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 Hagens Berman one of the top 10 plaintiffs’ firms in the country. Steve was named an MVP of the Year by Law360 in 2016 and 2017 for his class-action litigation and received the 2017 Plaintiffs’ Trailblazer award. He was 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 forging 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

Career Highlights

  • State Tobacco Litigation - $206 billion
    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 the tobacco industry. In November 1998, the initial proposed settlement led to a multi-state settlement requiring the tobacco companies to pay the states $206 billion and to submit to broad advertising and marketing restrictions – the largest civil settlement in history.
     
  • Visa MasterCard ATM Antitrust Litigation - $27 billion
    Co-lead counsel in what was then the largest antitrust settlement in history: a 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.
     
  • Toyota Sudden, Unintended Acceleration - $1.6 billion
    Hagens Berman was co-lead counsel in this massive MDL alleging that Toyota vehicles contained a defect causing sudden, unintended acceleration (SUA). It was the largest automotive settlement in history at the time, valued at up to $1.6 billion. The firm did not initially seek to lead the litigation, but was sought out by the judge for its wealth of experience in managing very complex class-action MDLs. Hagens Berman and managing partner Steve Berman agreed to take on the role of co-lead counsel for the economic loss class and head the plaintiffs’ steering committee.
     
  • Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) - $700 million settlement
    Represented bondholders and the bondholder trustee in a class-action lawsuit stemming from the failure of two WPPSS nuclear projects. The case was one of the most complex and lengthy securities fraud cases ever filed. The default was one of the largest municipal bond defaults in history. After years of litigation, plaintiffs were awarded a $700 million settlement agreement brought against more than 200 defendants.
     
  • E-books Antitrust Litigation - $560 million settlement
    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. The firm recovered an initial settlement of more than $160 million with defendant publishing companies in conjunction with several states attorneys general. Steve then led the firm to pursue Apple for its involvement in the e-book price hike. Apple took the case to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that Apple had conspired to raise prices, and the firm achieved an additional $450 million settlement for consumers.
     
  • Enron Pension Protection Litigation - $250 million settlement
    Led the class-action litigation on behalf of Enron employees and retirees alleging that Enron leadership, including CEO Ken Lay, had a responsibility to protect the interests of those invested in the 401(k) program, an obligation they abrogated. The court selected Steve to co-lead the case against Enron and the other defendants.
     
  • Charles Schwab Securities Litigation - $235 million settlement
    Led the firm to file the first class-action lawsuit against Charles Schwab on Mar. 18, 2008, alleging that Schwab deceived investors about the underlying risk in its Schwab YieldPlus Funds Investor Shares and Schwab YieldPlus Funds Select Shares.
     
  • JP Morgan Madoff Lawsuit - $218 million settlement
    Represented Bernard L. Madoff investors in a suit filed against JPMorgan Chase Bank, one of the largest banks in the world.
     
  • Boeing Securities Litigation - $92.5 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.
     
  • NCAA Concussions - $75 million settlement, and 50-year medical monitoring fund
    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.
     

Recent Cases

  • Emissions Litigation
    Steve has pioneered pursuing car manufacturers who have been violating emissions standards, including: Mercedes BlueTEC vehicles, GM Chevy Cruze, Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks, Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Cherokee EcoDiesel vehicles, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra as well as other models made by Ford, Audi and BMW. Steve and the firm’s unmatched work in emissions-cheating investigations is often ahead of the EPA and government regulators.
     
  • General Motors Ignition Switch Defect Litigation
    Steve serves as lead counsel seeking to obtain compensation for the millions of GM car owners who overpaid for cars that had hidden safety defects.
     
  • NCAA Grant in Aid Scholarships
    Served as co-lead counsel in the Alston case that successfully 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. Steve will co-lead a trial this year on the injunctive aspect of the case that could result in a change of NCAA rules limiting the financial treatment of athletes. The trial may change the landscape for how NCAA football and basketball players are compensated.
     
  • Climate Change – New York City, San Francisco and Oakland
    Steve has always been a fighter for the rights of the environment. In 2017, he began the firm’s latest endeavor to combat global climate change through novel applications of the law. Steve currently represents the cities of New York City, San Francisco and Oakland in multiple lawsuits filed against the world’s largest producers of oil: BP, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and ConocoPhillips. The cases seek to hold the Big Oil titans accountable for their brazen impact on global warming-induced sea level rise and related expenses to protect the cities and their millions of residents.
     
  • Opioids - Orange County and Santa Clara County, Seattle
    Steve has been retained by various municipalities, including the states of Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas, Orange County, as well as the city of Seattle to serve as trial counsel in a recently filed state suit against five manufacturers of opioids seeking to recover public costs resulting from the opioid manufacturer’s deceptive marketing.
     
  • Antitrust Litigation
    Corporate fraud has many faces, and Steve has taken on some of the largest perpetrators through antitrust law. Steve serves as co-lead counsel in Visa MasterCard ATM, Batteries, Optical Disc Drives and is in the leadership of a class-action lawsuit against Qualcomm for orchestrating a monopoly that led to purchasers paying significantly more for mobile devices. He serves as interim class counsel in a case against Tyson, Purdue and other chicken producers for conspiring to stabilize prices by reducing chicken production. Most recently, Steve filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the world’s largest manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) for cornering the market and driving up DRAM prices.
     
  • Consumer Protection
    Steve is a leader in protecting millions of consumers in large-scale cases that challenge unfair, deceptive and fraudulent practices. He leads a class action on behalf of owners of Ford vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch, an in-car entertainment system, who claim the system is flawed, putting drivers at risk of an accident while causing economic hardship. Steve recently filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook for allowing personal data to be harvested for psychographic profiling.

Recent Success

  • Volkswagen Franchise Dealerships - $1.6 billion
    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.
     
  • Stericycle Sterisafe Contract Litigation – $295 million
    Hagens Berman’s team, led by Steve Berman, filed a class-action lawsuit against Stericycle, a massive medical waste disposal company and achieved a sizable settlement for hundreds of thousands of its small business customers.
     
  • Dairy Price-Fixing – $52 million
    This antitrust suit's filing unearthed a massive collusion between the biggest dairy producers in the country, responsible for almost 70 percent of the nation’s milk. Not only was the price of milk artificially inflated, but this scheme ultimately also cost 500,000 young cows their lives.

Recognition

  • 2018 State Executive Committee member, The National Trial Lawyers
  • 2018 Top Attorney of the Year, International Association of Top Professionals
  • 2016 & 2017 Class Action MVP of the Year, Law360
  • 2017 Plaintiffs' Trailblazer, The National Law Journal
  • 2017 Class Actions (Plaintiff) Law Firm of the Year in California, Global Law Experts
  • 2003-2017 Washington Super Lawyers
  • 2014-2016 Elite Trial Lawyers, The National Law Journal
  • 2014-2015 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America
  • 2014 Finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year, Public Justice
  • 2013 One of the 100 most influential attorneys in America, The National Law Journal
  • 2000 Most powerful lawyer in the state of Washington, The National Law Journal
  • One of the top 10 plaintiffs’ firms in the country, The National Law Journal

View all Awards and Recognition »

Other Notable Cases

  • VW Emissions Litigation - $14.7 billion settlement
    Steve served as a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee representing owners of Volkswagen CleanDiesel vehicles that were installed with emissions-cheating software.
     
  • 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. 
     
  • Hyundai / Kia Fuel Efficiency - $255 million settlement
    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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • NCAA/Electronic Arts Name and Likeness - $60 million settlement
    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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Exxon Mobile Oil Spill
    Steve 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).
     
  • 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. The consumer settlement was confidential.

Presentations

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.