Robert Swift - Director - Professional Headshot

Robert A. Swift

“It was gratifying to finally, after more than two decades, distribute compensation to Filipino human rights victims. The claimants were truly the poorest of the poor. The death of a loved one had taken an emotional and financial toll on their lives. Many were older and hardship was evident on their wrinkled, wizened faces.”

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MATTERS

HILAO V. ESTATE OF FERDINAND MARCOS

This case was the first class action human rights case in U.S. and world history.  The class consisted of 10,000 victims (or heirs) of torture, summary execution or disappearance.  The defendant was the former President of the Philippines. The case was tried before a jury in Hawaii, resulting in a $2 billion judgment which was affirmed on appeal.

During the 1980s, the brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines was ousted in the People Power Revolution and fled to the United States. A class of 10,000 Filipinos who had been tortured, summarily executed, or disappeared was certified. In a trial held in Hawaii, a jury found Marcos liable and awarded almost $2 billion in damages. The only precedent for the trial was the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials of 1946. Although collection of the judgment has been difficult, Kohn Swift was able to recover and distribute money to the victims, and to this day continues to pursue Marcos family assets to satisfy the judgment.

MORE

HOLOCAUST SWISS BANK LITIGATION
EUROPEAN INSURANCE HOLOCAUST LITIGATION
AUSTRIAN BANK HOLOCAUST LITIGATION

These groundbreaking cases sought compensation for classes of victims of financial abuses and forced and slave labor committed during World War II.

In the late 1990’s, Robert Swift was lead counsel in multiple lawsuits brought on behalf of Holocaust victims, suing banks and insurance companies which profited from the fiscal exploitation of Jews and other groups before and during WWII.

The cases were settled with the assistance of the United States, Swiss, German, and Austrian governments, which resulted in the recovery and distribution of $7.5 billion to more than 2 million people.

MORE

AMINO ACID LYSINE LITIGATION

This price fixing antitrust case, which settled for $50 million, featured recordings of corporate executives agreeing on prices for commodities sold to farmers in the United States.  A book and movie later depicted the defendants’ misconduct.

In this class action, the court appointed Kohn Swift lead counsel in the first-of-its-kind sealed bid “auction” procedure of its kind, concluding: “Although a small firm by today’s megafirm standards, it has amply demonstrated its ability to handle major litigation.”

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Robert A. Swift has pioneered human rights jurisprudence in the United States through litigation seeking and obtaining compensation for victims and their families. Throughout his career he has conducted complex litigation locally, nationally, and internationally, conducting civil trials and arguing appeals in federal and state courts throughout the United States.

Highlights of his illustrious career include arguing two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, serving as lead counsel for Holocaust victims in litigation that returned $7.5 billion to more than 2 million people, and obtaining a $2 billion judgment against Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, thrice distributing compensation to 10,000 victims of his abuses. Mr. Swift is currently engaged in human rights litigation pending in courts in South Korea and the Philippines.

A number of articles and books have been written mentioning Mr. Swift and his work including: “Human Rights Crusader,” Nat’l Law J. 5/12/97; “Hitting A Home Run,” ABA Litigation Magazine, Spring 1997; “The Marcos Loot,” Asiaweek 10/13/95; “Winning,” Nat’l Law J. 3/13/95; “Taking Tyrants To Court,” American Lawyer, Oct. 1991; Eizenstat, Imperfect Justice (Public Affairs 2003); Authers & Wolfe, The Victim’s Fortune (Harper Collins 2002); “Righting a Wrong for Justice,” The Philadelphia Lawyer, Winter 2012. Following the terrorist attack on New York City on 9/11, Mr. Swift was interviewed on CBS Evening News in September 2001 regarding Bin Laden’s hidden wealth.

Early in his career, Mr. Swift wrote a treatise on labor law. In later years he wrote about his experiences representing human rights victims including: “In the Eye of the Human Rights Storm,” 58 Phila. Bar Assoc. Quart. 38 (1995), and “The Financial Underside to the Holocaust Litigation,” 20 Card. L.Rev. 521 (Dec. 1998). He plans to write a memoir focusing on human rights litigation.

Mr. Swift has lectured about human rights in numerous settings including University of Denver, United Nations’ Task Force on Racism in the Third World, and as keynote speaker at University of Houston Legal Symposium. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and law schools including Haverford College, Swarthmore College, Cardozo Law School, New York University School of Law, Temple University Law School, Rutgers Law School, Vanderbilt Law School, and University of the Philippines Law School.

He graduated from New York University School of Law and Haverford College.

He lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his wife and enjoys several hobbies including fly fishing, woodworking, and gardening. Mr. Swift has played competitive tennis all his life and was a tennis professional before serving in the Army in combat during the Vietnam War. As chairman of Legacy Youth Tennis & Education, which serves thousands of children in the Philadelphia area, he was instrumental in building a 7-acre youth tennis center in Fairmount Park. He was inducted into his high school and college Athletic Halls of Fame. In 2010, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the U.S. Open.

ADMISSIONS

  • United States Supreme Court
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and DC Circuits
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

HONORS

  • National Law Journal (1995) named one of the 10 best trial attorneys in the country
  • Finalist, Trial Lawyer of the Year Award given by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, (1994, 1995, 1997 and 2000)
  • Finalist, National Law Journal Trial Lawyer of the Year (2000)
  • Philadelphia Bar Association Human Rights Award (1998)
  • Haverford College Forman Award (1995)
  • Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)
  • Springfield H.S. Sports Hall of Fame (2010) and Achievement Hall of Fame (2014)
  • Cox Price Human Rights Award from Univ. of Denver Sturm College of Law (2013)
  • Citizen Diplomacy Philadelphia, Citizen Diplomat of the Year (2019)
  • Haverford College Athletic Hall of Fame (2022)

REPRESENTATIVE CASES INCLUDE

  • Republic of the Philippines v. Pimentel, 553 U.S. 851 (2008)
  • Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Company, 491 U.S. 1 (1989)
  • In re Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation, 25 F.3d 1467 (9th Cir. 1994); 103 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 1996)
  • Murtagh v. County of Berks, 535 Pa. 50 (1993)
  • Balazik v. County of Dauphin, 44 F.3d 209 (3rd Cir. 1995)
  • D’amato v. Deutsche Bank, 236 F. 3d 78 (2nd Cir. 2001)
  • Del Prado v. BN Development 660 F.3d 602 (5th Cir. 2010)

LEAD OR CO-LEAD COUNSEL IN

  • Marcos Human Rights Litigation (D.HI)
  • Amino Acid Lysine Litigation (N.D.IL)
  • Holocaust Swiss Bank Litigation (E.D.NY)
  • European Insurance Holocaust Litigation (S.D.NY)
  • Austrian Bank Holocaust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)