Education

  • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, J.D., 2008. Executive Editor, California Law Review
  • University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy, M.P.P., 2004
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1999

Admissions

  • California, 2008
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T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: vswearingen@rbgg.com

Van Swearingen is a partner at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, where he maintains a diverse practice in the areas of complex civil litigation, employment law, internal investigations, First Amendment issues, and civil rights.  Mr. Swearingen is an aggressive advocate who helps plaintiffs and defendants navigate their most complex issues and obtain favorable outcomes.  He has extensive experience handling business disputes, including matters concerning misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair business practices, fraud, and internal investigations.  Mr. Swearingen received a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) award in 2016, and was named  a Northern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers from 2015 through 2018. Full bio »

vCard icon

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

Van Swearingen is a partner at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, where he maintains a diverse practice in the areas of complex civil litigation, employment law, internal investigations, First Amendment issues, and civil rights.  Mr. Swearingen is an aggressive advocate who helps plaintiffs and defendants navigate their most complex issues and obtain favorable outcomes.  He has extensive experience handling business disputes, including matters concerning misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair business practices, fraud, and internal investigations.  Mr. Swearingen received a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) award in 2016, and was named  a Northern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers from 2015 through 2018.

Mr. Swearingen previously worked as a litigation associate at Sidley Austin LLP, where his practice focused on complex civil litigation, internal investigations, securities matters, and antitrust issues. He was also active in the firm’s pro bono efforts, including its representation of death row prisoners.

Prior to entering legal practice, Mr. Swearingen conducted statistical and public policy analysis for the Public Policy Institute of California, the Congressional Budget Office, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Swearingen serves on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and is Co-Chair of its annual gala.  He is also a member of the Freedom of Information Committee of the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Leaseholder v. Guarantor:  RBGG secured a favorable settlement of a San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit filed against a local restauranteur, who along with other investors, jointly and severally executed a personal guaranty of a restaurant lease that was subsequently breached.
  • CEO v. Board Member:  We obtained a complete dismissal of a San Francisco Superior Court case as to all causes of action on behalf of a corporate board member who was sued by a former CEO seeking reimbursement for unpaid corporate liabilities.
  • Tech. Entrepreneur v. Corporation:  RBGG successfully resolved a breach of contract dispute on behalf of an entrepreneur who entered an agreement to sell his technology company to a large corporation, and was promised employment and stock incentives as part of the deal.  After the deal was executed, the corporation failed to provide the entrepreneur with meaningful work or stock vesting opportunities while nevertheless reaping profits from the acquired technology.  We obtained a quick and favorable settlement on behalf of the entrepreneur.
  • Executive v. Technology Company:  We obtained a substantial confidential settlement for a female Chief Financial Officer who had claims against her former employer, a Bay Area technology startup, for whistleblower retaliation, unequal pay, discrimination, and harassment. 
  • Internal Investigation:  RBGG conducted a confidential investigation on behalf of a local labor union into the allegations of a complainant to advise the union of any potential liability arising under contract, tort, employment, and/or labor law.  As part of our investigation, we reviewed pertinent documents, interviewed percipient witnesses, and provided findings and recommendations.
  • Berman v. Brown:  RBGG brought two Equal Protection Clause challenges to California’s Alternative Custody Program (ACP), a voluntary program that allows certain female low-level prisoners to serve up to the last 24 months of their sentences in the community in lieu of confinement in state prison.  RBGG demonstrated that allowing qualified male inmates to also participate in the ACP is not only required by the Fourteenth Amendment, but will also benefit children and families, reduce recidivism, and save the State money.  In 2014, the court found it likely that California illegally discriminates on the basis of gender by excluding males from the ACP.  See 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014).  In ruling for RBGG’s client on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court in 2015 permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the female-only provisions of California Penal Code § 1170.05(a) and ordered Defendants to immediately accept male applicants if they are otherwise eligible.  RBGG’s client and a number of other male former prisoners are now free and participating in the ACP.  See 99 F. Supp. 3d 1223 (E.D. Cal. 2015). 
  • Public Records Act Client v. County Government: RBGG obtained a favorable settlement for a client who was entitled to attorneys’ fees arising out of its successful California Public Records Act litigation against a county government.
  • 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, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 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.  In November 2015, the Court approved a $4.8 million dollar award of fees and costs to counsel for the plaintiff class.
  • Start Up v. Law Firm: RBGG secured a confidential settlement for its client, a start-up company, for claims that its patent counsel had failed to protect its intellectual property rights by missing a major filing deadline.
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros.: In this complex class action on behalf of laborers alleging wage and hour violations against a major construction company, we obtained final approval of a $950,000 settlement with injunctive relief for the class. We also defeated company supervisors’ claims that they should share in the settlement, even though they had perpetrated the alleged wage and hour violations against class members. Before the settlement was reached, we obtained a conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims and a published decision striking all of the defendant’s affirmative defenses. See Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013).

