Pierce O’Donnell is one of the nation’s most accomplished trial attorneys. He is driven by a passionate belief in Public Justice, something he describes simply as “law that serves the public good.”
A born boat rocker, Pierce is a fearless advocate for the people who is willing to stand up against mindless bureaucracy and a blind devotion to the status quo.
Pierce has won numerous precedent-winning cases over the years and his achievements led the National Law Journal to name him one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” His legal career began more than three decades ago as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron W. White and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler.
“Like most attorneys, I relish a good fight,” O’Donnell says, “and I play to win on behalf of those for whom I battle.”
O’Donnell’s clients have been an eclectic mix of celebrities, corporations, journalists, public health agencies and ordinary people who have been harmed by the powerful and well-connected. Among those for whom he has fought:
• 13 million California energy consumers gouged during the Energy Crisis. His team secured $3.4 billion in settlements from El Paso Natural Gas and Sempra Energy.
• Pulitzer Prize winner Art Buchwald, whom O’Donnell represented in the late columnist’s epic legal plagiarism battle against Paramount Pictures over the film “Coming to America.” His ultimate victory in the hard-fought—and highly publicized—case caused Forbes Magazine to hail him as the “New Perry Mason in Hollywood.”
• New Orleans TV anchorman Norman Robinson and five others who have sued the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of 300,000 victims for its key role in the catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina nearly three years ago. O’Donnell was the lead lawyer in the historic case, which led to a victory for Katrina victims in November 2009.
• The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which sued BP Arco for a decade of pollution violations at its refinery in Torrance, California. O’Donnell helped win a record $106 million settlement against the facility—an agreement that included $30 million in mobile “breathmobiles” for asthmatic and underprivileged children.
• Oscar-winning Actress Faye Dunaway, whom O’Donnell successfully represented in her wrongful termination suit against composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in the Los Angeles musical production of “Sunset Boulevard.”
• Pfizer Inc., which fended off 375 anxiety and emotional distress cases involving alleged defects of its heart valves. O’Donnell was Pfizer’s lead counsel.
Pierce’s roster of clients have included NBC, Steven Spielberg, MGM Studios, Conoco Phillips, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, City of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Republic of France, and a host of writers, journalists, actors, producers, directors, whistleblowers, public officials, environmentalists, and citizen activists.
Pierce O’Donnell, often known in shorthand by his POD initials, also is an accomplished author who has penned five books, a feature film, and more than 200 articles in newspapers and legal journals. The Buchwald case led him to co-author the best-seller “Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business.” His passionate belief in civil liberties led him to write “In Time of War,” a chilling account of America’s flawed prosecution of Nazi saboteurs during World War II and a cautionary tale about the Bush Administration’s disregard of the rule of law in the war on terror.
O’Donnell received his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University. He also holds a Master of Law degree from Yale University. He was valedictorian of his high school class in Averill Park, N.Y; selected outstanding student of his college graduating class; and was the top student of his law school class. He was also co-captain of Georgetown’s 1968 football team. Pierce has been a lecturer at Harvard, USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Loyola, and Georgetown.
O’Donnell lives near Santa Barbara with his wife, Dawn, also an attorney. He has five children ranging in age from 8 to 25.