William M. Audet
Attorney William M. Audet has been practicing law for over thirty years and prosecuting complex individual and class action case in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In recognition of his experience and dedication to his clients, Mr. Audet has been appointed to leadership roles in dozens of significant MDL, federal and state cases. Mr. Audet is the founding partner of Audet & Partners, LLP, a San Francisco based law firm with cases filed in state and federal courts in almost every state in the United States.
After graduating from UC Davis, Mr. Audet earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) (with highest honors) from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1984, where he was the Editor of the Golden Gate University Law Review and the student commencement speaker. In 1987, Mr. Audet obtained a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the University Of Wisconsin School Of Law. During his three years at the University of Wisconsin, he taught civil procedure and civil rights as a clinical professor, and worked full time at the law school’s LAIP inmate legal services program as a supervising attorney to law students at the clinic.
After completing his LL.M., in 1987 Mr. Audet was hired as a staff attorney at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 1988, he served as the first Law Clerk to the Honorable Fern M. Smith, Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and in 1989, as the last Law Clerk to the Honorable Alfonso J. Zirpoli, Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In 2013, Mr. Audet was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law (LL.D., h.c.) degree from the Golden Gate University School of Law in recognition of his significant contributions to the legal community and the law school itself.
In 1990, Mr. Audet joined the firm then known as “Lieff, Cabraser & Heimann,” becoming a partner in five years. In 1996, Mr. Audet moved to a smaller, more trial-oriented law firm, Alexander, Hawes & Audet. In 2007, deciding to focus upon certain areas of the law, Mr. Audet established Audet & Partners, LLP. The firm expanded over time and since its founding has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars and achieved significant other relief in class action, mass action and other complex litigation throughout the United States. He is admitted to practice in California, Wisconsin, and numerous federal courts.
Mr. Audet has been appointed to leadership roles in dozens of significant MDL, federal and state cases, including: In re Pet Food Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1850 (D.N.J.) (Co-Lead Counsel)(first of its kind class action settlement relating to recognition of certain claims by pet owners and providing for multinational(U.S.A. and Canada) resolution of the claims); In re Zyprexa Product Liability Litigation, E.D.N.Y., MDL No. 1596 (Co-Lead, Chairperson of the Executive Committee); In re Bextra and Celebrex Marketing Sales Practices and Product Liability Litigation, N.D. Cal. (San Francisco), MDL No. 1699 (Executive Committee); Loretz v. Regal Stone, Ltd., No. 07-cv-05800-SC (N.D. Cal.) [the Cosco Busan case], (Co-Lead counsel with the Cotchett, Pitre firm); Postier v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp, No. 09-cv- 03290-JCS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86372 (N.D. Cal.)(Sole class counsel); In re PRK/Lasik Consumer Litigation, Santa Clara Superior Court, Master File No. CV- 772894 (Lead Counsel). Mr. Audet has also served as leadership in a number of ground breaking cases involving privacy rights, including, In re Apple iPhone 4 Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 5:10-md-2188-RMW (N.D. Cal.); In re iPhone Application Litig., No. 11-MD-02250-LHK (N.D. Cal.).
Over the years, Mr. Audet has been instrumental in crafting creative settlements resulting in significant recoveries for class members despite the apparent lack of assets by the initial defendants. See, e.g. United Desert Charities v. Flushmate, No. 2:12-cv-06878-SJO-SH (C.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2014) (firm retained insurance counsel to achieve an $18 million settlement, with potentially more if certain thresholds met, with payments over 3 year period allowing for immediate repairs); Richison v. American Cemwood Corp., No. 005532 (Cal. Super. 2002) (obtained a successor in interest right to proceed against the insurance carrier for underlying damages and bad faith, multimillion dollar settlement on eve of trial); Galanti, et al. v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 03209 (D.N.J.)(SRC)(mediated by Layne Philips, a settlement fund of $236 million, plus an additional $40 million tied to Goodyear’s future performance, was achieved).
In 2014, Mr. Audet and his Mexican co-counsel filed the first major class action case in Mexico under a then recently passed class action legislation, seeking damages and other relief for Mexico-based fisherman and businesses impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Elidio Capela Vela, et al, v. BP, et al, case #717/2012 (8th District). The case was recently certified by the trial to proceed as a class action, a first of its kind under the new law. The case has been subject to numerous appellate and ampere challenges by BP.
Over the past twenty years, Mr. Audet and his co-author have published a primer for law practitioners entitled Handling Federal Discovery, Audet & Fanady (James Publishing)(now in its 20th edition). In addition, Mr. Audet authored and published a brochure summarizing the Mexican Class Action procedures in both English and Spanish that has been distributed to the federal bench and Federal practitioners in Mexico City, Mexico.
In 2005, Mr. Audet was named as the “Champion of Justice” by the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) for his longstanding contribution to the legal community and his pro bono activities in San Francisco. For three years, Mr. Audet also served as a voting member of the BASF’s judicial review committee. Mr. Audet recently finished the first of two courses required to serve as a pro tem judge in San Francisco Superior Court. Mr. Audet has been repeatedly named as a “Super Lawyer” and “Top Attorney” for the Northern District of California for class actions and mass torts. He has been frequently quoted in regional and national legal and general press articles, and has appeared on CNN and other news stations regarding his cases.
Mr. Audet and his firm have made significant financial contributions to various legal aid organizations, including the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco – Employment Law Center, the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights, BASF and Golden Gate University School of Law. In 2009, Mr. Audet and his family established and continues to solely sponsor a non-profit organization based in Baja, Mexico (“Little Shoes of Light”) that provides shoes, educational material and food to needy families (mostly single mothers with children).