Honors & Awards

  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award, 2016
  • Lawdragon, 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers, 2020
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2015-2018 Rising Star
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent peer review rating

Education

  • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, J.D., 2008. Executive Editor, California Law Review
  • University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy, M.P.P., 2004
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1999

Admissions

  • California, 2008

Professional Experience

  • Associate, Sidley Austin LLP, 2008-2014

Van Swearingen is a partner at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, where he maintains a diverse practice in the areas of complex civil litigation, employment law, internal investigations, First Amendment issues, and civil rights.  Mr. Swearingen is an aggressive advocate who helps plaintiffs and defendants navigate their most complex issues and obtain favorable outcomes.  He has extensive experience handling business disputes, including matters concerning misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair business practices, fraud, and internal investigations.  Mr. Swearingen received a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) award in 2016, and was named  a Northern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers from 2015 through 2018.

Mr. Swearingen previously worked as a litigation associate at Sidley Austin LLP, where his practice focused on complex civil litigation, internal investigations, securities matters, and antitrust issues. He was also active in the firm’s pro bono efforts, including its representation of death row prisoners.

Prior to entering legal practice, Mr. Swearingen conducted statistical and public policy analysis for the Public Policy Institute of California, the Congressional Budget Office, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Swearingen serves on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and is Co-Chair of its annual gala.  He is also a member of the Freedom of Information Committee of the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Leaseholder v. Guarantor:  RBGG secured a favorable settlement of a San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit filed against a local restauranteur, who along with other investors, jointly and severally executed a personal guaranty of a restaurant lease that was subsequently breached.
  • CEO v. Board Member:  We obtained a complete dismissal of a San Francisco Superior Court case as to all causes of action on behalf of a corporate board member who was sued by a former CEO seeking reimbursement for unpaid corporate liabilities.
  • Tech. Entrepreneur v. Corporation:  RBGG successfully resolved a breach of contract dispute on behalf of an entrepreneur who entered an agreement to sell his technology company to a large corporation, and was promised employment and stock incentives as part of the deal.  After the deal was executed, the corporation failed to provide the entrepreneur with meaningful work or stock vesting opportunities while nevertheless reaping profits from the acquired technology.  We obtained a quick and favorable settlement on behalf of the entrepreneur.
  • Executive v. Technology Company:  We obtained a substantial confidential settlement for a female Chief Financial Officer who had claims against her former employer, a Bay Area technology startup, for whistleblower retaliation, unequal pay, discrimination, and harassment. 
  • Internal Investigation:  RBGG conducted a confidential investigation on behalf of a local labor union into the allegations of a complainant to advise the union of any potential liability arising under contract, tort, employment, and/or labor law.  As part of our investigation, we reviewed pertinent documents, interviewed percipient witnesses, and provided findings and recommendations.
  • Berman v. Brown:  RBGG brought two Equal Protection Clause challenges to California’s Alternative Custody Program (ACP), a voluntary program that allows certain female low-level prisoners to serve up to the last 24 months of their sentences in the community in lieu of confinement in state prison.  RBGG demonstrated that allowing qualified male inmates to also participate in the ACP is not only required by the Fourteenth Amendment, but will also benefit children and families, reduce recidivism, and save the State money.  In 2014, the court found it likely that California illegally discriminates on the basis of gender by excluding males from the ACP.  See 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014).  In ruling for RBGG’s client on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court in 2015 permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the female-only provisions of California Penal Code § 1170.05(a) and ordered Defendants to immediately accept male applicants if they are otherwise eligible.  RBGG’s client and a number of other male former prisoners are now free and participating in the ACP.  See 99 F. Supp. 3d 1223 (E.D. Cal. 2015). 
  • Public Records Act Client v. County Government: RBGG obtained a favorable settlement for a client who was entitled to attorneys’ fees arising out of its successful California Public Records Act litigation against a county government.
  • 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, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 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.  In November 2015, the Court approved a $4.8 million dollar award of fees and costs to counsel for the plaintiff class.
  • Start Up v. Law Firm: RBGG secured a confidential settlement for its client, a start-up company, for claims that its patent counsel had failed to protect its intellectual property rights by missing a major filing deadline.
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros.: In this complex class action on behalf of laborers alleging wage and hour violations against a major construction company, we obtained final approval of a $950,000 settlement with injunctive relief for the class. We also defeated company supervisors’ claims that they should share in the settlement, even though they had perpetrated the alleged wage and hour violations against class members. Before the settlement was reached, we obtained a conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims and a published decision striking all of the defendant’s affirmative defenses. See Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013).

Honors & Awards

  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award, 2016
  • Lawdragon, 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers, 2020
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2015-2018 Rising Star
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent peer review rating

Publications