Isaacson, Eric Alan
Address: 6580 Avenida Mirola, La Jolla, CA 92037
Lawyer Firm: Law Office of Eric Alan Isaacson
|Areas of Practice||Federal Appeals, Securities Litigation, Class Actions, Church & State|
Eric Alan Isaacson has decades of experience in federal civil appeals and complex class actions – briefing and arguing dozens of appeals against corporate interests charged with concealing the truth or telling lies. Those appeals often have involved federal securities-law claims, consumer-fraud claims, or antitrust claims, asserted on behalf of behalf of investors and consumers. Some have involved the rights of class members objecting to inadequate settlements or excessive attorneys’ fee awards.
Eric has in addition represented institutional investors and law professors as “friends of the court,” filing amicus curiae briefs supporting the rights of investors and consumers both before the United States Supreme Court and in the lower courts. Working on a pro bono basis, he has represented religious organizations, filing amicus curiae briefs for the California Council of Churches, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and many others – consistently supporting equality under law for all citizens while vigorously defending fundamental principles of religious liberty.
Eric’s experience dealing with federal appeals began shortly after his 1985 graduation from the Duke University School of Law, when he devoted a year to clerking for Judge J. Clifford Wallace of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Eric then worked for three years as a litigation associate with a large Los Angeles law firm, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where his practice focused on trademark and other issues. In 1989 he joined the plaintiffs’ class-action bar, signing on as a San Diego associate with Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, which was then the preeminent firm handling plaintiffs’ side securities class actions. Eric became a Milberg Weiss partner in 1994, with his practice focusing on civil appeals in securities cases and other complex class actions. See, e.g., In re Cavanaugh v. United States District Court, 306 F.3d 726 (9th Cir. 2002); Lone Star Ladies Inv. Club v. Schlotzky’s Inc., 238 F. 3d 363 (5th Cir. 2001); Berry v. Valence Technology, Inc., 175 F.3d 699 (9th Cir. 1999); Parnes v. Gateway 2000, Inc., 122 F.3d 539 (8th Circuit 1997); Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 1996); Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078 (9th Cir. 1995); Mangini v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 7 Cal.4th 1057, 875 P.2d 73, 31 Cal. Rptr.2d 358 (1994); Mirkin v. Wasserman, 5 Cal.4th 1082, 858 P.2d 568, 23 Cal. Rptr.2d 101 (1993). In 2004 Eric became a founding partner of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP, later known as Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, a leading plaintiffs’ side class-action law firm formed by lawyers who broke away from Milberg Weiss. Here too Eric’s practice focused primarily on federal civil appeals, with Eric most often representing investors and consumers against corporate interests, and occasionally dealing with disputes concerning attorneys’ fee awards. See, e.g., In re Herald, Primeo, and Thema, 730 F.3d 112 (2d Cir. 2013), rehearing denied, 753 F.3d 110 (2d Cir. 2014); In Re Trans Union Corp. Privacy Litig., 664 F. 3d 1081 (7th Cir. 2011); Fidel v. Farley, 534 F. 3d 508 (6th Cir. 2008).
Eric left Robbins Geller to establish his own practice in 2016, the better to focus on his primary passions: representing the interests of ordinary citizens against corporate interests, defending the right of all citizens to fundamental equality under law, and giving a voice to the downtrodden. He practice continues to focus on federal civil appeals, with much of his time devoted to pro bono work on behalf of organizations supporting civil rights and religious liberty. Over the course of his career, Eric has played an important role in many prominent class actions – including several of the largest ever prosecuted.
Representing The Regents of the University of California as court-appointed Lead Plaintiff in the Enron Securities Litigation, for example, Eric successfully opposed mandamus petitions filed by defendants who had assisted Enron with its financial chicanery, but who asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to prematurely terminate claims against investment bankers and lawyers who had helped to facilitate Enron’s financial misconduct. See In re Barclays PLC, et al., No. 03-20178, In re Vinson & Elkins, No. 03-20185; In re Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., No. 03-20187 (mandamus petitions denied March 11, 2003). As a result, the litigation continued, and settlements with third-party actors who had assisted Enron ultimately totaled over $7 billion. See Kristen Hays, Enron Settlement: $7.2 billion to shareholders, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 9, 2008.
