Ms. Sharton’s representative experience includes:
- Ms. Sharton has represented major corporations as well as start-ups, in disputes involving products ranging from computer operating system architecture to mailpost designs and hockey sticks and has handled all related claims including trade secret misappropriation and copyright, trademark and trade dress infringement.
- Represented of one of the country’s largest managed health care companies in an Office of Civil Rights (HHS Division) investigation involving alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The settlement, at the time, was one of only 12 OCR settlements nationwide.
- Dismissal of numerous claims, in federal district court in California, involving alleged violations of Los Angeles rent ordinances against multiple banks including BONY Mellon and HSBC. Ms. Sharton argued the motion to dismiss in federal court on behalf of all the bank defendants.
- Won summary judgment for a national advertising agency and its president in a case involving claims of trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract/fiduciary duty as well as the rights to a national advertising campaign utilized by a Fortune 50 company. The case, in federal district court in South Carolina and with damages claimed in excess of $100 million, was appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed summary judgment for the client.
- Conducted arbitration involving trade secret and breach of acquisition agreement between two public companies related to the right to do business in 21 states.
- Successful resolution of a claim for tens of millions of dollars, pending in federal district court in Michigan, for trade secrets/interference with an acquisition after successfully defeating an initial injunction motion.
- Successful settlement of a trade secret case mid-jury trial after cross-examination of opposing party's CEO.
- Won arbitration award for asset manager against international third-party marketing firm with claims of almost $100 million.
- The successful resolution of numerous civil claims related to the Bernard L. Madoff Securities fraud.
Privacy and Cybersecurity
- Chair and founding member of the firm’s Privacy + Cybersecurity practice, started informally in the late 1990s and formally in 2004.
- Summary judgment victory in the landmark Patco v. People’s United Bank case in federal district court in Maine, which involved an alleged breach of the bank’s online security system through keylogging malware. One of the first cases of its kind to be decided by an appellate court and named a “national case to watch” by the American Banker, the dispute was resolved after the First Circuit reversed in part and remanded the district court’s decision.
- Taught one of the country’s first law school classes in cyberlaw in 2001, and has frequently lectured in the privacy/cybersecurity area, including at the Harvard Law School executive leadership program.
- Defended companies in numerous privacy-related government investigations and enforcement actions brought by states attorneys’ general, the FTC, HHS and the Office of Civil Rights, among others.
- Handled hundreds of data security breaches, including global investigations for public companies, handling one of the first major data breaches for a public company in 2002.
- Representation of numerous private and public companies in connection with major data security breaches, of all manner and types including ransom/ransomware scams, breaches by nation states and organized crime, interfacing with FBI, Secret Service and other law enforcement.
- Representation of numerous information security companies in privacy/cybersecurity matters.
- Represented online video and media service providers in class action litigations filed nationwide challenging the alleged use of local shared objects, also known as “flash cookies.”
- Prepared a complete privacy scheme and policy for employees, volunteers and collaborating parties of The One Fund, which was created to provide financial assistance to survivors and families of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
- Counseled private and public companies on privacy-related issues in merger and acquisition transactions as well as on programs and policies, including table top exercises and board presentations.
- Counseled companies on privacy/cyber law diligence issues related to mergers and acquisitions.
- Defended companies in TCPA litigation.
Financial Services Litigation
- Ms. Sharton has represented major financial institutions in litigation and regulatory matters, including BNY Mellon, Citigroup, Citizens, Countrywide, Edward Jones, Fifth Third, GE Capital, HSBC, IBT, Marsh & McLennan, People’s United Bank, Putnam and State Street, as well as bankers' trade associations including the American Bankers Association and many state bankers’ associations, including the Massachusetts Bankers’ Association.
- Successful resolution of a case in federal court in New York against a Fortune 100 public company financial institution for breach of fiduciary and financial fraud claims following its acquisition of a financial services company and the infusion of $2 billion into that institution.
- Successful defense of a major mutual fund company in connection with SEC and FDIC investigations.
- Successful negotiation and resolution of a consumer financial services class action case, pending in Ohio state court against a Fortune 50 company for more than 10 years.
- Successful defense of Fortune 100 financial institution in class action case in both state court and Ohio appeals court alleging pregnancy discrimination in mortgage lending practices. The case was settled favorably for client.
- Has represented the Massachusetts Bankers Association for over a decade with respect to litigation issues affecting banks.
- Ms. Sharton is virtually undefeated in financial institutions litigation and has won cases on motions to dismiss and summary judgment for her clients, including the following:
- Marta Farb v. People's United Bank. Won dismissal of putative class action complaint in the Farb v. People's United Bank case in state court in Connecticut, which involved claims that the bank breached its deposit agreement with customers by re-ordering debit transactions from highest dollar amount to lowest dollar amount, resulting in an increase in the number of overdraft fees incurred. Secured one of the few dismissals among the hundreds of overdraft cases that have been filed against banks across the country.
- Patco Construction Company, Inc. v. People's United Bank d/b/a Ocean Bank. Summary judgment victory in the landmark Patco v. People's United Bank case in federal district court in Maine, which involved an alleged breach of the bank's online security system through keylogging malware. One of the first cases of its kind to be decided by an appellate court and named a "national case to watch" by the American Banker, the dispute was resolved after the First Circuit reversed in part and remanded the district court's decision.
- Robert Purdy, et al. v. East Cambridge Savings Bank. Won motion to dismiss complaint in its entirety with prejudice in a suit filed in Middlesex Superior Court arising out of a construction loan default. The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the judgment in our client's favor.
- Melvin Cohen v. State Street Global Advisors. Won motion to dismiss a complaint filed in Massachusetts Superior Court seeking recovery of losses during broad stock market decline. Dismissal affirmed by the Mass. Appeals Court.
- Harold Cohen v. State Street Global Advisors. Won summary judgment of a complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract; claims dismissed as time barred under three-year statute of limitations. Summary judgment affirmed by the Mass. Appeals Court.
- Julianne M. Bowler, Commissioner of Insurance, et al. v. John D. Hawke and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Won summary judgment in Massachusetts federal district court for Massachusetts Bankers Association and group of banks in a constitutional challenge to Massachusetts statutes that restricted how banks could sell insurance. Submitted amicus brief to First Circuit Court of Appeals in support of affirmance of summary judgment of litigation under Section 304 of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999; petition to vacate was dismissed.
Representative Internal Investigations
Ms. Sharton routinely represents private and public company boards of directors and audit committees in conducting internal investigations into alleged misconduct. Examples include:
- Internal investigation related to potential fraud allegations related to FDA certifications for private company.
- Internal investigation for board of trustees for registered mutual funds related to alleged misconduct by advisor personnel in connection with trading timing.
- Internal investigation involving a revenue recognition issue at the Japanese subsidiary of a public company.
- Internal investigation for the Somaly Mam Foundation Board of Directors regarding the background of an international sex-trafficking activist.
Ms. Sharton is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals and served a two-year term as the Co-Chair of the Business & Commercial section of the Boston Bar Association.
For several years Ms. Sharton was an adjunct professor of law at Boston College Law School. In addition to teaching a “Technology Litigation Practice” course, she also taught one of if not the first cyber-litigation law school course in 2001, years before that topic became a standard area of legal study. She currently co-chairs the Board of Directors for the Victim Rights Law Center, a national organization that provides pro bono representation to victims of rape and sexual assault.