Brian S. Currey
is Of Counsel in O'Melveny's Los Angeles office and a member of the Class Actions, Mass Torts, and Aggregated Litigation Practice. A former Vice-Chair of O’Melveny’s award-winning Litigation department, his practice focuses on complex litigation and strategic advice. Brian has helped businesses and government agencies solve some of their most difficult problems for more than 30 years.
Some of his high profile matters include the Exxon Valdez
criminal case; class actions and natural resources damages suits following California’s largest inland environmental disaster, the Cantara Loop/Dunsmuir Chemical Spill; the Vioxx pharmaceutical products liability litigation, the AMD v. Intel
antitrust case, and a $60 million arbitration award on behalf of Qwest Communications. He also is known for his successful defense of consumer class actions; automotive, industrial, pharmaceutical and other complicated products liability cases; California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 cases; and antitrust, intellectual property, environmental, and other high-stakes business litigation. His other work encompasses risk management analysis, ethics, compliance, public finance litigation, securities litigation, land use, privatization of public property, public-private partnerships, health care issues, election law, attorney malpractice defense, and many other subjects.
Brian is deeply connected to Los Angeles’ governing institutions, courts, and legal and business communities. From January 2010 through June 2013, he served as Counsel to the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles and as a member of the Mayor Villaraigosa’s small executive team. For a portion of that time, he also served as Deputy Mayor for Economic and Business Policy, managing some of the city’s largest departments, including the airport, port, planning, and building and safety departments. In those roles, he assisted Mayor Villaraigosa and his staff on the full spectrum of issues and opportunities facing the nation’s second largest city, including the Mayor’s job creation, environmental, education, and transportation agendas, and issues relating to intergovernmental relations, budget and finance, labor and employment, and pension and benefit reform. He oversaw significant infrastructure improvements and initiatives to make Los Angeles more business friendly. Brian also negotiated and drafted contracts, took steps to reduce claims, and oversaw significant litigation. He served as the Mayor’s ambassador to the judiciary, legal community, and business interests. At the end of his term, Mayor Villaraigosa praised Brian as an outstanding lawyer, strategic thinker, and trusted adviser.
In addition to his trial, arbitration, and mediation work, Brian has handled appeals in the United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit, California Supreme Court, and California Courts of Appeal.
The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) selected him as a trial instructor. Law & Politics Media Inc. recognized Brian as a “Super Lawyer” in surveys published in Los Angeles magazine
Illustrative Professional Experience
- Served as lead counsel for the owner and manufacturer of a tank car that was dragged off a trestle in a derailment at the Cantara Loop, near Dunsmuir, California. In what became the State’s largest inland environmental disaster, the tank car released a toxic chemical into the upper Sacramento River, killing virtually every living thing in almost 40 miles of river. In the many class actions that followed, Brian obtained summary judgment for his client on the grounds that the tank car complied with federal tank car design regulations. He settled the state and federal natural resource damages claims on favorable terms.
- The maker of the blockbuster pain relieving drug Vioxx faced some 30,000 suits in state and federal courts throughout the nation alleging personal injuries, wrongful death, and/or economic loss. Brian helped defend the cases, joining the team of lawyers defending bellwether personal injury cases in the federal MDL proceedings in New Orleans, another team defending a key case in Texas, and the team tasked with writing briefs for cases across the country. The successful defense of the federal bellwether cases enabled settlement of the remaining cases.
- Successfully defended consumer class actions and California Government Code 17200 cases brought against automobile manufacturers, computer companies, electronics manufacturers, internet companies, and financial services firms.
- With partner Boyd Hight, Brian won a net $60 million arbitration award in a complex dispute between two telecommunications companies.
- Represented an alternative energy company in a complex series of disputes involving a worldwide portfolio of projects, obtaining a favorable and prompt resolution in mediation.
- In what is frequently characterized as one of the world’s largest antitrust cases, and the largest Sherman Act Section 2 case, ever filed, the firm brought a monopolization suit against the world’s largest chip maker. Brian joined the team as the discovery cut-off date was approaching and trial date neared. The case eventually settled on terms favorable to the firm’s client.
