Benjamin J. Sweet is the Managing Partner of the Pittsburgh office of Nye Stirling Hale & Miller, LLP and Chair of the Firm’s Disability Rights Practice Group. Throughout his career, Ben has been a zealous advocate on behalf of Americans living with disabilities, consumers, investors and survivors of sexual abuse. He is currently Counsel of Record in O’Connor et al. v. Diocese of Pittsburgh, et al., a groundbreaking pro bono class action suit on behalf of survivors against eight Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania, based on a novel mandamus and public nuisance theory, seeking the release of the Church’s extensive secret files. He also represents institutional sexual abuse survivors in individual actions in federal, state and bankruptcy courts across the country.
Ben has been a leader in the area of disability rights litigation on behalf of individual and institutional clients. He is currently lead counsel in several nationwide federal mobility disability class action cases asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and has helped to push the law forward as Lead Counsel in a number of notable cases, including Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-1455, 2016 WL 2347367 (W.D. Pa. 2016) (certified class action which resulted in remediation of accessible parking facilities at more than 600 Cracker Barrel stores throughout the United States); Heinzl v. Boston Market Corp., 2014 WL 5803144 (W.D. Pa. 2014) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility disabled plaintiffs); Mellenthin v. Casey’s General Stores, Inc., 2018 WL 999131 (C.D. Ill. 2018) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility disabled plaintiffs); Badger v. PREIT Associates, LP, 2017 WL 663570 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility-disabled plaintiffs), among many others. He has also been a pioneer on behalf of institutional and individual clients in suits seeking improved digital accessibility, gaining important advancements as Lead Counsel in actions such as Gniewkowski v. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc, 251 F.Supp.3d 908 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s website accessibility claim and holding that a bank’s website is a place of public accommodation since it controlled by the bank, the first time a Third Circuit federal district court so held); Access Now, Inc. v. Sportswear, Inc., 298 F.Supp.3d 296 (D. Mass. 2018) (holding that specific personal jurisdiction existed over non-resident e-commerce retailer who generated 3.78% of revenue from sales within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts); Suchenko v. Echo USA, Inc., 2018 WL 3660117 (W.D. Pa. 2018)(denying defendant’s motion to dismiss and affirming the reasoning of Gniewkowski); Sipe v. American Casino & Entertainment Properties, LLC, 2016 WL 1580349 (W.D.Pa April 20, 2016) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ website accessibility claim and admonishing defendant’s counsel for his “bad faith” litigation tactics).
Prior to beginning his own practice, Ben was a partner at Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP in Philadelphia, one of the largest and most prestigious plaintiffs’ firms in the country, where he concentrated his practice exclusively in class action litigation, with an emphasis on federal securities litigation. He helped to obtain significant recoveries on behalf of class members in several nationwide class actions, including In re Tyco, Int’l Sec. Litig., No. 02-1335-B (D.N.H.) ($3.2 billion total recovery for class members, the largest ever recovery from a single corporate defendant in a federal securities action), In re Wachovia Preferred Securities and Bond/Notes Litig., No. 09-Civ. 6351 (RJS), (S.D.N.Y.) ($627 million recovery for class members) and In re CVS, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 01-11464-JLT (D. Mass.) ($110 million recovery for class members).
Ben began his career in 2001 at Reed Smith LLP in Pittsburgh, where he focused on antitrust, securities and employment litigation.
Ben has been selected by his peers as a Pennsylvania SuperLawyers Rising Star or a Pennsylvania SuperLawyer every year since 2008.
Ben received his juris doctor, cum laude, from The Pennsylvania State University School of Law, and his BA, cum laude, from University Scholars Program (now the Schreyer Honors College) of The Pennsylvania State University. While in law school, Ben served as Articles Editor of the Penn State Law Review and was also awarded Best Oral Advocate and Best Team in the ATLA Mock Trial Competition.
When not practicing law, Ben is an active musician and recording artist who has released several records. He also enjoys spending time with his family and friends. A Type I diabetic himself sine 2000, Ben served on the Board of Directors of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is the proud father of daughter Riley Grace, 17, and son William DeRose, 13.
Ben is a frequent commentator on disability and sexual abuse law issues and has been frequently quoted in numerous national media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and U.S. News & World Report.
He is admitted to the following courts: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for Third Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, United States District Court for the Western District of New York, United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, United States District Court for the District of Colorado, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.