Donald C. Arbitblit

Donald C. Arbitblit: Attorney with Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP AV stamp icon
  • Partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
  • Embarcadero Center West, 275 Battery Street, 29th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111
    View Donald C. Arbitblit's office location
  • Don is a leader among plaintiffs’ attorneys in assessing the legal, medical, and scientific aspects of personal injury, mass torts, and environmental and toxic exposure litigation.
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Attorney Awards


In many cases, from toxic spills to drug defects, you need to know the science to win. We put science to work for our clients, with experts from the best universities and our own attorneys and staff.

Donald C. Arbitblit

A Lawyer with Unmatched Expertise in Medical and Scientific Cases

Donald C. Arbitblit is a leader among plaintiffs’ attorneys in assessing the legal, medical, and scientific aspects of personal injury, mass torts , and environmental and toxic exposure litigation . Don has served on Plaintiffs’ Science/Expert Committees in several national cases and served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Actos bladder cancer injuries federal multidistrict litigation that settled in 2015 for $2.4 billion.

Don was a member of the trial team that won the first Actos bellwether trial in April 2014, including a $9 billion punitive damage award. Don was also Chair of the Epidemiology/Causation Subcommittee of the federal Vioxx litigation from 2005-2010, and he was a member of the trial team that won a plaintiffs’ verdict in that litigation in 2006. Between 1998 and 2014, Don has served on science and expert witness committees in the Actos , Yaz , Fen-Phen Diet Drug , Rezulin, Baycol , Vioxx , and Sulzer hip implant cases.

Don has specialized in toxic exposure and defective pharmaceutical cases for twenty-six years. From 1994 to 1998, Don was lead counsel for a certified class of women who were intentionally exposed to radioactive iron without their consent while receiving prenatal care at Vanderbilt University hospital in the 1940s. Settlement included $10.3 million and a formal apology from Vanderbilt University.

Don also played a leading role in California coordinated litigation arising out of the Sacramento River Spill of 1991; the release of a sulfuric acid cloud from the General Chemical plant in Richmond, California in 1993; and a 1995 toxic release from the Unocal refinery in Rodeo, California . These cases resulted in settlements of approximately $300 million.

Don has authored articles on environmental and pharmaceutical drug issues for Ecology Law Quarterly, Mealey’s Emerging Toxic Torts, and Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. Super Lawyers magazine has recognized Don as a Super Lawyer for Northern California five times. He has lectured to attorneys on science issues in pharmaceutical defect litigation for the American Association of Justice in 2011 (Yaz) and 2013 (Actos).

Published Works

•Co-Author with Wendy Fleishman, The Risky Business of Off-Label Use, TRIAL Magazine, March 2005
•Co-Author with William Bernstein, “Effective Use of Class Action Procedures in California Toxic Tort Litigation,” West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, No. 3, 1996
•“Comment on Joiner: Decision on the Daubert Test of Admissibility of Expert Testimony,” 6 Mealey’s Emerging Toxic Torts, No. 18, December 1997
•“The Plight of American Citizens Injured by Transboundary River Pollution,” 8 Ecology Law Quarterly, No. 2, 1979

Honors and Awards

•AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
•Selected for inclusion by peers in The Best Lawyers in America in fields of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Plaintiffs and Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs, Best Lawyers, 2012 - 2019
• Super Lawyer for Northern California, Super Lawyers, 2004, 2006 - 2008, 2014-2019
•Legal 500 recommended lawyer, 2013
• Lawdragon Finalist, Lawdragon, 2009 - 2011

In the News

•April 6, 2015
2015 Actos Side Effects Lawsuits Update
•January 23, 2015
Law360 Recognizes Lieff Cabraser with its Product Liability Group of Year Award
•August 21, 2014
17 Lieff Cabraser Attorneys Listed in 2015 Best Lawyers America
•July 8, 2014
22 Lieff Cabraser Attorneys Selected as 2014 Northern California Super Lawyers or Rising Stars
•April 8, 2014
Federal Jury Awards Punitive Damages in Actos Bladder Cancer Trial

Areas of Practice (3)

  • Pharmaceutical Defects
  • Environmental Litigation
  • Personal Injury

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
415.956.1000 Ext.2253  Phone
415.956.1008  Fax
University Attended:
Tufts University, B.S., magna cum laude, 1974
Law School Attended:
Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, J.D., Order of the Coif, 1979
Year of First Admission:
1986, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; 1986, California; 1979, Vermont

Professional Associations and Memberships

•ACTOS MDL Plaintiffs' Steering Committee
•Bar Association of San Francisco
•Co-Chair, California JCCP Yaz Science Committee, 2010-Present
•Federal Science and Expert Witness Committees (Diet Drugs MDL; Baycol MDL; Rezulin MDL)
•State Bar of California
•VIOXX MDL Chair of the Epidemiology/Clinical Trials Subcommittee
•YAZ MDL Federal Court-appointed Science Executive Committee


Peer Reviews

A Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rating reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.

*Peer Reviews provided before April 15, 2008 are not displayed.

San Francisco, California

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