Roberto A. Rivera-Soto

Partner

riverasotor@ballardspahr.com
Tel 856.761.3416
Fax 856.761.1020
New Jersey

Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto is a trial and appellate lawyer who served for seven years on the Supreme Court of New Jersey before joining Ballard Spahr.

Litigation and Appellate

Justice Rivera-Soto is well positioned to maximize clients' ability to succeed at the trial and appellate levels. Starting with his tenure as an Assistant United States Attorney, continuing through both private practice and corporate in-house practice, and culminating with seven years on the Supreme Court of New Jersey, he persuasively and effectively appeals to judges, both orally and in writing. He provides valuable insight on appellate and trial court judges' expectations and point of view to the benefit of his clients.

As the first Hispanic American to serve on the Supreme Court of New Jersey, Justice Rivera-Soto authored 192 opinions, including 92 majority opinions. One case in which he dissented, J. McIntyre Machinery Ltd. v. Nicastro, was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, and two other cases in which he dissented were reversed by acts of the New Jersey Legislature, which upheld his position in each instance.

During his term on the court, Justice Rivera-Soto served as the long-term liaison to the courts Disciplinary Oversight Committee, New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, and IOLTA Fund. He also was the initial Chair of the New Jersey Board on Continuing Legal Education, which was credited with implementing, for the first time, continuing legal education requirements for attorneys in New Jersey.

Justice Rivera-Soto's abilities and experience also are acknowledged and recognized in our federal courts. In September 2017, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey appointed Justice Rivera-Soto as special master in a long-running case, Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts, LLC., et al., Civil Action No. 11-1754. As described by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the plaintiffs in Williams, a putative class action, allege that "BASF Catalysts LLC and Cahill Gordon & Reindel conspired to prevent thousands of asbestos-injury victims from obtaining fair tort recoveries for their injuries."

The Williams plaintiffs also allege that "[d]ecades ago, BASF's predecessor, Engelhard Corp, discovered that its talc products contained disease-causing asbestos" and that "rather than confront the consequences of this discovery, Engelhard, with the help of its attorneys from Cahill, elected to pursue a strategy of denial and deceit. According to the complaint, Engelhard and Cahill collected the tests and reports that documented the presence of asbestos in Engelhard talc and they destroyed or hid them; when new plaintiffs focused on Engelhard's talc as a possible cause of their disease, Engelhard represented that its talc did not contain asbestos and that no tests had ever said otherwise."

The Third Circuit summarized the Williams lawsuit as one concerning "years of purported deceit by Engelhard and Cahill[,]" explaining that "[t]he crux of [plaintiffs'] complaint is that BASF and Cahill defrauded them in their initial lawsuits and caused them to settle or dismiss claims that they would otherwise have pursued." Williams v. BASF Catalysts, LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 310-11 (3rd Cir. 2014). BASF and Cahill vigorously have denied those allegations. Since his September 2017 appointment as special master in Williams, Justice Rivera-Soto has presided over and/or decided more than forty motions, established both fact and expert discovery deadlines, as well a timetable for class certification. 

Before joining the court, Justice Rivera-Soto was an attorney in private practice and served as a certified mediator in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He has hands-on experience in a range of matters involving mortgage-related litigation; class action defense; commercial and real estate related litigation; compliance and licensing; sales, accounting and transactional fraud; antitrust and unfair competition; insurance claims; claims against governmental entities; and a panoply of litigation in federal and state courts nationwide.

Gaming

Justice Rivera-Soto also advises clients in the gaming industry. He is the former Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Caesars World, Inc., in Las Vegas (responsible for the legal affairs of all Caesars and Sheraton casinos worldwide) and the Sands Hotel & Casino, in Atlantic City (responsible for the Sands in Atlantic City and the Hollywood Casinos in Mississippi and Illinois). While so engaged, he was responsible for all legal matters applicable to the expansion of gaming opportunities worldwide, including the development and/or expansion of gaming facilities both in the United States and abroad.

Other Experience

Justice Rivera-Soto is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. His experience included cases involving prosecutions for mail fraud, narcotics importation and distribution, smuggling, and violations of the Neutrality Act (conspiracy to export firearms unlawfully).

Professional Activities

Hispanic National Bar Association, Honorary Committeeman, 2012 mid-year meeting

District VII Ethics Committee of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, member and Chair, 2000-2004

Rutgers School of Law-Camden, past instructor of trial advocacy

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Legal 500 US, product liability and mass tort defense – automotive/transport, 2013-2015, 2017-2018

Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, 2008-present

Recipient, Ballard Spahr's 2013 Alan J. Davis Award, for his pro bono work as a member of the Prisoner Civil Rights Team

Recipient, New Jersey State Bar Association's Commendatory Resolution, 2011, and NJSBA's inaugural annual Military Support Award, 2010

Recipient, Association of Latin-American Law Students of Rutgers School of Law-Newark's Commendatory Plaque, 2010

Recipient, Latin American Law Students Association of Seton Hall University School of Law's Commendatory Plaque, 2005

Recipient, Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey's Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005

Recipient, U.S. Department of Justice's Director's Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney

Recipient, commendations from FBI, U.S. Customs Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms

Recent Speaking Engagements

Keynote address, "American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters," Monmouth County Law Day, Freehold, N.J., May 1, 2014

Panelist, "Diversity in the Judiciary," Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, September 17, 2013

Keynote address, "The Supreme Court of New Jersey and You: Perfect Together?" New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance Fall Membership Luncheon, Trenton, N.J., September 10, 2013

"Perspectives on Fair Trial/Free Press Issues: The Prosecution of Dharun Ravi," American College of Trial Lawyers Regional Meeting, Atlantic City, June 9, 2012

Keynote Speaker, Diversity Breakfast Keynote Address, Defense Research Institute, Product Liability Conference – Product Liability Litigation in the 21st Century: The Future is Now, Las Vegas, April 12, 2012

"Using Social Media in Litigation: Ethical, Legal and Practical Issues," New Jersey Law Journal, In-House Counsel CLE Seminar, March 20, 2012

2012 Labor & Employment Law Forum, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, in cooperation with the NJSBA Labor & Employment Law Section, New Brunswick, N.J., March 6, 2012

"Joint Defense Agreements: Privileges, Agreements and Practical & Ethical Problems," Rutgers School of Law's C. William Heckel Inn of Court’s Joint Defense Agreements: Privileges, Agreements and Practical & Ethical Problems Seminar, Newark, N.J., January 18, 2012

"What Every Lawyer Should Know about the New Jersey Constitution," New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE)'s What Every Lawyer Should Know about the New Jersey Constitution Seminar, New Brunswick, N.J., December 19, 2011

"Maximizing Your Leadership through Community Involvement," The National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), Malvern, Pa., December 1, 2011

"Appellate Practice before the Supreme Court of New Jersey," Cumberland County Bar Association, Millville, N.J., November 12, 2011

Panelist, "Overcoming Obstacles to Become a Leader," Deloitte Philadelphia Hispanic Network, A Deloitte Celebration of Diversity, November 3, 2011

Board Memberships

New Jersey Development Authority for Small Businesses, Minorities' and Women's Enterprises, 1988-1994

Please Touch Museum, 2001-2003

Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Nevada, 1997-1999

Cornell Law School (J.D. 1977)
Recipient, Charles K. Burdick Scholarship; Member, Moot Court Board

Haverford College (B.A. 1974, with departmental honors)
Recipient, José Padín Scholarship

Languages

Fluent in Spanish

Delaware

District of Columbia

Nevada

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court