Owen H. Smith
Owen is a partner in BFKN’s Litigation Group and co-chair of the firm’s Motor Vehicle Group. As a trial lawyer and strategic advisor, Owen represents companies and distinctive brands in the motor vehicle, luxury goods, banking and finance, and real estate industries, among others, in matters ranging from regulatory, compliance, and pre-litigation counseling through trial and appeal. Owen litigates in federal and state jurisdictions throughout the country, handling disputes over a broad spectrum of commercial matters, including contract, tort, antitrust, and constitutional claims, among others. Owen has a strong track record of success at trial but aims to achieve his clients’ goals with an efficient, business-first approach to resolving disputes.
Owen also currently serves as co-chair of the firm’s Antitrust & Commercial Competition Group, is a member of its Fashion, Luxury & Retail Group, and is chair of the firm’s Recruiting Committee. Before joining the firm, Owen practiced law in the New York City office of a large international law firm, where he focused on antitrust and securities litigation.
Motor Vehicle Group
Owen advises and litigates on behalf of numerous automobile, motorcycle, and powersports manufacturers and distributors, as well as captive finance companies, in industry-specific distribution and franchise matters, such as buy-sell transactions and rights of first refusal, establishments and relocations, terminations, incentive programs, facility programs, sales performance standards, and allocation practices.
Representative Litigation & Investigations Experience
- Lead counsel for Porsche defending allocation-related claims by a large-market dealer seeking damages in excess of $100 million.
- Lead counsel for Audi in a putative nationwide antitrust class action asserting violations of the Sherman Act in connection with alleged vehicle leasing practices.
- Lead counsel for Audi in litigation involving a large, multi-faceted dealership asset and real estate buy-sell transaction. Obtained a preliminary injunction preserving Audi’s right of first refusal, won summary judgment on the buyer’s tortious interference claims, and prevailed in each of three separate federal appeals.
- Lead counsel for Volkswagen and Volkswagen Credit defending against claims of fraud, breach of contract, and tortious interference stemming from the failure of a large market dealership. Won summary judgment on all counts.
- Lead counsel for Porsche in litigation over changes to dealer sales territories. Prevailed on appeal.
- Lead counsel for various manufacturers and distributors in multiple dealer termination actions, including those involving challenges to manufacturer sales performance metrics, incentive programs, allocation and distribution practices, and dealer territories, among other things.
- Lead counsel for ultraluxury sports car manufacturer investigating allegations of incentives fraud by large-market dealer.
- Lead counsel to volume brand motor vehicle manufacturer conducting an internal investigation of compliance matters at regional sales offices.
Representative Counseling & Transactions Experience
- Advised on numerous complex, multi-point buy-sell transactions, including with respect to rights of first refusal.
- Negotiated market actions, including pre-litigation resolution of potential sales performance terminations, add-point disputes, buy-sell transactions, and facility issues.
- Advised on the structuring and implementation of national incentive programs.
- Advised on antitrust compliance policies.
Antitrust & Commercial Competition Group
Owen counsels and litigates on behalf of companies in various industries and sectors—banking, automotive, luxury goods, and manufacturing, among others—in a wide range of antitrust and competition matters arising under the federal Sherman, Clayton, and Robinson-Patman Acts, as well as state antitrust and unfair competition laws.
- Lead counsel for Louis Vuitton and Loro Piana defending against a federal class action alleging a no-poach conspiracy in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
- Lead counsel for multiple automotive manufacturers defending against claims that national dealer incentive programs violated federal and state price discrimination prohibitions.
- Lead counsel to a luxury sports car manufacturer on the development of a comprehensive antitrust and competition compliance policy.
- Advised international truck manufacturer on a supply contract with its largest competitor.
- Advised industrial manufacturer in connection with its planned acquisition of its largest competitor.
- Counsel to Macmillan Inc. in DOJ Antitrust Division and State Attorneys’ General investigations regarding the launch of the Apple iPad and the Apple e-book store.
- Counsel to a luxury furniture manufacturer and retailer in multi-State Attorneys’ General investigation into alleged price-fixing arrangements.
- Counsel to foreign governmental agency as amicus curiae asserting “act of state” doctrine on behalf of a foreign company defendant in a class action alleging price fixing in a domestic market for nutritional supplement.
Complex Commercial Litigation
Owen also maintains an active general commercial litigation practice. He is a first-chair trial lawyer representing financial institutions, real estate investment companies, manufacturers and distributors, and law firms in individual and class actions alleging federal and state statutory claims, as well as state law contract, tort, and fiduciary duty causes of action.
- Lead counsel for a large international law firm against malpractice contribution claims in connection with a series of real estate transactions. Prevailed on a motion to dismiss.
- Represented Walgreen Co. in breach of contract and breach of warranty action arising from its acquisition of a medical services company. Prevailed after trial.
- Defended a large commercial real estate developer against claims relating to the dissolution of a partnership and a joint venture.
- Defended Northern Trust against claims relating to the bank’s right to charge-back client accounts. Prevailed on a motion to dismiss.
- Defended Bear Stearns and J.P. Morgan against claims for conversion, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty relating to securities repurchase (repo) transactions. Prevailed on summary judgment.
- Defended various financial institutions in securities class actions and direct actions, including issuers, underwriters, and others alleged to have made fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentations or omissions in connection with the issuance and sale of equity securities, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and limited partnership units.
Activities & Honors
- Law Clerk, Hon. Richard Conway Casey, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 2006-2007
Speaking Engagements & Presentations
- July 22, 2021 – (Webinar)
- September 18-20, 2019 – Sponsor (Sacramento, CA)
Articles & Publications
- January 19, 2023 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- January 10, 2023 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- April 15, 2020 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- March 27, 2020 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- "Getting the Deal Through - Vertical Agreements 2011,"March 2011 – Global Competition Review
- "On Life Support for Leeginaire's Disease: Can the States Resuscitate Dr. Miles?"Summer 2008 – Antitrust, an ABA publication
- BFKN Represents Louis Vuitton and Loro Piana in Securing Dismissal of a No-Hire Antitrust Class ActionMarch 20, 2023 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- August 8, 2022 – Law360
- August 4, 2022 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- December 10, 2021 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- December 6, 2021 – Barack Ferrazzano Press Release
- January 1, 2014
- August 2011
The George Washington University Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2005
Washington University in St. Louis, B.A., magna cum laude, 1999
Bar & Court Admissions
- State of Illinois
- State of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
- U.S. District Court - Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court - Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court - Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court - Eastern District of New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals - 3rd Circuit