Education

  • Northwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 1980
  • Brandeis University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1977

Admissions

  • California, 1981
  • U.S. Supreme Court
vCard icon

Download vCard
T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: mbien@rbgg.com

Michael W. Bien is managing and co-founding partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP where he concentrates his litigation practice on complex commercial litigation, class actions, constitutional and civil rights law, antitrust, intellectual property, disability rights, and attorneys’ fees disputes. 

Mr. Bien was named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year for 2010 by both California Lawyer magazine and The Recorder and was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 lawyers in California in both 2010 and 2013. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation since 2013. Full bio »

vCard icon

Download vCard
T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: mbien@rbgg.com

Michael W. Bien is managing and co-founding partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP where he concentrates his litigation practice on complex commercial litigation, class actions, constitutional and civil rights law, antitrust, intellectual property, disability rights, and attorneys’ fees disputes. 

Mr. Bien was named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year for 2010 by both California Lawyer magazine and The Recorder and was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 lawyers in California in both 2010 and 2013. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation since 2013.

Mr. Bien is a student and teacher of the art and science of trial practice. He has successfully tried to judgment several complex, multi-party class actions in federal court. He has frequently been called upon to teach trial practice and litigation techniques to other lawyers through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy as well as other professional organizations.

Mr. Bien has also frequently represented clients in the state and federal appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States.

His commercial litigation clients have included national and international companies such as Pfizer Corporation, Estee Lauder, Credo Mobile, Unocal, American Stores, Fluor Daniel, Roadway Express, Equity Property & Development Company, and Trans Union, as well as numerous small businesses and individuals. He has represented these and other companies in complex litigation matters in state and federal court on a wide range of issues, including antitrust, trade secrets, banking and financial regulation, employment, unfair competition, class actions and intellectual property matters.

Mr. Bien has also successfully litigated a series of major civil rights class actions against state and federal correction agencies and other public and private entities. These cases have resulted in significant prospective relief regarding unconstitutional conditions of confinement, denial of mental health care, unlawful discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, protection of prisoners from sexual assault, and parole revocation reform.

He is co-lead counsel in a successful three-judge court trial that imposed a population cap on the California prison system in August 2009, which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in its historic prison overcrowding decision, Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011). In late 2013, the Supreme Court declined the State’s effort to re-open the overcrowding case, handing Bien and his team another historic victory.  

Mr. Bien was lead counsel in three federal court class action trials in 2013 exposing cruel and unusual mistreatment of persons with mental illness in three critical areas – denial of psychiatric hospital services, use-of-force, including pepper spray, and overuse of solitary confinement. The trials brought into public view abuses that have gone on for years in California prisons. RBGG’s clients prevailed in all three trials, and major reforms are now underway.

Mr. Bien has special expertise in class action and other complex litigation in federal and state courts. He brings to his work the unique experience and insight derived from having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous such cases. Mr. Bien has extensive experience with various procedures for coordinating, prosecuting and defending complex, multi-party proceedings such as Multi District Litigation (MDL) in the federal courts, and has represented clients facing simultaneous civil, criminal and administrative proceedings. Mr. Bien has also successfully defended corporate and individual clients in class actions and other complex litigation brought under state and federal law. He has extensive experience in antitrust, unfair competition, securities, RICO, intellectual property and trade regulation litigation under federal law. He has also frequently represented clients in antitrust (Cartwright Act), indirect purchaser, trade secret, unfair competition and unfair trade practices (Business and Professions Code 17200) in California courts.

Mr. Bien has also been an officer, member, or board member for a number of community organizations, including Mission YMCA, Metropolitan YMCA, New Israel Fund, Camp Tawonga, Brandeis Hillel Day School, Jewish Community Federation, Religious Witness with Homeless People, and Jewish Vocational Service. He served as Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and has been a member of the State Bar of California’s Commission on Corrections. He serves on the First District Appellate Project’s Board of Directors.

