Litigation

Leaders

Randy M. Mastro New York
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Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. Los Angeles
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Overview

Litigation Dept of the YearAcclaimed as a litigation powerhouse, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and the members of the Litigation Practice Group have a long record of outstanding successes.  The American Lawyer named the firm its 2016 Litigation Department of the Year, our unprecedented third win in this biennial competition since 2010.  "Time and again," noted the publication, "Gibson Dunn litigators set out to win big rather than just escape defeat, and they succeeded … the firm repeatedly delivered when it mattered most."  Dubbing the firm's litigators "The Game Changers" in 2010, The American Lawyer in 2012 declared that we possess "The Complete Game" and named the firm a Finalist in 2014.

The members of our litigation practice group are not just litigators, they are first-rate trial lawyers.  Each year, we try numerous cases to verdicts before juries, judges and arbitrators.  Our clients have trusted us to try their most significant disputes to verdict, and we believe our trial win-loss record is unsurpassed.  

We have tried cases and argued appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court and state supreme courts in addition to federal and state courts across the United States involving almost every foreseeable area of controversy.  We also handle disputes before a wide variety of nonjudicial forums, from federal and state agencies to international arbitrations. 

Gibson Dunn's approach emphasizes the full spectrum of services for our clients.  Our litigators are trained to evaluate actual and potential cases at the earliest stages, to first determine if litigation can be avoided, or, if it is filed, whether the matter can be resolved quickly and economically.  We pride ourselves on handling our litigation matters as efficiently as possible.  For the largest cases, we can bring all necessary resources to bear, but for smaller matters, we believe in lean staffing and small teams of litigators with the right knowledge and experience.  Critically, our litigators think not just as lawyers, but as business men and women, tapping into key resources and devising optimal strategies for the most efficient and favorable results.  Gibson Dunn lawyers are fully familiar with a wide array of alternative dispute resolution techniques, including arbitration, mediation, "mini-trials" and the like.  In addition, the conduct of litigation at every stage is done in full and close consultation with our clients. 

Gibson Dunn's trial practice is enhanced by first-rate case management support and technology resources.  Our lawyers utilize technology in a manner that not only enhances their practice, but reduces the cost of litigation.  Our trial technology includes the latest systems available for document storage, retrieval and imaging.  We provide our clients dedicated extranet capabilities where they can access relevant case information and share documents on secure sites developed specifically for each case.  These technology tools allow us to avoid reinventing the wheel; when we begin work on a new case, we are able to access a vast database of research, writing and analysis, and thereby deliver the highest quality work product as efficiently as possible. 

Experience   

Recent representations include: 

