Hailyn Chen is a Munger, Tolles & Olson litigation partner who focuses her practice on complex business litigation, white collar criminal defense and government investigations. Ms. Chen frequently represents higher education institutions in a range of litigation matters and investigations.
In addition to her legal practice, Ms. Chen was appointed by the California Supreme Court to a three-year term on the State Bar of California’s governing body, the Board of Trustees. She also co-chairs the ABA Section of Litigation’s Woman Advocate Committee.
Complex Civil Litigation
Ms. Chen has significant experience in preparing complex commercial litigation and class actions for trial, representing companies in various sectors including energy, financial services, entertainment and technology. Ms. Chen’s representative matters include:
- Airbnb in obtaining dismissal under the Communications Decency Act of a lawsuit brought by Apartment Investment and Management Co. (Aimco) alleging short-term renters damaged corporate apartments and disturbed residents.
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in litigation stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
- Shea Homes, Inc. in obtaining a denial of class certification in a lawsuit brought by homeowners alleging the company misrepresented the construction quality of its homes in violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.
- Western Asset Management in obtaining a favorable settlement in a lawsuit asserting breach of fiduciary duty in managing a client’s account during the financial crisis.
- LG Display, a manufacturer of TFT-LCD flat panels, in one of the nation’s largest antitrust class actions of indirect purchasers.
- Recorded music labels within Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, EMI and Sony in obtaining a permanent injunction against the notorious pirated music service LimeWire, and the ensuing damages trial that led to a $105 million settlement on behalf of the labels.
- Universal Music Group in an lawsuit asserting antitrust violations and tortious interference with business relations arising out of disputed right to license Bob Marley tracks. The case was successfully resolved on summary judgment.
- A defendant company and its chief executive in obtaining summary judgment in a dispute involving claims of tens of millions of dollars.
Higher Education Law
Ms. Chen has counseled higher education clients in internal and government investigations, crisis management, criminal prosecutions and ongoing compliance issues related to government claims and federal grants. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and has developed a broad understanding of the unique management, operational and regulatory challenges universities face.
Ms. Chen’s noteworthy higher education matters include:
- Obtaining an emergency restraining order and preliminary injunction shutting down a multi-million dollar healthcare fraud scheme perpetrated against the University of California and its UC Student Health Insurance Plan. The fraud scheme posed a significant threat to the financial well-being of the health insurance plan and affected more than 500 students across multiple campuses.
- Numerous internal investigations regarding potential Title IX liability.
- Guidance to the University of California Board of Regents regarding a State Auditor whistleblower investigation of the Office of the President, including recommendations for comprehensive board policy changes.
- Defending the University of California in a criminal investigation and complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney arising out of a UCLA chemistry lab accident that resulted in the death of an undergraduate student.
- Guidance regarding Clery Act compliance and responding to a Department of Education Clery Program Review.
- Internal investigations raising issues related to the use of federal research grant funds and Medicare billing.
- An internal investigation into conflicts of interest and technology transfer issues related to faculty start-ups.
- Advising a university in a Cal-OSHA investigation into a workplace accident, in which our attorneys successfully negotiated a settlement with Cal-OSHA and avoided the most serious penalties.
- Defending against a felony prosecution for a lab accident that resulted in a student’s death; successfully negotiated a prosecution enforcement agreement and obtained a dismissal with prejudice.
Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Litigation
Ms. Chen also has extensive experience representing universities in their handling of sexual misconduct matters, including in administrative writ proceedings and Title IX suits for monetary damages. She counsels clients on compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act and FERPA and recommends changes, where appropriate, to policies and procedures for investigating and resolving sexual misconduct allegations. Ms. Chen guides clients through crisis management and helps them develop internal and external communication strategies with respect to these challenging issues.
Internal Investigations and White Collar Defense
Ms. Chen has significant experience in leading internal investigations, representing the company itself in some instances or the independent, special and/or audit committee in others. These investigations have covered a wide range of issues, including alleged financial misconduct, alleged misuse of government grants and university resources, and alleged conflict of interest, nonprofit tax law, and False Claims Act violations. Ms. Chen’s representative matters include:
- A cattle ranch in state felony prosecution and federal and state civil investigations for recklessly starting a fire that resulted in one of the largest wildland fires in California history. Obtained dismissal of all criminal counts. Obtained favorable settlement with federal and state governments for pennies on the dollar.
- The Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust in an internal investigation related to expenditures of Getty Trust funds, corporate governance issues and the provenance of objects in its antiquities collection. The representation resulted in the successful settlement of claims with the governments of Italy and Greece. A parallel investigation by the California Attorney General was resolved as well.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in a government investigation into alleged homeless patient dumping. The investigation was resolved with a favorable settlement and without any lawsuit being filed by the government.
- A Fortune 100 company in conducting an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by a C-level executive.
- A major private company in conducting an internal investigation into allegations of corruption in vendor contracting by a C-level executive.
- A celebrity entrepreneur accused of criminal tax evasion.
- Officers of a NASDAQ-listed company in an internal investigation of alleged accounting improprieties.
- Universities in internal investigations related to various topics including workplace safety, student conduct, conflicts of interest and research misconduct.
Ms. Chen is a thought leader and frequently addresses issues involving crisis management and the advancement of women and minorities in the legal profession. For example, Ms. Chen spoke on “Advancing Your Career” at the Phoenix Rising – Empowering Women Lawyers Conference, a joint conference of the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Association and the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, in February 2018. In April 2017, Ms. Chen presented “Making Your Value Known: Effective Self Promotion for Women,” an ABA Roundtable jointly sponsored by the ABA Section of Litigation’s Woman Advocate Committee and Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.
She also was featured on the panel, “When The Wall Street Journal Calls: Guiding Your Organization Through A Crisis,” at the inaugural UCLA Law Women Lead Summit in 2017 and at the American Bar Association’s 2017 Corporate Counsel conference, where she spoke about tips for remediating misconduct after internal investigations. At the 2016 Annual Conference of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, Ms. Chen chaired the panel discussion, “The False Claims Act and Other Enforcement Activity Related to Sponsored Research: What You Wish You’d Done Before the Feds Came Knocking and How to Manage When They Do.”
Ms. Chen earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University, where she was one of the first female coxswains to lead the Yale varsity men’s crew and was awarded the MVP award in 1996.