James C. Sturdevant

James C. Sturdevant

James C. Sturdevant, the principal of The Sturdevant Law Firm, is one of the nation’s most respected consumer rights and class action attorneys. He was named 2004 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California, 2002 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, and has received numerous other awards for his outstanding advocacy on behalf of consumers and workers. Mr. Sturdevant specializes in representing plaintiffs in class actions involving consumer protection, financial and insurance fraud, employment discrimination and a wide variety of unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practice cases. During his thirty-five-plus year career, he has represented plaintiffs and plaintiff classes in cases involving federal and state benefit rights, housing, employment discrimination, institutional conditions at prisons, jails, and mental institutions, school desegregation, consumer protection, and binding, mandatory arbitration clauses. He has tried and settled many multi-million dollar class action cases and is known as well for his appellate advocacy.

Mr. Sturdevant serves on numerous national, state and local boards and committees concerned with civil litigation and amicus curiae work, and he and his firm have authored a significant number of briefs and amicus briefs on the issues of mandatory arbitration, federal preemption, the interpretation of consumer protection statutes and attorneys fees, among others.

Representative Cases

  • Miller v. Bank of America, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 301917. Co-lead counsel for the statewide class of more than 1.3 million elderly and disabled Social Security benefit deposit holders of Bank of America. In February, 2004, a jury in San Francisco awarded the class more than $1 billion after concluding that the bank misrepresented its rights as a creditor under California law and illegally seized millions of dollars in exempt funds from the accounts of these customers. The judgment was reversed on legal grounds, ruling that a bank can recoup overdrafts and fees within a single account. Miller v. Bank of America, 46 Cal.4th 630 (2009). Plaintiff amended the complaint to seek relief for a two-account class from which the bank seizes exempt funds in one account to collect a debt in another.
  • Ting v. AT&T, 182 F.Supp.2d 902 (N.D.Cal. 2002), aff’d 319 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 811 (2003). Co-lead counsel at trial and on appeal in which held that AT&T’s mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clause was illegal and unconscionable under California law.
  • Singleton, et al. v. Regents of the University of California, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. 807233-1. Lead counsel for the certified plaintiff class. After extensive litigation and discovery, the parties entered into a proposed class settlement. The settlement agreement provides $9.7 million to 3,200 women who worked at Livermore Lab since 1996, plus a 1% raise for approximately 2,500 women who were still employed at the Lab. That raise amounts to approximately $1.3 million. In addition, the settlement agreement provides comprehensive injunctive relief and monitoring provisions designed to eliminate the Lab’s practice of pay and promotion discrimination in the future.
  • Beasley, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 861555 and in Hitz v. First Interstate Bank, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 870897. Lead counsel for both statewide plaintiff classes. Both actions challenged the defendant banks’ practice of imposing late and over-limit charges on its consumer credit card account holders as a violation of California’s law prohibiting liquidated damages in consumer contracts. In Beasley, the jury awarded the class damages exceeding $5 million. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1383. In Hitz, the court held that the challenged fees were unlawful and awarded the plaintiff class more than $13.9 million in damages. The Court of Appeal reduced the damages award, but affirmed the trial court’s decision in all other respects. Hitz v. First Interstate Bank (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 274.
  • Czechowski v. Tandy Corp., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 892921. Co-counsel for a statewide plaintiff class. The class alleged Tandy had denied accrued vacation benefits to its terminated employees in violation of California law. A settlement was reached that provided up to $16 million for a class of approximately 25,000 former Tandy employees.

Education

  • Trinity College (B.A.)
  • Boston College School of Law (J.D.)

Admissions

  • California State Bar
  • Connecticut State Bar
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Fourth and Ninth Circuits
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Memberships

  • Consumer Attorneys of California
    • Board, 1993–2006
    • President, 2003–04
  • Equal Justice Works
    • Board, 2006–Present
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
    • Board, 2008–Present
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
    • Board, 2000–2010
    • Chair of Development Committee, 2011
    • Co-Chair of Amicus Curiae Committee, 2011
  • Public Justice
    • Board, 1998–2006
    • Executive Committee, 2004
  • National Consumer Law Center
    • Partners’ Council Chair
    • Foundations Committee
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
    • Board, 1998–2005
  • Litigation Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco
    • Executive Committee, 1997–2005
    • President, 2000–2001