Rachel S. Black
Rachel S. Black is a partner in Susman Godfrey's Seattle office. Her practice focuses on high-stakes commercial litigation for plaintiffs and defendants, both at the trial and appellate levels. Ms. Black has tried and managed cases in state and federal courts across the country involving a variety of claims, including patent infringement, audit malpractice, financial fraud, unfair business practices, environmental remediation, breach of contract, and antitrust. She provides efficient, dedicated representation for her clients both in the Seattle metropolitan area and nation-wide.
In 2012, Ms. Black was named a "Super Lawyer" by Washington Law & Politics. Additionally, for six years Washington Law & Politics selected Ms. Black as a "Rising Star" in the legal profession, an honor given to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state of Washington.
University of California at San Diego (B.A., 1991)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.S., with honors, 1996)
Cornell Law School (J.D., magna cum laude, 1999)
- Law clerk to the Honorable Robert R. Beezer in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2000 - 2001).
- Law clerk to the Honorable Alan C. Kay in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii (1999 - 2000).
- Named a "2012 Washington Super Lawyer" by Washington Law & Politics
- Named a "Rising Star" by Washington Law & Politics six times
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- Note Editor, Cornell Law Review, 1998-1999
- Ms. Black represents plaintiff Allvoice Developments U.S. LLC in a case against Microsoft for patent infringement relating to speech recognition interface technology. The case is currently pending in federal court in the Western District of Washington.
- Ms. Black represents the Trustee of the Circuit City Stores, Inc. Liquidating Trust in a price-fixing action against over 25 defendants in federal court in the Northern District of California. Claims include violations of the Sherman Act, violations of the California Cartwright Act, and unfair competition.
- Ms. Black represents Space Systems/Loral and Loral Space & Communications, defending patent infringement and theft of trade secrets claims brought by ViaSat Inc. involving communication satellite technology, and pursuing counter-claims for infringement of patents on satellite ground-terminal equipment. The case is pending in federal court in the Southern District of California.
- Ms. Black won a $27.5 million verdict on behalf of plaintiff Two-Way Media, LLC, in a patent infringement suit in the Western District of Texas against various AT&T entities relating to the streaming of audio and video content over the Internet. Defendants Akamai Technologies, Inc., and Limelight Networks, Inc. settled with Two-Way Media for a confidential amount early in the litigation. Ms. Black also represented Two-Way Media in a prior patent infringement case against AOL LLC in the Southern District of Texas. That case settled for a confidential amount after the first week of trial.
- Ms. Black represents a nationwide class against Google for breach of contract, unfair competition, and false advertising relating to Google's AdWords billing practices and related disclosures. Ms. Black’s written advocacy opposing a summary judgment motion positioned the class to obtain a $20 million settlement. Ms. Black obtained final approval of the $20 million settlement in September 2009, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's final judgement.
- Ms. Black serves as co-lead discovery counsel for the direct purchaser plaintiffs in a putative nationwide class action currently consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania (In re: Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litigation). Plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired to fix the price of chocolate. A settlement with one defendant has been approved by the district court.
- Ms. Black defended a $15 million life insurance rescission lawsuit brought by PHL Variable Insurance Company (“Phoenix”) in federal court in the Middle District of Florida. Phoenix alleged that the insurance policy lacked an insurable interest because it was procured by a third-party for investment purposes and because there were net worth and other misrepresentations in the application. Ms. Black achieved a favorable settlement for the defendant.
- Ms. Black represented DLN Holdings LLC, the buyer of a $53 million government contracts business, in a breach of contract, fraud, and misrepresentation action against the sellers in state court in Fairfax County, Virginia. Shortly after the parties exchanged expert reports, the case settled on confidential terms.
- Ms. Black represented bankrupt financial companies Metropolitan Mortgage Securities, Inc. and Summit Securities, Inc. against their auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers for breach of contract and accounting malpractice. Accounting issues in the case included treatment of a complex international tax shelter, valuation of mortgage backed securities, and reporting various sophisticated commercial real estate transactions. The case, filed in the Eastern District of Washington, settled for $30 million at the start of trial.
- Ms. Black represented plaintiff Timeline, Inc. in a case against Microsoft and its wholly owned subsidiary for breach of contract and patent infringement relating to Timeline’s database software. After defeating the defendants’ challenge to the validity of the patents, the case settled on confidential terms on the eve of trial. The case was filed in federal court in the Western District of Washington.
- Ms. Black represented 17 high net-worth exchange fund investors in a Maryland state court action for fraud and negligent misrepresentation against Deutsche Bank Securities, its subsidiary Alex Brown Management Services, and the fund’s managers. After the plaintiffs overcame the defendants' motions for summary judgment, the case settled for a confidential amount.
- Ms. Black represented Novell, Inc. in developing antitrust claims against Microsoft. The preparation of Novell’s claims resulted in a $536 million cash settlement of those claims before filing suit.
- Ms. Black represented a class of Bristol Bay salmon fishermen in a four-month antitrust trial in Anchorage, Alaska against seafood processors and importers. The settlements before and after a jury verdict in the defendants' favor totaled over $40 million.
- Ms. Black represented Alaska Airlines in Los Angeles Superior Court, in defense of a class action suit alleging violation of state labor law in connection with pilot applications for employment. The case settled for nominal sum.
- Ms. Black represented a developer in a suit in federal court in the Western District of Washington to recover environmental remediation costs pursuant to Washington state and federal environmental laws. The case settled successfully following completion of discovery.
- Admitted to bar, 2001, New York; 2002, Washington
- Admitted to practice in the Ninth Circuit, the Eastern and Western Districts of Washington, and the Eastern and Southern Districts of Texas
Ms. Black is also a powerful advocate for women and diversity in the legal profession. In 2006, Ms. Black founded the Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Seattle, a specialty bar organization recognized by the Washington State Bar Association. The organization's goals include empowering and supporting mother attorneys and promoting their advancement within the profession. She served as the President of the organization until 2012, and is currently the Immediate Past President and is a member of the Board of Directors. Washington Law & Politics published an article about the organization in the Spring of 2008, available here. Since its founding, the organization has grown dramatically and has served to inspire the founding of sister organizations in other cities throughout the country, including San Diego, Honolulu, Austin, Denver, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, Spokane and Sacramento. Ms. Black has also been a member of Susman Godfrey's diversity committee and is a former member of the Washington State Bar Committee for Diversity.
In January 2012, Ms. Black was elected to The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation is an honorary organization of lawyers, judges and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession. Membership in the Fellows is highly selective, limited to the top one-third of 1% of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. Members are nominated by Fellows in their jurisdiction and elected by the Board of the American Bar Foundation.