Charles C. Lifland

Charlie Lifland, a partner in O'Melveny's Los Angeles office, focuses on class action and appellate work in the fields of mass torts, antitrust and unfair business practices, securities, and punitive damages. He has handled complex business litigation and significant appeals in federal and state courts both in and beyond California. Significant cases include:

Defense of mass tort litigation arising from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Charlie secured certification of a mandatory class for unitary resolution of all punitive damages claims, and was one of the company’s lead appellate counsel in In re Exxon Valdez (9th Cir. 2001) (vacating US$5 billion punitive award), and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker (U.S. 2008) (reducing final punitive award from US$2.5 billion to US$500 million). He was also lead appellate counsel for ExxonMobil in Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources v. Exxon Corp. (Ala. 2002) (vacating US$3.4 billion punitive award), and Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Ala. 2007) (reversing US$3.5 billion punitive award after retrial).
Defense of State Attorney General consumer and Medicaid fraud enforcement actions. Charlie was lead appellate counsel for Johnson & Johnson and its affiliate Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, manufacturer of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, in Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals v. Arkansas (Ark. 2014) (reversing US$1.4 billion civil penalty and attorney fee award under Arkansas Medicaid fraud and deceptive practices statutes) and Caldwell ex rel. Louisiana v. Janssen Pharmaceutica (La. 2014) (reversing US$330 million civil penalty and attorney fee award under Louisiana Medicaid fraud statute).
Defense of mass tort litigation arising from allegedly defective prescription drugs and medical devices. Charlie is one of the lead national defense counsel for Merck in mass tort litigation over Vioxx®, and was lead appellate counsel in Merck & Co. v. Ernst (Tex. App. 2009) (reversing US$253 million jury verdict from first Vioxx trial), In re Vioxx Class Cases (Cal. App. 2009) (affirming refusal to certify consumer and third-party payor economic loss class action), and McDarby v. Merck & Co. (N.J. App. 2008) (reversing US$9 million punitive award and multimillion dollar attorney fee awards). He was also lead appellate counsel in Bailey v. Janssen Pharmaceutica (Miss. 2004) (reversing US$100 million jury verdict for 10 prescription drug plaintiffs), Armond v. Janssen Pharmaceutica (Miss. 2004) (invalidating mass joinder of pharmaceutical personal injury claims), and Kerr v. Inamed Corp. (9th Cir. 2002) (affirming dismissal of medical device class action brought by overseas plaintiffs), and has served as lead counsel on legal and appellate issues in similar cases in California and elsewhere. As part of this work, he has defeated nationwide class certification of medical monitoring and consumer refund claims and led successful challenges to unscientific expert testimony. Charlie has also advised both pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers on federal preemption and punitive damages issues.
Defense of major commercial banks in multiple antitrust and unfair competition class actions alleging unlawful conspiracies and other illicit business practices in the setting of bank prime rates. Charlie obtained summary judgment for the banks on all claims. He also successfully challenged a US$14 million damage award in a class action alleging excessive credit card late charges and overlimit fees, obtaining a US$10 million appellate reduction and the right to credit US$3 million of the remainder against class members’ bad debts. In another case, Charlie obtained reversal of a US$70 million lender liability verdict.
Defense of airlines, public utilities, technology companies, and other clients in actions alleging unlawful conspiracies, unreasonable restraints of trade, monopolization, trade secret theft, false advertising, and other unlawful, fraudulent, or unfair business practices, including class actions brought under California Business & Professions Code §§ 17200 and 17500, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and similar unfair competition and consumer protection laws in other states.
Defense of numerous companies and individuals in class actions and government litigation brought under federal and state securities laws and RICO, including litigation arising from the WPPSS bond default, the Drexel Burnham Lambert junk bond scandal, and the Orange County bankruptcy.
Appearance as amicus curiae in the U.S. Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court on behalf of dozens of major U.S. corporations in cases challenging the constitutionality of disproportionate punitive damages awards. Charlie addressed the 2003 Spring Conference of the Product Liability Advisory Council on research examining, from a psychological and behavioral perspective, how juries determine punitive damages, and he led a 2008 RAND Institute for Civil Justice Law and Policy Symposium on the role of experimental and empirical research in the development of punitive damages law.


In addition to handling business litigation and appeals, Charlie has defended clients in criminal antitrust and securities investigations, and regularly counsels clients on compliance with federal and state antitrust and unfair competition laws. He was the 2003-2004 Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Antitrust and Unfair Business Practices Section.

The Los Angeles Daily Journal profiled Charlie in a front page article entitled “Appellate Specialist Hits Vioxx Daily Double” (June 2, 2008) after he received favorable decisions in two Vioxx pharmaceutical products liability appeals from appellate courts in two different states on the same day. In 2008, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals named Charlie one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California,” and in 2009, California Lawyer Magazine named him a “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” in the field of appellate law. In 2012, Law360 named Charlie a national “MVP” in the field of products liability law.

Charlie is an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA School of Law, where he teaches a pro bono appellate practice clinic, and he serves on the Board of Overseers of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and the Board of Directors of the Western Justice Center Foundation. Charlie also represented the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in pro bono appellate litigation upholding the constitutionality of California’s statutory ban on assault weapons.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Class Actions, 2) Mass Torts and Insurance Litigation, 3) Environmental Law, 4) Product Liability and Mass Torts, 5) Antitrust and Competition, 6) Appellate, 7) Banks and Investment Banks, 8) Consumer Finance, 9) Oil, 10) Gas, 11) Resources, 12) and Mining, 13) Pharmaceuticals and 14) Litigation
Law School Harvard Law School, J.D., 1982
Education Yale University, B.A., 1979
Bar Member / Association California State Bar Association
Most recent firm O Melveny & Myers LLP
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