He previously was a partner in the San Francisco office of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, where he worked from 1980 through 1990. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University in 1980 and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1977.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Coleman v. Brown/Plata v. Brown: In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California’s prisons resulted in cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court affirmed a January 2010 order issued by a three-judge federal court after an extensive trial directing California officials to reduce the State’s severe prison overcrowding down to 137.5% of design capacity. The order was issued after the judges found that overcrowding is the primary cause of ongoing unconstitutional conditions in California’s prisons, such as the system’s inability to provide minimally adequate medical and mental health care for prisoners.  See Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011).
  • Coleman v. Brown: Mr. Bien leads the RBGG team that represents a class of the more than 30,000 men and women in California’s prison system with serious mental illness. After a contested trial, the district court held that the prison mental health delivery system violates the Eighth Amendment and ordered systemwide injunctive relief. See Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995). The court determined that the constitutional violations remain ongoing in 2013 after the State attempted to terminate the injunction. See Coleman v. Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013). Through hard-fought litigation over the last two decades, RBGG has secured a number of significant systemic changes on behalf of the class, including, most recently, reforms to policies and practices regarding the use of force against prisoners with mental illness, as well as the overuse and misuse of solitary confinement. See Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014). RBGG also recently secured an order requiring the State to provide emergency access to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, which was affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit in an unpublished decision.  For more information see Coleman v. Brown: Court Orders, Reports, Photos, Expert Declarations and Media Coverage.
  • Azizian v. Federated Department Stores:  Mr. Bien was co-counsel for the lead defendant, the cosmetics company Estee Lauder, in a state court antitrust action, which was settled as a nationwide federal class action. He represented Estee Lauder both at trial and on the successful appeal. See Azizian v. Federated Dept. Stores, 499 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2007). 
  • Genencor, Inc. and Genentech, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc. and Sonoma Foods, Inc.:  The firm was co-counsel in the successful defense of Pfizer in this federal biotech patent action involving Kosher cheese.
  • IDG v. Diversified Data Corp.:  The firm was lead counsel in this successful representation of a software company in trade secrets and right-to-compete litigation.
  • NextCard Inc.: Mr. Bien served as lead counsel in representation of this internet bank in various state and federal court litigation matters, including securities, antitrust, intellectual property, breach of contract, and employment disputes.
  • Systron Donner v. Aerosafe International:  Mr. Bien was co-lead counsel in the successful representation of former employees and their new company in this state court intellectual property action alleging theft of trade secrets where inventions were patented, including appellate proceedings.
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey: We sued the County of Monterey and its private medical provider, California Forensic Medical Group, challenging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the County’s Jail, a system plagued by severe overcrowding, outdated facilities, and chronic understaffing.  In 2014, we defeated the defendants’ motions to dismiss and obtained a unique ruling holding that our clients could assert ADA Title III claims against the Jail’s private medical provider.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014) .  The federal court subsequently certified a class of the approximately 950 prisoners in the Jail, along with a sub-class of prisoners with disabilities.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  On April 14, 2015, the court granted a sweeping preliminary injunction on behalf of the class and sub-class, finding rampant violations of the Constitution and federal law.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2015 WL 3868036 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2015).  The court approved the parties’ settlement on August 18, 2015, which requires defendants to comply with the requirements of the preliminary injunction and to develop and implement a comprehensive set of plans to enhance services at the Jail.  
  • Hedrick, et al. v. Grant, et. al:  RBGG and the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic represent hundreds of prisoners in a class-action lawsuit to improve conditions of confinement for pre-trial detainees, convicted prisoners, and immigration detainees at California’s Yuba County Jail.  In 1979, the federal court approved a consent decree in which Yuba County agreed to maintain certain conditions within the Jail, including in the areas of medical and mental health care, outdoor exercise and out-of-cell time, grievance procedures, housing and safety.  In 2013, Yuba County moved to terminate the consent decree, which the federal district court subsequently denied.  RBGG is currently working to enforce key provisions of the consent decree and to litigate related matters on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.
  • Armstrong v. Brown: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). We also established that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010). RBGG also established that the Prison Litigation Reform Act does not limit fee awards for prison litigation brought under federal laws prohibiting disability discrimination. See Armstrong v. Davis, 318 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2003).
  • In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Petroleum Products Antitrust: Mr. Bien was one of the key attorneys in the successful representation of defendant Union Oil Corporation of California in multiyear antitrust proceedings concerning oil and gas production, pricing, and sales.
