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  • Market sources say: “He has great jury appeal and is really down to earth - you can put him in a common man's jury and he'll speak the language.” - Chambers USA

    Sources call Michael Kelly “outstanding” and “a strong litigator” with “a unique and effective style in the courtroom which resonates very, very well with judges and juries.” He is highlighted by clients as an “excellent trial lawyer who is very experienced in the courtroom and is well known in the Delaware legal market.” 
    - Chambers USA

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated
    5.0 out of 5

Education

  • J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 1983
  • B.A., Columbia University, 1979

Bar Admissions

  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of Delaware
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

Memberships & Affiliations

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers

Judicial Nominating Commission, State of Delaware, 2009 to present

Community Advisory Board of the Wilmington News Journal

Rodney Inns of Court

Pro Bono Inns of Court

Board of Trustees, Tower Hill School

Founding Member, Defense Counsel of Delaware

Secretary and General Counsel, News Journal W. Frank Scholarship Trust

General Counsel, Sojourner’s Place Homeless Shelter

Board of Directors, Police Athletic League

Delaware State Bar Association, Treasurer, 1992 - 1994

Chairman, New Castle County Zoning Board of Adjustment, 1989 – 1995

Board of Directors, Delaware Council on Crime and Justice

Delaware Volunteer Legal Services

Executive Committee and Past President, St. Thomas More Society

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta

Member, Wilmington Rotary Club

Michael P. Kelly

  • |
Chairman Emeritus
  • T: 302.984.6301
    F: 302.984.2493

Michael Kelly is one of the top trial lawyers in the country. He has litigated thousands of high-profile cases nationally in both state and federal courts, including commercial and other civil disputes, shareholder suits, toxic torts, product liability, environmental, antitrust, Hatch Waxman and other intellectual property cases. He has brought hundreds of cases to trial and argued countless appeals, including more than 25 cases before the Delaware Supreme Court. Mr. Kelly is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has appeared as trial counsel in most of the 50 states.

Mr. Kelly has made new law in many areas. He most recently argued before the Delaware Supreme Court the In Re Aruba appraisal case, where he served as trial counsel in the court below. The trial resulted in the first Delaware appraisal decision to award market price well below the deal price. In Cigna v. Audax, Mr. Kelly persuaded the Chancery Court to strike down commonly used  merger agreement conditions on the grounds that such conditions were contrary to the Delaware General Corporation Law. That  decision has significant potential ramifications for future mergers under Delaware law. In Feeley v. Nhaocg, he established new fundamental precepts with respect to LLC governance.

Mr. Kelly served as co-counsel in defense of AstraZeneca's Hatch-Waxman Act settlements with generic drug manufacturers from multiple MDL antitrust class actions. The classes, consisting of end users, distributors and retailers, claimed that AZ's settlements with generic manufacturers over its patented drug Nexium harmed competition by artificially delaying generic entry. He was also lead defense trial counsel in the In Re Metoprolol antitrust litigation, which involved alleged damages in excess of $3 billion. In a Lanham Act trial, Mr. Kelly won not only a favorable judgment in excess of $100 million, but $12 million in attorney’s fees—one of the largest fee awards in Delaware history. He is presently trial counsel in numerous “bet the company” IP cases and has litigated high-profile IP cases for the last 20 years.

In the products liability field, Mr. Kelly served on AstraZeneca’s National Senior Management Team and National Trial Team in the Seroquel litigation, which involved more than 28,000 cases. He was also lead trial counsel in Delaware. Mr. Kelly obtained summary judgment in the first Seroquel case filed in Delaware (Hopkins v. AstraZeneca) and a sweeping statute of limitations victory (Burrell et al v. AstraZeneca). These decisive victories paved the way to settlements in the remaining 28,000 cases, at the lowest per-case amount of any litigation of its kind. He served as lead negotiator in the settlement negotiations. He presently serves on AstraZeneca’s National Trial Team and the National Trial Team for the In Re Risperdal Products Litigation for Johnson and Johnson.

Mr. Kelly welcomes litigating tough cases. In 2015 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Mr. Kelly was lead trial counsel in Stange v. Janssen and Johnson and Johnson, a Risperdal products liability case that resulted in the lowest money damages award to date in that Philadelphia-based litigation. In 2018 he was lead trial attorney for the former president of a local bank in the first criminal fraud trial involving a TARP recipient bank. In 2016, Mr. Kelly also defeated a class action in Teamsters Local 307 et al v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals et al and successfully argued the affirmance of that dismissal before the Delaware Supreme Court. That decision established new law with respect to consumer fraud class actions.

Mr. Kelly presently represents numerous Fortune 100 companies in high-profile litigation,  and for many years was the attorney for former boxing heavyweight champion “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier.

Mr. Kelly has been a leader in the Delaware legal community for decades and currently serves on the State of Delaware Judicial Nominating Commission.  A popular speaker for both his trial experience and extensive knowledge of the law, he lectures on litigation and trial strategy and has appeared as a legal commentator on live national television and radio. He has testified repeatedly as an expert at trial and offered legal commentary in Newsweek, Barrons, and The Wall Street Journal. He frequently contributes articles to legal publications and is on the faculty of the University of Virginia Law School Trial Advocacy College. Mr. Kelly also serves on the boards of numerous charitable organizations and describes his pro bono activities as his true passion.

In addition to his role as a trial attorney and commitment to his clients, Mr. Kelly is Chairman of the firm and serves on McCarter’s Executive Committee and Compensation Committee.

He has been recognized as a Chambers USA “Leaders in Their Field” lawyer for 2014-2019. He is listed in the 2020 edition of Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation.  Mr. Kelly is also ranked by Martindale-Hubbell as AV preeminent—their highest level of professional excellence. In 2019 Mr. Kelly was named to the National Law Journal’s  “Top 100 Hall of Fame.” No aspect of these advertisements have been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. See Awards Methodology.

 

Speaking

05/13/17
02/15/17
01/30/12
Conference of Chief Justices, Delaware
01/08/12
Michael Kelly featured speaker with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and other judges
University of Virginia Law School Annual National Trial Advocacy College, Charlottesville, Va.