Law360 has published an in-depth profile on Lieff Cabraser partner Jonathan D. Selbin, named a 2020 “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar.” The award recognizes lawyers who “not only excel in the courtroom in large-scale litigation, but also take on leadership roles at their firms.”
The piece highlights Jonathan’s twenty-five-plus year legal career fighting for consumer rights, including a multi-year string of success over improper phone and text harassment of consumers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which lead to settlements totaling nearly $370 million in 17 separate cases paid out by companies including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One.
“These companies knew about the TCPA; it’s been on the books since 1991,” Jonathan said. It was enacted for exactly this reason. Everyone hates these phone calls. They’re abusive.”
While much of Jonathan’s practice is guided by a sense of righteousness, he notes that his work is also leavened with a fundamentally positive view of humanity. His recent settlement with the University of Southern California over decades of alleged sexual abuse by former campus gynecologist George Tyndall reflects this outlook.
“I don’t think anyone at USC set out to let Tyndall do what he did,” explained Jonathan. “Tyndall was evil, but do I think USC is evil? No. There’s no question they made mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they are evil.”
The record-setting settlement, valued at $215 million, makes it the largest-ever class action settlement of sexual abuse claims. The deal will cover an estimated 18,000 alleged victims and former patients of Tyndall and requires USC to make sweeping changes to its campus-wide sexual violence prevention policies. To Jonathan, that represents the best of what class actions can do: correct systemic failures and secure lasting change. In this, plaintiff attorneys have to act as “private attorneys general,” who go the extra mile to reach where the arm of law enforcement comes up short.
About Jonathan D. Selbin
A senior partner in Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP’s New York office, Jonathan Selbin chairs the firm’s Economic Injury Product Defect Practice Group, litigating consumer protection and defective product class action lawsuits against many of the nation’s most prominent corporations.
Cases in which Jonathan has played a lead role have resulted in court-approved class action settlements with combined total payouts to class members exceeding $3.25 billion in cash, plus other relief, such as extended and enhanced warranties.
In 2017, Jonathan and his family founded the Selbin Voting Rights Fellowship at Equal Justice Works, funding a rolling two-year fellow working to ensure fair access to voting in at-risk communities.