Our work contributed to Weinstein’s downfall as well as the rise of the #metoo social movement. Ajamie’s role has been featured in numerous news articles, as well as the joint PBS Frontline/BBC Panorama documentary “Weinstein: The Inside Story,” and in the instant New York Times bestseller She Said, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
- Legal counsel to the Super Bowl LI Houston Host Committee providing a wide range of legal services for this multi-billion dollar event, including preventive litigation counseling, risk management, contract negotiation and liability prevention advice for the tens of thousands of workers and volunteers involved in events leading up to and including the big game.
- Member of the legal team that recovered over $173.8 million for investors in the Cobalt International Energy, Inc. securities class action litigation. Our clients alleged that the defendants violated the federal securities laws by, among other things, misstating and concealing facts on Cobalt’s partnership with Angolan government officials and the productivity of Cobalt’s Angolan oil and gas wells. United States District Court Judge Nancy Atlas lauded the lawyers’ work when she said “Plaintiffs’ counsel conducted the litigation and achieved the settlements with skill, perseverance and diligent advocacy.”
- Represented a minority investor in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against majority investors in a joint venture that produces and sells the small batch, luxury sipping tequila Casa Dragones. The majority investors in the company sold a controlling interest to a new investment firm, “dragging along” our client’s shares to the new controlling shareholder. Our firm filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court proving that the majority investors had wrongfully and improperly interpreted and asserted the drag-along provision, as well as other provisions of the Shareholders Agreement, and the attempted exercise of such drag-along provision was, void and unenforceable.
- Won a $429.5 million arbitration award against a former PaineWebber broker. The Wall Street Journal noted that the award is the largest in United States history. One of the brokers involved in the fraud was convicted and served six and a half years in federal prison.
- Won a record $112,119,005 jury verdict — the largest in United States history — after a three-week trial in a case brought under civil RICO against defendants who conspired to extort money from our corporate client and tamper with trial witnesses. (American Lawyer article)
- Member of the legal team that recovered a $70 million settlement from Securities America, Inc., the broker-dealer subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial, Inc., for investors who lost money in the Medical Capital Ponzi scheme.
- Won a $14.5 million arbitration award on behalf of a New York family against Prudential Equity Group. The award was obtained following 84 hearing sessions at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). At the time, The Wall Street Journal stated that this award was the third largest in the United States.
- Won a $12.2 million judgment, including full damages and all attorneys’ fees, on behalf of a multinational computer technology company against its former employees who conspired with others to engage in a false-invoice and bid-rigging scheme to defraud the company.
- Settled a lawsuit against two insurance agents, six insurance companies and a law firm for $7.29 million after four days of trial in Galveston state court. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants negligently advised a 90-year-old widow and her 65-year-old son to sell their Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. stock and use the proceeds to purchase life insurance and annuities as part of an “estate tax plan.” (VerdictSearch article)
- Won an eight-figure settlement on behalf of several investors defrauded of over $100 million by one of the United States’ largest national brokerage firms.
- Successfully sued Wells Fargo and won a seven-figure settlement in a case where some of its employees secretly diverted money from client accounts in Beverly Hills over two and one-half years. One of the Wells Fargo advisors was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for his role in the fraud. The case was featured on the front page of the New York Times.
- Negotiated the global resolution of 40 civil proceedings in federal and state court in the United States, in federal and state courts in Mexico, and in civil arbitration proceedings before CANACO in Mexico.
- Co-counsel in an ERISA class action alleging that plan fiduciaries breached their duties of loyalty and prudence by selecting and maintaining inappropriate Putnum mutual funds for the defendant company’s 401(k) plan.
- Recovered a multi-million dollar “clawback” for our Fortune 100 client in a case where the client’s executive employees were hired away by a competitor. The departing executives had signed agreements in which they promised to pay back restricted stock and stock option awards that they received if they went to work for a competitor.
- Conducted several internal investigations for a Fortune 100 company.
