Steve W. Berman

Served as co-lead counsel for the largest settlement in world history against Big Tobacco, and at the time the largest automotive, antitrustERISA and securities settlements in U.S. history.

Leading Litigators Series:

Steve Berman represents consumers, investors and employees in large, complex litigation held in state and federal courts. Steve's trial experience has earned him significant recognition and led The National Law Journal to name him one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the nation, and to repeatedly name his firm, Hagens Berman, one of the top 10 plaintiffs’ firms in the country. Steve has been named a 2016 MVP of the Year by Law360 for his class-action litigation, and was also recognized for the third year in a row as an Elite Trial Lawyer by the National Law Journal.

Steve co-founded Hagens Berman in 1993 after his prior firm refused to represent several young children who consumed fast food contaminated with E. coli—Steve knew he had to help. In that case, Steve proved that the 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 vociferously 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, and has been praised for securing record-breaking settlements and tangible benefits for class members. Steve is particularly known for his tenacity in pioneering consumer settlements that return a high percentage of recovery to class members.

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Current Role

  • Managing Partner, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP

Recent Success

  • Automotive Litigation
    • Appointed co-lead counsel in the massive MDL alleging that Toyota vehicles contained a defect causing sudden, unintended acceleration – In re: Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration MDL. Berman was selected by Judge Selna without having applied for the leadership position for his expertise in complex, sprawling class-action litigation. The case culminated in what was then the largest automotive settlement in history that Judge Selna called, “extraordinary because every single dollar in the cash fund will go to claimants.” In addition, the settlement resulted in a brake override being installed on millions of vehicles. Since then, the incidents of unintended acceleration have virtually disappeared. ($1.6 billion settlement)
    • Co-lead counsel in the high-profile ignition-switch litigation against GM, representing millions of vehicle owners who have suffered loss of vehicle value due to GM's concealment of safety defects.
    • Member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the VW consumer litigation and part of the Settlement Negotiating team.  In June 2016, VW agreed to $14.7 billion settlement for more than 475,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles including $10 billion that will be used to compensate owners. In February 2017, the Court grated preliminary approval of a $1 billion settlement for the more than 80,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles.  VW has agreed to buy back 20,000 of those cars.  VW hopes to offer a fix for the remaining 60,000, although the fix is still pending the approval of the EPA and CARB. ($14.7 billion & $1 billion settlements)
    • Lead counsel for VW franchise dealers suit, in which a settlement of $1.6 billion has received final approval, and represents a substantial recovery for the class. ($1.6 billion settlement)
    • Steve has pioneered pursuing car manufacturers who have been violating emissions standards, including: Mercedes BlueTEC vehicles, GM Chevy Cruze, Dodge Ram 2500, Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Cherokee. Steve and the firm’s work in emissions-cheating investigations is often ahead of the EPA and government regulators.
    • Led the firm's aggressive fight against Hyundai and Kia on behalf of defrauded consumers who alleged the automakers had misrepresented fuel economies in vehicles, securing what was believed to then be the second-largest automotive settlement in history. ($255 million settlement)
  • Sports Litigation
    • Pioneered a sweeping concussion settlement with U.S. Soccer, bringing safety measures to millions of youth soccer players, and ending heading for U.S. Soccer's youngest and most affected players, diminishing the risk of traumatic brain injuries.
    • Represented current and former student-athletes against the NCAA and Electronic Arts concerning illegal use of college football and basketball players' names and likenesses in video games without permission or consent from the players. ($60 million settlement)
    • Led the firm's pioneering NCAA concussions suit that culminated in a proposed settlement that will provide a 50-year medical-monitoring program for student-athletes to screen for and track head injuries; make sweeping changes to the NCAA’s approach to concussion treatment and prevention; and establish a $5 million fund for concussion research, preliminarily approved by the court.
    • Served as co-lead counsel in the Alston case that successfullly challenged the NCAA's limitations on the benefits student-athletes can receive as part of a scholarship, culminating in a $208 million settlement. The recovery amounts to 100 percent of single damages in an exceptional result in an antitrust case. The injunctive portion of the case seeking to ban the NCAA's restrictions on cost of athletic payments continues. It could change the landscape for how NCAA football and basketball players are compensated.
  • Wall Street
    • Class-action securities case against Charles Schwab ($235 million settlement)
    • Represented Bernard L. Madoff investors in a suit filed against JPMorgan Chase Bank, one of the largest banks in the world (approved $218 million settlement)
    • Represented a class of tens of thousands of shareholders against Boeing, culminating in a proposed settlement that was the second-largest awarded in the Northwest. ($92.5 million settlement)
  • Antitrust
    • Fought against Apple and five of the nation’s top publishers for colluding to raise the price of e-books, resulting in recovery equal to twice consumers' actual damages. ($560 million settlement)
    • Represents a class of indirect purchasers against manufacturers of optical disc drives (ODDs) that allegedly colluded to stabilize the prices of ODDs worldwide. In February 2016, Judge Seeborg granted class certification.
    • Served as co-lead counsel in what was then the largest antitrust settlement in historya class-action lawsuit alleging that Visa and MasterCard, together with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, violated federal antitrust laws by establishing uniform agreements with U.S. banks, preventing ATM operators from setting ATM access fees below the level of the fees charged on Visa’s and MasterCard’s networks. The case resulted in a $27 billion settlement.

Recognition

  • Serves as a selected 2018 State Executive Committee member for The National Trial Lawyers
  • Selected as Top Attorney of the Year for 2018 by the International Association of Top Professionals
  • Awarded 2016 & 2017 Class Action MVP of the Year Award by Law360
  • Steve Berman named 2017 Plaintiffs' Trailblazer by The National Law Journal
  • Named Class Actions (Plaintiff) Law Firm of the Year in California, Global Law Experts, 2017
  • Selected to Washington Super Lawyers 2003 - 2017
  • Steve Berman named a member of the 2014-2015 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America
  • Voted one of the 100 most influential attorneys in America by The National Law Journal three times
  • Voted most powerful lawyer in the state of Washington by The National Law Journal
  • Hagens Berman named one of the top 10 plaintiffs’ firms in the country, The National Law Journal
  • Selected as a Finalist for Public Justice’s 2014 Trial Lawyer of the Year

Notable Cases

  • State Tobacco Litigation - $206 billion settlement
    Lead counsel for 13 states in cases that led to the largest settlement in world history.
  • Visa/MasterCard Antitrust Litigation - $27 billion settlement
    The firm served as co-lead counsel in what was then the largest antitrust settlement in history.
  • WPPSS Securities Litigation - $700 million settlement
    Member of trial team that led to the then largest securities case settlement.
  • McKesson Drug Class Litigation - $350 million settlement
    Lead counsel in an action that led to a rollback of benchmark prices of hundreds of brand name drugs, and relief for third-party payers and insurers. His discovery of the McKesson scheme led to follow up lawsuits by governmental entities and recovery in total of over $600 million.
  • Average Wholesale Price Litigation - $338 million settlement
    Steve served as lead trial counsel, securing trial verdicts against three drug companies that paved the way for settlement.
  • DRAM Memory Antitrust - $345 million settlement
    Forged a class-action suit against leading DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) manufacturers, claiming the companies secretly agreed to reduce the supply of DRAM in order to artificially raise prices. 
  • Stericycle Overpricing Litigation -$295 million settlement
    Steve headed the firm's position as lead counsel in this class-action lawsuit on behalf of Stericycle customers for an overpricing scheme.
  • Enron Pension Protection Litigation - $250 million settlement
    Lead counsel for Enron employees whose retirement accounts were wiped out by Enron’s fraud. Settlement was the largest ERISA settlement in U.S. history.
  • NCAA Concussions - $75 million settlement, and 50-year medical monitoring fund
    Steve served as lead counsel in a class action seeking to protect NCAA student-athletes in all sports.
  • Charles Schwab Securities Litigation - $235 million settlement
    Lead counsel in securities case resulting in settlement and 45 percent and 82 percent recoveries for the class, high percentages for securities cases.
  • NCAA Grant-In-Aid Litigation - $208 million settlement
    Steve was lead counsel in a case challenging the NCAA’s collusion in refusing to allow student athletes to receive scholarships amounting to the full cost of attending school.
  • Boeing Securities Litigation - $92 million settlement
    Berman served as lead counsel in a settlement of a securities action concerning Boeing’s merger with McDonnell Douglas.
  • Bextra/Celebrex Marketing and Products Liability Litigation - $89 million settlement
    Served as court-appointed member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee and represented nationwide consumers and third party payers who paid for Celebrex and Bextra. The firm was praised by the court for its "unstinting" efforts on behalf of the class.
  • McKesson Governmental Entity Class Litigation - $82 million settlement
    Steve was lead counsel for a nationwide class of local governments that resulted in a settlement for drug price-fixing claims.
  • State and Governmental Drug Litigation
    Steve served as outside counsel for the state of New York for its Vioxx claims, several states for AWP claims and several states for claims against McKesson. In each representation, Steve recovered far more than the states in the NAAG multi-state settlements.
  • VW Emissions Litigation
    Steve is currently serving as a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee representing owners of Volkswagen CleanDiesel vehicles that were installed with emissions-cheating software.
  • VW Franchise Dealers Litigation - $1.6 billion settlement
    Steve serves as lead counsel for the VW franchise dealers, where a $1.6 billion settlement has been approved.
  • Mercedes Emissions Litigation
    Judge Jose L. Linares appointed the firm as interim class counsel in the case against Mercedes concerning emissions of its BlueTEC diesel vehicles.
  • Lumber Liquidators Flooring
    Steve was court-appointed co-lead counsel in litigation against Lumber Liquidators representing consumers who unknowingly purchased flooring tainted with toxic levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
  • Optical-Disc Price-Fixing Litigation
    Lead counsel in action on behalf of consumers in more than two dozen states against the manufacturers of optical disk drives. The plaintiffs allege defendants conspired to increase the price of ODDs that were sold to original equipment manufacturers. Defendants’ conduct allegedly caused millions of consumer electronics products, such as computers, to be sold at illegally inflated prices.
  • Ohio Opioid Litigation
    Steve has been retained by the state of Ohio to serve as trial counsel in a recently filed state suit against five manufacturers of opioids.
  • Orange County and Santa Clara County, CA and State of Mississippi Opioid Litigation
    Opioid abuse is one of our nation’s leading health disasters. Steve is leading litigation seeking to recover public costs resulting from the opioid manufacturer’s deceptive marketing.
  • Exxon Mobile Oil Spill
    Represented clients against Exxon Mobil affected by the 10 million gallons of oil spilled off the coast of Alaska by the Exxon Valdez (multi-million dollar award)
  • General Motors Ignition Switch Defect Litigation
    Steve serves as lead counsel seeking to obtain compensation from the millions of GM car owners whose cars have diminished in value.

Presentations

  • Steve is a frequent public speaker and has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University, University of Washington, University of Michigan and Seattle University  Law School.

Personal Insight

Steve was a high school and college soccer player and coach. Now that his daughter’s soccer skills exceed his, he is relegated to being a certified soccer referee and spends weekends being yelled at by parents, players and coaches. Steve is also an avid cyclist and is heavily involved in working with young riders on the international Hagens Berman Axeon cycling team and the Hagens Berman | Supermint Pro Cycling women's team.