  • Berkeley Center for Independent Living v. Oakland Coliseum.  Mr. Bien served as co-lead counsel representing the plaintiff class in a successful federal court ADA action for damages and injunctive relief against the Coliseum, its public entity owners, and all sports teams and entertainment companies operating there.
  • Armstrong v. Davis: After a contested trial, RBGG secured a federal court order requiring the Board of Prison Terms to remedy its shocking failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act during parole hearings. The court issued the order after RBGG presented testimony from, among others, a prisoner who required the use of a wheelchair was forced to crawl upstairs to attend his hearing, a deaf prisoner who could not communicate with his sign language interpreter during his hearing because he was forced to remain shackled, and a blind inmate who was offered no help with understanding complicated written materials regarding his rights. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction. See Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2001).
  • Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter: RBGG represented the mother and children of a young man who developed a life threatening infection over the course of several days at the County’s jail. Custody and medical staff ignored and failed to respond to his worsening condition and pleas for help, leading to his preventable and painful death. After defeating the County’s motion to dismiss, we obtained a $775,000 settlement in the case, the majority of which was set aside to benefit the children. See Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter, 958 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (2013).
  • Estate of Bock v. County of Sutter: RBGG represented the four daughters of a man with serious mental illness who was denied access to clinically necessary and court-ordered psychiatric hospitalization while in the County’s jail. After being placed in solitary confinement and denied treatment at the jail for four weeks, he committed suicide in his cell. We obtained an $800,000 settlement in the case, along with a commitment from the County to consider expert recommendations to improve the treatment of prisoners with serious mental illness and medical conditions at the jail going forward.
  • Equity Properties and Development Company:  Mr. Bien was lead counsel in various state court real estate and construction litigation matters, including a trial and successful appeal.
  • Computer Education Managers Association: Mr. Bien provided antitrust counselling to CEMA.
  • Fluor-Daniel Corporation:  Mr. Bien was lead counsel representing this construction company in various commercial litigation matters in state court.
  • Valdivia v. Davis: RBGG secured a permanent injunction against the State based on a federal court’s finding that delays in its parole revocation process violated due process protections. See Valdivia v. Davis, 206 F. Supp. 2d 1068 (2002). We convinced the Ninth Circuit to affirm a subsequent district court order holding that federal due process rights concerning admission of hearsay evidence apply to state administrative procedures. See Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 548 F. Supp. 2d 852 (E.D. Cal. 2008), aff’d 599 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2010), denied, 131 S. Ct. 1626 (2011).
  • Hecker v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: RBGG brought this disability discrimination class action on behalf of all California prisoners with serious mental illness.  On March 2, 2015, the court approved a final settlement in the case, which includes several statewide policy changes to end discriminatory practices and gives the federal court the power to enforce implementation of the changes as necessary.
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger: RBGG secured the rights of all juvenile parolees in California to fair hearings when they are accused of violating the terms of their parole. As a result of our lawsuit, the State agreed to provide attorneys to all juvenile parolees accused of parole violations, as well notice of the charges and evidence against them, the right to confront their accusers in a hearing, assistance for those parolees with disabilities, and the right to be considered for community-based alternative sanctions instead of return to the juvenile prison system. See L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (2007).
  • Valdivia v. Brown and L.H. v. Brown: We secured a consolidated order in these cases finding that a rate increase for work performed by RBGG and its cocounsel on behalf of two plaintiff classes was reasonable under the law.  See Valdivia v. Brown, 848 F. Supp. 2d 1141 (E.D. Cal. 2011).
  • Lucas v. White: Mr. Bien was lead counsel in this federal civil rights action for damages and injunctive relief brought on behalf of three female prisoners who were sexually assaulted while incarcerated in federal prison. The federal government agreed to pay $500,000 in damages. It further agreed to system-wide reform of its policies, procedures, and training governing issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the rights of female prisoners and victims of crimes. The court also awarded RBGG and its cocounsel over $500,000 in attorneys’ fees. See Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999).
  • Whitaker v. Rushen.  Mr. Bien successfully litigated a challenge to forced medication and involuntary and inappropriate psychiatric care at San Quentin and Vacaville prisons.
  • Gates v. Deukmejian: As co-lead counsel, Mr. Bien successfully briefed three and argued two appeals arising out of a consent decree requiring California to improve medical and mental health care, treatment of HIV prisoners, and conditions of confinement for certain California prisoners. In first appeal, Mr. Bien successfully defended core elements of the district court’s ruling on civil rights attorneys’ fees. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1992). In the second, Mr. Bien successfully defended almost all portions of the injunctive remedy ordered against the state government agencies. See Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995). And in the third, the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling that clarified contempt powers in complex injunction cases. See Gates v. Shinn, 98 F.3d 463 (9th Cir. 1996).

