Crowell & Moring's Michael Kahn Inducted Into the State Bar of California’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame
San Francisco – November 5, 2015: Crowell & Moring is pleased to announce that Michael A. Kahn, a San Francisco-based senior counsel in the firm's Commercial Litigation Group, is the recipient of the State Bar of California's 2015 "Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame" award. He is the only recipient of the award this year, which recognizes professionals who have excelled as trial lawyers, and whose careers exemplify the highest values and professional achievement. Kahn will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
"In his 40-year career as a trial attorney, Mike has handled thousands of cases with a nearly perfect track record," said Angela B. Styles, chair of Crowell & Moring. "Many of his landmark litigation victories changed the business landscape of California and the country. Mike is an advocate for justice within the California legal community and we are proud that The State Bar of California has recognized him with this prestigious honor."
Kahn's practice involves federal and state court proceedings throughout the United States. He has tried dozens of cases to verdict, with a success rate of over ninety percent. He has also argued numerous appeals in California State Supreme Court and Federal and State Courts of Appeal.
In U.S. v. Stringfellow, Kahn served as lead trial counsel for over 150 generator defendants in a Superfund litigation, with two three month-long trials (U.S. District Court, Central District of California) relating to over $500 million in clean-up costs at the Stringfellow hazardous waste site—an active cauldron of toxic acid located in Riverside County, California. The State named the site its top priority Superfund site, but denied any responsibility for its role in creating and perpetuating the problem. The site was originally a rock quarry owned by James Stringfellow. With approval from the State, Stringfellow opened the site for dumping toxic waste, believing geologic surveys indicating that the solid bedrock would be ideal and safe for the waste. Kahn was selected as lead trial counsel for all of the defendants. Following a nine-week trial, the court rejected the State's immunity defense and the jury found the state of California liable. Kahn's opening statement was so compelling that it was published in Litigation Journal and Opening Statements. He was again selected as lead counsel in the second trial before the Special Master to determine responsibility, which resulted in a decision placing 100 percent of the responsibility on the State, and is estimated to be a 500-year cleanup of the site.
In City of Atascadero, et al. v. Merrill Lynch, Kahn again served as lead counsel representing 14 California cities and agencies—termed the "Killer Bs" because they favored Option B of the county's bankruptcy recovery plan—in claims against Merrill Lynch in City of Atascadero, et al. v. Merrill Lynch (2000). The cities were pursuing claims arising out of the Orange County bankruptcy, where they received a favorable appellate ruling and eventually settled for $32.5 million, enabling the cities to recover more than their actual damages. As a result of the payout, the "Killer Bs" fared better than any other group caught up in the Orange County investment scheme that caused $1.64 billion in losses and led to the biggest municipal bankruptcy at that time.
Kahn's contributions to the California legal community are far-reaching and go beyond the courtroom. He served on the Civil Justice Reform Act task force, where he helped invent early neutral evaluation, and on the California Judicial Performance Commission, where he served for nine years and as both chair and vice chair. He also participated in the selection of federal and state court judges working with officials of the Clinton Administration and with Senator Boxer, Governor Davis, and Governor Schwarzenegger's judicial appointments committees. In addition, Kahn played a key role and held several leadership roles in managing the California electricity crisis from 2000 until 2005 as he helped the State to navigate a thicket of state and federal regulatory issues.
The Bar's awards program will include remarks from Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court; Honorable Barry P. Goode, Judge, Superior Court of California - Contra Costa County; Thomas P. Laffey, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; and Charles F. Robinson, General Counsel and Vice President – Legal Affairs for the University of California.
Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with approximately 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity. The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Anchorage, London, and Brussels.
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