Michael Levin-Gesundheit is a partner in Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office. He is dedicated to seeking fairness for government entities, employees, consumers, and injury victims, regardless of the resources of the defendant.
Michael served as a leader within the San Francisco opioid bellwether team, from hard-fought battles to obtain evidence to the 2022 trial, where he developed multiple crucial trial witnesses. His focus, in San Francisco and across other opioid cases in the multidistrict litigation, was Walgreens, for its role in preventing and discouraging its pharmacists from conducting the prescription due diligence required under the Controlled Substances Act. At the conclusion of San Francisco’s three-month liability bench trial, Walgreens was the last remaining defendant. The plaintiff prevailed, and in a 112-page opinion relying heavily on pharmacist testimony and complaints compiled by the Lieff Cabraser team, the judge described the evidence as “not only adequate to establish Walgreens’ culpability” but “devastating.” Walgreens settled with San Francisco for $229.6 million to avoid a second-phase abatement trial. That is significantly more on a per capita basis than any other municipality has achieved against a pharmacy defendant in opioid litigation. The San Francisco liability finding was instrumental in pushing Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart toward multi-billion-dollar national settlements.
Other corporations Michael has taken on include Goldman Sachs and Microsoft for gender discrimination, Google for invasions of privacy, a major pharmaceutical company for fraudulent marketing practices, and an international consultancy for mistreatment of H-1B visa workers. In the Goldman Sachs gender discrimination class action, which was certified in 2018, he led a multi-year charge to combat Goldman Sachs’s attempts to excise class members from the case on the basis of arbitration agreements buried in the fine print of routine stock grants. His efforts, described by Goldman Sachs’s counsel as “relentless,” allowed nearly 350 current and former Goldman Sachs employees to choose continued participation in the class action over individual arbitration. In May 2023, the plaintiffs reached a proposed $215 million class settlement with Goldman Sachs.
Michael has also represented clients on appeal. Following entry of summary judgment in favor of two defendants in a personal injury action stemming from serious injuries sustained at the world-renowned Laguna Seca Raceway, Michael led appellate briefing to reversal of the trial court in a published opinion from the California Court of Appeal outlining the distinction between ordinary and gross negligence.
Michael’s pro bono practice includes successfully representing unaccompanied Central American minors in obtaining immigration relief.
Prior to joining Lieff Cabraser, Michael was a law clerk for Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California and Judge Garland Burrell, Jr. of federal district court in Sacramento. He is a Bay Area native and graduate of Stanford Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Stanford Law & Policy Review. Michael’s hobbies include hiking and backpacking, gardening, repairing anything that is broken, and (like many who have survived the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) baking.
Long form bio (click to open pdf).