Michael J. Wernke joined Pomerantz as Of Counsel in 2014 and was elevated to a partner in 2015. In 2019, he was recognized by SuperLawyers® as a Top Rated Securities Litigation Attorney in the New York Metro area
Michael is Co-Lead Counsel in Pirnik v. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. et al., No. 1:15-cv-07199-JMF (S.D.N.Y), a high profile securities class action that alleges Fiat Chrysler concealed from investors that it improperly outfitted its diesel vehicles with “defeat device” software designed to cheat NOx emissions regulations in the U.S. and Europe, and that regulators had accused Fiat Chrysler of violating the emissions regulations.
In December 2018, Michael, along with Pomerantz Managing Partner Jeremy A. Lieberman, secured a $31 million partial settlement with three defendants in In re Libor Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation, a closely-watched multi-district litigation, which concerns the LIBOR rigging scandal.
In October 2018, Michael secured a $15 million settlement in In re Symbol Technologies, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 2:05-cv-03923-DRH-AKT (E.D.N.Y.), a securities class action that alleges that, following an accounting fraud by prior management, Symbol’s management misled investors about state of its internal controls and the Company’s ability to forecast revenues.
He was Lead Counsel in Thomas v. Magnachip Semiconductor Corp., in which he achieved a $23.5 million partial settlement with certain defendants, securing the settlement despite an ongoing investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and shareholder derivative actions. He played a leading role in In re Lumber Liquidators, Inc. Securities Litigation, in which Pomerantz, as Co-Lead Counsel, achieved a settlement of $26 million in cash and 1,000,000 shares of Lumber Liquidators common stock for the Class. Michael also secured a $7 million settlement (over 30% of the likely recoverable damages) in the securities class action Todd v. STAAR Surgical Company, et. al., No. 14-cv-05263-MWF-RZ (C.D. Cal.), which alleged that STAAR concealed from investors violations of FDA regulations that threatened the approval of STAAR’s long awaited new product.
In the securities class action In re Atossa Genetics, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 13-cv-01836-RSM (W.D. Wash.), Michael secured a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint. The Ninth Circuit held that the CEO’s public statements that the company’s flagship product had been approved by the FDA were misleading despite the fact that the company’s previously-filed registration statement stated that that the product did not, at that time, require FDA approval.
Michael is also Lead Counsel in the securities class action Zwick Partners, LP v. Quorum Health Corp., et al., No. 3:16-cv-2475, which alleges that defendants misrepresented to investors the poor prospects of hospitals that the parent company spun-off into a stand-alone company. In defeating the defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint, Michael successfully argued that company from which Quorum was spun-off was a “maker” of the false statements even though all the alleged false statements concerned only Quorum’s financials and the class involved only purchasers of Quorum’s common stock.
During the nine years prior to coming to Pomerantz, Michael was a litigator with Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, with his primary focus in the securities defense arena, where he represented multinational financial institutions and corporations, playing key roles in two of only a handful of securities class actions to go to jury verdict since the passage of the PSLRA.
In 2014 and 2015, Michael was voted by his peers as a Super LawyersÒ New York Metro Rising Star.
Michael received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2004. He also holds a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Political Science from Ohio State University, where he graduated summa cum laude.
He serves on the Firm’s Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee.
Michael is admitted to practice in the State of New York and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.