Ruth N. Borenstein

Senior Of Counsel | San Francisco | (415) 268-7348
(415) 268-7348

Ruth Borenstein is engaged in a complex litigation practice at both the trial and appellate levels in courts throughout the country. She has successfully defended companies against tort, statutory, and contract claims in a variety of contexts, ranging from consumer class actions alleging overcharges to franchisees' complaints about profitability and franchisor support.  She has won dismissals or summary judgments for defendants in numerous cases and has successfully defended those results on appeal.

Ms. Borenstein is one of the country's leading experts on federal preemption of state statutes and common law that affect the pricing and service practices of airlines and motor and air cargo carriers. She has represented carriers and carrier associations in successful challenges to state laws that affect deliveries, including representing carrier associations in victories in the federal district court, First Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court in a case establishing that states may not restrict carriers' deliveries of regulated products. In addition, she regularly represents carriers in defending state law claims related to their pricing or service practices, including class actions.

Ms. Borenstein's work on the case Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association earned her notice as a key practitioner by the National Law Journal, which also named the firm to its annual Appellate Hot List in 2009.

Ms. Borenstein has always maintained an active pro bono practice, focusing on civil rights issues. Her pro bono matters have included representing same-sex couples in marriage equality cases in state and federal courts in Montana. She has filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and the highest courts of several states for clients that include Harold Hongju Koh and other leading foreign and comparative law experts (discussing international law developments in support of marriage equality in several cases, including Hollingsworth v. Perry and Obergefell v. Hodges); the American Bar Association (supporting petitioners in Lawrence v. Texas); California Now and the California Women’s Law Center (urging a gender-neutral interpretation of the California Uniform Parentage Act); the National Association of Social Workers (supporting challenge to Kansas statute that excluded same-sex couples from law exempting consensual, under-age couples from criminal penalties); and the City and County of San Francisco and other cities (supporting New York City Equal Benefits Ordinance).

Ms. Borenstein has served on the Board of Directors of the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF), and as co-chair of its Sexual Orientation Diversity Committee. She was the primary author of the BASF Model Domestic Partner Benefits Policy, and has been honored with the organization’s Award for Achievement in Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.

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  • Argued and won affirmance of order dismissing class action complaint seeking to hold carrier liable for late deliveries caused by disruptions in transportation networks due to snow storms. (2d Cir. 2013)

  • Member of team that successfully tried a high-profile smartphone case leading to a jury verdict of over $1 billion.

  • Won summary judgment against more than 200 franchisees who sued franchisor and its Fortune 50 parent company for changes to the franchise system and brand. Argued and won affirmance on appeal. (460 Fed. Appx. 664 (9th Cir. 2011))

  • Argued and won affirmance of order dismissing class action complaint alleging that airline violated California statute regulating expiration of gift certificates. (114 Cal. Rptr. 3d 743 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010))

  • Argued and won affirmance of order dismissing claims challenging client’s collection of certain charges. Court of appeals held that all claims challenging amount of fees were preempted by federal law and remanded solely for submission of proof that contract at issue called for payment of the charges in dispute. (557 F.3d 849 (8th Cir. 2009))

  • Victory at all three levels of the federal courts, including unanimous U.S. Supreme Court, in high-profile federal preemption challenge to Maine laws regulating deliveries of tobacco products. Won summary judgment, which was affirmed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and then the Supreme Court. (377 F. Supp 2d 197 (D. Me. 2005), aff’d, 448 F.3d 66, (1st Cir. 2006), aff'd, 128 S. Ct. 989 (2008))

  • Argued and won affirmance of summary judgment in favor of UPS on fraud, contract, bad faith, and other claims arising from lost shipment. (233 Fed. Appx. 600 (9th Cir. 2007))

  • Won dismissal with prejudice of putative nationwide class action for our Fortune 50 client alleging unfair business practices for requiring customers to seek billing adjustments for packages that they processed for shipment but decided not to ship. No appeal filed.

  • With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, won dismissal with prejudice of nationwide class action complaint on the first motion to dismiss in case involving cutting-edge preemption issues arising from the collection of late-payment fees that allegedly exceeded the amounts allowable under state law. No appeal filed.




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