Robert G. Abrams

Partner

Washington, D.C.
T +1.202.861.1699
F +1.202.861.1783

Overview

Bob Abrams leads BakerHostetler's Antitrust and Competition practice team and guides a team of attorneys with great depth and strength in the litigation and trial of antitrust cases, including class actions. The antitrust group also has significant experience in mergers and acquisitions, and its partners have been point persons in dealing with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the antitrust aspects of clearing transactions. Bob has more than 30 years of experience litigating and trying antitrust and complex commercial and government enforcement matters. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of antitrust.

Bob's experience as a trial and litigation strategist spans practice areas, and he has been lead counsel in lengthy antitrust, intellectual property, trade secret and breach of contract jury trials, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. He has argued in most of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, presenting cases involving distribution and other business practices, the Alien Torts Claims Act and constitutional law issues. He has also defended clients in enforcement actions initiated by the DOJ, FTC, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board. He was counsel in one of the largest FTC proceedings ever filed and was also lead counsel in one of the largest Clean Air Act (CAA) enforcement actions in history. Bob tried a major class action on behalf of defendant ExxonMobil, and as lead plaintiffs' counsel recently settled a major class action for more than $300 million and effective conduct changes on behalf of dairy farmers in 14 southeastern states that was recognized as one of the six leading antitrust cases in 2012 by Global Competition Review.

Select Experience

  • Lead attorney (class counsel) representing a certified class of dairy farmers located in 14 southeastern states against Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods and a number of other defendants in an action alleging violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. There has been final approval of settlements of more than $300 million, along with agreed reform of significant business practices. In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1899 – E.D. Tenn.).
  • A plaintiff client sought indemnity arising out of a 2009 explosion of a food manufacturing plant in Garner, North Carolina. After a four-week jury trial in Omaha, Nebraska, the jury returned a $108.9 million verdict (which was the plaintiffs' request and two times the largest verdict received in Nebraska as of that time – March 2016). The verdict was recognized by the National Law Journal as a "Top 50 Verdict" of 2016 in its Elite Trial Lawyers report. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., Case No. Cl 14-387.*
  • A plaintiff sought damages of more than $420 million from a client based on claims of breach of a software license agreement, copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. The client pursued counterclaims of $2 million for breach of contract and fraud. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $5.5 million and in favor of the client for $500,000. HotSamba Inc. v. Caterpillar Inc.

* Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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Experience

  • Lead attorney (class counsel) representing a certified class of dairy farmers located in 14 southeastern states against Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods and a number of other defendants in an action alleging violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. There has been final approval of settlements of more than $300 million, along with agreed reform of significant business practices. In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1899 – E.D. Tenn.).
  • A plaintiff client sought indemnity arising out of a 2009 explosion of a food manufacturing plant in Garner, North Carolina. After a four-week jury trial in Omaha, Nebraska, the jury returned a $108.9 million verdict (which was the plaintiffs' request and two times the largest verdict received in Nebraska as of that time – March 2016). The verdict was recognized by the National Law Journal as a "Top 50 Verdict" of 2016 in its Elite Trial Lawyers report. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., Case No. Cl 14-387.*
  • A plaintiff sought damages of more than $420 million from a client based on claims of breach of a software license agreement, copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. The client pursued counterclaims of $2 million for breach of contract and fraud. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $5.5 million and in favor of the client for $500,000. HotSamba Inc. v. Caterpillar Inc.
  • Led the defense and resolution of one of the largest CAA enforcement matters in history – an industry-wide investigation by the EPA and California concerning diesel fuel emissions. United States v. Caterpillar Inc., et al.
  • A client filed suit alleging ownership and inventorship of patents issued to the defendant, misappropriation of trade secrets and conversion of various patent rights. The jury found for the plaintiff, and the court ordered a constructive trust imposed over the two patents and ordered the defendant to assign right, title and interest in both patents and the applications from which they were derived. After the jury verdict was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial, the jury again found for the plaintiff and the district court again ordered the same relief. During the first jury trial, after the jury left for the day, the court conducted a bench trial regarding the defendant's inventorship claim involving the plaintiff's patent. The trial court rendered a decision in the defendant's favor, with no monetary damages. The client appealed and the Federal Circuit reversed and rendered judgment in the client's favor. Caterpillar Inc. v. Sturman Industries et al.
  • Represented a client in a class action brought by service station dealers alleging breach of contract involving the client's Discount for Cash marketing program. The plaintiffs sought $1 billion in damages, including interest. The first trial of the case resulted in a hung jury; the retrial resulted in a verdict for the plaintiffs. Allapattah Services, Inc. et al. v. Exxon Corp.
  • Plaintiffs alleged violations of Sherman Act sections 1 and 2, claiming that a client dominated the replacement parts business for the client's machines by eliminating parts competitors while seeking to raise prices. The court directed a verdict in favor of the client on the antitrust claims and the jury returned a verdict for the client on the remaining state law claims. The verdict was affirmed on appeal. Godix Equipment Export Corp., et al. v. Caterpillar Inc.

* Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • American College of Trial Lawyers: Fellow
  • Chambers USAAntitrust in the District of Columbia (2013 to 2017)
  • The Legal 500 United States (2014 to 2016)
    • Recommended in Antitrust - Civil litigation/class actions
  • National Law Journal "Litigation Trailblazer" (2016)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Washington, D.C."Super Lawyer" (2009, 2013 to 2017)

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
    • Litigation Section
    • Antitrust Section
    • Intellectual Property Section
  • Pro Bono Institute: Annual Gala Co-Chair (2007)

Pro Bono

  • Established a groundbreaking pro bono partnership between a former firm and major client in which the client's in-house attorneys and firm attorneys worked together on matters for pro bono clients.

Prior Positions

  • Howrey & Simon - Howrey LLP (1973 to 2011)
  • Law clerk for the Honorable William E. Doyle for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit (1972 to 1973)

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • All U.S. Courts of Appeals
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • District of Columbia

Education

  • J.D., The George Washington University Law School, 1972, cum laude; Managing Editor, George Washington University Law Review, 1971 to 1972
  • B.A., Colgate University, 1968

Blog

In The Blogs

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Antitrust Advocate
Trump’s Pick for Department of Justice Antitrust Division Chief
May 4, 2017
Last month we discussed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings. Specifically, we noted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s failure to nail Gorsuch down on key antitrust issues, including issues he handled as an experienced...
Read More ->
Antitrust Advocate
The Senate’s Uneventful Gorsuch Confirmation Hearing
April 25, 2017
Recently, we discussed in prior articles the antitrust legacy of Neil Gorsuch, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. Gorsuch has significant antitrust...
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Antitrust Advocate
Case Closed! FTC Announces New Processes for Potentially Ending Investigations
April 20, 2017
Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission’s Acting Chair, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, announced new and potentially meaningful processes to be implemented by the agency for reviewing and ending some investigations. Responding to President...
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Antitrust Advocate
Antitrust Legacy of High Court Nominee Gorsuch in Private Practice
April 4, 2017
Last month, we discussed the antitrust jurisprudence of Neil Gorsuch, currently of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit judge and nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States. Our discussion focused on three of Gorsuch’s...
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Antitrust Advocate
The Antitrust Points of View of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
February 21, 2017
Last March, we wrote a series of articles discussing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s antitrust legacy on the Supreme Court. We noted Scalia’s admitted discomfort with the Sherman Act, specifically with holding corporate defendants...
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