G. Charles “Chip” Nierlich, a partner in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has substantial experience with complex commercial litigation at the trial and appellate level, with an emphasis on class actions and antitrust litigation. He frequently defends companies in the technology, consumer products, food and beverage, and automotive industries.
Mr. Nierlich’s work has been recognized by numerous publications. He was named one of the “Top Forty Under 40” emerging business leaders (and one of only five lawyers on the list) by the San Francisco Business Times. Law360 identified Mr. Nierlich as one of five top class action attorneys in the country under 40. Mr. Nierlich has been recognized multiple times as a top litigator by Super Lawyers and in Institutional Investor’s Benchmark Litigation Guide. Mr. Nierlich has also spoken on complex litigation to various groups, including at Harvard Law School, and has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.
Mr. Nierlich served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Morris S. Arnold in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from 1997 to 1998. Mr. Nierlich received his law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1997, where he served as president of the student government and Notes Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, from Claremont McKenna College in 1994, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Mr. Nierlich serves on the Advisory Board of the Kravis Leadership Institute, an academic research institute focused on the promotion and understanding of responsible, innovative leadership. Mr. Nierlich also coordinates associate mentoring programs for the firm’s San Francisco office.
Mr. Nierlich is admitted to practice in California, New York, and the District of Columbia.
- Banks and West v. Nissan North America, Inc.: Represent Nissan North America with respect to putative class actions pending in California and Arkansas alleging that certain Nissan and Infiniti vehicles contain a purportedly faulty brake booster and allegedly pose a safety risk. Final settlement approval currently pending.
- In re Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation: Represent NEC TOKIN in consolidated multidistrict proceedings with respect to claims by direct and indirect purchasers of lithium ion batteries that manufacturers of lithium ion batteries supposedly conspired to fix prices.
- In re Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) Litigation: Represented Micron Technology, Inc. in consolidated multidistrict proceedings with respect to claims by direct and indirect purchasers of DRAM, as well as cases brought by over forty state Attorneys General. Defeated motion for class certification in cases brought by the Attorneys General.
- Oracle v. Micron: Represented Micron Technology, Inc. in action brought by Oracle America, Inc., relating to DRAM purchased by Oracle’s predecessor, Sun Microsystems. Obtained order reducing potential damages by over 90%.
- Vital Pharmaceuticals v. CytoSport: Represented CytoSport in connection with trademark and trade dress claims against Vital Pharmaceuticals and Vital Pharmaceutical’s counterclaims against CytoSport. Obtained summary judgment on all claims against CytoSport.
- Hodes v. Van’s International Foods: Obtained dismissal of putative class action concerning nutrition labeling after defeating motion for class certification.
- In re CytoSport Cases: Represented CytoSport, Inc. in coordinated class actions challenging the marketing and advertising of Muscle Milk® products. Obtained favorable settlement.
- Donavin v. Unilever: Represented Unilever United States, Inc. in consumer class action challenging the labeling of Slim Fast meal replacement bars. Obtained dismissal of the action after demurrers on multiple grounds.
- Levittan v. ConAgra: Represented ConAgra Foods, Inc. in consumer class action challenging the labeling of Knott’s Berry Farm 100% Fruit. Obtained favorable settlement after deposition of the named plaintiff.
- Sorensen v. Gelson’s Markets: Represented Gelson’s Markets in coordinated group of consumer class actions challenging California retailers’ carrying nationally labeled vegetable oil spread and butter products that allegedly did not satisfy California’s unique labeling requirements.
- Lisko v. CytoSport: Represented CytoSport, Inc. in consumer class action alleging that CytoSport’s Muscle Milk® protein nutrition products were mislabeled. Obtained dismissal of the action after a motion to dismiss on multiple grounds.
- Allard, Cheldin v. Autotote: Represented Autotote, Inc. and Scientific Games in two nationwide class actions arising from the highly publicized Breeder’s Cup scandal that occurred when a rogue employee conspired with two friends to circumvent computer security measures and submit a late bet and win a multi-million dollar betting pool. Obtained dismissal of both complaints after a motion to dismiss on multiple grounds.
- Delacruz v. CytoSport: Represented CytoSport, Inc. in putative class action challenging the labeling of certain CytoSport Muscle Milk® Ready-to-Drink products. Obtained favorable settlement.
- Azizian v. Federated Department Stores: Represented manufacturer of cosmetics in consumer class action challenging various cosmetics promotions.