Class actions, however, are not always the best way for investors and consumer to obtain optimal results. In connection with the WorldCom Securities Litigation, Eric represented pension funds anod other institutional investors who, monitoring the proceedings in the WorldCom securities-fraud class action, had concluded that the better course was for them to opt out of the class-action proceedings and file their own individual actions in state courts across the country.
Some of the cases were removed by the defendants to federal court and transferred to the Southern District of New York, where the district judge overseeing the federal class action dismissed them, ruling that the pension funds should be denied the benefit of a tolling rule for class members who opt out of a class action – because they did not wait for her to rule on class certification before filing their own claims. Eric successfully briefed and argued the pension funds’ appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, pointing out the absurdity of holding that claims may be barred as untimely because they were filed too soon. The Second Circuit agreed with him and reversed the claims’ dismissal. With the pension funds’ right to prosecute their own claims secure, they were able settle on far better terms than they would have received had they participated in the class action. See In re WorldCom Securities Litigation (California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) v. Caboto-Gruppo Intesa, BCI), 496 F.3d 245 (2d Cir. 2007), reversing In re WorldCom Inc. Sec. Litig. (State of Alaska Dept. of Revenue v. Ebbers), 294 F. Supp. 2d 431 (S.D.N.Y. 2003), and In re WorldCom Inc. Sec. Litig. (California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) v. Ebbers), 308 F. Supp. 2d 214 (S.D.N.Y. 2004); Jonathan Weil & Robin Sidel, WorldCom Investors Settle Lawsuits: Investment Banks Will Pay Almost All of $651 Million in Pact Tied to Bond Deals, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2005. One news service reported that bondholders participating in the class action got only about 20 percent of their claimed damages, while the breakaway investors recovered about 60 percent – about three times as much.
Occasionally, bad actors try to retaliate against those who would hold them to account, as “Trump University” did when former students sued alleging fraud.
In Makaeff v. Trump University, Eric represented a Trump University student who, on asserting class-action claims for fraud, was slapped with Trump University’s counter-claim for a million dollars in damages for her supposed “defamation” of Donald J. Trump’s creation. On appeal to the Ninth Circuit, Eric successfully argued that Trump University was a public figure required by Supreme Court precedent to show actual malice in order to proceed with its counterclaim for defamation. See Makaeff v. Trump University, LLC, 715 F.3d 254 (9th Cir. 2013). On remand to the district court, Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel accordingly dismissed Trump University’s counterclaim, and awarded the former student $798,000 in fees and expenses for the trouble caused by Trump University’s abusive counterclaim. See Makaeff v. Trump University, No. 10-cv-0940 GPC, orders (S.D. Cal. June 16, 2004 & April 19, 2015). Donald J. Trump and Trump University ultimately resolved the case with an agreement to pay $25 million to settle former students’ class-action claims for fraud.
Eric’s appellate practice has taken him to the United States Supreme Court many times. He has several times participated in the merits briefing of appeals before the high court. Omnicare v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, 135 S. Ct. 1318 (2015) Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano, 131 S. Ct. 1309 (2011) Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336 (2005)
Eric has written amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs for many other Supreme Court cases, often on behalf of institutional investors or law professors.
Campbell-Ewald Corp. v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663 (2016) (institutional investor’s brief)
Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans & Tr. Funds, 568 U.S. 455 (2013) (law professors’ brief)Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Derivative Traders, 564 U.S. 135 (2011) (institutional investor’s brief) Morrison v. National Australia Bank, Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010) (institutional investors’ brief)Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 559 U.S. 633 (2010) (institutional investors’ brief) Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (law professors’ brief);
Central Bank v. First Interstate Bank, 511 U.S. 164 (1994) (National Association of Securities and Commercial Law Attorneys brief)
Musick, Peeler & Garrett v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 508 U.S. 286 (1993) (National Association of Securities and Commercial Law Attorneys brief).
Eric has in addition both briefed and argued scores of appeals, personally appearing before eleven of the thirteen United States Courts of Appeals. Many of those proceedings have produced published precedents controlling the decision of future cases.
That Eric has obtained favorable results in any particular case does not mean that he will be able to obtain similar results in another case.
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