Steve Berman is a Managing Partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Mr. Berman helped to found the firm in 1993 and has served as lead or co-lead counsel in securities, consumer, products liability, antitrust, employment class actions, and complex litigations in the Northwest and throughout the country. Some of the high-profile matters Mr. Berman has prosecuted include the Washington Public Power Supply System, Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Michael Milken Litigation, Enron Litigation, Tobacco Litigation, and theVisa/MasterCard Litigation.
Mr. Berman’s successes include obtaining a settlement of $92 million in the Boeing Securities Litigation, representing stock and bondholders in the Bonneville Pacific Securities Litigation which resulted in settlements exceeding $30 million, and gaining approval of a $290 million settlement in the Louisiana Pacific Siding Litigation, the largest product liability settlement in Pacific Northwest history. In the WPPSS Securities Litigation, Mr. Berman represented bond purchasers in the largest securities trial in U.S. history. In addition to being a member of the trial team, the lead counsel designated him as a core group member alongside a group of class plaintiffs and Chemical Bank attorneys charged with prosecuting the case. The case resulted in a settlement exceeding $850 million, the largest recovery in a securities class action at the time.
Mr. Berman’s innovative approaches to litigation have earned him significant recognition. When beneficiaries of state employee pension funds refused to pursue sums from Michael Milken’s misappropriation of warrants, Mr. Berman stepped forward, pioneering the Milken action and using a unique approach to recovery. As co-lead counsel in multi-state class actions against Blue Cross, he uncovered the Blue Cross’ breach of fiduciary duties owing to plan participants. His discovery led to the Blue Cross being sued in dozens of states with lawyers throughout the country emulating his approach.
Perhaps most notable is Mr. Berman’s role as a special assistant attorney general for the states of Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Alaska, Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Vermont, and Rhode Island in the landmark Tobacco Litigation.
A principal in the groundbreaking settlement with Liggett and the proposed national settlement, Mr. Berman was one of only two private attorneys acting as members of the negotiating team. He conceived the idea to use Liggett as the whistleblower and secured the cooperation of Bennet LeBow, Liggett’s CEO, as well as insisting that Liggett waive all claims of attorney-client privilege. Mr. Berman also negotiated the settlement that required Liggett to admit what the industry has denied to this day: smoking causes cancer and heart disease; nicotine addicts; and the industry targets children.
Liggett’s admissions, the cooperation of LeBow, and the release of previously privileged documents were instrumental factors in driving the industry to settlement. Liggett’s ‘plea of guilty’ added momentum to the 1997 proposed national settlement, which led to the eventual $206 billion multi-state settlement in 1998.
The announcement of the final settlement found Mr. Berman in his ninth week of trial presenting the state of Washington’s case to a jury. His successful handling of the bulk of the trial earned him great respect. Subsequently, some of Washington state’s leading trial lawyers hired Mr. Berman to try a certified class action brought by union trust funds against tobacco. The book, People v. Big Tobacco, describes his role in the Tobacco Litigation.
Other notable actions led by Mr. Berman include the Morrison Knudsen Securities Litigation, Contact Lens Disposable Antitrust Litigation and Piper Jaffray Closed-End Funds Litigation in which he obtained a settlement valued at nearly $60 million. Mr. Berman’s cases have also involved corporate entities such as Egghead, Foodmaker, SuperMac, Immunex, Digital Systems, and Aldus.
More recently, Microsoft recognized Mr. Berman’s experience and expertise when the company retained him to be part of the core national team representing the company in antitrust class actions arising from Judge Jackson’s Findings of Fact in the Department of Justice antitrust case against the company.
In April 2000, the National Law Journal listed Mr. Berman as the top litigator in the state and, in June, named him as one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the nation. In January 2001, Seattle Magazine featured him in an issue profiling the top lawyers in Seattle. In June 2006, the National Law Journal once again named Mr. Berman as one of the nation’s 100 most influential lawyers in America. Mr. Berman was also named as a finalist for the Trial Lawyer of the Year award for 2006 by The Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
Mr. Berman graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976 and earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1980.