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Robert W. Sparkes, III

Partner
+1.617.951.9134
Fax +1.617.951.3175
Mr. Sparkes, a partner in the Boston office of K&L Gates, has extensive experience litigating complex civil and commercial matters, with a focus on defending class actions in federal and state courts. Mr. Sparkes is a member of the firm’s financial institution and services litigation, class action litigation defense, and appellate practice groups. He regularly represents banking, mortgage lending, mortgage servicing, and other consumer financial services institutions, as well as all manner of business entities in consumer class actions, individual litigation matters, and appeals in federal and state courts throughout the United States, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Missouri, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio, Delaware, Maryland, Arizona, West Virginia, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and Illinois. These actions frequently involve challenges under federal statutes, including the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as claims under state unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes, and common law claims. Mr. Sparkes also advises consumer financial services entities and other businesses in navigating complex regulatory and compliance issues.

Mr. Sparkes has additional experience representing a variety of corporate and individual clients in contract, tort, products liability, intellectual property, trade secret, consumer protection, and other general business litigation, arbitration, and appellate matters.

Mr. Sparkes has participated in jury and bench trials in state and federal court, has appeared before courts in a variety of proceedings, and has also represented clients in settlement negotiations, mediations, and arbitrations.

Mr. Sparkes has co-authored multiple chapters of the K&L Gates’ treatise entitled Defense of Class Action Litigation in Federal Courts, including chapters on “Class Certification” and “Alternative Dispute Resolution.”

Professional Background

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Mr. Sparkes served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Judge Joseph L. Tauro of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 2005-2006.

Professional/Civic Activities

  • American Bar Association
  • Boston Bar Association
  • Lawyers Have Heart Boston, 5K Road Race and Fundraising Event for the American Heart Association (Chairman, Captains Committee - 2016-2020; Member, Executive Leadership Committee - 2017 - 2020; Member, Captains Committee - 2015; K&L Gates Team Captain - 2010-2020).

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, 2018 Consumer Financial Services Symposium, 3 December 2018.
  • Defining or Challenging Class Membership: Evaluating Ascertainability, Overbreadth and Failsafe Class Issues, Strafford Webinar Presentation, by Ira Neil Richards, Robert W. Sparkes, III, and Andrew J. Trask, January 5, 2016
  • The Mortgage Lifecycle: Litigation Hotspots From Origination Through Foreclosure, Powerpoint Webinar Presentation, by Irene C. Freidel, Brian M. Forbes, Robert W. Sparkes, III, and Jennifer Janeira Nagle, February 24, 2016

Additional Information

Publications
  • Curious Case of the Class Cert. Evidentiary Standard: Part 2, Law 360, by Robert W. Sparkes, III, June 13, 2018
  • Curious Case of the Class Cert. Evidentiary Standard: Part 1, Law360, by Robert W. Sparkes, III, June 13, 2018
  • Employers Beware: FCRA Class Actions Are On The Rise, Law360, by Brian M. Forbes, Robert W. Sparkes, III, Mark D. Pomfret, June 11, 2014
  • In the Wake of Stolt-Nielsen: The Supreme Court Dives into Multiple Arbitration-Related Cases, U.S.- Mexico Bar Association Newsletter, July/August 2010
  • State Class Actions: Practice and Procedure, author of Illinois and Louisiana Chapters.
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in putative class action in Washington challenging servicer and third-party vendor property preservation and inspection activities performed on vacant or abandoned properties before completion of foreclosure;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in nationwide class action alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, California’s Unfair Business Practices Act § 17200 and various common law claims;
  • Defend national settlement service provider in complex action alleging that provider’s business providing certain real estate closing services to mortgage lenders violated the unauthorized practice of law provisions in Massachusetts, including representation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts;
  • Represent home security company in complex software-related litigation in Delaware Chancery Court seeking recovery of intellectual property, trade secrets, and technology improperly obtained by competitor, including through expedited pre-trial proceedings and a bench trial;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in putative nationwide class action in New York and successfully moved to dismiss all state common law and statutory claims based on alleged improper charging of private mortgage insurance;
  • Defend sports entertainment company in putative class action in Connecticut alleging breach of contract and violations of state law regarding treatment of athletes as independent contractors and obtained dismissal of all claims;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in putative class action in West Virginia alleging violation of state law governing debt collection and foreclosure and raising issues regarding the enforceability of mandatory arbitration provisions, and obtained an order compelling individual arbitration after successful appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicers in putative class actions in Massachusetts, Delaware, and New York, among other states, alleging state and federal law claims in connection with servicer conduct under the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”) and/or in-house modification programs, including claims challenging servicers’ evaluation and denial of loan modification applications;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in putative class action in Missouri alleging violation of state law governing the origination of second mortgage loans;
  • Defend national settlement service provider in putative class action in Massachusetts alleging claims for tortious interference with business expectancies and unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicers in connection with various class and individual actions concerning lender-placed insurance;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicer in putative class actions in Pennsylvania and California challenging certain disclosures contained in servicer’s custom loan modification agreements, obtaining dismissal of one case on a motion to dismiss and defeating class certification in the other case;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicers in connection with various class and individual actions alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and state unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes related to servicing and foreclosure activities;
  • Defend loan servicers and investors in response to subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and complaints/inquiries from state attorneys general and federal banking regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, concerning mortgage servicing and foreclosure issues;
  • Defend trustees for mortgage-backed securities trust and national mortgage loan servicers in individual actions alleging violation of state foreclosure laws, including litigation arising from challenges to trustees’ or servicers’ standing to foreclose under state law;
  • Defend national mortgage loan servicers in connection with mass action litigation in several states, including New York and New Jersey, generally alleging challenges to the origination, securitization, servicing, loan modification, and foreclosure practices of mortgage loan servicers;
  • Defend large door manufacturing company in several personal injury and products liability cases in Massachusetts state court;
  • Defend national automobile and auto finance companies in connection with state court litigation matters involving products liability, repossession, and lemon law issues under Massachusetts law;
  • Represent national credit card companies in connection with FDIC enforcement matter and implementation of remediation plan related to the marketing and sale of credit card add-on products;
  • Represent pro bono individual immigrants seeking permanent resident status in the United States, including defending several unaccompanied minors through the “Kids In Need of Defense” (“KIND”) organization; and
  • Represent pro bono several prison inmates at Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction alleging civil rights violations, including excessive use of force and unconstitutional conditions of confinement, stemming from the aftermath of a cell-block disciplinary incident.