Michael Kelly litigated thousands of high-profile cases in state and federal courts nationwide. A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he brought hundreds of cases to trial and argued countless appeals, including more than 25 cases before the Delaware Supreme Court. His track record of success had forged long term relationships with numerous Fortune 100 companies for whom he favorably resolved a wide variety of their most contentious and high-stakes legal challenges, including commercial and other civil disputes, shareholder suits, toxic torts, product liability, environmental, antitrust, Hatch-Waxman, and other intellectual property cases. One of the top trial lawyers in the country, market sources in Chambers USA described Mike Kelly as “outstanding” with “a unique and effective style in the courtroom which resonates very, very well with judges and juries.”
In addition to his role as a trial attorney and commitment to his clients, Mike was the former Chairman of the Firm, and led McCarter’s growth and expansion into new regions and practices from 2009–2019.
Mike’s record of achieving resounding wins for clients included leading a team that secured a major victory for Overstock.com at the Delaware Supreme Court, reversing a $7.3 million judgment in a unique case involving Delaware escheat law and a qui tam action. He was also instrumental in securing two wins for clients at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in one week, defending the City of Wilmington in a civil rights action and the representation of a former bank president in the first criminal fraud trial involving a TARP recipient bank, a case in which Mike served as lead counsel at trial.
Mike’s representation of clients often involved precedent setting decisions that established new law. Achievements included prevailing in the closely watched In Re Aruba appraisal case which resulted in the first Delaware appraisal decision to award market price well below the deal price. Mike served as trial counsel and later argued the appeal at the Delaware Supreme Court. Other pivotal wins included Cigna v. Audax, where Mike persuaded the Chancery Court to strike down commonly used merger agreement conditions on the grounds that they were contrary to the Delaware General Corporation Law, and Feeley v. Nhaocg where Mike established new fundamental precepts with respect to LLC governance.
Mike played a lead role in many of the country’s most significant and high-stakes products liability litigations, with representations that include serving on AstraZeneca’s National Senior Management Team and National Trial Team in the Seroquel litigation, which involved more than 28,000 cases. Mike obtained summary judgment in the first Seroquel case filed in Delaware (Hopkins v. AstraZeneca), followed by a sweeping statute of limitations victory (Burrell et al v. AstraZeneca), decisive wins that paved the way to settlements in the remaining 28,000 cases at the lowest per-case amount of any litigation of its kind. As lead trial counsel in Risperdal products liability case Stange v. Janssen and Johnson and Johnson, Mike secured the lowest money damages award to date in that Philadelphia-based litigation. He also defeated a class action in Teamsters Local 237 Fund v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, a decision he defended before the Delaware Supreme Court and one which established new law with respect to consumer fraud class actions.
In addition to Delaware Corporate law and products liability litigation, a considerable portion of Mike’s practice focused on Hatch-Waxman and other intellectual property cases, having served as co-counsel in defense of AstraZeneca’s Nexium Hatch-Waxman Act settlements with generic drug manufacturers which generated multiple MDL antitrust class actions. Other notable intellectual property representations included a Lanham Act trial in which Mike not only secured a judgment in excess of $100 million for his client, but also successfully argued for an award of $12 million in attorneys’ fees—one of the largest fee awards in Delaware history.
A popular speaker for both his trial experience and extensive knowledge of the law, Mike lectured on litigation and trial strategy and appeared as a legal commentator on live national television and radio. Mike testified repeatedly as an expert at trial and offered legal commentary in Newsweek, Barrons, and The Wall Street Journal. He frequently contributed articles to legal publications and is on the faculty of the University of Virginia Law School Trial Advocacy College.
Mike was a leader in the Delaware legal community for decades and served on the State of Delaware Judicial Nominating Commission. He also served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations and described his pro bono activities as his true passion.