  • Representing Chevron Corporation in its successful RICO suit against the purveyors of what The Wall Street Journal called the legal "fraud of the century," Chevron Corp. v. Donziger et al., Case No. 11-cv-0691 (S.D.N.Y.).  Gibson Dunn was lead counsel in Chevron's RICO and fraud suit against the U.S. lawyer and associates who masterminded an extortion scheme against Chevron that included fraudulently procuring a $9.2 billion Ecuadorian judgment against the company and carrying out an extortionate pressure campaign in the U.S.  Gibson Dunn obtained a trial verdict in favor of Chevron, in which the district court held that the scheme constituted racketeering in violation of RICO and federal laws prohibiting attempted extortion, wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  In its 485-page opinion, the court described the case as "extraordinary" and "includ[ing] things that normally come only out of Hollywood," including "coded emails," "payments out of a secret account," videotaped evidence of crimes in progress, and blockbuster evidence that the defendants "wrote the [Ecuadorian] court's Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment."  The RICO verdict followed on the heels of dozens of discovery proceedings filed by Gibson Dunn in district courts around the country.  Gibson Dunn's efforts led eight courts to apply the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege and order production of evidence related to the racketeering scheme.  As Chevron requested, the court imposed equitable relief preventing the conspirators from enforcing the judgment in the U.S. and ensuring that they "not be allowed to benefit from [the Ecuadorian judgment] in any way."  The New York Times described the result as a "major victory," and The Washington Post called it "resounding."  Gibson Dunn subsequently obtained Second Circuit affirmance and continues to advise Chevron on a range of issues flowing from this high-stakes, complex matter.
  • Secured a U.S. Supreme Court affirmance for BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC in its closely watched challenge to Puerto Rico's debt-restructuring law for municipal entities.  In 2014 the Commonwealth's legislature enacted the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act (Recovery Act), a statute that purported to create a binding bankruptcy-like debt-restructuring regime for Puerto Rico's highly indebted public entities, including its largest electric utility, PREPA.  Gibson Dunn filed suit on behalf of PREPA bondholder BlueMountain shortly after the law was enacted, the District of Puerto Rico agreed that the federal Bankruptcy Code preempts the Recovery Act, and the First Circuit unanimously affirmed.  The Supreme Court's analysis in affirming the First Circuit is likely to impact express-preemption jurisprudence and provides important protections for holders of municipal bonds.
  • Resolved groundbreaking, multibillion-dollar litigation by NML Capital, Ltd. (an affiliate of Elliott Management Corporation) against the Republic of Argentina when Argentina paid NML more than $2.4 billion to satisfy NML's claims on the country's defaulted bonds.  This settlement marked the conclusion of what the Financial Times called the "sovereign debt trial of the century" and ended 13 years of litigation following Argentina's default in 2001 on more than $80 billion in external debt.  While most of Argentina's creditors accepted new bonds, worth much less, in exchange for the repudiated bond obligations, NML chose to fight.  After securing judgments, attachments and injunctions against Argentina, the tide turned with two decisive U.S. Supreme Court victories won for NML by Gibson Dunn.  Still unwilling to comply, Argentina continued to resist – and suffer the consequences – until the Republic's new president initiated negotiations with creditors and the settlement agreement was reached.
  • For CLS Bank, which settles more than $5 trillion in foreign currency transactions daily, we obtained unanimous U.S. Supreme Court affirmance that ended a long-running patent infringement suit brought by Alice Corporation.  The Court affirmed an en banc Federal Circuit ruling, also argued successfully by Gibson Dunn, that Alice's claims were patent-ineligible as the patents were drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement. 
  • For Daimler AG, we obtained a U.S. Supreme Court win that limits the ability of plaintiffs to sue foreign companies in U.S. courts for acts that allegedly occurred overseas.  The Ninth Circuit had held that, because German corporation Daimler had an indirect subsidiary that did business in California, Argentine plaintiffs could sue Daimler in California for acts allegedly committed by an Argentine Daimler subsidiary in Argentina in the 1970s.  We persuaded the Court to reject that expansive view of U.S. jurisdiction – unanimously.
  • Representing Dole Food Company, Inc., we obtained dismissals of thousands of toxic tort claims after exposing the plaintiffs' lawyer's fraud.  Dole had been flooded with lawsuits filed on behalf of foreign agricultural workers claiming harm from exposure to the pesticide DBCP going back to the 1960s.  When Gibson Dunn took over the company's defense there were nearly 10,000 claims pending in trial courts across the United States.  After a series of significant victories including appellate wins and the reversal of an early multimillion-dollar verdict, there remained only a single-plaintiff case pending against the company in a Delaware trial court. 
  • For Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg we defeated a breach of contract case filed by Paul Ceglia, who claimed he was entitled to an 84% ownership stake in Facebook based on a purported 2003 contract.  After being retained to replace another law firm, we uncovered evidence of fraud and a forgery scheme that resulted in the plaintiff's arrest on federal felony charges.  In response to our motion to dismiss Ceglia's breach of contract case, a federal magistrate judge ruled the lawsuit a fraud that should be dismissed with prejudice.  The federal judge presiding over the case adopted that ruling, dismissing the case with prejudice based on Ceglia's lies, forgeries and litigation misconduct.  We then secured Second Circuit affirmance.
  • For Ford Motor Company we won a victory against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a case of major importance to employers navigating the intersection between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and increased employee telecommuting.  The EEOC brought the case against Ford alleging that it violated the ADA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee seeking to work from home because of a medical condition.  The EEOC further alleged that Ford retaliated against the employee, a documented underperformer, by firing her after she filed an EEOC charge.  The district court granted summary judgment to Ford on both claims but a divided Sixth Circuit panel reversed.  Gibson Dunn's petition for rehearing en banc was granted, and the Circuit's subsequent ruling reversed the panel decision on the ground that physical attendance is an essential function of most jobs and, thus, employers generally need not approve of open-ended telecommuting arrangements as an accommodation under the ADA.  The Sixth Circuit further held that no reasonable jury could find that Ford fired the employee for any reason other than poor performance.