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J. Michael Hennigan

Los Angeles Office
Principal
Los Angeles Office

865 South Figueroa St.
Suite 2900
Los Angeles, CA 90017
TEL: 213.694.1002 FAX: 213.694.1234
hennigan@mckoolsmithhennigan.com

J. Michael Hennigan is a founding Principal of McKool Smith Hennigan. Mr. Hennigan specializes in the litigation and trial of complex commercial cases, and has been lead counsel in more than 45 major jury trials in state and federal court. As lead trial counsel for plaintiffs, Mr. Hennigan has litigated judgments and settlements of more than $8 billion for his clients.

Mr. Hennigan is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has been consistently identified in prominent legal publications as one of the country's top trial lawyers, including Chambers USA, Chambers Global, Who's Who in American Law and The Best Lawyers in America. Chambers ranks him in "Band 1," among the top dozen litigators in California and among the top 25 nationwide, calling him "a terrific trial lawyer." Mr. Hennigan is also routinely identified as one of Southern California's Super Lawyers.

Before entering private practice, Mr. Hennigan was a trial attorney with the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, and was a lecturer in research and writing at the University of Arizona College of Law in 1973.

Representative Matters

  • Parmalat Litigation.  Mr. Hennigan pursued claims against Bank of America on behalf of institutional investors Prudential, Allstate, Aegon, Principal and John Hancock, who had collectively sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in losses arising out of their purchases of Parmalat-backed securities in private placements agented by Bank of America. The cases, alleging violations of state blue sky laws and federal securities statutes, were settled on confidential terms.
  • Sempra Litigation.  Mr. Hennigan represented Sempra Generation in connection with a series of challenges brought by the California Department of Water Resources to the multi-billion dollar long-term energy contract between Sempra and the Department executed in the wake of the California energy crisis of 2000-2001. In 2009, his team successfully defended Sempra in a jury trial in which the Department sought rescission of the multi-billion dollar energy contract. Following the four week trial in San Diego Superior Court, the jury ruled in favor of Sempra on all claims. In two prior AAA arbitrations, Mr. Hennigan's team defeated the Department's efforts to rescind the energy contract.  In the first arbitration, the panel ruled in Sempra's favor on most claims and awarded a fraction of the damages the Department had sought.  In the second arbitration, which concerned energy deliveries from Sempra's power plant near Mexicali, Mexico, the panel rejected the Department's claims "in their entirety." In separate litigation related to the contract, the firm obtained for Sempra Energy an arbitration award rejecting Occidental’s claim for damages for Sempra's alleged breach of a partnership agreement.
  • Enron Litigation.  Mr. Hennigan and his team of securities fraud litigators pursued claims against a number of Enron’s relationship banks on behalf of institutional investors Aegon, Principal, AIG, PIMCO and Oaktree for nearly $1 billion in net principal losses arising out of their purchases of Enron-backed securities issued by special purpose entities in private placements, as well as Enron-related securities purchased in the open market. The cases, alleging violations of state blue sky laws and federal securities statutes, were settled on confidential terms.
  • Oaktree Capital Management and Trust Company of the West.  Mr. Hennigan represented plaintiffs in a securities fraud action against CIBC World Markets. After a four-week trial, the jury awarded his clients the full amount of economic damages Mr. Hennigan had requested in closing arguments.
  • Orange CountyMr. Hennigan and his firm represented Orange County as lead litigation counsel in lawsuits filed against Merrill Lynch, numerous other broker dealers and professionals retained by the County prior to the bankruptcy, including attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors. Settlement recoveries in these cases included the largest litigation settlement ever recorded against a law firm, one of the largest ever against Wall Street, one of the largest ever against a major accounting firm, and collectively one of the largest recoveries for a single series of interrelated suits.
  • Rabobank v. Royal Bank of Canada.  Mr Hennigan prosecuted fraud and other claims on behalf of Rabobank against Royal Bank of Canada, seeking  to rescind in excess of $500 million in damages arising from transactions with Enron and Special Purpose Entities sponsored by Enron and Enron employees. This matter was settled on confidential terms. 
  • GATX/Airlog Co. v. Evergreen International.  Mr. Hennigan tried and won a unanimous jury verdict for fraud and breach of contract on behalf of Evergreen International Airlines, an international airfreight company, in connection with three passenger planes that were defectively converted to cargo configuration by GATX. The dispute involved claimed damages to Evergreen of more than $150 million. Following the verdict we settled the case on confidential terms with a substantial recovery to the client.
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Mr. Hennigan acts as lead counsel to the Archdiocese, and has successfully settled over 500 separate cases alleging clergy misconduct.

Professional & Community Activities

  • Lawyer Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 1993-1997
  • Board of Visitors, University of Arizona College of Law, 1976-1979; and 1990-present
  • Board of Directors, University of Arizona Law College Association, 1983-1985
  • Trustee, Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Chair, Executive Committee, Litigation Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1998
  • Chair, Litigation Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1998-1999
  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, 1992-present
  • American Law Institute, 1993-present
  • Judicial Council Task Force on Complex Civil Litigation

Awards & Recognition

  • Ranked in Chambers USA as a leading national trial lawyer (Band 1) and a leading lawyer for Commercial Litigation (Band 1)
  • Ranked in the Best Lawyers in America as a leading lawyer in Litigation: Bet-the-Company, Commercial, Bankruptcy, Intellectual Property, Patent, and Securities.
  • Named the Best Lawyers 2012 Los Angeles Litigation - Real Estate "Lawyer of the Year"
  • AV Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in Southern California Super Lawyers each year since 2004
  • Order of the Coif
  • Note and Comment Editor, Arizona Law Review, 1969-1970
  • Charles L. Strauss Award for Outstanding Student Contribution to the Arizona Law Review, 1969
  • Ralph W. Aigler Award, Outstanding Student of the Class of 1970
  • Prentiss Hall Tax Award, Outstanding Student of Tax, Class of 1970