Appellate Litigation

Goodwin's appellate litigators have briefed and argued hundreds of high stakes appeals, securing victories for clients in federal and state appellate courts throughout the United States. Lawyers in our Appellate Litigation practice are experts at working cooperatively as part of a team — alongside trial counsel and subject-matter experts — to preserve and present the best possible case on appeal and maximize our clients’ chances for success.

Our work begins well before a case goes on appeal: preparing dispositive motions in trial court; preserving error for appellate review; handling post-verdict motions practice; and even initiating litigation, to set aside arbitrary decisions by administrative agencies or to enjoin unconstitutional or invalid laws on legal grounds. Members of the practice have argued more than twenty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and have briefed scores of others.

Experience and Success in Courts Across the Country

Goodwin lawyers have established a record of success in every federal court of appeals and in state appellate courts from Alabama to Wyoming. Eight members of the group were U.S. Supreme Court clerks, others clerked on the federal courts of appeals or on state supreme courts, and several previously worked in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office, which houses the government’s top Supreme Court and appellate counsel.

While we handle appeals involving legal disputes of every nature, we have particular appellate expertise in: 

Appellate Litigation co-chair William Jay joined Goodwin from the U.S. Solicitor General’s office, where he practiced for five years and argued 11 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Jay developed particular expertise in federal preemption of state law, a cross-cutting field that can be crucial in defeating state tort liability. He briefed several landmark preemption cases in the Supreme Court and argued Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America.

Mr. Jay has also handled cases in every federal court of appeals. In one of Goodwin’s recent significant victories, he and fellow appellate practice member David Permut successfully persuaded the First Circuit to grant rehearing en banc in a massive putative class action involving flood-insurance premiums. The First Circuit had not previously granted a private party’s en banc petition since 2010. After rehearing, the en banc court affirmed a take-nothing judgment in favor of Goodwin's client.

On Appeal, Goodwin a “Go-To” Firm

Clients regularly retain Goodwin at the appellate stage of a case to assist the other firms in handling an appeal or to assume responsibility for the matter at the appellate stage. For example, Lorillard Tobacco Company recently asked Goodwin Procter lawyers Paul Ware and Appellate Litigation co-chair Kevin Martin to serve as lead counsel in its appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from a judgment of more than $250 million in an individual product liability case.

On appeal, the court unanimously agreed to reverse or vacate three of the four claims on which plaintiff prevailed at trial and to vacate the punitive damages award, reducing the amount of the judgment by more than 70 percent. In addition, on two occasions in recent years Mr. Martin has been brought in on appeal by Entergy Corporation to defend the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s grant of operating licenses to Entergy’s nuclear power plants against challenges by state governments. Mr. Martin successfully argued both cases in the D.C. Circuit and First Circuit.

Stepping in at the Supreme Court

Practice member Tom Hefferon recently was hired at the Supreme Court stage in a significant business case and successfully won a unanimous victory. Mr. Hefferon had argued several cases before the federal courts of appeals in which plaintiffs challenged, under the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA), charges assessed at the closing of their mortgages.

When plaintiffs took another such case to the Supreme Court, Quicken Loans turned to Mr. Hefferon, assisted by Mr. Martin, to handle the high court proceedings. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with our client’s position and rejected the federal government’s claim that its interpretation of the statute should control. Other Goodwin lawyers, including David Permut and James McGarry, also have argued appeals in class actions and other consumer-finance cases.

In addition: 

  • Many of our lawyers frequently appear before the Federal Circuit in patent matters. Practice area members including Tony DownsDoug KlineMark AbateBrett Schuman and Henry Dinger all have briefed and argued multiple patent cases on appeal; 
  • Goodwin lawyers such as Brian Pastuszenski and Deborah Birnbach, regularly represent clients on appeal in their highest-stakes securities matters in the federal courts of appeals and state courts, including the Delaware Supreme Court and Court of Chancery; 
  • We also have an active practice in federal and state courts of appeals in products litigation and counseling, involving partners such as Kevin Martin and Rich Oetheimer.

Recent Appellate Opinions

View the most recent opinions from the Supreme and appellate courts. 




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William M. Jay

DC Litigation Leader and Co-Chair, Appellate Litigation
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Kevin P. Martin

Co-Chair, Appellate Litigation
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