Munger, Tolles & Olson has a broad appellate practice and a history of convincing courts to overturn large judgments at the post-trial and appellate stage. We have handled complex civil and criminal appeals in state and federal courts, including constitutional issues, intellectual property, consumer class actions, securities, antitrust and business torts, insurance, regulatory law and white collar matters. Our appellate lawyers serve as lead counsel in cutting-edge areas of patent law, the Alien Tort Statute, foreign affairs matters and California’s unfair competition law. In these matters, we represent major American companies and industry leaders, including Altria Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Boeing Co., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Shell Oil Co., Verizon Communications Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. Nearly 70 percent of our attorneys have clerked for federal judges, and 15 of our lawyers are former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks.
Our practice group has special expertise in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and state appellate courts. The group’s leaders, Daniel P. Collins and Fred A. Rowley, Jr., have together served as lead counsel in more than 100 appeals, presenting argument in 55 appeals before the Ninth Circuit, as well as appeals before the California and Delaware Supreme Courts and the California Court of Appeal. They have successfully obtained discretionary relief, such as stays and writ relief, in federal and state appellate courts.
Our firm has an established presence in the U.S. Supreme Court. We regularly represent clients at both the certiorari and merits stage. In the 2011 term, Bradley S. Phillips presented oral argument in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, a case testing the constitutionality of Arizona’s election laws. Kristin Linsley Myles was the first female Special Master to the Supreme Court, overseeing an original jurisdiction matter in South Carolina v. North Carolina.
Several of our lawyers have Justice Department experience, representing the United States in appeals before the federal appellate courts and international tribunals. In 2012, Daniel B. Levin returned to the firm after serving as Deputy Chief of Criminal Appeals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
The firm’s lawyers are leaders of the appellate bar and active in the legal community. We count as alumni Judges Michelle T. Friedland, John B. Owens and Paul J. Watford who sit on the Ninth Circuits as well as Judge Carolyn Kuhl, a former Deputy Solicitor General. Our appellate lawyers have served as Lawyer Representatives to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and on amicus committees for the American Bar Association and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. A number have been elected to the American Law Institute. Our attorneys have taught courses in appellate advocacy at the UC Berkeley School of Law, Stanford Law School, UCLA Law School, USC Gould School of Law and Loyola Law School.
The practice handles appeals from three principal sources. First, we are often brought in to handle post-trial motions and any appeal following an adverse jury verdict or the trial court ruling. Many of these cases involve massive monetary awards. Second, we represent clients in appeals related to our own trial court matters, either in defending a verdict or decision or in attempting to get a decision overturned. Our trial and appellate lawyers work closely on all trials to develop the record to position all our clients for matters post-verdict. Third, we submit amicus curiae briefs in appellate matters on behalf of major corporations, trade associations, and pro bono clients. In a number of cases, we have presented oral argument, on behalf of amici, alongside the parties.
A sample of the firm’s recent appellate experience includes representing:
- Abbott Laboratories in a case that marked a major change for patent litigation. Munger Tolles, acting as co-counsel, won an en banc Federal Circuit ruling that fundamentally altered the national standards for determining inequitable conduct before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Berkshire Hathaway’s General Reinsurance Corp. in the Delaware Supreme Court, in securing final dismissal of a lawsuit accusing it of helping AIG defraud investors.
- Fox Entertainment Group in a class action with other cable programmers and distributors challenging the “tiering” or bundling of channels in purported violation of the Sherman Act. We were successful in convincing the 9th Circuit to affirm a dismissal.
- Norton Simon Foundation in an appeal raising novel issues of foreign affairs and federalism, persuading the 9th Circuit to affirm the invalidation of a state statute, the full court to reject en banc review, and the U.S. Supreme Court to deny certiorari after inviting the views of the Solicitor General.
- Philip Morris USA before an en banc panel of the Nevada Supreme Court. Munger Tolles attorneys prevailed in clarifying Nevada product liability law.
- Shell Oil, before the U.S. Supreme Court, in defeating a class action brought by Mississippi homeowners who claimed that Hurricane Katrina, and the damage it caused, resulted from global warming partly caused by oil companies.
- Transocean in appeals arising from the 2010 BP Oil Spill litigation. Munger Tolles persuaded the Fifth Circuit to hold that state law claims seeking civil penalties for the oil spill were preempted by federal law and the U.S. Supreme Court to deny certiorari.
- Verizon Communications in a consumer class action, persuaded the California Court of Appeal to issue an extraordinary writ reversing a trial court’s order denying a demurrer and directing the court to stay the case pending regulatory review.
- 25,000 Section 8 housing recipients, many of them elderly or disabled, in vindicating low-income tenants’ rights before the 9th Circuit.
Daniel P. Collins (213) 683-9125
Mark H. Epstein (213) 683-9118
Daniel B. Levin (213) 683-9135
Bradley S. Phillips (213) 683-9262
Fred A. Rowley, Jr. (213) 683-9259