Bethany W. Kristovich

Bethany W. Kristovich

Bethany Kristovich is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson.

Ms. Kristovich’s practice is focused on complex civil litigation, with a particular emphasis in high-stakes trials and appeals, including in the professional responsibility, consumer protection, product defect and mass tort contexts. She has represented some of the nation’s largest companies, law firms, and private equity firms in their most sensitive matters. She has also counseled clients through appeals of adverse judgments, including arguments at the California Court of Appeal. Ms. Kristovich is co-chair of the firm’s class action practice group and professional liability defense group.  

Ms. Kristovich has represented JUUL, Philip Morris USA, MGM Resorts International, and Occidental Petroleum.

Ms. Kristovich brings a trial-lawyer’s sense to developing a case strategy with an eye toward achieving the client’s goal. Since joining Munger Tolles, Ms. Kristovich has had a counsel-table role at numerous high-stakes trials and arbitrations, two of which were class action trials in which the plaintiffs requested over a billion dollars in damages. She has also been called upon to defend against numerous applications for preliminary injunction. Ms. Kristovich has earned recognition for her legal victories.

In 2024, she was recognized as one of the Women of Influence: Attorneys by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and Lawdragon again recognized Ms. Kristovich in its 500 Leading Litigators in America list for complex civil litigation and class actions (2022-2024). She is ranked in the Chambers 2024 USA Guide in General Commercial Litigation and has received several accolades from the Daily Journal including Leading Commercial Litigator (2024); the Top 100 Lawyers in California for her work involving bet-the-company litigation, professional liability defense, and some of the largest mass tort cases of the last five years (2023); and Top Women Lawyers list (2023) for the fourth consecutive year.

In 2020, she was a Women in Law – USA honoree by Lawyer Monthly Legal. Ms. Kristovich was also named one of California’s Top 20 Lawyers Under 40 by the Daily Journal and selected as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers. She was also part of the legal team that helped the firm win Law360’s Class Action Practice Group of the Year award for her work as part of a trial team for Philip Morris USA.

Ms. Kristovich is an active member of the community. She is a board member of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) and the Friends of the LA County Law Library. She was appointed by the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California to serve as a member of the 2019 Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Ms. Kristovich is a member of the professional development committee of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. She serves on the board of the California Women’s Law Center, and she is a previous member of the advisory board of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. As a former debater, she volunteers for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League, an organization that encourages high school students in urban schools to participate in debate.

Before joining the firm, Ms. Kristovich served as law clerk to the Honorable Edward Rafeedie in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Experience

High-Impact Litigation

  • Juul Labs Inc. in multidistrict litigation involving novel product liability claims and allegations regarding its marketing practices. In September 2022, it was announced that Juul Labs will pay nearly $440 million to settle the investigation by 33 states. In December 2022, thousands of the lawsuits had settled but other cases are scheduled for bellwether trials in 2023.
  • MGM Resorts International in
    • obtaining dismissal of a putative class action claiming breach of contract and unjust enrichment because the machines for cashing out winning tickets at MGM’s Beau Rivage Resort and Casino provided only whole dollar amounts, and customers had to go to the cashier to obtain change. In April 2023, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit entirely, ruling that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and that the proposed putative class damages would most likely not exceed the required $5 million threshold.
    • two putative antitrust class actions alleging that the defendants improperly used pricing software.
  • MGM in noteworthy civil litigation arising from the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Ms. Kristovich led every aspect of the case, both in court and in mediation, that resulted in a settlement of plaintiffs’ claims. MGM’s insurance carriers will pay for the vast majority of the settlement, which was reached before discovery commenced.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as lead counsel in the civil cases arising from the 2021 Dixie Fire, the largest wildfire in California history.
  • Lonestar Airport Holdings, a portfolio company of Oaktree Capital Management, in winning a $90 million condemnation award after the City of Austin terminated Lonestar’s 40-year agreement to operate, and participate in the expansion of, South Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The award is 50 times larger than the $1.8 million the city had offered via a condemnation process.
  • Philip Morris USA in
    • obtaining a favorable verdict in a false advertising trial in which plaintiffs, a class of nearly 200,000 smokers, received an award of $5 million – far less than the $1.5 billion in damages originally sought.
    • the successful defense of a three-month California consumer class action trial relating to the marketing of “light” cigarettes. Plaintiffs recovered nothing on their claims, and the judgment was affirmed on appeal. This victory was recognized by the Daily Journal as a Top Defense Verdict of 2013.
  • Occidental Chemical Corporation in significant environmental litigation and trial arising out of the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. At trial, Ms. Kristovich put on the direct testimony of several key witnesses and cross-examined the president of the opposing party; she also delivered a significant portion of the closing. She successfully led the largest of the cases to resolution, tried three consolidated cases, settled other state court litigation with nearby landowners on favorable terms, and settled the federal class action.
  • A major technology company in a confidential product-defect arbitration with a nine-figure demand.
  • A confidential bet-the-company arbitration between an independent television station and a major distributor. After arbitration, the arbitrator ruled entirely in favor of Ms. Kristovich’s client.

