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Consumer Advocacy at Its Best

For over 15 years, Barry Himmelstein has represented consumers and small businesses in groundbreaking class actions involving widespread violations of consumer fraud and antitrust laws.

A partner in Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein until 2011, he has recovered billions of dollars for clients and class members victimized by large corporations in a broad range of industries, including banking, pharmaceuticals, energy, real estate, direct marketing, and telecommunications.

With offices in Northern California, Barry represents plaintiffs statewide and nationally in federal multidistrict litigation proceedings, in which he has consistently played a leadership role.

Barry has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year from 2009 through 2016.


Recently Filed Class Actions

Paradise Cove Beach Access Fees. If you paid a fee to access the beach at Paradise Cove in Malibu, California, you may have a claim for reimbursement of this fee. You may have a claim even if the fee was not specifically called a "walk-in fee" or similar. For example, some visitors report being charged a "Daily Beach Club Fee" in order to access the beach.

As the Malibu Times explains, "'Today, there is a slightly different name for the fee being charged by Paradise Cove, which they state is for using their facilities,' said Andrew Willis, a coastal commission enforcement supervisor. 'We have seen evidence that their employees have directed people who refused to pay to go left of the pier, citing that Paradise Cove was private property — but this is just not accurate.'"

The Paradise Cove Land Company's lease specifically says the company "shall take no action to discourage reasonable use by the general public of this access."

If you paid a fee that you believed was necessary to access the Paradise Cove beach, Contact Himmelstein Law Network to participate in the class action.


Landmark Successes

HSBC Debit Card Overdraft Fee Litigation. On October 30, 2015, the Supreme Court of the State of New York gave preliminary approval to a $30 million class action settlement of claims against HSBC over its practice of processing debit card transactions in "high to low" order to generate excess overdraft fees. Information regarding the settlement is available at www.HSBCOverdraftSettlement.com.

Fry's Electronics Minimum Wage Litigation. Himmelstein Law Network represents current and former employees of Fry's Electronics, Inc. Fry's is accused of failing to pay its commissioned salespersons the applicable minimum wage. In pay periods where the commissions earned by its salespersons total less than the applicable minimum wage, Fry's "advances" the difference as a "Commission Draw," which it later repays itself out of commissions earned by the salesperson in subsequent pay periods. As a result, salespersons retain less than the minimum wage for the pay period in which they received the "Commission Draw," in violation of California wage laws. In August 2015, the Court ruled that this practice violates California's minimum wage laws. If you are a current or former salesperson at a Fry's Electronics location in California who was charged a "Commission Draw Payback" by Fry's, please contact Himmelstein Law Network.

Force-Placed Insurance Litigation. Himmelstein Law Network represents homeowners who were "force-placed" into hazard and flood insurance by mortgage servicers, including Wells Fargo, Ocwen, and OneWest Bank, the successor to Indymac. Plaintiffs allege that the mortgage servicers engaged in "kickback" schemes to refer all such business to American Security Insurance Company (ASIC) or QBE Insurance Corp., in exchange for kickbacks disguised as "commissions." In January 2014, in a pivotal opinion, the Court denied Wells Fargo's and ASIC's motions to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), substantially raising the stakes for the country's largest banks. Within weeks, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America, and HSBC all reached nationwide class action settlements.

In October 2014, a different judge of the same Court upheld the sufficiency of RICO and other claims against ASIC, Ocwen Loan Servicing, and Litton Loan Servicing.

Wells Fargo Overdraft Litigation. In 2010, Barry was part of the San Francisco trial team that obtained a $203 million judgment against Wells Fargo Bank for manipulating the order of processing debit card transactions to increase the number of overdraft fees imposed on its California accountholders. (Luckily, he walked away from a helicopter crash after an earlier hearing in the case.) The first and only such case to go to trial, it prompted a wave of nationwide settlements. Read the transcript of the withering cross-examination of Wells Fargo's expert.

Neurontin Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation. In 2010, Barry was part of the Boston trial team that obtained a $142 million verdict for Kaiser Foundation, a non-profit health care provider, against Pfizer for deceptive marketing of Neurontin (an anti-epileptic) to physicians for unapproved uses for which it was not effective. The landmark judgment was the first time a pharmaceutical company had been held liable under the RICO statute.

California Electricity and Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation. From 2001 – 2009, Barry was lead or co-lead counsel in the multi-faceted antitrust litigation arising out of the California energy crisis.

In the Natural Gas Antitrust Cases, Barry obtained a $1.25 billion settlement with El Paso Natural Gas Co. for residential and business consumers of natural gas, in a case alleging the manipulation of pipeline capacity to drive up wholesale prices at the California border. It remains one of the largest consumer class action settlements on record, and the only case to recognize an exception to the Copperweld doctrine, which ordinarily bars antitrust claims based on intra-corporate conspiracies.

In the Price Indexing Cases, Barry obtained an additional $164 million in settlements for natural gas consumers from eight companies accused of engaging in “wash trades” and false reporting of trades to manipulate wholesale prices at the California border.

In the Wholesale Electricity Antitrust Cases, as co-lead counsel for electricity consumers, Barry recovered over $1 billion from The Williams Companies, Duke Energy, and Reliant Energy in settlement of claims that they conspired to manipulate California’s wholesale electricity markets.

Property I.D. Kickback Litigation. In Berger v. Property I.D., Barry represented California home sellers in a case involving kickbacks paid by the largest provider of Natural Hazard Disclosure reports to Coldwell-Banker, Prudential California Realty, and RE/MAX in violation of the “sham” affiliated business relationship provisions of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). A 2008 settlement provided class members with full refunds of the amounts paid for their reports, up to a total of $35 million. The litigation prompted action by HUD, which signed on to the landmark settlement.

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