Crisis Management

Overview

The Crisis Management Practice Group is renowned for taking immediate action to manage any situation, executing a strategic communication plan and guiding clients through difficult events.  

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Crisis Management group's experience extends to all manner of issues that can arise in a corporate crisis situation, including: 

  • Criminal law and complex civil litigation
  • Securities and corporate governance
  • Antitrust
  • Environmental regulation
  • Banking, currency and accounting
  • International trade
  • Employment disputes
  • Energy
  • U.S. homeland security, immigration and border issues
  • U.S. election law and ballot measures 

Top industry publication The American Lawyer praised the crisis management team, saying that our litigators "aren't shy when it comes to engaging the media … the firm's media savvy is just one way these litigators distinguish themselves."  The publication named Gibson Dunn its 2016 Litigation Department of the Year, our unprecedented third win in this biennial competition following consecutive terms as the 2010 and 2012 Litigation Department of the Year and 2014 Finalist honors.

The Crisis Management group's team of media-savvy lawyers will quickly craft a communication plan to effectively manage any situation — a whistleblower's surprise allegation, a significant and unexpected accounting problem, a product recall, a government investigation.  Our team is experienced in developing and implementing prompt and effective crisis communication strategies to address any situation.  Our lawyers frequently counsel executives and boards of directors in preparing a crisis plan as the first step in avoiding crisis situations before they arise.  

Gibson Dunn's Crisis Management team includes former prosecutors, judges and government officials with demonstrated effectiveness in dealing with all three branches of the U.S. federal government, state law enforcement and regulatory officials, and international regulators.   

The group's crisis management capabilities extend to U.S. congressional investigations, with a bipartisan team, including former members of Congress and former federal and high-ranking state officials, experienced in providing advice to the business community.  We are ready to handle suits wherever they are filed — if necessary, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Experience 

Gibson Dunn's Crisis Management group takes immediate action to handle any situation threatening your business, or craft a plan to avoid any situation in the future.

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 follows 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 continues to advise Chevron on a range of issues flowing from this high-stakes, complex matter.
  • Won a historic marriage equality victory before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decision left intact the district court's broad injunction against the enforcement of California's Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution restricting marriage in the state to between one man and one woman.  Gibson Dunn filed the complaint challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in 2009.  After trial in 2010 the Northern District of California declared it unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, explaining that Proposition 8 "does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," and directed that enforcement of Proposition 8 be enjoined.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed, and the proponents of Proposition 8 appealed to the Supreme Court. 
  • Persuaded the Los Angeles Superior Court that the $34 million punitive damages award entered against affiliates of The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations (Commonfund Group) was unconstitutionally excessive.  In remitting the award to $16.4 million, the court adopted Gibson Dunn's argument that "due process requires that the amount of punitive damages be limited to a 1:1 ratio" with the substantial compensatory damages award.  The jury had entered a $50.4 million verdict against the Commonfund Group following a three-week trial.  Gibson Dunn was then retained by The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations to handle the post-trial motions and appeal of the verdict entered against its affiliates. 
  • Transformed a high-risk toxic tort litigation against Dole Food Company, Inc. into a headline-making victory when Gibson Dunn took over the defense of a series of cases filed against Dole alleging that its use of the pesticide DBCP in Nicaragua in the 1970s caused sterility in former farmworkers.  Gibson Dunn uncovered a scheme by plaintiffs' lawyers to recruit and train fraudulent plaintiffs in a toxic tort suit which the court dismissed as a sanction, finding pervasive fraud.  Prior to Gibson Dunn's representation, a Los Angeles jury had awarded $2.3 million in damages in another DBCP case, a verdict that the court threw out, finding it was tainted by fraud.
  • Represented Goldman Sachs in widely covered congressional investigations and hearings relating to the financial crisis and the related suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as representing several other clients in connection with the work of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
  • Obtained a landmark victory for the world's largest retailer when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed class certification of the biggest employment discrimination class in history.  Rejecting a 6-5 decision by the en banc Ninth Circuit, the Court held that a class plaintiff must come forward with "significant proof" that an employer operated under a "general policy of discrimination."  In a case where such proof "is entirely absent" and plaintiffs' evidence is "worlds away" from the required significant proof, the case lacks commonality and cannot proceed as a class action.
  • Represented Facebook in an investigation by the New York attorney general into online safety of underage visitors to the site.  Gibson Dunn lawyers moved quickly to craft a settlement under which Facebook agreed to issue sterner warnings to minors and revise its method for handling complaints.  At a press conference televised across the United States, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Facebook's chief privacy officer stood together to announce the settlement, which created a new model for the industry.