Class Actions

  • Universal City Studios, Inc., a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, in a class action lawsuit alleging that plaintiffs were deceived into renting the motion picture “Yesterday” because the trailer included an actor who did not appear in the film.
  • A major retailer in the defense and settlement of several unfair competition and false advertising class actions after early briefing.
  • A major product manufacturer in obtaining a favorable settlement in a putative unfair competition class action.
  • Intel in:
    • obtaining a settlement in a certified class action brought on behalf of several million purchasers of computers containing the first version of the Pentium 4 processor alleging violations of the Unfair Competition Law.
    • defending, preparing for trial, and ultimately obtaining a settlement in an antitrust case brought by a class of current and former employees of various technology companies alleging that the defendants conspired to abstain from cold-calling each other’s employees.

Contract Disputes

  • A major gaming company in successfully resolving contract disputes following a cross-border equity acquisition.
  • An independent television channel in a dispute with a large media company.
  • A major construction company in favorably settling litigation with a developer after vigorous discovery.
  • Southern California Edison in a breach-of-contract dispute.
  • An independent television channel in obtaining a favorable settlement in a dispute with a distributor after arbitration had commenced.
  • An independent channel as plaintiff in a carriage dispute with a service provider in a JAMS arbitration. At the conclusion, the arbitrator found entirely in favor of the firm’s client.

Professional Liability

  • A law firm in obtaining dismissal from a RICO claim and several state-law claims alleged in the course of handling litigation for a healthcare client. After the MTO team sent a Rule 11 letter to the plaintiffs, they agreed to dismiss the firm’s partners from the complaint.
  • A law firm in winning district court affirmation of a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that the option had expired for a former client to remove legal releases it had granted the law firm in connection with the firm’s fee application to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, as well as any follow-on lawsuit for legal malpractice. The matter is pending before the Third Circuit.
  • A major national law firm in a lawsuit alleging violations of the California False Claims Act.
  • A law firm in obtaining a favorable settlement on the eve of trial in a legal malpractice action arising from the firm’s representation of a Delaware corporation after extensive litigation and briefing.
  • A law firm in obtaining affirmance in the California Court of Appeal of the lower court’s dismissal of malpractice claims on statute of limitations grounds.

Other Noteworthy Commercial Matters

  • J. Paul Getty Trust in settling claims and obtaining dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America alleging that eight pages from the Zeyt’un Gospels, a medieval Armenian gospel manuscript, were the property of the church.
  • KB Home in achieving a pre-trial arbitration settlement to a $100 million construction defect claim concerning a large condominium development in Redwood City, California.

