Tony Sears

Profile

Tony maintains a diverse civil litigation practice representing business entities and institutional clients. His complex commercial litigation experience includes matters involving contract disputes and allegations of business torts and unfair competition. Over the past several years, Tony has litigated dozens of cases involving equipment finance leases governed by the Uniform Commercial Code, and he has emerged as a leader in this field after having litigated and won matters of first impression.  

Tony has successfully litigated claims arising from multi-party financing arrangements, contracts for the international manufacture of custom-designed goods, and commercial construction projects. He also has successfully handled disputes in connection with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and restrictive covenants in employee contracts.

Tony conducts internal investigations and defends medical providers against claims alleging improper treatment. He also conducts internal investigations and defends educational institutions in connection with allegations of discrimination and various general liability claims. In his product liability practice, Tony has defended manufacturers of surgical implants and contact lens solution, and he serves as national coordinating counsel managing a manufacturer’s defense against asbestos claims asserted in dozens of jurisdictions. He also has experience defending utilities against claims involving serious personal injuries and property damage arising from explosions, fires, and other accidents.

Representative Experience

  • Xerox Corp. v. JCTB Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188048, No. 6:18-cv-06154 (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2018)
    Secured pre-discovery summary judgment enforcing “hell or high water” clause in manufacturer’s equipment finance lease, and obtained pre-answer dismissal of various counterclaims. In the case, the Court enforced a precedent Tony previously established, which held that a manufacturer can enforce an absolute and unconditional obligation to make lease payments.
  • Prof’l Orthopedic Assocs., PA v. Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91815, No 14-6950 (July 15, 2015)
    Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of claims alleging ERISA violations by plan sponsor and fiduciary, which included allegations of improper denials of benefits and failure to provide plan documents.
  • Picture People, Inc. v. Imaging Fin. Servs., 735 F. Supp. 2d 12 (S.D.N.Y. 2010)
    Served as lead trial counsel and successfully defended manufacturer against claims alleging breach of contract and various business torts regarding collection of payments for consumable supplies via multi-party financing arrangement for commercial photography equipment.
  • Rochester-Genesee Reg’l Transp. Auth. v. Cummins, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75805, No. 09-cv-6370 (W.D.N.Y. July 28, 2010)
    Obtained pre-answer dismissal of claims against bus manufacturer including allegations that it had breached the parties’ contract as well as express and implied warranties regarding the manufacture of 59 transit buses.
  • D&M Concrete, Inc. v. Wegmans Food Mkts., Inc., 133 A.D.3d 1329 (4th Dep’t 2015), lv. Denied 27 N.Y.3d 901 (2016)
    Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all claims alleging breach of contract for nonpayment in contract regarding the concrete foundation for the new construction of a supermarket.
  • May v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140090, No. 5:13-cv-170 (Oct. 2, 2014)
    Obtained ruling precluding admissibility of plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, and thereby obtained summary judgment and dismissal of claims alleging improper design of restaurant parking lot and related claims, including failure to warn.

Credentials

Education

  • Cornell Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2003
    Note Editor, Cornell Law Review
    Judicial Externship, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
  • West Virginia University, B.A., summa cum laude, 2000

Admissions to Practice

  • New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. District Courts of New York (All Districts)

Activities

  • Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA)
  • Defense Research Institute
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Monroe County Bar Association

Presentations & PUBLICATIONS

  • Product Liability Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium. Wolters Kluwer. (New York Contributing Editor: Annually, 2004 to current edition)
  • “Thinking Outside the Box: An Equipment Manufacturer Can Enter Into a Finance Lease and Create a Hell or High Water Lease Obligation.” Equipment Leasing & Finance Magazine, January 2015.
  • “Chapter XII: Evidentiary Issues Unique to New York Products Liability Litigation.” Products Liability in New York—Strategy and Practice, New York State Bar Association, 2d Ed., 2012.
  • “Selected Commentaries.” NY CLS Desk Edition Commercial Law Practice Annual, Lexis-Nexis, 2006.

Recognition

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rating
  • Selected to New York Super Lawyers® (Upstate Edition), 2013-present
    – Business Litigation
  • Monroe County Bar Association, Rochester Emerging Bar Leader, 2008

Community

  • Bivona Child Advocacy Center
    – Committee Member, 2017-present
    – Non-profit organization devoted to child abuse response, healing, and prevention
  • Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery
    – Board Member, 2007-2014
    – Non-profit organization devoted to preserving the historic cemetery, which includes the burial sites of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony

Testimonials

  • "Tony is a highly respected practitioner who provides his clients with thoughtful and practical advice. He holds himself to the highest ethical standards and is the consummate professional who earns the trust of his clients, his colleagues, and his opposing counsel."
    – Anonymous, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review

  • "Intelligent, insightful, diligent, and trustworthy. Tony is a fantastic and skillful advocate."
    – Anonymous, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review

  • "Tony is my national coordinating counsel in a toxic tort context. He is very knowledgeable and does an excellent job obtaining great results for the client."
    – Anonymous, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review