Munger, Tolles & Olson are consistently recognized for setting the highest standard of excellence in the courtroom. Our team includes:
Brad D. Brian
E. Martin Estrada
Benjamin J. Horwich
Bethany W. Kristovich
Ronald L. Olson
Glenn D. Pomerantz
John W. Spiegel
Gregory P. Stone
Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.
Munger, Tolles & Olson litigators are known as much for providing long-term strategic leadership on cases as for their remarkable ability to parachute in on the eve of trial. We have prevailed in trials after decades of hard-fought litigation, and we have won astonishing trial victories despite having only a few weeks to prepare. Key representations include:
- Plains All American Pipeline, a pipeline operator, in parallel criminal and civil actions that included more than a dozen lawsuits in state and federal court, in the aftermath of a pipeline leak that spilled oil onto Refugio State Beach. We defended Plains in a criminal trial in Santa Barbara on claims brought jointly by the state attorney general’s office and the Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office. Civil trials are expected this year.
- Steves & Sons in the first matter ever in which a jury, not a regulatory body, has required divestiture as a remedy in private litigation over a completed merger.
- Wells Fargo in cases arising from the opening of unauthorized accounts by personnel, one of the highest-profile challenges the bank has faced since the 2008-09 crisis.
- Disney, Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Marvel, New Line and Turner Entertainment in a complete trial victory for several motion picture studios against unlicensed streaming service VidAngel, followed by a successful resolution of claims in VidAngel’s bankruptcy.
- Rent-A-Center, which operates about 2,500 rent-to-own consumer goods stores in the United States, in an expedited trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery challenging Rent-A-Center’s termination of a proposed merger. The judgment resulted in payment to Rent-A-Center of a $92.5 million termination fee.
- Fortress Investment Group in a five-week bench trial against claims brought by HM Ruby, a life settlement hedge fund, which alleged breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unfair competition, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel and fraud and sought $200 million in damages. The trial victory was recognized among the Daily Journal’s “Top Defense Verdicts” of 2016.
- Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, in obtaining a defense verdict in litigation arising from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. By finding that Transocean's conduct did not void the company’s indemnity agreements, Transocean avoided tens of billions of dollars of liability. The American Lawyer named the matter among the “most fascinating big business cases of 2014” and recognized our lead trial counsel on the case as a “Litigator of the Week.” The verdict also earned the trial team a 2015 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award.
- Phillip Morris USA in winning a trial victory in a massive class action spanning more than 16 years involving the marketing of Marlboro Lights cigarettes. The case was named by the Daily Journal as a “Top Defense Verdict.”
The Largest Environmental Disaster in U.S. History
In 2010, a blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig led to the deaths of 11 Crewmen and the largest marine oil spill in history.
Brad Brian led more than 20 Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys in defending Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon, in criminal investigations, government enforcement actions and massive civil litigation arising from the spill.
Our lawyers obtained a trial verdict in the federal multidistrict litigation, concluding that Transocean was not grossly negligent and, therefore, was (1) fully indemnified by BP, which had leased the rig, for compensatory damages and (2) not liable for punitive damages.
In actions brought by the DOJ, we secured a favorable settlement. The American Lawyer named the matter among the 'most fascinating big business cases of 2014' and recognized our lead trial counsel on the case as a 'Litigator of the Week.' The verdict also earned the trial team a 2015 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award.
Transocean initially faced exposure upwards of $20 billion. They retained the firm to lead the response to the U.S. Department of Justice's civil and criminal investigations, and eventually tapped Munger, Tolles & Olson as lead counsel on all aspects of the litigation. We led a team of lawyers from six different firms, and coordinated with more than a dozen other lawyers representing individual witnesses.
We were lead counsel at two trials in New Orleans, including a nine-week trial to determine the fault allocation for the oil spill; coordinated contested insurance issues; and ultimately led the successful efforts to settle on favorable grounds all of the criminal charges, the government penalty claims, and the private civil claims arising from the spill. We secured a favorable ruling at the conclusion of the trial of the first phase of multidistrict litigation, enabling Transocean to avoid tens of billions of dollars of indemnity claims by BP.
Our lawyers successfully handled multiple appeals during the litigation, including obtaining wins in the Fifth Circuit affirming dismissal of state-law claims as preempted and affirming dismissal of citizen-suit environmental claims.
Press Coverage: BP Shortcuts Led to Gulf Oil Spill, Report Says