Published Decisions

  • Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011)
  • Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014)
  • Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter, 958 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (E.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Coleman v. Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, 922 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. Cal. and N.D. Cal. 2009)
  • Azizian v. Federated Dept. Stores, 499 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2007)
  • Armstrong v. Davis, 318 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2003)
  • Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2001)
  • Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
  • Wilson v. U.S.D.C. for Eastern District of California, 103 F.3d 828 (9th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997)
  • Gates v. Shinn, 98 F.3d 463 (9th Cir. 1996)
  • Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995)
  • Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995)
  • Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1992)

 

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America 2013-2016 for Commercial Litigation
  • Daily Journal Top 100 California Attorneys 2013 and 2010
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for Constitutional Law, 2010
  • Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, Finalist, 2010
  • The Recorder Attorney of the Year Award, 2010
  • “Outstanding Mental Health Advocate” Award, California Coalition for Mental Health, 2003
  • Award “for outstanding contribution to the preservation of prison inmates’ rights,” California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, 1994
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, 2006-2015
  • Michael W. Bien
    online at
    Super Lawyers

Education

  • Northwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 1980
  • Brandeis University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1977

Admissions

  • California, 1981
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Experience

  • Founding partner of predecessor firm to Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, 1990
  • Litigation associate and partner, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, San Francisco, 1980-1990

Community Service

  • Member, American Bar Association Antitrust Section
  • Member, Mediator Panel and Early Neutral Evaluation Panel, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1994 to date
  • Officer, board member or committee member for numerous community organizations, including Mission YMCA, Metropolitan YMCA, New Israel Fund, Camp Tawonga, Brandeis Hillel Day School, Jewish Community Federation, Religious Witness with Homeless People, Jewish Vocational Service

Michael W. Bien is managing and co-founding partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP where he concentrates his litigation practice on complex commercial litigation, class actions, constitutional and civil rights law, antitrust, intellectual property, disability rights, and attorneys’ fees disputes. 

Mr. Bien was named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year for 2010 by both California Lawyer magazine and The Recorder and was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 lawyers in California in both 2010 and 2013. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation since 2013.

Mr. Bien is a student and teacher of the art and science of trial practice. He has successfully tried to judgment several complex, multi-party class actions in federal court. He has frequently been called upon to teach trial practice and litigation techniques to other lawyers through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy as well as other professional organizations.

Mr. Bien has also frequently represented clients in the state and federal appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States.

His commercial litigation clients have included national and international companies such as Pfizer Corporation, Estee Lauder, Credo Mobile, Unocal, American Stores, Fluor Daniel, Roadway Express, Equity Property & Development Company, and Trans Union, as well as numerous small businesses and individuals. He has represented these and other companies in complex litigation matters in state and federal court on a wide range of issues, including antitrust, trade secrets, banking and financial regulation, employment, unfair competition, class actions and intellectual property matters.

Mr. Bien has also successfully litigated a series of major civil rights class actions against state and federal correction agencies and other public and private entities. These cases have resulted in significant prospective relief regarding unconstitutional conditions of confinement, denial of mental health care, unlawful discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, protection of prisoners from sexual assault, and parole revocation reform.

He is co-lead counsel in a successful three-judge court trial that imposed a population cap on the California prison system in August 2009, which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in its historic prison overcrowding decision, Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011). In late 2013, the Supreme Court declined the State’s effort to re-open the overcrowding case, handing Bien and his team another historic victory.  

Mr. Bien was lead counsel in three federal court class action trials in 2013 exposing cruel and unusual mistreatment of persons with mental illness in three critical areas – denial of psychiatric hospital services, use-of-force, including pepper spray, and overuse of solitary confinement. The trials brought into public view abuses that have gone on for years in California prisons. RBGG’s clients prevailed in all three trials, and major reforms are now underway.