Publications

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, ABA’s National Conference on Professional Responsibility, May 29, 2024
  • Speaker, “Legal Malpractice Defense: Lessons From the Trenches,” Practising Law Institute (PLI), May 23, 2024
  • Speaker, “Hot Topics in Trade Secrets Protection, Enforcement, and Litigation,” Sandpiper Partners LLC conference, April 2024
  • Guest, “Law, disrupted” podcast with John Quinn, March 2024
  • Guest, “The Trial Call 10” podcast with Jim Crosby, July 2023
  • Speaker, Complex Claims & Litigation Forum, “Litigation Showdown: What Are the Best Tips & Tricks To Get Through Litigation,” February 27, 2023
  • Speaker, “Current Litigation Trends in Sports & Entertainment,” Association of Corporate Counsel Networks, May 17, 2022
  • Speaker, “Understanding, Avoiding, and Litigating Sanctions,”  ABA Fall 2021 National Legal Malpractice Conference, September 23, 2021
  • Speaker, “Impacts of COVID-19 on Federal and State Enforcement Actions and Clean-Ups: Force Majeure in the COVID Era,” Environmental & Energy, Mass Torts, and Products Liability, Litigation Committees’ Joint, Virtual Regional CLE Program, American Bar Association, January 28, 2021
  • Panelist, “Impacts of Covid-19 on Federal and State Enforcement Actions and Clean-Ups,” ABA Roundtable, Environmental & Energy Litigation Committee, May 20, 2020
  • Co-Panelist with Charles D. Cowan and Jeffrey B. Simon, “Nature of the Damages,” The Opioid Litigation Conference, June 6, 2019
  • Panelist, “The Outlook of Class Action Issues Going Forward,” Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education Seminar, March 1, 2019
  • Panel Moderator, “Effective Oral Advocacy: How to Prepare for and Handle Oral Argument,” ABA Conference, 2018
  • Panel Moderator, “Mitigating the Impact of Complex Litigation,” Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference, Oct. 5, 2018
  • Panelist, “Tech-Savvy and Talented: Competition in Employment Practices,” ABA Antitrust Section’s Joint Conduct Committee Panel, May 22, 2018
  • Co-Panelist with Juanita Rose Brooks and Patricia Astorga, “Effective Cross-Examination: Case Studies from Recent Trials,” ABA Webinar, April 11, 2018
  • Moderator, “Consumer Class Action Conference,” Orange County, California, Jan. 19, 2018
  • Panelist, “Working with Clients and Opposing Counsel,” Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Aug. 18, 2017
  • Panelist, “Digital Deals – Networks, Studios and Producers – Monetizing Content Across Platform,” The Digital Hollywood Experience, Digital Hollywood Spring, May 25, 2017
  • Speaker, “Competition Torts in the Trenches: Lessons From Recent High-Profile Cases,” ABA Antitrust Division Panel, Nov. 21, 2016
  • Panel Moderator, “Compensation of Objectors,” Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies Class-Action Settlement Conference, Oct. 7, 2016
  • Speaker, “Fundamentals of Taking Depositions,” Bridgeport MCLE Mastering the Deposition Los Angeles Conference, Sept. 9, 2016
  • Speaker, “Using Discovery in Class Actions,” Corporate Counsel Webinar, May 24, 2016
  • Speaker, “Strategies for Defeating Class Certification,” Bridgeport MCLE Class Action Litigation Conference, April 15, 2016

Experience

High-Impact Litigation

  • Juul Labs Inc. in multidistrict litigation involving novel product liability claims and allegations regarding its marketing practices. In September 2022, it was announced that Juul Labs will pay nearly $440 million to settle the investigation by 33 states. In December 2022, thousands of the lawsuits had settled but other cases are scheduled for bellwether trials in 2023.
  • MGM Resorts International in
    • obtaining dismissal of a putative class action claiming breach of contract and unjust enrichment because the machines for cashing out winning tickets at MGM’s Beau Rivage Resort and Casino provided only whole dollar amounts, and customers had to go to the cashier to obtain change. In April 2023, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit entirely, ruling that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and that the proposed putative class damages would most likely not exceed the required $5 million threshold.
    • two putative antitrust class actions alleging that the defendants improperly used pricing software.
  • MGM in noteworthy civil litigation arising from the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Ms. Kristovich led every aspect of the case, both in court and in mediation, that resulted in a settlement of plaintiffs’ claims. MGM’s insurance carriers will pay for the vast majority of the settlement, which was reached before discovery commenced.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as lead counsel in the civil cases arising from the 2021 Dixie Fire, the largest wildfire in California history.
  • Lonestar Airport Holdings, a portfolio company of Oaktree Capital Management, in winning a $90 million condemnation award after the City of Austin terminated Lonestar’s 40-year agreement to operate, and participate in the expansion of, South Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The award is 50 times larger than the $1.8 million the city had offered via a condemnation process.
  • Philip Morris USA in
    • obtaining a favorable verdict in a false advertising trial in which plaintiffs, a class of nearly 200,000 smokers, received an award of $5 million – far less than the $1.5 billion in damages originally sought.
    • the successful defense of a three-month California consumer class action trial relating to the marketing of “light” cigarettes. Plaintiffs recovered nothing on their claims, and the judgment was affirmed on appeal. This victory was recognized by the Daily Journal as a Top Defense Verdict of 2013.
  • Occidental Chemical Corporation in significant environmental litigation and trial arising out of the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. At trial, Ms. Kristovich put on the direct testimony of several key witnesses and cross-examined the president of the opposing party; she also delivered a significant portion of the closing. She successfully led the largest of the cases to resolution, tried three consolidated cases, settled other state court litigation with nearby landowners on favorable terms, and settled the federal class action.
  • A major technology company in a confidential product-defect arbitration with a nine-figure demand.
  • A confidential bet-the-company arbitration between an independent television station and a major distributor. After arbitration, the arbitrator ruled entirely in favor of Ms. Kristovich’s client.

Class Actions

  • Universal City Studios, Inc., a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, in a class action lawsuit alleging that plaintiffs were deceived into renting the motion picture “Yesterday” because the trailer included an actor who did not appear in the film.
  • A major retailer in the defense and settlement of several unfair competition and false advertising class actions after early briefing.
  • A major product manufacturer in obtaining a favorable settlement in a putative unfair competition class action.
  • Intel in:
    • obtaining a settlement in a certified class action brought on behalf of several million purchasers of computers containing the first version of the Pentium 4 processor alleging violations of the Unfair Competition Law.
    • defending, preparing for trial, and ultimately obtaining a settlement in an antitrust case brought by a class of current and former employees of various technology companies alleging that the defendants conspired to abstain from cold-calling each other’s employees.

Contract Disputes

  • A major gaming company in successfully resolving contract disputes following a cross-border equity acquisition.
  • An independent television channel in a dispute with a large media company.
  • A major construction company in favorably settling litigation with a developer after vigorous discovery.
  • Southern California Edison in a breach-of-contract dispute.
  • An independent television channel in obtaining a favorable settlement in a dispute with a distributor after arbitration had commenced.
  • An independent channel as plaintiff in a carriage dispute with a service provider in a JAMS arbitration. At the conclusion, the arbitrator found entirely in favor of the firm’s client.

Professional Liability

  • A law firm in obtaining dismissal from a RICO claim and several state-law claims alleged in the course of handling litigation for a healthcare client. After the MTO team sent a Rule 11 letter to the plaintiffs, they agreed to dismiss the firm’s partners from the complaint.
  • A law firm in winning district court affirmation of a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that the option had expired for a former client to remove legal releases it had granted the law firm in connection with the firm’s fee application to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, as well as any follow-on lawsuit for legal malpractice. The matter is pending before the Third Circuit.
  • A major national law firm in a lawsuit alleging violations of the California False Claims Act.
  • A law firm in obtaining a favorable settlement on the eve of trial in a legal malpractice action arising from the firm’s representation of a Delaware corporation after extensive litigation and briefing.
  • A law firm in obtaining affirmance in the California Court of Appeal of the lower court’s dismissal of malpractice claims on statute of limitations grounds.

Other Noteworthy Commercial Matters

  • J. Paul Getty Trust in settling claims and obtaining dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America alleging that eight pages from the Zeyt’un Gospels, a medieval Armenian gospel manuscript, were the property of the church.
  • KB Home in achieving a pre-trial arbitration settlement to a $100 million construction defect claim concerning a large condominium development in Redwood City, California.

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, ABA’s National Conference on Professional Responsibility, May 29, 2024
  • Speaker, “Legal Malpractice Defense: Lessons From the Trenches,” Practising Law Institute (PLI), May 23, 2024
  • Speaker, “Hot Topics in Trade Secrets Protection, Enforcement, and Litigation,” Sandpiper Partners LLC conference, April 2024
  • Guest, “Law, disrupted” podcast with John Quinn, March 2024
  • Guest, “The Trial Call 10” podcast with Jim Crosby, July 2023
  • Speaker, Complex Claims & Litigation Forum, “Litigation Showdown: What Are the Best Tips & Tricks To Get Through Litigation,” February 27, 2023
  • Speaker, “Current Litigation Trends in Sports & Entertainment,” Association of Corporate Counsel Networks, May 17, 2022
  • Speaker, “Understanding, Avoiding, and Litigating Sanctions,”  ABA Fall 2021 National Legal Malpractice Conference, September 23, 2021
  • Speaker, “Impacts of COVID-19 on Federal and State Enforcement Actions and Clean-Ups: Force Majeure in the COVID Era,” Environmental & Energy, Mass Torts, and Products Liability, Litigation Committees’ Joint, Virtual Regional CLE Program, American Bar Association, January 28, 2021
  • Panelist, “Impacts of Covid-19 on Federal and State Enforcement Actions and Clean-Ups,” ABA Roundtable, Environmental & Energy Litigation Committee, May 20, 2020
  • Co-Panelist with Charles D. Cowan and Jeffrey B. Simon, “Nature of the Damages,” The Opioid Litigation Conference, June 6, 2019
  • Panelist, “The Outlook of Class Action Issues Going Forward,” Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education Seminar, March 1, 2019
  • Panel Moderator, “Effective Oral Advocacy: How to Prepare for and Handle Oral Argument,” ABA Conference, 2018
  • Panel Moderator, “Mitigating the Impact of Complex Litigation,” Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference, Oct. 5, 2018
  • Panelist, “Tech-Savvy and Talented: Competition in Employment Practices,” ABA Antitrust Section’s Joint Conduct Committee Panel, May 22, 2018
  • Co-Panelist with Juanita Rose Brooks and Patricia Astorga, “Effective Cross-Examination: Case Studies from Recent Trials,” ABA Webinar, April 11, 2018
  • Moderator, “Consumer Class Action Conference,” Orange County, California, Jan. 19, 2018
  • Panelist, “Working with Clients and Opposing Counsel,” Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Aug. 18, 2017
  • Panelist, “Digital Deals – Networks, Studios and Producers – Monetizing Content Across Platform,” The Digital Hollywood Experience, Digital Hollywood Spring, May 25, 2017
  • Speaker, “Competition Torts in the Trenches: Lessons From Recent High-Profile Cases,” ABA Antitrust Division Panel, Nov. 21, 2016
  • Panel Moderator, “Compensation of Objectors,” Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies Class-Action Settlement Conference, Oct. 7, 2016
  • Speaker, “Fundamentals of Taking Depositions,” Bridgeport MCLE Mastering the Deposition Los Angeles Conference, Sept. 9, 2016
  • Speaker, “Using Discovery in Class Actions,” Corporate Counsel Webinar, May 24, 2016
  • Speaker, “Strategies for Defeating Class Certification,” Bridgeport MCLE Class Action Litigation Conference, April 15, 2016