- Represented the Mexican subsidiary of an international corporation in the illegal arrests of the corporation’s employees in Mexico following a dispute concerning an alleged breach of contract. The representation involved complex cross-border matters in the U.S. and Mexico.
- Successfully represented a pension fund in a lawsuit against a New York hedge fund after the hedge fund lost 30% of the funds with which it was entrusted. (Wall Street Journal article)
- In the Enron litigation, represented one of the insurance companies that provided directors and officers insurance coverage.
- Represented an Illinois-based utility company in litigation against distressed bondholders seeking recovery following an $80 million bond default for an electric power facility located outside of Chicago. At the time, this was the “eighth largest municipal bond default in the history of the municipal market,” according to the Bond Investors Association.
- Won a dismissal of all claims against a major utility company in connection with the Panhandle interstate gas pipeline system in an antitrust lawsuit alleging conspiracy to monopolize, tying and a group boycott.
- Litigated an agreement to affiliate a client’s television stations with the WB Television Network. Secured a favorable settlement, including the sale of the client’s Houston station for $95 million–an “incredibly high” price, according to Variety.
- Won the dismissal of 21 consolidated class action lawsuits filed in federal court against former officers of a NYSE-listed client alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5.
- Represented an excess carrier in primary and subrogation litigation, and recovered millions of dollars for our carrier client.
- Successfully defended the second largest funeral and cemetery services company against a $4 billion hostile takeover bid by SCI, that industry’s largest company. The case involved securities, tort and antitrust litigation.
PUBLICATIONS, SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS
- “Law Ethics and Public Policy,” Seton Hall University
- “Protecting Your Wealth From Financial Serial Killers,” Chautauqua Institution
- “1MDB: Dissecting One of the World’s Biggest Financial Scandals,” 15th Annual North American OffshoreAlert Conference
- Co-author, Expert Witnesses, Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, Fourth Edition
- “Managing the Hearing: Negotiating from a Position of Strength,” The American Bar Association’s 9th Annual Arbitration Training Institute
- “Issues Facing Claimants’ Attorneys,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) 24th Annual Meeting
- “Damages,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) 23rd Annual Meeting
- “Securities Arbitration and Mediation: Telling Your Story,” New York State Bar Association’s Spring CLE Program, New York
- “Overview of Securities Arbitration Matters,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) 22nd Annual Meeting
- “Looking Across the Globe: How Developments in FCPA Investigations and Regulations are Shaping the Future,” ALM’s Cross-Border M&A and Litigation Forum, New York
- “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: What’s Your Risk Exposure?,” Union Internacionale des Avocats and New York State Bar Association 5th Business Law Forum, New York
- “Focus Groups and Jury Selection,” AEGIS Insurance Claims Roundtable Program: “Managing Mass Tort Litigation,” East Rutherford, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California
- “Insurance and Collection Issues: The Punch List for Claimants’ Attorneys,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) 21st Annual Meeting
- “Victimized: When to Refer Your Client to an Attorney,” Financial Planning Association of New York eNews
- Keynote Address: “Financial Serial Killers,” Accountants Club of America Meeting, Union League Club, New York
- “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: What’s Your Risk Exposure?,” Corporate Counsel’s Cross-Border Litigation Forum, The Harvard Club, New York
- “The Attorney-Client Privilege for In House Attorneys,” Association of Corporate Counsel’s National Litigation Committee Meeting
- Keynote Address: “What Advisors Can Learn from the Financial Crisis & Scams,” The Financial Planning Association of New York Annual Forum
- W!se MoneyPower Conference for Financial Literacy, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York
