James M. Schurz

Senior Counsel | San Francisco

jschurz@mofo.com | (415) 268-6449 jschurz@mofo.com
(415) 268-6449
I’ve won trials by focusing on a simple, compelling, fact-based theme—not a patchwork of theories but one overarching truth.

James represents clients in federal and state courts in areas such as consumer protection, advertising, product liability, environmental, and food law. He has broad experience representing manufacturers, retailers, and resource companies on matters involving a variety of consumer products, technologies, and industries.

James’s recent cases involve fruit juice, coffee, baby food, home electronics, and semiconductor chips. He has served as trial counsel in class actions, MDL proceedings, jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations, and has appeared extensively in courts throughout California.

James has advised and defended clients in Proposition 65 actions (California’s unique toxics and labeling law) and the state’s consumer protection and unfair competition laws. He is currently representing the coffee industry in a widely watched trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. He regularly handles litigation and trial of suits brought by private litigants and law enforcement officials for unfair business practices and false advertising claims against manufacturers and retailers.

James has deep experience in participating in many of the world’s leading arbitration forums, including the International Chamber of Commerce, American Arbitration Association, and UNCITRAL. He has handled arbitrations involving intellectual property, distribution contracts, fuel contracts, joint ventures, and infrastructure development projects. He also has broad experience with litigating the enforceability of arbitration clauses in U.S. federal and state courts. James serves as a neutral for the United States Federal District Court for the Northern District of California as well as a member of the court’s Standing Committee on Professional Conduct.

More About James

Immediately following graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, James served as a law clerk to the Honorable Marcus Kaufman, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court. He joined Morrison & Foerster in 1990 and is a former co-chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Group.

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  • Represent Starbucks Corporation, The J.M. Smucker Company, The Kraft Heinz Company, Nestlé USA, Inc., Keurig Dr Pepper, Inc., and 50 other coffee companies against a Proposition 65 bounty hunter. The complaint claims that these companies—and the retailers who sell their products—are required under Prop 65 to provide cancer warnings on coffee based on the chemical acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted. MoFo secured a summary judgement in August 2020, effectively ending a 10-year litigation battle involving 46 days of trial in a phased trial.

  • Represent California Natural Products in industry-wide action involving arsenic claims related to California mines.

  • Represented client in international commercial arbitrations involving semiconductor fabrication facilities in Japan.

  • Represented Lumber Liquidators, the nation’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, in successfully defending a Proposition 65 trial. Plaintiffs alleged that Lumber Liquidators failed to warn customers about the cancer-causing formaldehyde in its laminate wood flooring. At the conclusion of plaintiffs’ case, Lumber Liquidators moved for judgment. The case was aggressively litigated by the premier plaintiffs’ firms and was one of the first environmental enforcement cases brought by any private equity fund that had publicly disclosed its short position in the enforcement target’s stock. The matter was the catalyst for the Anderson Cooper 60 Minutes feature claiming that the company’s products were dangerous, which led to hundreds of consumer class actions and government investigations. On April 4, 2016, Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr. ruled in favor of Lumber Liquidators. The company recovered a portion of its fees and costs from the plaintiffs.

  • Represented the Lummi Nation against the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in a dispute over fishing rights. A Ninth Circuit panel ruled that the Lummi Nation’s right to take fish under a treaty executed in the 1850s includes disputed waters near Seattle, reversing a lower court’s award of a quick win to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

  • Represented our client in multiple class actions involving the terms “natural” and “organic” on Hain’s personal care products, such as shampoos and soaps.



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