- After the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, it released some 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, fouling well more than 1,000 miles of beaches. It is widely considered the world’s worst oil spill in terms of environmental damage. Ultimately, the federal court approved a plea agreement.
Pro bono Experience
- Served as Counsel to the Independent Commission on the Reform of the Los Angeles Police Department (commonly known as the Christopher Commission), which made transformative recommendations to reform LAPD in the wake of the Rodney King incident and subsequent riots.
- Served on the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Task Force on the State Criminal Justice System, which recommended criminal justice reforms in the aftermath of the Rampart scandal.
- Represented the State of New Mexico, Los Angeles and a consortium of local governments, Members of Congress, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the League of Women Voters in high impact U.S. Census litigation that ultimately progressed to the United States Supreme Court. The case involved efforts to better count the poor, immigrants, minorities, the homeless, and others, and preserved the ability of the federal government to allocate funds to local governments using Census results derived through statistical sampling.
- Received the Streamkeeper’s Award from California Trout, a non-profit dedicated to preserving fish habitat, for pro bono litigation to restore stream flows in Southern California.
- Created a successful pro bono prosecution partnership between O’Melveny and the Cities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Torrance. Prosecutors from those cities trained O’Melveny associates to serve as special deputy prosecutors, giving the young lawyers valuable jury trial experience and allowing the cities to prosecute more criminals. As part of that program, Brian tried a number of criminal jury trials to verdict and helped train the firm’s lawyers to do the same. He also accepted, on behalf of the firm, an award from the Redondo Beach City Council expressing gratitude for the firm’s donation of legal services worth over $7 million.
California; District of ColumbiaAdmitted to Practice,
U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California, and District of Columbia; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth and Federal Circuits; U.S. Court of Claims; U.S. Supreme CourtMember,
Los Angeles County Bar Association (Officer, Executive Committee and Board of Trustees; Chair, Federal Courts Coordinating Committee; Litigation Section Executive Committee and the Litigation Section’s Complex Courts Committee; co-chair, Open Courts Committee; Former Vice-Chair, Outstanding Jurist Award Committee), United States District Court for the Central District of California (chair, Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel; Lawyer Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference; and Co-Chair, Lawyer Representatives’ Congressional Outreach Subcommittee; Pro Bono Panel), Chancery Club, Federal Bar Association, Irish-American Bar Association, John M. Langston Bar Association, Mexican American Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and Association of Business Trial Lawyers.Author/Co-Author,
“Name Clearing Hearings: Two Wrongs Make a Right,” 14 Urban Law
. 303 (1982); “U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Drug and Medical Device Preemption Issues,” OMM Industry Checkup
(March 2008); “New FDA Rules Leave Drug Makers Unsure Of How Much Testing Is Enough,” Andrews Litigation Reporter
(February 2008); “FDAAA: What Is It and What Are Its Implications for Products Liability Suits Against Drug and Medical Device Manufacturers?,” DRI For the Defense
(July 2008); Annual updates on “Class Actions” and/or “Discovery” in the California Litigation Review
(circa 2001 – present).Speeches and Panel Presentations,
“Federal Preemption in the Supreme Court,” National Conference on the Impact of U.S. & State Supreme Courts on American Business (Directors Roundtable); “Betting on the Supreme Court’s Drug and Medical Device Trifecta: Reigel v. Medtronic, Warner-Lambert v. Kent, and Wyeth v. Levine
” (West/Andrews Publications webinar, April 2008); “Lessons Learned from Complex Litigation” (a presentation for corporate employees on how to avoid writing needlessly harmful e-mail and other documents)Host/Master of Ceremonies,
“Federal Practice in the Central District: Changes, Trends, and Updates” (LACBA 2008, 2011, 2013); “New Patent Litigation Pilot Program in the Central District of California: What Every Patent Litigator Needs to Know” (LACBA 2011); “Learning Curve: the Trajectory of Education Reform Litigation in California” (UCLA Law School 2012)Chair,
Safe and Sound Schools! (Brian lead two successful school bond campaigns in his hometown ofManhattan Beach, CA.) Instructor,
Various NITA trial practice programs.