Hausfeld has been at the forefront of the legal profession in improving access to justice for individuals and businesses. Our lawyers have a strong tradition handling both large class actions and individual matters with substantial social and legal importance on a pro bono basis. Mission driven, Hausfeld's U.S. pro bono program is dedicated to assisting people obtain redress for injustices that they could not obtain for themselves to due social, economic, or political reasons. Notable cases include obtaining compensation for victims of the U.S. September 11th attack on the Pentagon before the Federal Victims Compensation Fund, attaining asylum in the U.S. for politically persecuted Nepalese, representing clients in proceedings before the California Supreme Court concerning gay marriage, and recovering assets of Holocaust victims that were wrongfully taken from them during World War II. We also are developing legal strategies with the International Climate Justice Network to demonstrate the impact of climate change on human rights. 

Global Environmental and Human Rights Action

Climate Justice
In the event government negotiations at the Copenhagen Kyoto Protocol summit fail to reach essential targets for a sustainable future, we are working with the international Climate Justice Network, international non-governmental organizations, and others to develop legal strategies as a tool to help demonstrate the direct impacts of climate change on human rights. These include, for example, food, homelessness, and massive dislocation. Working together in this way, we can influence immediate global action where necessary and appropriate.

Accountability of multi-national corporations
Our London office is working with the UN Special Rappateur on “Business and Human Rights” Professor John Ruggie. The Ruggie UN mandate is charged with finding ways to “operationalise” its recommendations for ensuring that multinational corporations comply with internationally recognized standards of conduct. Our efforts are focused on developing ways to make global companies accountable to those whose lives are severely impacted by non-compliant business activities, including, for example, rights to security of person, breaches of health and safety laws, environmental waste obligations, and pollution.

Civil Rights

Gay marriage
We represented several clients in proceedings before the California Supreme Court concerning the right of a bare majority of Californians to pass legislation preventing gays and lesbians from marrying the individual of their choice. In May 2009, the Court affirmed the right of a simple majority of Californians to alter the state Constitution to allow this type of discrimination, though it also required the state to recognize approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages that had been performed before voters outlawed the practice. Justice Carlos Moreno recognized in dissent that “[g]ranting same-sex couples all of the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, except the right to call their officially recognized and protected family relationship a marriage, still denies them equal treatment.”

Right of asylum
We represented a Nepali citizen who sought -- and obtained -- asylum in the United States on the basis of political persecution in his native country.  That representation continues as we seek derivative asylum for our client's immediate family.

Charities and Non-Governmental Organizations

Our London office represents the British Disabled Flying Club in a dispute with HM and Customs Revenue concerning the imposition of VAT for the purchase and maintenance of its aircraft fleet.

They also advise various European consumer organisations on competition matters relevant to the consumer markets in which they participate.

Reparations for Victims of Crimes Against Humanity

Compensation for victims of terrorism
Our counsel represented a number of injured workers and their families who were victims of the U.S. September 11th attack on the Pentagon, before the Federal Victims Compensation Fund. The proceeds obtained for our clients provided them some financial security following the loss of their family members. Upon resolution of these cases, the Special Master of the Fund, Kenneth Feinberg, praised the quality of the pro bono work carried out by the Hausfeld LLP attorneys.

WW II Holocaust
Our lawyers pioneered the effort on behalf of Holocaust victims to recover a portion of their family’s assets that were wrongfully taken from them by certain Swiss Banks and their German collaborators during World War II.  In total, $1.25 billion in assets was recovered for these victims. This money was paid into a settlement fund from which the families were able to make individualized claims.

WWII Forced labor camps
Our lawyers represented the largest group of survivors and their families who had been forced into slave labor for German companies during World War II. Our efforts resulted in an agreement by these companies and the German Government to create a fund of $5.2 billion from which individual payments were made to victims wherever in the world they resided.

Redress for forced prostitution
Our lawyers litigated a case against the government of Japan on behalf 200,000 women that had been forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II. These so-called “comfort women” were systematically held against their will and raped by Japanese military personnel during Japan’s conquest of Southeast Asia. Only 25-30% of these women survived the war due to the abuse suffered at the hands of their captors. The claims against the Japanese government were eventually dismissed by a United States District Court in Washington D.C. on the grounds that a U.S. Court could not resolve the women’s dispute with Japan. In its decision, the Court noted that legal restrictions unfortunately made it “unable to provide plaintiffs the redress they seek and surely deserve.” See Hwang et al. v. Japan, D.D.C. Case No. 00-02233 (HHK) (Memorandum Opinion of Judge Henry H. Kennedy dated October 4, 2001).

Tulsa race riot
Our lawyers were the architects of the legal strategy on behalf of the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The riots were triggered by allegations that a young African American man had assaulted a white teenage girl in an elevator. As a result of the young man's arrest, an ensuing three-day riot of the white population left an estimated 10,000 African Americans homeless and 35 city blocks destroyed by arson. A Red Cross report estimates that white militiamen and others killed approximately 300 blacks during the riot. Although noting in a dissent that the case presented a “question of exceptional importance,” a Tenth Circuit panel dismissed the litigation on grounds that the right to assert claims expired in the 1970s when Jim Crow laws were repealed.

Please do not hesitate to contact Christopher Lebsock, Reena Gambhir, or Ingrid Gubbay,  for more information about our pro bono program.