Michael H. SteinbergPartner
Michael Steinberg is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sullivan & Cromwell and is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Group. For over twenty-five years, Mr. Steinberg has successfully represented leading businesses and prominent individuals in their most high-profile and challenging cases. Mr. Steinberg is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has tried a broad range of cases, running the gamut from M&A disputes to criminal cases.
Mr. Steinberg became a partner of the Firm in 1995. He is a member of the Firm’s Managing Partners Committee, is the Coordinating Partner for Los Angeles litigation and serves on the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee.
Professional Activities and Community Involvement
- Member, Stanford Law School’s Board of Visitors
- Vice Chairperson and Member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Public Counsel
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- Financial Times North America Innovative Lawyers 2016 – “Highly Commended” by Financial Times for post-judgment role in Franco-Gonzalez, et al. v. Holder, et al.
- Global Pro Bono Dispute of the Year, The American Lawyer Global Awards – firm recognized for role in Franco-Gonzalez, et al. v. Holder, et al. (2014)
- Beacon of Justice Award, National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) - firm recognized for role in Franco-Gonzalez, et al. v. Holder, et al. (2014)
- Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for Excellence in Litigation, American Immigrants Lawyers Association (2014)
- Equal Justice Advocacy Award, ACLU (2014)
- BTI Client Service All-Star (2013)
- Law Firm Pro Bono Award, Public Counsel – recognized for role in Franco-Gonzalez, et al. v. Holder, et al. (2012)
- Equal Access Advocacy Award, ACLU (2011)
- The American Lawyer
- Chambers USA
- The Legal 500 United States
- National Law Journal
- The Best Lawyers in America
- Super Lawyers
Mr. Steinberg’s recent non-confidential assignments have included:
- In re Volkswagen MDL. Lead trial counsel for VW in connection with a wide array of litigation related to VW’s sale of certain diesel automobiles.
- Procter & Gamble/Philips Oral Healthcare NAD Arbitration. Represented Philips Oral Healthcare in an NAD proceeding and, later, an NARB Appeal related to Philips’ “Start Your Day” commercials. The challenge was brought by Procter & Gamble with regard to its Oral B competitive line of rechargeable toothbrushes. In connection with the NARB Appeal, Philips was cleared of a challenge to its clinical study establishing the superiority of its product and the propriety of a sound comparison between the competing toothbrushes.
- Lax v. Volcano. Represented Philips and, post-acquisition, target Volcano in Delaware shareholder litigation seeking to enjoin Philips’ $1.2 billion purchase of Volcano Corporation. In dismissing all claims against defendants on a motion to dismiss, the Court of Chancery extended the cleansing protections of a non-coerced, and fully informed vote to Section 251(h) tender offers. (See 143 A3d. 727 (Del. Ch. 2016).) That decision was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court on appeal.
- In re: Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litigation. Brought in as lead trial counsel for FXI 11 weeks before trial was set to begin. Plaintiffs collectively sought in excess of $3 billion in damages, claiming that market-leader FXI joined an 11-year conspiracy in the foam business immediately following the acquisition of the assets and employees of a former market participant. By putting together persuasive defenses to four separate trials in six months, S&C was able to secure favorable settlements. Decisions related to this representation are reported at 86 F. Supp. 3d 769 (N.D. Ohio, 2015), 2015 WL 520930 (N.D. Ohio, Western Division, Feb. 9, 2015), 2015 WL 1639269 (N.D. Ohio, Western Division, Feb. 26, 2015), 2015 WL 4459636 (N.D. Ohio, Western Division, Jul. 21, 2015).
- Energy Transfer v. Enterprise and Enbridge. Represented Enbridge in achieving a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Enbridge after a five week jury trial in state court in Dallas, Texas on a claim of conspiracy. Plaintiff Energy Transfer had claimed in excess of $1 billion plus exemplary damages against Enbridge, claiming that Enbridge stole away Enterprise Products from Energy Transfer as part of an effort to create a competitively significant pipeline. The jury returned a verdict of liability against the other defendant, Enterprise Products, for $319 million in damages and $595 million in disgorgement damages.
- Canyon Capital v. City of Los Angeles. Representing Canyon Capital in connection with a challenge to the application of a Los Angeles City tax that overcharged millions in taxes against Canyon.
