Los Angeles:
400 South Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071


Richard Goetz


Rich Goetz co-chairs O'Melveny's firmwide Consumer Class Actions and Product Liability/Mass Torts Practices, which have been recognized by Chambers USA as leading practices each year from 2007 through 2015. He also leads the firm’s 200-lawyer Southern California Litigation Practice, and serves on the firm’s 7-member Executive Committee. 

Rich defends some of the world’s best-known companies—pharmaceutical, medical device, computer, insurance, consumer products, food—in complex, multimillion-dollar legal challenges. Both at the pleadings stage and at trial, he has defeated allegations of negligence, false advertising, improper labeling, defective manufacturing, and personal injury. Benchmark Litigation calls him a national “Litigation Star” and both The Legal 500: United States and Chambers USA recognize him as a “Leading Lawyer.”

Rich is a contributing editor for Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies, and Best Practices (Practicing Law Institute 2015), and California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group). He frequently lectures at legal conferences, and has lectured at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and at Harvard Law School.  In 2015 he was elected to the American Law Institute.

Representative Clients:
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Amylin Pharmaceuticals
  • AstraZeneca
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Merck & Co.
  • Kia Motors America
  • ACE Group

Recent Cases:
  • Defending Amylin Pharmaceuticals, an AstraZeneca company, in nationwide litigation over the diabetes drug Byetta®.
  • Defending the insurers in an environmental coverage action brought by Union Oil.
  • Defending Kia Motors America in a class action over allegedly defective automobiles.
  • Defending an industry-leading computer and electronics company in consumer class actions.
  • Defending an industry-leading pharmaceutical and consumer products company in:
    • Product liability litigation in multiple states over the alleged side-effects of an over-the-counter pain reliever.
    • Class action litigation over the risk and efficacy disclosures of sun-care products.
    • Nationwide class actions over allegedly defective sutures.
    • Nationwide litigation over a prescription anti-psychotic medication alleged to increase the risk of diabetes.
    • Product liability litigation in California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas over allegedly defective pain patches.
    • Nationwide litigation over a prescription acid reflux medication alleged to cause cardiac arrhythmias.
    • Class action litigation over the alleged failings of a blood glucose monitor.
    • Class actions in West Virginia and Texas seeking personal injury damages for allegedly contaminated sutures.
    • Class actions and personal injury cases alleging the mishandling of body tissue from the UCLA Willed Body Program.
  • Defending personal injury and class action cases over the anti-inflammatory Vioxx® as a national counsel for Merck.
  • Defending class actions for Vita Coco™ in California, New York, and Florida over labeling claims.
  • Defending class action for Kombucha tea products in California over labeling claims.
  • Led O’Melveny briefing team in a series of cases before Mississippi Supreme Court that helped put significant limits on the joinder of parties in that state.

In his 30 years at O’Melveny, Rich has also led the defense in: international disputes both in U.S. courts and in an arbitration in Japan; entertainment and intellectual property disputes for a motion picture studio, a film director, a television producer, a sports marketing company, and a defense contractor; environmental actions for an electric utility, a steel company, and an automobile manufacturer; construction disputes for a natural resources company; and securities actions for commercial and investment banks.

He was lead counsel for CIGNA in a New Jersey multidistrict antitrust and RICO class action that challenged insurance broker compensation, and for the insurers in the Powerine II and Ameron coverage cases in the California Supreme Court. He has been invited by the California Court of Appeal to file amicus briefs in highly publicized environmental and asbestos litigation.

A leader not just within his practice but across the firm, Rich has served on O’Melveny’s Policy Committee—the firm’s board of directors. Among his duties, he currently chairs the committee that vets candidates for partnership.

Outside the firm, Rich is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and co-chairs the Council’s Counterterrorism Subcommittee. In 2013, he traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the Council’s first official observer of the proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and in 2012, he joined a Council delegation to North Korea, authoring the official account of the trip. Rich is active in the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and is a longtime member of its Judicial Appointments Committee. He serves on the boards of directors of Volunteers of America of Los Angeles, Uncommon Good, and the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at USC Gould School of Law.

Professional Activities

Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Volunteers of America of Los Angeles; Boards of Directors of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics, Uncommon Good, and Los Angeles County Bar Foundation (2001–2004); Product Liability Advisory Council (Sustaining Member); former member of Executive Committee of the Los Angeles Bar Association Litigation Section; Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (2003–2005 and 2012–2014); Judicial Appointments Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (multiple terms under Governors Davis, Schwarzenegger, and Brown); United States Supreme Court Historical Society (California co-chair).
Honors, “Litigation Star” (Benchmark Litigation: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys); “Leading Lawyer” (Chambers USA and Legal 500: United States); Southern California “Super Lawyer” (Law & Politics magazine); “World’s Leading Product Liability Lawyers” (Expert Guides); “Top 3,000” (Lawdragon); The Best Lawyers in America© - Insurance Law and Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action (Best Lawyers©)
Author, “Mass Tort Settlement Strategies” (co-authored with Catalina Vergara) and “Class Action Settlements” (co-authored with Carlos M. Lazatin and Esteban Rodriguez), Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies, and Best Practices (Practising Law Institute 2013); “A Defense Of The Learned Intermediary Doctrine,” Food & Drug Law Journal (co-authored with Karen Growdon) (2008); “Drug Manufacturers’ Interactions with the FDA About Drug-Label Content Are Entitled to Protection Under the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine,” Andrews Drug Recall Litigation Reporter (co-authored with Sabrina Strong) (2008); 2014 ABA State-by-State Survey of the Statutes of Limitation and Repose Applicable to Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation (California section)
Contributing Editor, California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group)

University of Chicago,  J.D., 1984: Associate Editor, Law Review, 1982-84

Dartmouth College,  A.B., 1981: summa cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa