April 17, 2023

Munger, Tolles & Olson Receives Three 2023 Daily Journal CLAY awards

The Daily Journal recognized Munger, Tolles & Olson with three 2023 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) awards. The award recognizes the California attorney teams who have handled the most impactful litigation over the last year.

This year, MTO was recognized for representing Wells Fargo in a landmark California Supreme Court decision; the $15 million jury verdict on behalf of Vanessa Bryant in her civil rights lawsuit; and for defeating litigation challenging the historic transfer of Bruce’s Beach.

Sheen v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. 

Ben Horwich and Rachel Miller-Ziegler were recognized alongside co-counsel at Kutak Rock LLP for their representation of Wells Fargo in a landmark decision by the California Supreme Court. 

The court found that lenders and loan servicers do not owe borrowers a general duty of care to protect a borrower’s economic interests, including when processing, reviewing or responding to a mortgage modification application.

The court’s ruling limits lender’s and servicer’s tort liability for issues arising as part of the loss mitigation process in California—the nation’s largest mortgage market, in which more than $1 trillion in outstanding loan balances are potentially affected by this ruling.

Read the Daily Journal’s profile. (Subscription may be required)

Bryant v. County of Los Angeles et al.

Craig Jennings Lavoie and Jennifer Bryant were recognized, alongside co-counsel at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, for securing a $15 million jury verdict on behalf of Vanessa Bryant in her trial regarding the inappropriate sharing of photos from the scene of the helicopter crash that tragically killed her husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant. 

Following a two-week trial, the federal jury ruled in favor of Mrs. Bryant and co-plaintiff Christopher Chester, finding the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department liable for violating their constitutional right to control images of their deceased loved ones. 

Mr. Lavoie delivered the closing argument and cross examined numerous sheriff’s deputies, and Ms. Bryant cross examined numerous key witnesses for the Fire Department and Coroner’s Office.

Read the Daily Journal’s profile. 

Ryan v. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

MTO and co-counsel Sidley Austin were recognized for successfully defeating litigation challenging the historic transfer of Bruce’s Beach to the heirs of a family, who lost their Manhattan Beach business and property through a racially discriminatory condemnation action. The MTO team included E. Martin Estrada, John Schwab, Michael Soloff and Wesley Burrell.

Recognizing the racially motivated and unconstitutional wrong done to the Bruces, the Legislature passed SB 796 in 2021 to allow the property’s return to the Bruce family and the County began the process of finalizing the transfer. However, a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of the return and alleging there was no public purpose to rectifying past governmental racial discrimination against the Bruces.

Following briefing and argument, the court denied the petitioner’s efforts, finding that the County was acting lawfully in returning the property to address the shameful injustice of the 1920s. Specifically, the court found, “where the appropriation of public funds and/or property is to address and/or remedy racial discrimination committed by the government, it serves a public purpose. Righting a government wrong perpetrated in breach of our core and fundamental constitutional principles works to strengthen governmental integrity, represents accountability in government and works to eliminate structural racism and bias.” 

Read the Daily Journal’s profile. (Subscription may be required)