- Brinckerhoff v. Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. Represented directors appointed by Enbridge, Inc. in a class action suit arising from Enbridge’s repurchase of 66.67% interest in the United States segment of the Alberta Clipper pipeline. Following a motion to dismiss, the Court dismissed the claims with prejudice. See Brinckerhoff v. Enbridge Energy, C.A. 11314-VCS. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, “chang[ing] course” from its earlier decision in Brinckerhoff III, “to the more traditional definition of bad faith utilized in Delaware entity law.” See Brinckerhoff v. Enbridge, 2017 WL 1046224 (Del. Supr.).
- Brinckerhoff v. Enbridge Energy Company, Inc., C.A. No. 5526 (Del. Ch. Ct. 2011). Successfully represented the directors appointed by Enbridge, Inc. in a derivative lawsuit seeking to unwind the critical restructuring of the Alberta Clipper pipeline that occurred during the depths of the financial crisis. The Chancery Court dismissed that lawsuit with prejudice on a motion to dismiss. After two separate arguments before the Delaware Supreme Court, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal on the ground advanced by the Enbridge directors. The decision of the Delaware Supreme Court is reported at 67 A.3d 369 (Del. 2013).
- ABN AMRO v. MBIA. Represented several large financial institutions in challenging by way of fraudulent conveyance and Article 78 proceedings MBIA’s 2009 multi-billion dollar restructuring.
- R&O Pharmacy LLC v. Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC. Represented Valeant in connection with a federal lawsuit brought by a California pharmacy alleging that it did not owe $70 million in outstanding invoices. The case settled on favorable terms for Valeant.
- Coe et al. v. Philips Oral Healthcare Inc. et al. Represented Philips Oral Healthcare in a putative nationwide class action suit seeking $460 million in claims that Philips’ entire line of Sonicare toothbrushes suffer from a common and inherent defect. In a series of rulings, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington denied nationwide class certification owing to a preemptive motion by Philips, sanctioned Plaintiffs for their litigation conduct, and dismissed or entered summary judgment against each of the purported named plaintiffs. Decisions in Coe are reported at 2014 WL 585858 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 14, 2014), 2014 WL 722501 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 24, 2014), 2014 WL 5162912 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 14, 2014) and 2014 WL 5450111 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 24, 2014).
- Exatel v. NXP. Represented NXP Semiconductors in an ICDR Arbitration and in related federal court proceedings in a dispute pursued by an Israeli company blamed NXP and sought $80 million in damages. Four days into the ICDR Arbitration Hearing, the Israeli firm dismissed its case and agreed to release NXP and its affiliates for zero consideration.
- In re Trident Microsystems. Represented NXP Semiconductors in bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware relating to the bankruptcy of Trident Microsystems, where NXP is the principal vendor and the majority shareholder. Through the bankruptcy NXP was able to monetize significantly its valuable relationships with Trident and was able to avoid considerable litigation.
- Coughlan v. NXP B.V., C.A. No. 5110 (Del. Ch. Ct. 2011). Represented NXP in a contractual dispute related to post-closing obligations in Delaware Chancery Court where summary judgment was granted in its favor.
- Ligman v. Connelly. Represented directors of Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. in a derivative suit brought in Texas state court arising out of the largest oil spill in the Midwest, which was dismissed with prejudice on a motion to dismiss.
- In re Philips Maganvox TV Litigation. Represented Philips Electronics in connection with a purported consumer class action asserting a defect in more than $1.7 billion of flat-screen television sets, which was settled on terms favorable to Philips.
- Franco v. Holder. Represented a class of severely mentally disabled immigrants seeking assistance in connection with prolonged detentions in immigration proceedings. In April 2013, the United States District Court entered a permanent injunction providing for counsel for those detained individuals suffering from serious mental illnesses in California, Arizona and Washington State, which has been hailed as a significant extension of Gideon v. Wainwright. In September 2015, S&C secured a favorable settlement providing additional relief to a separate class of individuals who had previously been ordered removed in violation of the Rehabilitation Act. Decisions of the United States District Court related to this assignment are reported at 767 F. Supp. 2d 1034 (C.D. Cal. 2010), 828 F. Supp. 2d 1133 (C.D. Cal 2011), and 2011 WL 5966657 (C.D. Cal. 2011), 2011 WL 11705815 (C.D. Cal. 2011), 2011 WL 11737231 (C.D. Cal. 2011), 2011 WL 5966657 (C.D. Cal. 2011), 2013 WL 3674492 (C.D. Cal. 2013), 2013 WL 8115423 (C.D. Cal. 2013) and 2013 WL 8116823
- (C.D. Cal. 2013).
