Ryan A. Lema

Partner Buffalo

Ryan is a pragmatic, detail-oriented litigator who looks for creative solutions and never loses sight of a client’s broader business objectives.

Ryan focuses his practice on commercial litigation matters, including breach of contract claims, commercial torts and shareholder disputes.

Ryan also has significant experience defending clients in tort cases involving product liability, workplace accidents, premises liability, wrongful death and negligence claims. He frequently litigates indemnification and insurance procurement claims in connection with various tort claims, and regularly represents policyholders in insurance coverage disputes against their insurance carriers.

As part of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Government Investigations Team, Ryan represents clients responding to government investigations and defending claims under state and federal criminal and civil fraud statutes.

Ryan also has experience briefing and arguing appeals in both federal and state courts, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

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Honors & Awards

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America®
  • Honoree of the New York State Bar Association Empire State Counsel® Program for Pro Bono Work, 2014, 2015, 2022
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Education & Admissions

Education
  • Boston College Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2010
  • The College of William & Mary, B.A., cum laude, 2007
Admitted to Practice
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Districts of New York
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Experience

Representative Matters
  • In a complex insurance dispute, won a motion for partial summary judgment requiring the client’s historic insurance carrier to provide a defense to claims for indemnification arising out of a decades-old product line.
  • With a team of Phillips Lytle product liability litigators, defended a manufacturer of electric space heaters against alleged damages in excess of $60 million that a heater had malfunctioned so as to induce heat stroke and cause catastrophic brain injuries to an infant plaintiff. The Phillips Lytle team developed compelling expert opinions on issues of general and specific causation that supported a favorable settlement for the client.
  • Represented a construction company alleged to have violated the False Claims Act in connection with M/WBE participation on a public construction project. Vigorously contested New York State’s allegations, presented a white paper to government attorneys regarding the client’s defenses and the infirmities in the government’s theory of the case, and eventually negotiated a favorable resolution in which the client denied any and all wrongdoing.
  • Represented a leading manufacturer of snow-grooming equipment in a product liability case involving catastrophic injuries to a ski area maintenance worker. Eventually established that the product was not defectively designed or manufactured and secured a voluntary discontinuance of all claims against the manufacturer.
  • Represented a foreign subsidiary of a global electrical equipment manufacturer in a product liability claim related to a transformer explosion. Successfully moved to dismiss state product liability claims based on lack of personal jurisdiction and improper service under the Hague Service Convention.
  • Won complete dismissal of all claims on an appeal following an adverse jury verdict (the trial having been handled by different counsel). The matter concerned the enforcement of an option contract for the purchase of real property. The option had expired, but allegedly had been extended by an oral agreement between the parties. On appeal, established that the testimony categorically precluded enforcement of the option contract or any oral promise to extend it under New York’s statute of frauds.
  • In a workplace accident case where the injured plaintiff suffered a fall after ignoring repeated safety instructions, briefed a motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) claims; while that motion was pending, resolved the case on favorable terms.
  • Successfully moved simultaneously in state court and in bankruptcy court to dismiss claims by a factoring company seeking to collect a vendor’s accounts receivable. The claims at issue were barred by prior orders of the bankruptcy court, and the aggressive dual-pronged approach by Phillips Lytle’s Business Litigation and Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Law Teams won complete dismissal of all claims against the client.
  • Represented a wind farm developer against dozens of tort claimants living in the vicinity of the wind farm who sought $20 million in punitive and other damages sounding in nuisance, trespass and negligence for various alleged health effects due to their proximity to wind turbines; secured voluntary dismissals of certain claims on the merits and a very favorable resolution disposing of all other claims.
  • In a workplace accident case resulting in the deaths of two workers, successfully negotiated the acceptance of a tender to a probable indemnitor and monitored the litigation to protect the client’s interests.
  • Litigated a product liability case involving the misuse of a low-cost ratchet tiedown strap in place of an appropriate safety device. Negotiated a favorable resolution on the eve of trial.
  • In a pro bono matter, successfully appealed the denial of a motion to suppress evidence seized by police in a warrantless search. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, suppressed all evidence obtained in the search and dismissed the associated counts of the indictment. The client was eventually released from custody on the remaining counts.
  • In a pro bono matter, successfully appealed a district court’s decision granting summary judgment to state prison officials on the client’s claims. The client was kept in unsanitary conditions, violating his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights. The Second Circuit remanded the case back to the district court, where Ryan negotiated a favorable settlement for the client.
Representative Cases
  • WFE Ventures, Inc. v. Mills, 139 A.D.3d 1157 (3d Dep’t 2016)
  • People v. Wilcox, 134 A.D.3d 1397 (4th Dep’t 2015)
  • Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51 (2d Cir. 2015)
  • Vital Crane Servs., Inc. v. Micucci, 118 A.D.3d 1404 (4th Dep’t 2014)
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Activities & Professional Associations

Present Activities

  • Buffalo Collegiate Charter School, Board of Trustees

Past Activities

  • Buffalo Prep, Business Council Co-Chair
  • Leadership Buffalo Rising Leaders, Class of 2019

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
    • Litigation Section
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Business Law Section
    • Commercial & Federal Litigation Section

Articles & Publications

Articles

  • Author, “Self-insurance and captive insurance as a potential cost savings in risk management programs,” Rochester Business Journal, May 2024
  • Author, “Harvard’s Coverage Loss a Reminder of Importance of Insurance Notice Provisions,” Rochester Business Journal, October 2023
  • Author, “2023 COVID-19 Insurance Update: The New York Court of Appeals Agrees to Weigh In,” Rochester Business Journal, July 2023
  • Co-Author, “White Collar Corner: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Effort to Narrow the Scope of False Claims Act Liability,” The Daily Record, June 8, 2023
  • Co-Author, “White Collar Corner: Time to Voluntarily Self-Disclose? What to Know About DOJ’s Recent Policy Revisions,” The Daily Record, March 30, 2023
  • Author, “Commercial Insurance: An Annual Review of Coverages Can Prevent Future Disaster,” Rochester Business Journal, March 2023
  • Author, “Important Considerations When Evaluating Cyber Insurance Coverage,” Rochester Business Journal, October 2022
  • Author, “Insurers Must Give Prompt and Specific Notice to Effectively Disclaim Coverage,” Beyond Dispute, Phillips Lytle Commercial Litigation Newsletter, June 2021
  • Co-Author, “‘Snap Removal’: Loophole Allowing Cases With In-State Defendants to Remove to Federal Court May Be Closing,” Beyond Dispute, Phillips Lytle Commercial Litigation Newsletter, July 2020
  • Co-Author, “White Collar Corner: New York Attorney General’s Investigative Powers Under Executive Law § 63(12) are Broad,” The Daily Record, May 2018