Notable cases During the savings and loan crisis, the FDIC sued O'Melveny & Myers for providing incompetent legal advice to one S&L. In the resulting U.S. Supreme Court case, O'Melveny & Myers v. FDIC, 512 U.S.79 (1994), the firm won on the narrow issue of whether federal or state law should govern the firm's defense that the FDIC was estopped from pursuing it because the FDIC was the S&L's successor-in-interest.
In January 2008, the Interim Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Peter Nickles, selected O’Melveny & Myers partner Walter E. Dellinger III to defend the constitutionality of the District's handgun ban before the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. In March 2008, Dellinger argued that the city's ban on the possession of handguns and its trigger lock requirement is not implicated by the Second Amendment. However, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's "right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
In February 2008, Dellinger argued before the Supreme Court in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, on behalf of Exxon regarding the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision (Justice Alito had recused himself), reduced the $2.5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon to $507.5 million, holding that in maritime cases there should be a 1:1 ratio between punitive and compensatory (actual) damages.
The firm represented the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in the lawsuits over the Belmont Learning Center in Los Angeles in the 1990s. LAUSD later sued the firm for alleged malpractice due, in part, to the involvement of its attorneys on all sides of the negotiations. The lawsuit eventually settled, with the law firm paying $3 million towards completion of Belmont.
In September 1991 the firm represented, pro bono, community gang abatement specialist Ronald Lazar, StreetPeace, and nine other plaintiffs in a precedent-setting consolidated small claims action on appeal, Rawlings, et al v. Crumpton, establishing an important, powerful tool in crime prevention.
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