Securities & Financial Regulatory Litigation

Conrad & Scherer’s securities and financial regulatory litigation practice offers vast experience representing and advising clients on a range of matters concerning securities law, whether these issues are related to state or federal regulations. We are highly knowledgeable in the 1933 and 1934 Securities Acts, the Investment Company Act, the Investment Advisory Act, the RICO statutes, shareholder derivative suits, individual actions, group and class shareholder actions, mergers, acquisitions, takeovers and proxy-related actions. We offer these services to individual clients as well as broker-dealers, public companies and investment funds.

    • Columbia University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2006
    • American University, Bachelor of Science, 2000
    • Massachusetts Bar, 2006
    • District of Columbia Bar, 2007
    • United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 2007
    • Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 2009
    • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2010
    • District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013

    Eric Hager is a partner in the Firm’s Quito, Ecuador office. His practice includes transnational litigation, appeals, commercial litigation, securities & financial regulatory litigation, consumer finance litigation, general civil litigation, land use litigation, and trust litigation.

    Mr. Hager’s experience in complex litigation is varied. He has played key roles in diverse matters in a number of state and federal courts throughout the country and has managed multinational teams on difficult e-discovery and other discovery projects. Mr. Hager has represented a range of clients from the U.S. and abroad, including the former CEO of a publicly-traded company, small and mid-sized businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations. He has also led or participated in appeals in multiple state and federal courts.

    Mr. Hager has years of experience working with liability and damages experts in high-stakes commercial litigation. He has also worked closely with experts on foreign law from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru in order to file declarations from foreign law experts in U.S. courts. Mr. Hager has represented clients seeking and opposing discovery in relation to foreign legal proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, which is a statute allowing litigants to obtain discovery related to foreign legal proceedings using the assistance of U.S. courts. An example of a successful request for discovery under Section 1782, done in conjunction with local counsel, is reflected in the magistrate’s report from In re Solines, No. MC 18-3680, 2018 WL 2225134 (E.D. La. Apr. 30, 2018). Also, Mr. Hager has assisted clients with requests for international judicial assistance, commonly referred to as letters of request or letters rogatory. In addition, Mr. Hager provides the firm’s Latin American clients with assistance in cross-border litigation and transactions.

    Mr. Hager has experience briefing a wide range of complicated legal issues. Representative issues include defenses to claims common to commercial litigation, such as claims for breach of contract, fraud, and tortious interference; choice of law, including between foreign and U.S. law; international comity, forum non conveniens, and other defenses typical in transnational litigation; statutory construction of state, federal, and foreign statutes; removal from federal court and remand to state court; the intersection of state property law and federal tax law; standing and capacity to sue; issue and claim preclusion; tolling of the statute of limitations and other timeliness issues; and procedural issues associated with a variety of pre-trial motions, including motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, discovery motions, and motions in limine. Mr. Hager also has experience arguing motions on complex issues before state and federal courts.

    Prior to focusing on commercial litigation and appeals, Mr. Hager spent over six years primarily representing the firm’s clients seeking to hold multinational corporations accountable for human rights abuses. In that role, he took and defended depositions abroad and in the U.S., obtained a reversal on a key issue from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, briefed numerous other appeals, and led discovery-related and other field work in remote regions of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

    Before joining the Firm in 2009, he practiced as a commercial litigator, primarily working on consumer financial services matters in the Washington, D.C. office of a large national firm.

    Mr. Hager is fluent in Spanish, resides in Quito, Ecuador, and has traveled extensively throughout South America’s Andean region on business.

    • Listed as one of the “FACES of Fort Lauderdale” in Complex Commercial Litigation by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine, 2020
    • Columbia University School of Law, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
    • Columbia University Journal of Environmental Law, Articles Editor
    • Fulbright Scholar, Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program, September 2002 to May 2003


    • University of Miami School of Law, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 2010
    • University of California at Berkeley, Bachelor of Arts, 2003
    • Florida Bar, 2010
    • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
    • United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida



    Russell O’Brien is a Partner in the Firm’s Fort Lauderdale office and concentrates his practice on contract disputes, securities litigation, fraud (misrepresentation, inducement, transfers, aiding and abetting and conspiracy), fiduciary relationships and business torts, shareholder disputes (direct and derivative), and class action defense. He also has experience in admiralty law, including vessel acquisitions and sales, vessel refurbishment and repair, vessel charter, and foreclosing and defending against necessaries liens and first preferred ship mortgages.

    Russell is the Firm’s Administrative Partner and manages the Firm’s eDiscovery department. He regularly advises corporate clients regarding eDiscovery planning and protocols, e-Retention, and litigation concerning eDiscovery disputes.

    Russell has represented Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and individuals in both jury and bench trials, and has wide-ranging courtroom experience in both state and federal court. Prior to joining Conrad & Scherer, Mr. O’Brien practiced at an AM 100 law firm, primarily representing financial institutions in class action litigation.

    Community Involvement/Affiliations
    • Broward County Bar Association
    • 17th Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee Member, since 2018
    • Recognized as a Best Lawyer: Ones To Watch in Commercial Litigation for The Best Lawyers in America©, 2021 – 2022
    • Recognized as a Best Lawyer: Ones To Watch in Litigation – Banking and Finance for The Best Lawyers in America©, 2022
    • Selected as a “Top Lawyer” by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine for Securities Regulation, 2021
    • Selected as a “Top Lawyer” by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine for Admiralty & Maritime Law, 2020 – 2021
    • Listed in South Florida Legal Guide, “Top Up & Comer” for Commercial Litigation, 2021
    • Listed as one of the “FACES of Fort Lauderdale” in High-Stakes Litigation by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine, 2021
    • Selected as Florida Super Lawyers®, “Rising Star”, 2020
    • Listed as one of the “FACES of Fort Lauderdale” in Complex Commercial Litigation by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine, 2020
    • Listed in Attorney At Law Magazine, “Rising Star”, 2018
    Notable Experience
    • Represented fortune 500 insurance company against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for aiding and abetting fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with multi-million dollar insurance fraud scheme.
    • Represented jet engine manufacturer in breach of lease claim and obtained prejudgment writ of attachment on commercial aircraft
    • Appeared before SEC for extensive attorney proffers and client interview in connection with violations of Rule 10b of the Exchange Act
    • Represented company in jury trial for breach of yacht charter management agreement and fines incurred while yacht was in French waters
    • Represented South American business and individuals in cross-border dispute, including challenges to personal jurisdiction and service of process issues under Peruvian law
    • Defended multiple insurance companies in class actions in connection with Florida’s No-Fault insurance statute, including negotiating settlement, final fairness hearings, and issues regarding notice to class members
    • University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2018
    • Florida Atlantic University, B.A., cum laude, 2014
    • Florida Bar, 2018
    • District of Columbia Bar, 2021

    Michael J. Mariani is an Associate in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office, where he assists partners and senior associates in a variety of complex commercial litigation matters.

    Prior to joining the firm, Michael spent the first three years of his legal career at a boutique securities litigation firm in Tampa, Florida, where he represented broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, and their associated persons in all phases of FINRA arbitration relating to customer disputes involving alleged violations of federal securities laws, unsuitability, unauthorized trading, churning, overconcentration, and unauthorized margin borrowing. Michael also counseled businesses and individuals during DOJ, SEC, and CFTC investigations and enforcement proceedings.

    Michael obtained his law degree cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law where he was a member of the Florida Moot Court Team. While in law school, Michael interned for the Honorable William P. Dimitrouleas, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. As a 2L, Michael was selected to compete in the 31st Annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Final Four Moot Court Competition in front of a panel of federal and state judges where he was awarded both Best Overall and Best Oralist.

    In addition to serving as the Internal Vice-President and Chair for Intermural Competitions for the Florida Moot Court Team. Michael also competed in several competitions including the National Moot Court Competition hosted by the New York City Bar where his team made the final four and finished with the second-highest brief score in the region. For his contributions to the team, Michael was awarded the William C. Gaither Memorial Award as a 2L and was inducted into the Order of Barristers as a 3L.

    As a 3L, Michael was selected to compete in the prestigious Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Prior to competing in the preliminary rounds in Vienna, Austria, the team traveled to Paris, France to compete in various pre-moots including the International Chamber of Commerce Vis Pre-Moot where his team finished 1st Place beating out 24 other teams including Columbia University and University of Cambridge. Michael graduated cum laude from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Criminal Justice.

    Community Involvement/Affiliations
    • Federal Bar Association, Broward Chapter, Board of Directors – Present
    • Broward County Bar Association – Present
    • University of Florida Levin College of Law – Dean’s List Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017
    • Best Overall, 31stAnnual ZKS Final Four Moot Court Competition
    • Best Oralist, 31stAnnual ZKS Final Four Moot Court Competition
    • Order of Barristers
    • William C. Gaither Memorial Award, Florida Moot Court Team
    • Runner-Up Best Brief, 2016 National Moot Court Competition, Regionals
    • 1stPlace Team, ICC Vis Pre-Moot, Paris
    • 2ndPlace Team, DLA Piper Vis Pre-Moot, Paris
    • 2ndPlace Team, Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis Pre-Moot, Miami
    • Book Award, Legal Drafting