Michael Duke


212 390 9071

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Michael Duke is a trial and appellate litigator with experience in state and federal courts and arbitration hearings.

Michael has represented clients in a variety of complex commercial disputes across practice areas including complex financial instruments, restructuring, insurance, land use, and governance disputes.

Representative Matters

  • Cerberus Capital Management, L.P: Represented private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management as plaintiff in a breach of contract action against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, one of Canada’s largest banks. In 2018, the First Department agreed with Cerberus’ interpretation of the agreements and held that CIBC’s contrary interpretation was “unmoored” from the contracts. After a damages hearing and related decision that rejected nearly all of CIBC’s damages arguments, the New York Supreme Court entered judgment for Cerberus for $855 million.
  • A major energy company: Successfully defended our client against a claim seeking up to $1 billion, obtaining an award in our client’s favor after an eight-day confidential CPR arbitration hearing.
  • TriMark Minority Lenders: Represented an ad hoc group of term lenders in the New York Supreme Court that alleged the defendants, TriMark, its equity sponsors, and several of its other lenders, violated the governing credit agreement by issuing new senior debt that effectively turned the plaintiffs’ first-lien debt into third-lien debt and issuing new “super senior” debt.  After the court rejected the defendants’ motions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ contract claims, the parties ultimately settled the case, with TriMark allowing the former first-lien lenders to exchange their debt for new “super senior” debt and to pay all lenders’ attorneys’ fees.
  • SJP Properties: Represented New York-based real estate developer in obtaining a unanimous reversal from the Appellate Division, First Department of a trial court decision ordering SJP to tear down numerous floors of its residential building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
  • MF Global Appeal: Represented New Hampshire Insurance Company in obtaining unanimous affirmance from the Appellate Division, First Department on a multi-million-dollar dispute over the coverage of fidelity bonds.
  • Rent Stabilization Cases: Representing tenant-advocacy groups in five suits raising federal constitutional challenges to New York’s rent-stabilization laws.  After successfully moving to dismiss all five cases, Selendy Gay Elsberg now represents the tenant-advocacy groups on appeal, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit so far affirming dismissal in three of the lawsuits.
  • UMB Bank as Trustee: Currently representing the Trustee of holders of Contingent Value Rights in a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb seeking $6.4 billion arising from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s failure to exercise diligent efforts in obtaining FDA approval of life-saving cancer therapies.
  • Fortis Advisors: Currently representing the former stockholders of the robotic medical devices company Auris Health in a $2.35 billion dollar earn-out suit centered around Johnson & Johnson’s post-merger failures to achieve regulatory and net sales milestones against Johnson & Johnson.

Michael is on the board of the 30 Birds Foundation, an organization that helped more than 450 Afghans, including family members and various activists for female education, escape the Taliban and resettle in Canada. The Foundation is now dedicated to providing their constituents with educational and professional opportunities, among other programs.

Michael earned his J.D., summa cum laude, from Cornell Law School, where he was an Articles Editor for the Cornell Law Review. He served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Priscilla Richman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and to the Honorable P. Kevin Castel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

  • Cornell Law School (J.D.)
    Summa cum laude, Order of the Coif, Myron Taylor Scholar, Articles Editor, Cornell Law Review
  • University of Tennessee (B.A., Political Science)

Law Clerk to the Hon. P. Kevin Castel
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2017-2018

Law Clerk to the Hon. Priscilla Richman
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 2016-2017

  • State Bar of New York
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit