James J. Finsten is an experienced and creative litigator, unwavering in his commitment to achieve the best possible outcomes.  He seeks to understand clients’ businesses and objectively assess how evidence will be perceived by judges and factfinders in establishing case strategies; drafting and arguing motions; taking and defending depositions; hiring and supervising expert witnesses; and conducting factual investigations.  Clients appreciate Mr. Finsten’s candid and useful advice, and that he respects the value of their time and the cost of litigation.

Mr. Finsten is particularly experienced advising clients on environmental and water resource matters.  He has represented clients before federal state and local regulators, and has litigated claims under most federal and state environmental statutes, including CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Water Act, Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.  He also has represented clients in common law public and private nuisance claims.

Among his more notable cases, Mr. Finsten was part of the team that represented homeless veterans in the greater Los Angeles area in a lawsuit against Veterans Administration officials.  The case settled favorably for the homeless veterans after more than three years of litigation, wherein the VA committed to providing permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless veterans on the West Los Angeles VA campus.

Prior to joining Lurie Zepeda, Mr. Finsten spent ten years at an Am Law 100 firm where he focused on complex civil cases and federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).  He served as a law clerk to the Honorable George H. King, United States District Court for the Central District of California from 2005 – 2006.

Education

  • University of Southern California Law School, J.D., 2004
    • Southern California Law Review: Articles Editor (Vol. 77), Staff (Vol. 76)
  • Stanford University, 1998
    • M.A., International Policy Studies
    • B.A., Public Policy with secondary major in Economics

Bar & Court Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. District Court (Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts, CA)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Cir.) 

Honors & Awards

  • Humanitarian Award for representation of homeless veterans, ACLU of Southern California, 2015, 2012

James Finsten's Representative Matters by Practice Area

Appeals

  • Successfully argued appeal on behalf of formerly pro se litigant, obtaining the first outright reversal for Public Counsel’s Appellate Law Program.

Business Litigation

  • Advised an aerospace manufacturer on multiple environmental remediation projects. Negotiated multiple environmental, property access and regulatory agreements with property owners and other public and private stakeholders. Represented client before local, state and federal regulators.

  • Defended an aerospace manufacturer in two complex groundwater contamination cases brought by public entity plaintiff involving numerous sites and defendants. Conducted key depositions of plaintiff’s experts resulting in successful motion for summary judgment.

  • Represented a large manufacturer in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability (CERCLA) proceedings relating to a chemical recycling facility. Advocated on behalf of client in litigation management committee and group steering committee.

  • Defended a major construction engineering firm from tort claims relating to San Joaquin Valley Fever. Devised case strategy and motion practice. Oversaw discovery responses and document production.

  • Defended a major refiner in mass actions filed by its franchisees asserting contract, unfair competition and antitrust claims arising from point-of-sale and back-office accounting system, wholesale gasoline pricing and selection of third-party vendors. Devised case strategy and implemented discovery plan.

  • Represented a major financial institution in consumer class action and Unfair Competition Law (UCL) litigation. Conducted discovery and drafted dispositive motions.

  • Defended a major refiner in breach of contract litigation relating to the transfer of a jet fuel pipeline and related infrastructure. Conducted fact and expert discovery, drafted and opposed dispositive motions, and prepared for trial.

  • Obtained summary judgment on federal Administrative Procedures Act claims.

  • Represented a class of homeless veterans with severe mental illness and/or traumatic brain injury with claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs officials relating to the West Los Angeles VA Campus.

  • Defended a major refiner in ongoing federal MDL and California state court proceedings relating to the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). Conducted numerous percipient and expert depositions. Coordinated joint defense group motion practice resulting in multiple successful dispositive motions.

  • Represented a private equity investor in fraud and breach of contract litigation arising from leveraged buyout transaction. Conducted discovery and drafted successful summary judgment briefing disposing of defendants’ counterclaims. Represented client through trial and post-trial settlement.

Intellectual Property Disputes

  • Represented a major software developer against claims of trade secret misappropriation and breach of implied contract brought by a screenwriter relating to development of personal fitness video game. Drafted key motions in limine, resulting in favorable settlement on eve of trial.

Environmental

  • Advised an aerospace manufacturer on multiple environmental remediation projects. Negotiated multiple environmental, property access and regulatory agreements with property owners and other public and private stakeholders. Represented client before local, state and federal regulators.

  • Defended an aerospace manufacturer in two complex groundwater contamination cases brought by public entity plaintiff involving numerous sites and defendants. Conducted key depositions of plaintiff’s experts resulting in successful motion for summary judgment.

  • Represented a large manufacturer in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability (CERCLA) proceedings relating to a chemical recycling facility. Advocated on behalf of client in litigation management committee and group steering committee.

  • Defended a major construction engineering firm from tort claims relating to San Joaquin Valley Fever. Devised case strategy and motion practice. Oversaw discovery responses and document production.

  • Defended a major refiner in ongoing federal MDL and California state court proceedings relating to the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). Conducted numerous percipient and expert depositions. Coordinated joint defense group motion practice resulting in multiple successful dispositive motions.