Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is global Co-Chair of the firm's Litigation Group and previously led the firm's appellate, crisis management, transnational litigation and media groups. He also is a member of the firm's Executive and Management Committees.
As The New York Times has noted, Mr. Boutrous has "a long history of pushing the courts and the public to see the bigger picture on heated issues." He has represented clients in the federal and state appellate courts throughout the nation in a wide spectrum of cases. He has argued more than 80 appeals, including before the Supreme Court of the United States, 11 different federal circuit courts of appeals, eight different state supreme courts and a multitude of other appellate and trial courts in complex civil, constitutional and criminal matters. Mr. Boutrous has successfully persuaded courts to overturn some of the largest jury verdicts and class actions in history. In 2011, he successfully represented Walmart before the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dukes case, which unanimously reversed what had been the largest employment class action in history and established important standards governing class actions (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes). In 2013, he successfully represented the prevailing party in obtaining a unanimous Supreme Court decision enforcing the Class Action Fairness Act (Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles). Also in 2013, Mr. Boutrous successfully represented plaintiffs in the Supreme Court in a case invalidating California's prohibition on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). Mr. Boutrous also represents media organizations, reporters, and others in First Amendment matters such as reporters' privilege battles, technology litigation, defamation cases, litigation seeking public access to judicial records and court proceedings, and asylum proceedings for journalists in danger.
As both a crisis management strategist and a seasoned appellate and media lawyer, Mr. Boutrous has extensive experience handling high-profile litigation, media relations and media legal issues. He routinely advises clients in planning how to respond, and in responding, to crises and other especially significant legal problems that attract the media spotlight. According to The National Law Journal, which in 2013 named him one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America," he "is known for his wise, strategic advice to clients in crisis and is a media law star."
Numerous other profiles of Mr. Boutrous and his practice have appeared in the media. Prominent mentions include: "After Chevron Win, Dole Victory Caps Big Week for Gibson Dunn," Am Law Litigation Daily (March 9, 2014); "Practice Group Performs In Spotlight and Under Pressure," Los Angeles Daily Journal (March 2012); "Litigator of the Week," Am Law Litigation Daily (June 2011); "Lawyer of the Week," The Times of London (June 2011); "Appellate Lawyer of the Week," National Law Journal (March 2011); "Litigation Department of the Year," The American Lawyer (January 2016); "Litigation Department of the Year," The American Lawyer (January 2012); "Litigation Department of the Year," The American Lawyer (January 2010); "He's a Hired Gun of the Highest Caliber," The Los Angeles Times (June 24, 2007); "Special Appeal," Los Angeles Business Journal (July 26, 2004); and "Jackson Case Stirs First Amendment Guru," Daily Journal Extra (February 23, 2004).
Mr. Boutrous is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Chambers USA ranks him as a leading lawyer in five different categories, describing him as "a combination of smart and pragmatic" with "a complete command of the facts and law," a "true innovator," a "go-to guy on cutting-edge cases," a "formidable litigator," and "a hugely accomplished appellate lawyer . . . familiar with appeals at all levels and venues." Legal 500 has named Mr. Boutrous a "Leading Lawyer" for Supreme Court and Appellate litigation for the past three years in a row, calling him a "renowned advocate" and "the preeminent authority on punitive damages defenses in the U.S." In August 2016, the Los Angeles Business Journal named Mr. Boutrous one of "The Los Angeles 500 – The Most Influential People in Los Angeles." In 2015, The National Law Journal named Mr. Boutrous to its "Trailblazers – Litigation" list, and The San Francisco Recorder named Mr. Boutrous to its 2015 Groundbreakers list. In 2012, Mr. Boutrous was named an "Attorney of the Year" by both the California Lawyer and the San Francisco Recorder, and the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals named Mr. Boutrous one of the 100 best lawyers in California for the eleventh year in a row. In 2016, the Daily Journal named Mr. Boutrous to its 2016 list of Top Labor and Employment Lawyers which features 75 California lawyers who are involved in "cutting-edge employment and labor cases." In naming him to its list of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon calls him "one of the best media and appellate attorneys in the nation".
Mr. Boutrous is a frequent commentator on legal issues. His articles include: "A First Amendment Blind Spot," Wall Street Journal (May 27, 2014); "California Kids Go to Court to Demand a Good Education," Wall Street Journal (January 28, 2014); "A Radical Departure on Press Freedom," Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2013); "A Killer's Notebook, a Reporter's Rights," New York Times (April 9, 2013), "President Correa's Libel Suit and the Fraud Against Chevron," Forbes (March 6, 2012); "Broadcast 'Indecency' on Trial," Wall Street Journal (January 17, 2012); "Challenging Inequality," Los Angeles Lawyer (July/August 2015); "Why We're Fighting for Teachers' Free Speech," The Recorder (May 25, 2015); "Media Relations in High Profile Litigation: Chevron Corp. v. Donzinger," InsideCounsel (September 30, 2014);"The Four Myths Surrounding the Common Law Reporter's Privilege," Media Law Resources Center (January 2007); "First Amendment on Trial," Wall Street Journal (August 19, 2006); "What's Next for Punitive Damage Awards," Wall Street Journal (May 29, 1996); "Rule 6(e) and the Public's Right to Know," Wall Street Journal (August 17, 1998); and "Celebrity Justice: A New Double Standard," ABA Communications Lawyer (Fall 2004).