- “Commentary: Help for Securities Fraud Plaintiffs Seeking Class Certification,” Texas Lawyer
- Keynote Address: “How To Detect and Deflect Scams & Schemes,” The Financial Planning Association of New York’s 9th Annual Financial Fitness Workshop
- Keynote Address: “Greed, Ego, Power, Ethics & the Law,” NALSC 2011 Spring Conference
- “The Financial Serial Killers Among Us,” CFA Society of Houston Program
- “Turning Commercial Litigation into Commerce–The Corporate Legal Department as a Profit Center,” ALM’s 2nd Annual Litigation Summit, and ALM’s Controlling Legal Costs: Valuing, Measuring and Enhancing the Delivery of Legal Services
- “Thinking Like a Plaintiff,” Corporate Counsel’s 7th Annual General Counsel Conference West Coast Conference
- “Regulation D, TICs, and Unlisted REITS,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) 18th Annual Meeting
- “Doing Ethical Business in Europe: Are You Ready for Multi-Cultural Legal Operations?” Corporate Counsel’s 21st Annual General Counsel Conference
- “La Seguridad Empresarial–Cómo Evitar que un Pleito de Negocios Resulte en Cargos Criminales” (“Business Security: How to Prevent a Business Dispute from Resulting in Criminal Charges”), American Chamber of Commerce of México: Reunión del Comité de Seguridad
- “Surviving and Succeeding Under the Media Spotlight,” AEGIS Policyholder Conference Roundtable Program: “Success Through Utilizing AEGIS’ Gas & Electric Litigation Services”
- “Representing the Hedge Fund Investor,” Trial Magazine
- “Getting Grandma’s Nest Egg Back,” The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) Business Torts Section Newsletter
- “Litigating Insurance Product Claims,” The American Association for Justice (AAJ) 2006 Annual Convention
- “A Basic Primer on Hedge Funds,” AAJ 2006 Annual Convention
- “A Mock Arbitration: As Close as You Can Get,” Securities Industry Association (SIA)/Wharton Securities Industry Institute 54th Annual Program
- “Insurance Industry Issues,” Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association
- “A Look at the Securities Arbitration Process,” ATLA Business Torts Section Newsletter
- “Mock Arbitration,” SIA/Wharton Securities Industry Institute 53rd Annual Program
- “Securities Fraud, Market Abuses and Insider Trading,” University of Houston Law Foundation, Advanced Business Litigation
- “Nuevas Responsabilidades Legales de los Fabricantes de Autopartes en el Mercado Norteamericano.” Industria Nacional de Autopartes, A.C., XXXIX Reunión de Evaluación del Sector Automotor
- “Shareholder Litigation and Officer/Director Liability Post-Sarbanes-Oxley,” University of Houston Law Foundation, Representing Corporations in a Changed Legal Environment
OTHER ATTORNEY EXPERIENCE
- Founder, Ajamie LLP, Houston (1997-present)
- Baker Botts, LLP, Houston (1985-1997)
MEMBERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY
- College of the State Bar of Texas
- International, American, New York, Texas & Houston Bar Associations
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- FINRA National Arbitration and Mediation Committee (2012-2015)
- Arbitrator, National Futures Association
- American Association for Justice; Co-Chair, Investment Fraud Committee (2006)
- Public Investors Advocate Bar Association
- Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum–Life Member
- Sundance Circle Patron, The Sundance Institute
- Board of Directors, Houston Grand Opera
- Patron, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Patron, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Patron, The Whitney Museum
- Patron, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Power Lawyer (The Hollywood Reporter)
- Top 50 Litigation Trailblazers (The National Law Journal)
- Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Trailblazers (The National Law Journal)
- Sports & Entertainment Trailblazers (The National Law Journal)
- Best Lawyers in America (New York and Texas)
- Leading Lawyer in Commercial Litigation (Chambers USA)
- Litigation Star–Commercial (Benchmark Litigation, published by Euromoney/Institutional Investor)
- Texas Super Lawyer
- 500 Leading Lawyers in America (Lawdragon)
- Top Lawyers in Business Litigation (H Texas Magazine)
- Top 100 Lawyers You Need to Know in Securities Litigation (Lawdragon)
- Rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability