About Robert T. Smith

For clients across a variety of industries from health care to financial services Robert Smith tackles their most important legal challenges, including civil and criminal appeals, dispositive motions at the trial-court level, enforcement actions and government investigations. Rob has served countless clients in this capacity, including pharmacy clients before the US Supreme Court, and large health care providers and financial institutions before the US Courts of Appeals.

Effective advocacy in high-stakes appeals and trials

Rob excels at drafting creative and concise arguments that resonate with judges. Drawing on his experience as a federal appellate clerk, Rob has served as the principal author of dozens of briefs in federal and state appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court, and has assisted on critical motions in federal and state trial courts throughout the country. Rob's written advocacy has covered a wide range of substantive areas, including constitutional law and federal preemption, health care fraud and abuse, federal criminal law, and commercial, financial services, and intellectual property disputes.

Rob also has substantial experience as an oral advocate. He has argued high-stakes appeals before the US Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits. And Rob has argued numerous dispositive motions in trial court, earning in one case the dismissal of all felony charges against a corporate defendant.

In addition, Rob has assisted corporate and individual clients at trial, where he has presented argument to the jury, examined witnesses, argued evidentiary issues, and helped shape legal strategy through motions practice and proposed jury instructions. In two such federal criminal trials, Rob helped lay the foundation for verdicts of acquittal for his clients on all charges.

Beyond his appellate and trial work, Rob assists corporate and individual clients in navigating the difficult circumstances that surround governmental enforcement actions and investigations, including proceedings under the False Claims Act. Rob has conducted internal investigations, advised on criminal and civil exposure, managed responses to subpoenas and negotiated with lawyers at the Department of Justice, various US Attorney's Offices and regulatory agencies.

In his active pro bono practice, Rob has successfully argued an appeal to the Second Circuit on behalf of a transgender client asserting claims of discrimination, secured a verdict of acquittal for an indigent client indicted on federal wire fraud charges and persuaded the Sixth Circuit to allow an inmate a second chance to challenge his state-court conviction based on claims of actual innocence.

Rob began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable John M. Walker Jr., Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to and during law school, Rob served as a legislative assistant and legislative correspondent to Representative Rush D. Holt of the US House of Representatives.

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Practice Focus

  • Appellate and Supreme Court litigation
  • Insurance and health care fraud litigation
  • False Claims Act investigations and litigation
  • White-collar defense and investigations
  • Financial services litigation

Representative Experience

  • Successfully represented a State in defending two State laws regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which, the PBMs claimed, were preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and Part D of the Medicare program. Working with the State Attorney General’s Office, successfully defended the State’s laws in federal district court, convinced the US Supreme Court to set aside an adverse ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and then argued successfully on remand in the Eighth Circuit, convincing that court to rule in the State’s favor under ERISA and to preserve all provisions of the State’s laws under Medicare Part D except those affected by intervening changes to Part D standards. Pharm. Care Mgmt. Ass’n v. Wehbi, 18 F.4th 956 (8th Cir. 2021), on remand sub nom. by Dirke v. Pharm. Care Mgmt. Ass’n, 141 S. Ct. 1364 (2021).
  • Argued on behalf of major health care system and university before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and retaliation under the False Claims Act and discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Secured dismissal of all claims from the District Court after proving that plaintiff had engaged in litigation-related misconduct. Obtained unanimous, precedential opinion from the Fourth Circuit affirming the sanction of dismissal. Rangarajan v. Johns Hopkins Univ., 917 F.3d 218 (4th Cir. 2019), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 2762 (2019).
  • Successfully represented dozens of pharmacist organizations as amici curiae before the US Supreme Court in defending a State law that regulates pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from claims of preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Previously represented community pharmacist organizations as amici curiae in two appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Rutledge v. Pharm. Care Mgmt. Ass’n, 141 S. Ct. 474 (2020).
  • Author of amici curiae brief on behalf of organizations representing independent medical practices, defending a rule by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that brought parity to the reimbursements that Medicare provides to hospital off-campus departments and freestanding physician offices. In upholding this site-neutral payment rule, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit adopted the logic set forth in our clients’ amici curiae brief.
  • Represented large insurers before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York in affirmative litigation against medical practices accused of insurance fraud.
  • Successfully represented two securities professionals in a petition for review before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging an administrative finding of securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Successfully represented publicly traded company in appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The company had been pursuing FDA approval to market its signature drug for a new indication. A group of plaintiffs filed a putative class action under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, alleging that the company misled investors about the prospects of FDA approval. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint.
  • Successfully represented transgender ironworker in appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit alleging discrimination and retaliation against his union and two of its officials. In a precedential opinion reinstating the client's lawsuit, the Second Circuit recognized for the first time that allegations of transgender discrimination are sufficient to state a claim for breach of a labor union's duty of fair representation, an implied cause of action under the National Labor Relations Act. Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378 (2d Cir. 2015).
  • Successfully represented The Retail Property Trust, a wholly owned subsidiary of Simon Property Group, Inc., in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the Labor Management Relations Act does not preempt traditional state-law property claims for trespass and private nuisance asserted against a labor union that was arguably engaged in a secondary boycott at the time. The Ninth Circuit agreed in an important precedential opinion that overturned an adverse decision by the district court. Retail Property Trust v. United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., 768 F.3d 938 (9th Cir. 2014).
  • Represented publicly traded company in appeal before US Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit raising question whether Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act divested State courts of concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicated covered class actions arising under Securities Act of 1933.
  • Successfully represented a corporate client charged with felony violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Briefed and argued a motion that secured the dismissal of all felony counts of the indictment on the basis that the federal government had failed to promulgate regulations that imposed liability on contractors for failing to comply with substantive regulations enacted under the Act. United States v. Wood Group Prod. Servs. Network, Inc., No. 15-cr-197, 2016 WL 1458925 (E.D. La. Apr. 14, 2016), appeal dismissed, No. 16-30561 (5th Cir.).
  • Successfully defended a corporate client, following a 2013 federal jury trial, against charges of conspiracy and tampering in violation of Clean Water Act. Assisted the trial team in developing critical legal defense, which translated into favorable jury instructions and, ultimately, verdicts of acquittal on all charges.
  • Successful argument before US Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit, obtaining authorization for client to file second challenge to state court conviction through actual innocence gateway of Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

Presentations and Events