Mr. Bien has special expertise in class action and other complex litigation in federal and state courts. He brings to his work the unique experience and insight derived from having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous such cases. Mr. Bien has extensive experience with various procedures for coordinating, prosecuting and defending complex, multi-party proceedings such as Multi District Litigation (MDL) in the federal courts, and has represented clients facing simultaneous civil, criminal and administrative proceedings. Mr. Bien has also successfully defended corporate and individual clients in class actions and other complex litigation brought under state and federal law. He has extensive experience in antitrust, unfair competition, securities, RICO, intellectual property and trade regulation litigation under federal law. He has also frequently represented clients in antitrust (Cartwright Act), indirect purchaser, trade secret, unfair competition and unfair trade practices (Business and Professions Code 17200) in California courts.

Mr. Bien has also been an officer, member, or board member for a number of community organizations, including Mission YMCA, Metropolitan YMCA, New Israel Fund, Camp Tawonga, Brandeis Hillel Day School, Jewish Community Federation, Religious Witness with Homeless People, and Jewish Vocational Service. He served as Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and has been a member of the State Bar of California’s Commission on Corrections. He serves on the First District Appellate Project’s Board of Directors.

He previously was a partner in the San Francisco office of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, where he worked from 1980 through 1990. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University in 1980 and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1977.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Coleman v. Brown/Plata v. Brown: In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California’s prisons resulted in cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court affirmed a January 2010 order issued by a three-judge federal court after an extensive trial directing California officials to reduce the State’s severe prison overcrowding down to 137.5% of design capacity. The order was issued after the judges found that overcrowding is the primary cause of ongoing unconstitutional conditions in California’s prisons, such as the system’s inability to provide minimally adequate medical and mental health care for prisoners.  See Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011).
  • Coleman v. Brown: Mr. Bien leads the RBGG team that represents a class of the more than 30,000 men and women in California’s prison system with serious mental illness. After a contested trial, the district court held that the prison mental health delivery system violates the Eighth Amendment and ordered systemwide injunctive relief. See Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995). The court determined that the constitutional violations remain ongoing in 2013 after the State attempted to terminate the injunction. See Coleman v. Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013). Through hard-fought litigation over the last two decades, RBGG has secured a number of significant systemic changes on behalf of the class, including, most recently, reforms to policies and practices regarding the use of force against prisoners with mental illness, as well as the overuse and misuse of solitary confinement. See Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014). RBGG also recently secured an order requiring the State to provide emergency access to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, which was affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit in an unpublished decision.  For more information see Coleman v. Brown: Court Orders, Reports, Photos, Expert Declarations and Media Coverage.
  • Azizian v. Federated Department Stores:  Mr. Bien was co-counsel for the lead defendant, the cosmetics company Estee Lauder, in a state court antitrust action, which was settled as a nationwide federal class action. He represented Estee Lauder both at trial and on the successful appeal. See Azizian v. Federated Dept. Stores, 499 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2007). 
  • Genencor, Inc. and Genentech, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc. and Sonoma Foods, Inc.:  The firm was co-counsel in the successful defense of Pfizer in this federal biotech patent action involving Kosher cheese.
  • IDG v. Diversified Data Corp.:  The firm was lead counsel in this successful representation of a software company in trade secrets and right-to-compete litigation.
  • NextCard Inc.: Mr. Bien served as lead counsel in representation of this internet bank in various state and federal court litigation matters, including securities, antitrust, intellectual property, breach of contract, and employment disputes.
  • Systron Donner v. Aerosafe International:  Mr. Bien was co-lead counsel in the successful representation of former employees and their new company in this state court intellectual property action alleging theft of trade secrets where inventions were patented, including appellate proceedings.
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey: We sued the County of Monterey and its private medical provider, California Forensic Medical Group, challenging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the County’s Jail, a system plagued by severe overcrowding, outdated facilities, and chronic understaffing.  In 2014, we defeated the defendants’ motions to dismiss and obtained a unique ruling holding that our clients could assert ADA Title III claims against the Jail’s private medical provider.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014) .  The federal court subsequently certified a class of the approximately 950 prisoners in the Jail, along with a sub-class of prisoners with disabilities.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  On April 14, 2015, the court granted a sweeping preliminary injunction on behalf of the class and sub-class, finding rampant violations of the Constitution and federal law.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2015 WL 3868036 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2015).  The court approved the parties’ settlement on August 18, 2015, which requires defendants to comply with the requirements of the preliminary injunction and to develop and implement a comprehensive set of plans to enhance services at the Jail.  
  • Hedrick, et al. v. Grant, et. al:  RBGG and the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic represent hundreds of prisoners in a class-action lawsuit to improve conditions of confinement for pre-trial detainees, convicted prisoners, and immigration detainees at California’s Yuba County Jail.  In 1979, the federal court approved a consent decree in which Yuba County agreed to maintain certain conditions within the Jail, including in the areas of medical and mental health care, outdoor exercise and out-of-cell time, grievance procedures, housing and safety.  In 2013, Yuba County moved to terminate the consent decree, which the federal district court subsequently denied.  RBGG is currently working to enforce key provisions of the consent decree and to litigate related matters on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.
