Steve Berman co-founded Hagens Berman in 1993 after his prior firm refused to represent several young children who consumed fast food contaminated with E. coli. In that case, Steve and the firm proved that the deadly food poisoning was the result of Jack in the Box’s cost-cutting measures along with gross negligence. He was further inspired to build a firm that fought for the rights of those unable to fight for themselves. Berman’s innovative approach, tenacious conviction and impeccable track record have earned him an excellent reputation and numerous historic legal victories. He is considered one of the nation’s most successful class-action attorneys.
Hagens Berman began as a small but determined group of nine attorneys, occupying a marginal space in downtown Seattle. The firm quickly rose to prominence thanks to its all-or-nothing attitude; when faced with a sweeping case of corporate fraud or negligence, Hagens Berman’s legal team has always stepped into the ring.
Hagens Berman was one of only two private law firms in the United States to help bring state attorneys general government tobacco law enforcement and medical cost recovery actions against the well-funded tobacco industry. Steve Berman served as special assistant attorney general for the states of Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Alaska, Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Vermont and Rhode Island in prosecuting major actions against Big Tobacco. In November 1998, the initial proposed settlement led to a multi-state settlement requiring the tobacco companies to pay the states $260 billion and to submit to broad advertising and marketing restrictions – the largest civil settlement in history.
Decades later, the firm has grown, and so has our fighting spirit. Hagens Berman continues to take on cases that impact the public and effect change. Our internal drive to make the world a better place has earned us years of success – something we can share with the millions of plaintiffs we’ve represented in 30 years. Bloomberg called the firm "one of the preeminent class action firms in the U.S." and its managing partner has been coined "a heavy hitter," for bringing big cases.
Hagens Berman focuses on litigation that has the biggest impact both in making plaintiffs whole and informing the future. In 2004, the firm culminated a class action filed on behalf of Hungarian holocaust survivors who had thousands of family heirlooms and personal property stolen or mishandled in the aftermath of World War II.
The firm has also broken ground in the fight for the rights of college athletes regarding compensation for their likeness and educational scholarships, as well as health, safety and head injury protocols. Hagens Berman’s work, spearheaded by Steve Berman, has pioneered this area of sports law and seen great success.
Steve was lead counsel in a class action seeking to protect NCAA college athletes in all sports against concussions and head injuries. That matter culminated in a settlement establishing a 50-year medical monitoring program valued at $75 million and changes to concussions and safety protocols for all NCAA sports. Steve was also lead counsel in a case challenging the NCAA’s collusion in refusing to allow athletes to receive scholarships amounting to the full cost of attending school. Steve led the settlement efforts that resulted in a $208 million payout to college athletes. He then successfully co-led the bench trial for the injunctive portion of the case that resulted in a ruling requiring the NCAA to allow the awarding of additional educational benefits. The injunction was sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling.
The firm continues its efforts to promote the rights of college athletes in the area of name, image and likeness (NIL) compensation. In the firm’s ongoing class action on behalf of college athletes, the firm accuses the NCAA and conferences of illegally limiting the compensation that Division I college athletes may receive for the use of their NILs and athletic reputations. The complaint says the entities violated federal antitrust laws in abiding by a particular subset of NCAA rules that prohibit college athletes from receiving anything of value in exchange for the commercial use of their NIL. In June of 2021, a federal judge upheld claims brought by Hagens Berman, amid the NCAA’s motions to dismiss, in a sweeping victory. Previously, the firm achieved a combined $60 million settlement against Electronic Arts and the NCAA regarding player likeness rights in videogames and continues to litigate its case regarding NILs while advising Congress regarding proposed NIL-related legislation
Hagens Berman takes on first-of-their-kind suits because we believe in fighting to make a difference in the lives of those who are most vulnerable.