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Lifrak, Michael T.

Michael T. Lifrak

Direct Tel: +1 213-443-3153
Los Angeles
Tel: +1 213 443 3000 Fax: +1 213 443 3100

Michael Lifrak is trial lawyer who has tried (and won) cases around the country and the world, including in numerous California courts, Nevada, Delaware, New York, and Dubai.  His victories include defamation, antitrust, mass torts, securities fraud, common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, probate, real estate, partnership, and labor/employment cases.  When representing plaintiffs, he has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts, judgments, and settlements. 

His representation of defendants includes numerous nine- and ten-figure cases.  In addition, Michael is one of the few (and possibly only) lawyers in the country to have obtained complete defense victories at trial in both a class action and an individual securities action brought under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (In re Tesla Securities Litigation and Blattman v. Siebel, C3, et al.).

Michael also has extensive experience in areas such as class actions, securities, telecommunications, False Claims Act, and trade secrets law, as well as disputes regarding building and vessel construction. 

Michael also serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Laurence School, a K-6 independent school in Valley Glen, California. 

  • Tesla
  • Elon Musk
  • Shawn Carter (Jay-Z)
  • BAE Systems
  • C3, Inc.
  • Tom Siebel
  • Dubai Ports World
  • KB Home
  • University of Southern California
  • Fidelity Insurance Company
  • Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin
  • Marsh & McClennan
  • Superior National Insurance Group
  • Union Bank of California
  • Obtained full defense verdict for Elon Musk, Tesla, and its Board of Directors in a 2023 securities fraud class action trial in San Francisco.  The case related to Elon Musk’s tweets in August 2018 that he was considering taking Tesla private and that funding was “secured.”  The Plaintiff class was seeking recovery from what they claimed were more than $12 billion in investor losses.  This was the first defense-side jury verdict for a company in a securities class action in over 15 years.
  • Obtained complete defense verdict in four-week jury trial in New York state court on behalf of Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) and S. Carter Enterprises.  Plaintiff, a fragrance manufacturer, alleged breach of contract related to the promotion of a men’s fragrance and sought over $90 million in alleged lost profits damages.  
  • Represented Elon Musk in groundbreaking defamation case arising out of statements on Twitter.  Was key part of trial team that obtained a complete jury verdict in client’s favor and avoided plaintiff’s claim for $190 million in alleged damages.
  • Obtained complete defense victory in two-week trial in Delaware federal court for C3 and its top executives.  Plaintiff alleged fraud and securities fraud in connection with a merger of two software companies and sought in excess of $70 million.
  • Obtained complete defense verdict in breach of contract jury trial in Santa Clara Superior Court on behalf of C3, Inc.
  • Obtained complete defense verdict in four-week antitrust jury trial in the Southern District of New York related to a consumer herbicide product.  Plaintiff was seeking over $250 million. 
  • Represented Dubai Ports World in trial at the Dubai International Financial Court in a case involving the operation of a port in Egypt.  Plaintiff dismissed all claims in the middle of trial. 
  • Represented the University of Southern California at trial in which plaintiff, a dental implant manufacturer, was seeking more than $1 billion in lost profits arising out of a failed clinical study on the implant. The trial court excluded the opinion of the plaintiff’s damages expert, and Plaintiff recovered nothing.  The California Supreme Court upheld the judgment in a groundbreaking opinion. Sargon v. USC, 55 Cal. 4th 747 (2012).
  • Obtained complete defense victory in Los Angeles Superior court trial in which plaintiff claimed trustee bank breached fiduciary duties based on $23 million loss in value of trust portfolio.
  • Obtained complete defense victory in fraud trial in Los Angeles Superior Court related to a significant estate in probate.
  • Represented Plaintiff Superior National Insurance Group and secured a settlement on securities fraud and other claims in excess of $150 million on the eve of trial.  Superior National was a holding company that purchased four workers compensation insurance companies from Foundation Health Corporation (now Health Net, Inc.). The core allegation was that Foundation defrauded Superior by not disclosing certain financial and actuarial information in connection with the sale. Obtained an eight-figure settlement from the actuaries and an additional $137 million settlement from HealthNet.
  • Represented a Plaintiff real estate developer in a partnership dispute concerning one of the largest land development companies in California.  Obtained a $52 million settlement on the eve of trial in an action for breach of fiduciary duties.
  • Obtained an $18 million mid-trial settlement on behalf of plaintiff real estate developers in San Jose jury trial related to a partner’s breach of fiduciary duties.
  • Represented a major insurance company facing $135 million exposure related to a groundwater contamination claim.  Obtained a favorable settlement after four weeks of jury trial in Sacramento.
  • Trial counsel for KB Home in connection with the financing and partnership disputes arising from the Inspirada master plan community in Henderson, Nevada.  Engagement included successfully defending claims by lender syndicate on defaulted $320 million credit facility, serving as trial counsel in an arbitration seeking to compel specific performance of $500 million of purchase obligations, special litigation counsel for equity stakeholders in connection with the consortium’s bankruptcy, and trial counsel in arbitration between consortium members.
  • Obtained complete voluntary dismissal of defendant client in real estate dispute during first day of jury trial in federal court in Fresno.
  • Represented the outside director of a software company in a class action seeking hundreds of millions of dollars and alleging insider trading and fraud arising out of an accounting scandal.  Obtained summary dismissal of the case.
  • Represented the CEO of a large investment bank accused of insider trading claims arising from a repurchase of shares.  Obtained dismissal of the case against the CEO at the pleading stage.  Obtained a favorable settlement for the investment bank shortly thereafter. 
  • Represented a large energy trading company in a variety of litigation arising from the California energy crisis.  Obtained an injunction preventing the California Power Exchange from allocating losses to the client based on the defaults of other energy companies.  Also obtained an emergency stay of an injunction from the Ninth Circuit allowing the client to exercise its contractual right to terminate the energy contract.
  • Successfully represented numerous investment banks, brokerage firms, talent agencies, software companies, law firms, and other businesses in employment disputes with former partners and employees.
  • Successfully represented ship manufacturer and operator of shipyards in numerous cases around the country related to vessel construction and port operations. 
  • Successfully represented numerous Fortune 500 and other large companies, including Sprint,  in dozens of consumer and securities class actions around the country.
  • Yale Law School
    (J.D., 2000)
    • Yale Journal of Law and Public Policy:
      • Editor, 1998-2000
  • Columbia University
    (B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1997)
  • The State Bar of California
  • United States District Courts:
    • Northern District of California
    • Central District of California
    • Southern District of California