  • Armstrong v. Brown: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). We also established that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010). RBGG also established that the Prison Litigation Reform Act does not limit fee awards for prison litigation brought under federal laws prohibiting disability discrimination. See Armstrong v. Davis, 318 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2003).
  • In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Petroleum Products Antitrust: Mr. Bien was one of the key attorneys in the successful representation of defendant Union Oil Corporation of California in multiyear antitrust proceedings concerning oil and gas production, pricing, and sales.
  • Berkeley Center for Independent Living v. Oakland Coliseum.  Mr. Bien served as co-lead counsel representing the plaintiff class in a successful federal court ADA action for damages and injunctive relief against the Coliseum, its public entity owners, and all sports teams and entertainment companies operating there.
  • Armstrong v. Davis: After a contested trial, RBGG secured a federal court order requiring the Board of Prison Terms to remedy its shocking failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act during parole hearings. The court issued the order after RBGG presented testimony from, among others, a prisoner who required the use of a wheelchair was forced to crawl upstairs to attend his hearing, a deaf prisoner who could not communicate with his sign language interpreter during his hearing because he was forced to remain shackled, and a blind inmate who was offered no help with understanding complicated written materials regarding his rights. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction. See Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2001).
  • Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter: RBGG represented the mother and children of a young man who developed a life threatening infection over the course of several days at the County’s jail. Custody and medical staff ignored and failed to respond to his worsening condition and pleas for help, leading to his preventable and painful death. After defeating the County’s motion to dismiss, we obtained a $775,000 settlement in the case, the majority of which was set aside to benefit the children. See Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter, 958 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (2013).
  • Estate of Bock v. County of Sutter: RBGG represented the four daughters of a man with serious mental illness who was denied access to clinically necessary and court-ordered psychiatric hospitalization while in the County’s jail. After being placed in solitary confinement and denied treatment at the jail for four weeks, he committed suicide in his cell. We obtained an $800,000 settlement in the case, along with a commitment from the County to consider expert recommendations to improve the treatment of prisoners with serious mental illness and medical conditions at the jail going forward.
  • Equity Properties and Development Company:  Mr. Bien was lead counsel in various state court real estate and construction litigation matters, including a trial and successful appeal.
  • Computer Education Managers Association: Mr. Bien provided antitrust counselling to CEMA.
  • Fluor-Daniel Corporation:  Mr. Bien was lead counsel representing this construction company in various commercial litigation matters in state court.
  • Valdivia v. Davis: RBGG secured a permanent injunction against the State based on a federal court’s finding that delays in its parole revocation process violated due process protections. See Valdivia v. Davis, 206 F. Supp. 2d 1068 (2002). We convinced the Ninth Circuit to affirm a subsequent district court order holding that federal due process rights concerning admission of hearsay evidence apply to state administrative procedures. See Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 548 F. Supp. 2d 852 (E.D. Cal. 2008), aff’d 599 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2010), denied, 131 S. Ct. 1626 (2011).
  • Hecker v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: RBGG brought this disability discrimination class action on behalf of all California prisoners with serious mental illness.  On March 2, 2015, the court approved a final settlement in the case, which includes several statewide policy changes to end discriminatory practices and gives the federal court the power to enforce implementation of the changes as necessary.
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger: RBGG secured the rights of all juvenile parolees in California to fair hearings when they are accused of violating the terms of their parole. As a result of our lawsuit, the State agreed to provide attorneys to all juvenile parolees accused of parole violations, as well notice of the charges and evidence against them, the right to confront their accusers in a hearing, assistance for those parolees with disabilities, and the right to be considered for community-based alternative sanctions instead of return to the juvenile prison system. See L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (2007).
  • Valdivia v. Brown and L.H. v. Brown: We secured a consolidated order in these cases finding that a rate increase for work performed by RBGG and its cocounsel on behalf of two plaintiff classes was reasonable under the law.  See Valdivia v. Brown, 848 F. Supp. 2d 1141 (E.D. Cal. 2011).
  • Lucas v. White: Mr. Bien was lead counsel in this federal civil rights action for damages and injunctive relief brought on behalf of three female prisoners who were sexually assaulted while incarcerated in federal prison. The federal government agreed to pay $500,000 in damages. It further agreed to system-wide reform of its policies, procedures, and training governing issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the rights of female prisoners and victims of crimes. The court also awarded RBGG and its cocounsel over $500,000 in attorneys’ fees. See Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999).
  • Whitaker v. Rushen.  Mr. Bien successfully litigated a challenge to forced medication and involuntary and inappropriate psychiatric care at San Quentin and Vacaville prisons.
  • Gates v. Deukmejian: As co-lead counsel, Mr. Bien successfully briefed three and argued two appeals arising out of a consent decree requiring California to improve medical and mental health care, treatment of HIV prisoners, and conditions of confinement for certain California prisoners. In first appeal, Mr. Bien successfully defended core elements of the district court’s ruling on civil rights attorneys’ fees. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1992). In the second, Mr. Bien successfully defended almost all portions of the injunctive remedy ordered against the state government agencies. See Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995). And in the third, the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling that clarified contempt powers in complex injunction cases. See Gates v. Shinn, 98 F.3d 463 (9th Cir. 1996).

Published Decisions

  • Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011)
  • Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014)
  • Estate of Prasad v. County of Sutter, 958 F. Supp. 2d 1101 (E.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Coleman v. Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, 922 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. Cal. and N.D. Cal. 2009)
  • Azizian v. Federated Dept. Stores, 499 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2007)
  • Armstrong v. Davis, 318 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2003)
  • Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2001)
  • Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
  • Wilson v. U.S.D.C. for Eastern District of California, 103 F.3d 828 (9th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997)
  • Gates v. Shinn, 98 F.3d 463 (9th Cir. 1996)
  • Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995)
  • Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995)
  • Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1992)

 

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America 2013-2016 for Commercial Litigation
  • Daily Journal Top 100 California Attorneys 2013 and 2010
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for Constitutional Law, 2010
  • Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, Finalist, 2010
  • The Recorder Attorney of the Year Award, 2010
  • “Outstanding Mental Health Advocate” Award, California Coalition for Mental Health, 2003
  • Award “for outstanding contribution to the preservation of prison inmates’ rights,” California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, 1994
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, 2006-2015
  • Michael W. Bien
    online at
    Super Lawyers

Publications

  • “Court Should Affirm 9th Circuit on Crisis Intervention Policing,” Daily Journal (with Lisa Ells) (Oct. 24, 2014)
  • Co-Author, “The Noerr-Pennington Doctrine,” ABA Antitrust Section, Monograph No. 19, 1993
  • Author, “Litigation as an Antitrust Violation: Conflict Between the First Amendment and the Sherman Act,” 16 University of San Francisco Law Review 41, 1981
  • “Court Should Affirm 9th Circuit on Crisis Intervention Policing,” Daily Journal (with Lisa Ells) (Oct. 24, 2014)
  • Co-Author, “The Noerr-Pennington Doctrine,” ABA Antitrust Section, Monograph No. 19, 1993
  • Author, “Litigation as an Antitrust Violation: Conflict Between the First Amendment and the Sherman Act,” 16 University of San Francisco Law Review 41, 1981

