Tony Sears

Profile

Tony maintains a diverse civil litigation practice representing a wide range of 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 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. 

Tony regularly conducts internal investigations and defends educational institutions in a broad array of Title IX matters and serious general liability claims. He also defends employers in cases alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII and state law. He has also successfully handled disputes in connection with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and restrictive covenants in employee contracts.

In addition, Tony conducts internal investigations and defends medical providers against serious claims alleging improper treatment. 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.

Representative Matters/Experience

  • Life Celebration, Inc. v. Xerox Corp., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156616 (E.D. Pa. August 20, 2020), aff’d 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 17505 (3d Cir. June 11, 2021)
    Won summary judgment and dismissal of litigation alleging breach of contract and misrepresentation in connection with commercial contracts for equipment, services, and facility space; argued and secured affirmance of the outright dismissal at the Third Circuit.
  • Xerox Corp. v. JCTB Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188048, (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2018), aff’d 787 Fed. Appx. 43 (2d Cir. Dec. 6, 2019)
    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; argued and won affirmance in the Second Circuit.
  • Xerox Corp. v. Graphic Mgmt. Servs., 959 F. Supp. 2d 311 (W.D.N.Y. 2013)
    Established precedent holding that a manufacturer of goods can enforce an absolute and unconditional obligation to make lease payments via express “hell or high water” provisions and designation of agreement as a UCC Article 2-A “finance lease.”
  • Prof’l Orthopedic Assocs., PA v. Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91815, (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, (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 contractor’s claims alleging breach of construction contract regarding concrete foundation for the new construction of a supermarket; argued appeal and obtained affirmance of dismissal.
  • May v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140090, (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 and Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Courts of New York (Western, Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts)
  • Appeared pro hac vice in various federal and state jurisdictions in California, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia

Activities

  • Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • New York State Bar Association
    Torts, Insurance, & Compensation Law Section
  • Monroe County Bar Association

Presentations & PUBLICATIONS

  • "An Ounce of Prevention: Legal Guidance for a New Era." Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Chamber Counsel webinar, September 14, 2021.
  • 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

  • Selected to The Best Lawyers in Americ
    Commercial Litigation
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rating
  • Selected to New York Super Lawyers® (Upstate Edition), since 2013
    – 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

  • "When it comes to toxic torts, Tony Sears at Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy has tremendous expertise. He coordinates dozens of complex cases across many jurisdictions in a cost efficient manner that also protects the best interests of the client. Highly recommended."
    Anonymous, U.S. News — Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"
  • "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

Profile

Tony maintains a diverse civil litigation practice representing a wide range of 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 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. 

Tony regularly conducts internal investigations and defends educational institutions in a broad array of Title IX matters and serious general liability claims. He also defends employers in cases alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII and state law. He has also successfully handled disputes in connection with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and restrictive covenants in employee contracts.

In addition, Tony conducts internal investigations and defends medical providers against serious claims alleging improper treatment. 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.

Representative Matters/Experience

  • Life Celebration, Inc. v. Xerox Corp., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156616 (E.D. Pa. August 20, 2020), aff’d 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 17505 (3d Cir. June 11, 2021)
    Won summary judgment and dismissal of litigation alleging breach of contract and misrepresentation in connection with commercial contracts for equipment, services, and facility space; argued and secured affirmance of the outright dismissal at the Third Circuit.
  • Xerox Corp. v. JCTB Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188048, (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2018), aff’d 787 Fed. Appx. 43 (2d Cir. Dec. 6, 2019)
    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; argued and won affirmance in the Second Circuit.
  • Xerox Corp. v. Graphic Mgmt. Servs., 959 F. Supp. 2d 311 (W.D.N.Y. 2013)
    Established precedent holding that a manufacturer of goods can enforce an absolute and unconditional obligation to make lease payments via express “hell or high water” provisions and designation of agreement as a UCC Article 2-A “finance lease.”
  • Prof’l Orthopedic Assocs., PA v. Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91815, (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, (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 contractor’s claims alleging breach of construction contract regarding concrete foundation for the new construction of a supermarket; argued appeal and obtained affirmance of dismissal.
  • May v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140090, (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 and Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Courts of New York (Western, Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts)
  • Appeared pro hac vice in various federal and state jurisdictions in California, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia

Activities

  • Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • New York State Bar Association
    Torts, Insurance, & Compensation Law Section
  • Monroe County Bar Association

Presentations & PUBLICATIONS

  • "An Ounce of Prevention: Legal Guidance for a New Era." Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Chamber Counsel webinar, September 14, 2021.
  • 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

  • Selected to The Best Lawyers in Americ
    Commercial Litigation
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rating
  • Selected to New York Super Lawyers® (Upstate Edition), since 2013
    – 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

  • "When it comes to toxic torts, Tony Sears at Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy has tremendous expertise. He coordinates dozens of complex cases across many jurisdictions in a cost efficient manner that also protects the best interests of the client. Highly recommended."
    Anonymous, U.S. News — Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"
  • "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