O’Donnell & Associates Taps Expertise in Diverse Areas of Law to Help Vulnerable and Underrepresented Clients
LOS ANGELES- LAWFUEL – Law News Network –Sept. 13, 2006–
UCLA Law Professor Mark Grady and Veteran Litigator Join Firm as Of Counsel
Prominent trial lawyer Pierce O’Donnell has established a new firm, O’Donnell & Associates, with an emphasis on complex business and public justice litigation. O’Donnell’s practice will capitalize on his expertise in a wide range of complex legal areas – entertainment, environmental, intellectual property, energy, securities, antitrust, product liability, toxic tort, real estate, constitutional law and finance, among others. Joining the firm as of counsel are UCLA Law School Professor Mark F. Grady and veteran civil litigator Jack Cairl.
“This is a major career decision, but after 34 years of practicing law, I couldn’t be more excited and energized about this new and challenging path,” remarked O’Donnell, who has been ranked for years by peers and publications as one of the premier trial lawyers in Los Angeles, the state and the nation. In recognition of winning numerous precedent-setting cases, O’Donnell was named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by National Law Journal.
Building on the base of his national law practice, O’Donnell announced that “I will be doing more public justice cases along the lines of the California energy antitrust class action – which recovered $3.5 billion for 13 million consumers and businesses – and representing Hurricane Katrina victims in a current case.”
“I am realizing a longtime ambition to use whatever talent and resources I have to represent the vulnerable in our society who too often lack competent counsel and access to justice,” he added.
O’Donnell served for six years as lead trial counsel in the largest consumer class action case in California against Sempra Energy and El Paso Natural Gas. Sempra Energy settled earlier this year for a record $1.75 billion in the wake of El Paso Natural Gas settling for a similar amount in 2004, which was then the largest antitrust settlement in California history. He is currently the lead trial counsel representing a group of Katrina victims in two federal lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the flooding of Greater New Orleans (www.katrinajustice.com). Two years ago, he served as special counsel for the South Coast Air Quality Management District in its landmark $115 million settlement with BP Arco for violation of air pollution laws at its Torrance oil refinery.
“I will also continue to handle complex civil litigation on behalf of clients like ConocoPhillips and other Fortune 500 companies whom I have represented for decades,” he noted.
Over the years, O’Donnell’s corporate litigation clients have included Lockheed Martin Corporation, Pfizer Inc., Reebok, Bridgestone/Firestone, General Electric Capital, Texaco, Kajima, W.R. Grace, McCarthy Construction, Republic of France, as well as the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, Anaheim, and Newport Beach.
Professor Grady is Director of the Law and Economics Program at UCLA Law School and is former Dean of the George Mason University School of Law. A respected professor in the field of torts, antitrust, and intellectual property, Grady earlier this year served as an expert in support of the court-approved landmark Sempra settlement of the class action prosecuted by O’Donnell and his fellow lead counsel Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack. “Pierce has one of the most important and most exciting practices in the country,” Grady remarked. “I am enthusiastic about collaborating on his high impact public interest cases, particularly in his current efforts to secure justice for Hurricane Katrina victims.”
O’Donnell will also emphasize his historic commitment to entertainment and intellectual property law. O’Donnell won the precedent-setting case of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Art Buchwald against Paramount Pictures for theft of his story to make Eddie Murphy’s hit movie “Coming to America.” Long considered one of Hollywood’s most accomplished litigators, O’Donnell’s clients have included MGM/United Artists, New Line Cinema, DreamWorksSKG, NBC, Miramax Films, Faye Dunaway, Fred Dreyer, and authors Winston Groom (“Forrest Gump”) and Barbara Chase-Riboud (“Echo of Lions”). O’Donnell currently represents Stuart Benjamin, the producer of the acclaimed film “Ray,” in a federal copyright lawsuit against Disney for the use of his company’s script to make “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Jack Cairl is a cum laude graduate of Yale University and UCLA Law School, where he was Order of the Coif and Vice President of the Public Interest Law Foundation. After clerking for U.S. District Court Judge David W. Williams, he worked at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney. From 1989 to 1999, he was a partner with the highly-respected firm of Kinsella Boesch Fujikawa & Towle. Following two years as Supervising Deputy Federal Public Defender for the Capital Habeas Unit, Cairl has been engaged in the private practice of complex civil litigation.
“I am thrilled that Jack is joining our new firm,” O’Donnell noted. “Not only does he bring his tremendous intellectual gifts and experience as a trial lawyer, but also a strong commitment to redeeming the American promise of equal justice for the underrepresented in our society.”
“I have known and admired Pierce O’Donnell for 18 years. He is a fantastic trial lawyer who cares deeply about helping the less fortunate. I am very much looking forward to working with him in his new firm, and advancing the cause of public justice through high impact litigation,” Cairl said.
A decade ago, O’Donnell won the landmark case of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., which recognized federal copyright protection of the fictional movie character James Bond. Three years later, he successfully enjoined Sony Corporation from launching its own competing James Bond movie franchise (Danjaq, LLC v. Sony Corp). Following his preliminary injunction and appellate victory in GoTo.com v. Walt Disney Co., his client obtained a $21.5 million trademark infringement settlement.
Other notable successes for O’Donnell have been as lead appellate counsel for Firestone in the historic “fear of cancer” case; as lead trial counsel for Pfizer Inc. in successfully defending 375 anxiety/emotional distress cases involving allegedly defective Shiley heart valves; as lead counsel for various media organizations in opening to the public the Katzenberg v. Walt Disney Company trial.
In 2004, Mr. O’Donnell won a jury trial for Pfizer Inc. in which the plaintiffs claimed that one of the company’s diabetes drugs (Rezulin) had caused the deaths of two patients. He also successfully defended Lockheed Martin Corporation against 3,200 toxic tort claims. In a series of environmental cost recovery cases under CERCLA, he has won judgments or settlements for his clients of over $350 million.
O’Donnell has also successfully represented many celebrities, including music impresario Irving Azoff, Vidal Sassoon against Proctor & Gamble, Ron Isley in an appeal preserving his $6.5 million copyright infringement verdict against Michael Bolton, and Faye Dunaway in her lawsuit against Andrew Lloyd Webber for being fired as the lead in the musical “Sunset Boulevard.”
A graduate of Georgetown and Yale, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White and Ninth Circuit Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler. In addition, O’Donnell is a noted author of over 200 articles and five books, co-authoring “Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business” (Doubleday, 1992), a best selling account of his successful representation of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Art Buchwald against Paramount Pictures. In the wake of his triumph, Forbes Magazine hailed Mr. O’Donnell as “the new Perry Mason in Hollywood.” His most recent book, “In Time of War: Hitler’s Terrorist Attack on America” (The New Press, www.intimeofwar.org), was published to critical acclaim in 2005 and influenced the national debate over curtailment of civil liberties during wartime. He has also published a collection of poems, “Dawn’s Early Light” (Rosebud 2001), and written screenplays, including the feature film “Home Team” starring Steve Gutenberg.
Mr. O’Donnell is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and American Board of Trial Advocates, an Elected Member of the American Law Institute and P.E.N., and Past President of the Economic Round Table of Los Angeles. He frequently lectures at Harvard, UCLA, USC, Loyola, and Pepperdine. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA Independent Film and Television Producers Program and as a consultant to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on federal criminal law reform.
O’Donnell lives with his wife Dawn and five children in Montecito, California. The boutique law firm is based in downtown Los Angeles at 550 South Hope Street, Suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90071. Telephone (213) 347-0290. The website is www.oslaw.com.