Presentations

  • Instructor in Trial Practice, National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Mid-West Regional at Northwestern University School of Law (1994, 1997, 1998); Mid-West Regional at Loyola University School of Law (2001); Western Regional at Golden Gate Law School (1996, 1997); Western Regional at Boalt Hall School of Law (2000); Deposition Program (2000, 2001)
  • Guest Lecturer, Panelist, or Workshop Leader:
    • Jacobus TenBroek Disability Law Symposium (Baltimore, 2014 and 2012)
    Full list of presentations »
  • Instructor in Trial Practice, National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Mid-West Regional at Northwestern University School of Law (1994, 1997, 1998); Mid-West Regional at Loyola University School of Law (2001); Western Regional at Golden Gate Law School (1996, 1997); Western Regional at Boalt Hall School of Law (2000); Deposition Program (2000, 2001)
  • Guest Lecturer, Panelist, or Workshop Leader:
    • Jacobus TenBroek Disability Law Symposium (Baltimore, 2014 and 2012)
    • Stanford Law School, Sentencing & Corrections class, (2014)
    •  Coleman/Plata and its transformative impact on California’s prison system, Stanford Law School, American Constitution Society (2014)
    • Loyola University School of Law, New Orleans, Prisoners’ Advocates (2014)
    • UCI Law School (2013)
    • AAJ Civil Rights Education Program (2013)
    • California Correctional Crisis: Realignment & Reform, “Health Care after Plata” (UC Hastings, 2013)
    • Impact Fund’s 11th Annual Class Action Conference, (2013)
    • San Francisco Bar Association Panel, “Impact Litigation at the Appellate Level” (San Francisco, 2012)
    • Public Dialogues Conference, “Realignment in California” (UC Irvine, 2012)
    • Caleb Foote Symposium, “Holding the Correction System Accountable” (Berkeley Law, 2012)
    • American Constitution Society, “Brown v. Plata, The California Prison Overcrowding Crisis,” (Northwestern University, 2011)
    • Prisoner Rights Law, (Northwestern University, 2011)
    • Joshua A. Guberman Lecture (with Jane Kahn), “Representing Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness, Trapped in a Nightmare: The California Prison Overcrowding Case,” (Brandeis University, 2011)
    • Advanced Seminar on Criminal Law and Public Policy,” (Stanford University, 2011)
    • Ruth Chance Lecture, “Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011),” Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, (University of California, Berkeley, 2011)
    • American Constitution Society, “The California Prison Overcrowding Case:   Strategic Considerations in the Representation of an Unpopular and Feared Class in the Defense of Fundamental Constitutional Rights,” (University of Chicago, 2011)
    • Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium: Bridging the Gap Between the Disability Rights Movement and Other Civil Rights Movements, (National Association for the Blind, 2011)
    • American Constitution Society, Prisoners Rights, (Northwestern University, 2010)
    • Public Interest Law Group and Bluhm Legal Clinic, “Private – Public Interest Law” (Northwestern University, 2010)
    • Prisoners’ Rights Litigation: A Workshop for Advocates, “Triaging and Financing Prison Cases”, (Yale Law School, 2010)
    • California Prison Overcrowding and the Supreme Court, (Northwestern University, 2009)
    • KQED Forum, “Prison Overcrowding Decision” (San Francisco, 2009)
    • Prison Litigation Conference, “Prisoner Release Orders and the California Litigation,” (George Washington University, 2008)
    • USF Law Review Symposium on Prison Crisis, (University of San Francisco, 2008)
    • “California Prison Crisis,” (Boalt Hall School of Law, 2007)
    •  “Prison Class Action Litigation,” “California Prison Overcrowding Crisis,” (UCLA School of Law, 2007)
    •  “Mental Health in Prisons,” School of Public Health, Advanced Seminar in Community Mental Health (University of California, Berkeley 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
    • “Back-End Sentencing and Technical Parole Violations,” (Stanford Law School, 2006)
    • “Police Misconduct and Institutional Reform Litigation In California” Lorman Education Services (San Francisco 2005)
    • “Civil Rights Litigation: Overused or Under Siege?” Northern District of California Judicial Conference (Santa Cruz 2002)