Consumer Advocacy at Its Best
For over 20 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 2018.
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.