Mr. Boutrous is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Women's Media Foundation and its 2015 Leadership Honoree. He is also a sustaining member of the Product Liability Advisory Council.
Mr. Boutrous received his law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1987, where he was Valedictorian and Editor-in-Chief of the San Diego Law Review.
- Served as lead counsel for Walmart in the Dukes case before the Supreme Court of the United States, successfully challenging an order certifying the largest employment class action in American history. In a landmark decision, the Court ruled in favor of Walmart on June 20, 2011, establishing important principles governing all class actions.
- Served as lead appellate counsel for the Standard Fire Insurance Company in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States, successfully arguing that the Class Action Fairness Act prevents putative class representatives from manipulating interstate class actions to evade federal jurisdiction. The Court's unanimous ruling in March 2013 provides important protections against state-court class action abuses.
- Served as one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in the successful federal constitutional challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8.
- Serving as national strategic and appellate counsel for Dole Food Company, Inc. in a series of toxic tort claims brought by plaintiffs from Central American countries alleging sterility due to exposure to the pesticide DBCP. Persuaded Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney to dismiss two cases brought by Nicaraguan plaintiffs on grounds of "fraud on the court" and convinced the California Court of Appeal to affirm; also persuaded United States District Court Judge Paul Huck in Miami to deny enforcement of a $97 million Nicaraguan judgment based on the lack of due process and the absence of fair and impartial tribunals in that country and convinced the 11th Circuit to affirm.
- Serving as one of the lead lawyers for Chevron in exposing fraud and racketeering by plaintiffs' counsel and their co-conspirators in connection with their obtaining a corrupt and unenforceable $9 billion judgment from the Ecuadorian courts.
- Serving as lead appellate counsel for ABM Security Services, Inc. in an appeal from a $94 million summary judgment entered in favor of a statewide class of approximately 14,000 security guards. In a published opinion filed in January 2015, the California Court of Appeal unanimously reversed the trial court's judgment and rejected the plaintiffs' argument that class members were denied adequate rest breaks because some guards were required to carry cell phones or pagers while on break. The case is now pending before the California Supreme Court.
- Persuaded the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit – in the first appellate court opinion addressing the ordinary business exclusion for shareholder proposals since the SEC revised its guidance – to reverse a district court injunction requiring Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to include a shareholder proposal in its annual proxy materials.
- Persuaded a federal district court to dismiss the California Attorney General "public nuisance" lawsuit against six major automakers seeking billions of dollars in alleged damages supposedly suffered by the State as a result of global warming caused by auto emissions.
- Persuaded the United States Supreme Court to vacate a $290 million punitive damage award against Ford Motor Company in a product liability case, which had been the largest personal injury award ever affirmed on appeal in United States history. On remand the California Court of Appeal cut the award by over 90%.
- Persuaded the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reverse a $262 million damage award – at the time, the third largest verdict ever against an auto manufacturer – against DaimlerChrysler Corp. in a product liability case.
- Persuaded a federal district court, on behalf of The Wall Street Journal, to overturn the largest libel verdict in history ($222 million) based on lack of evidence and "serious misconduct" of the plaintiff during discovery and trial, and devising a strategy that caused the plaintiff to dismiss its case entirely.
- Persuaded the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse a district court judgment that some Farmers Insurance Group claims adjusters were subject to federal overtime laws and to throw out a $52.5 million judgment in the collective action.
- Persuaded the California Court of Appeal to overturn a $32.5 million punitive damages award against auto parts supplier BorgWarner in an asbestos exposure suit.
- Persuaded the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn the largest sexual harassment verdict in U.S. history ($21 million).
- Represented major media organizations (including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Associated Press, and The Washington Post) in seeking public access to secret judicial proceedings and records in the California criminal trial against Michael Jackson.
- Representing Time Inc. and reporter Matthew Cooper in Supreme Court and contempt proceedings arising from their refusal to reveal confidential source information in response to subpoenas from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in his investigation regarding whether White House officials illegally leaked the name of CIA official Valerie Plame to the press.
- Representing former CNN (now ABC) reporter Pierre Thomas in connection with Supreme Court and contempt proceedings arising from his refusal to divulge confidential source information sought by nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee in his Privacy Act litigation against the United States for allegedly leaking claims he was a spy.
- Representing Newsday and its reporter Tim Phelps in defending against and quashing a subpoena from the U.S. Senate during its investigation of who "leaked" allegations by Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Mr. Phelps, who broke the story.
- Representing thirteen major media organizations (including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Time Inc.) in obtaining public access to secret judicial proceedings and records throughout the grand jury investigation conducted by Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr concerning the conduct of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.