In recent years, Mr. Steinberg has represented a number of leading financial, industrial and technology companies, including Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., Microsoft Corporation, Goldman Sachs & Co., MPEG LA, L.L.C., The New York Clearing House, Softbank, VeriFone, NXP Semiconductors, Spieker Properties, BCE Inc., Dyson, TL Ventures, Austin Ventures, Zions Bancorporation and Canyon Capital Advisors.
Selected Recent Cases
- Nero AG v. MPEG LA, L.L.C. – Mr. Steinberg represented MPEG LA in a lawsuit brought by MPEG’s licensee Nero AG alleging that MPEG had violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act related to its licensing of critical technology placed in an innovative patent pool. In two separate decisions, the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the challenge on motions to dismiss, ultimately entering judgment against Nero AG. Decisions granting MPEG LA’s motions to dismiss are reported at 2010 WL 4366448 (C.D. Cal. 2010) and 2010 WL 4878835 (C.D. Cal. 2010).
- Spieker, et al. v. Blackhawk Parent LLC – Mr. Steinberg represented certain former partners of Spieker Properties challenging key elements of the $39 billion Equity Office Properties going-private transaction.
- In re Bisphenol-A (BPA) Polycarbonate Plastics Product Liability Litigation – Mr. Steinberg represented Philips Electronics in connection with a $1 billion consumer class-action fraud claim relating to the industry-wide use of the controversial chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby feeding products. The decision on defendants’ motion to dismiss is reported at 687 F. Supp. 2d 897 (W.D. Mo. 2009). In 2011, the matter was ultimately resolved favorably through a settlement that provided a “most favored nations” clause in favor of Philips Electronics.
- Volumetrics v. ATL Ultrasound – After an unfavorable jury verdict of $360 million against ATL finding fraud and imposing punitive damages, ATL retained Mr. Steinberg to represent it in its post-verdict proceedings, including an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals (Fourth Circuit). On appeal, Mr. Steinberg settled the matter for his client at a significant discount.
- BCE Going-Private Transaction – Mr. Steinberg represented and advised BCE on U.S. litigation and legal issues in connection with its $50 billion going-private transaction, including its multiple litigations with bondholders and various investigations relating to the proposed LBO.
- Guttman v. McGinnis – Mr. Steinberg represented Philips in connection with a class action lawsuit attempting to enjoin its $5 billion acquisition of Respironics. Defendants successfully defeated efforts by Plaintiffs to even have a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction. See Guttman v. McGinnis, C.A. 3450-VCL, at 25-26 (Del. Ch. Jan. 4, 2008 (Transcript)).
- Softbank v. MPO Canada – Mr. Steinberg represented Softbank in connection with claims arising out of the sale of a business. After the defendant consented to judgment, it then “reorganized” its holdings to avoid payment of the judgment. Softbank achieved a victory after trial to rectify the post-judgment fraud (including an award of attorneys’ fees), which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit on appeal. See 225 Fed. Appx. 687 (9th Cir. 2007).
- The Procter & Gamble Company and The Gillette Company – Advised an industrial firm in connection with objections to the acquisition of The Gillette Company by The Procter & Gamble Company, including advice on dissolving a joint venture in a competitive overlap situation.
- Oreck v. Dyson – Represented Dyson in connection with a series of Lanham Act litigations with Oreck, including successfully obtaining dismissal on res judicata grounds, see 544 F. Supp. 2d 502 (E.D. La. 2008), and pursuing Oreck for various false advertising claims. See 560 F. Supp. 2d 398 (E.D. La. 2009).
- People v. Sons – Co-led an 11-year representation of individual convicted of first-degree murder of a police officer. As a result of the representation and after three retrials, Mr. Sons has been freed. Appellate decisions relating to that representation are found at 125 Cal. App. 4th 110 (2004) and 164 Cal. App. 4th 90 (2008).