- Gerlinger v. Amazon.com: Represented Amazon.com in consumer class action challenging an agreement between Amazon.com and Borders with respect to online sales. Obtained summary judgment on behalf of Amazon.com, affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- In re Cellphone Termination Fee Cases: Represented AT&T Wireless in coordinated consumer class actions challenging wireless carriers’ imposition of an early termination fee on customers terminating service before the conclusion of the contract period. Successfully argued appeal of trial court’s denial of motion to compel arbitration.
- Tucker v. AT&T Wireless: Represented AT&T Wireless in representative action under California’s Unfair Competition Law raising claims relating to AT&T’s disclosure of certain billing practices. Successfully argued appeal, resulting in order that the named plaintiff lacked standing to pursue the action.
- Franklin v. The Villas Parkmerced: Represented Parkmerced Investors Properties, the landlord of the largest apartment complex on the west coast, with more than 3,000 units, in a class action brought on behalf of the residents concerning Parkmerced’s determination of rent increases.
- In re Chevron Corp.: Represented Chevron Corporation in connection with the Lago Agrio environmental litigation in Ecuador, in which plaintiffs seek billions of dollars. Obtained evidence, including outtakes from the movie Crude, that helped to uncover what the Wall Street Journal's editorial page called the “Shakedown in the Rain Forest.”
- Costa v. Superior Court: Represented proponents of Proposition 77 in defense of litigation brought by the Attorney General of California, who sought an order prohibiting Proposition 77 from appearing on the ballot. Obtained order from the California Supreme Court establishing that Proposition 77 would appear on the ballot.
- Robbins v. DaimlerChrysler AG, et al: Represented DaimlerChrysler with respect to various claims including purported failure to warn of alleged safety issues with the Jeep CJ-7 vehicle. Obtained favorable settlement at an early stage.
- Williams Securities Litigation: Represented the Williams Companies in securities class action litigation brought on behalf of former owners of securities issued by Williams and former Williams subsidiary Williams Communications Group.
- Hall v. US Sailing: Represented Farrah Hall, an elite international windsurfer, in actions against US Sailing with respect to the process for selecting the US representative to international windsurfing competitions, including the Olympics.
- Amicus Briefs in UCL Cases: Represented amici in various high-profile Unfair Competition Law cases before the California Supreme Court.
Selected Speeches and Presentations
- “Current Issues and Cases Impacting Class Action Litigation,” Federal Bar Association (2015)
- “Changing Standards for Class Certification: Ascertainability, Class Definition, and Standing,” Bridgeport (2015)
- “Legal Considerations for Defensible Disposal,” Compliance, Governance, and Oversight Council (2015)
- “Overview of Advertising Law,” Bridgeport (2014)
- “Pre-certification Discovery Strategies,” Bridgeport (2013)
- “The Future of Class Actions,” 12th Annual Class Action Conference, Bridgeport (2012)
- “A Return to the Wild West for California UCL Actions,” Law 360 (2011)
- “The Year in Review on Class Actions: The Plaintiffs’ Bar on the Move,” BNA Class Action Litigation Report (2010)
- “California Unfair Competition Law,” a chapter included in California State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law (2009).
- “Consumer Class Action Roundtable,” California Lawyer (2009)
- “2009: First Quarter Update on Class Action Trends,” BNA Class Action Litigation Report (2009)
- “Strategies for Cost-Effective Discovery and Case Management in the Information Age,” Lexis-Nexis, Best Practices in Case Assessment and Analysis (2008)
- “Defense Counsel Perspectives on Claim Administration,” Class Action Claims Administrator Conference (2008)
- “Responding To and Pursuing Discovery: Aggressive Strategies for Data Management and Cost Control,” American Conference Institute, Positioning the Class Action Defense for Early Success (2007)
- “Propositions 64 and 65,” California State Bar Environmental Law Section, Private Enforcement of Environmental Law: Prosecuting and Defending Citizens’ Suits (2007)
- “Bundling in Health Care Purchasing,” Healthcare Industry Group Purchasing Association International Expo (2005)
- “Everything You Need to Know About the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005,” Bar Association of San Francisco (2005)
- “Business & Professions Code Section 17200: Initiative & Initiatives,” California State Bar Environmental Law Section, Private Enforcement of Environmental Law: Prosecuting and Defending Citizens’ Suits (2004)
- “Strategies for Defending Class and Representation Actions,” Glasser LegalWorks (2003)
- “Defending California Business & Professions Code Section 17200 Claims: How Have Kraus and Cortez Changed the Section 17200 Landscape?” California State Bar Environmental Law Section, Private Enforcement of Environmental Law: Prosecuting and Defending Citizens’ Suits (2002).