Christopher K. Leung
Chris is an experienced litigator and successful trial attorney who has tirelessly worked to protect the public interest. He is a fierce, effective advocate for his clients, and his track record speaks for itself: recently, he and his team won a $247 million trial verdict.
For over a decade, Chris served as an Assistant Attorney General, Special Counsel, and Tobacco Enforcement Section Chief at the New York State Attorney General’s Office. While there, he oversaw New York’s enforcement of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and tobacco policy efforts. Chris also led a variety of complex investigations and high-stakes litigation. For his work, Chris received the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award, the New York Attorney General’s highest commendation for superior service.
Beyond his public service, Chris served as a staff attorney at Earthjustice, representing national and local environmental organizations in litigation, trial, and other proceedings. He also worked for several years at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, representing injured employees and consumers in complex individual and class action litigation.
Chris graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in Integrative Biology, and then earned his Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Following law school, Chris served as a law clerk to the (now retired) Honorable Oliver W. Wanger, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of California.
Chris lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter, and enjoys camping, cooking, and listening to music.
Representative work includes:
Led the New York Attorney General’s case against United Parcel Service, Inc., alleging the carrier’s unlawful delivery of contraband cigarettes. Following a two-week federal trial conducted with the City of New York, obtained a final judgment and combined award of $247 million in damages and penalties—the largest award of its kind and the largest monetary award obtained by the New York Attorney General’s Office at trial.
Defended 30 state Attorneys General in a suit alleging that the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and its implementing state statutes violated the dormant commerce clause and federal antitrust laws. Won all key motions, and on cross-motions for summary judgment, obtained a favorable final judgment and order on all claims. Affirmed on appeal.
Co-led 40 states’ coordinated investigation into the opioid crisis and role of the “big three” opioid distributors.
Led the New York Attorney General’s case against a cigarette manufacturer illegally importing tens of millions of contraband cigarettes into New York State. On issues of first impression, obtained a final judgment and order enjoining the manufacturer’s unlawful deliveries.
Led the New York Attorney General’s case against a Canadian cigarette manufacturer and its U.S. distributor for the illegal sale and delivery of contraband cigarettes, with damages to the State in excess of $3 billion.
Led the New York Attorney General’s investigation into Aetna’s data privacy breach concerning the HIV status of nearly 12,000 consumers. Case settlement agreement provided for over $1 million in penalties, enhanced privacy protections, and the appointment of a monitor.
Oversaw New York State, City, and Counties’ combined receipt of over $615 million each year, per a complicated set of formulas within the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and a 2015 Settlement Agreement.
Represented environmental groups in challenging a federal agency’s proposed decision to issue a 50-year incidental take permit, for an area spanning more than nine million acres and affecting over 100 endangered, threatened, and candidate species of plants and animals.
Represented a local environmental group in challenging a state agency’s issuance of a Clean Water Act permit to an industrial chicken farm emitting over 70 tons of ammonia into a national wildlife refuge and a nearby community.
Led litigation on behalf of a national environmental organization against coal-fired power plants in New York and Pennsylvania.
Represented injured consumers in class action litigation alleging over $2 billion in damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Represented persons injured from defective pharmaceutical drugs, including Baycol and Vioxx. Cases settled on favorable terms to each client.
Selected Presentations, Publications, and Working Groups
Opioids, Tobacco, Mass Tort Litigation: Litigation as Health Policy, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Public Health Law (New York 2018)
Lessons Learned in Litigation Against UPS: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Project, Tobacco Issues Seminar (San Diego 2017)
Co-Chair, National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Center’s Electronic Cigarettes Working Group. (2014–17)
State Investigations & Litigation Concerning Electronic Cigarettes, National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Project, Tobacco Issues Seminar (New York 2015)
Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, New York State Office of the Attorney General (2007–11)
Regulatory Cooperation & Bank Due Diligence, Federal Reserve Bank, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (Wash. D.C. 2010)
Protecting Your Institution from Illegal Online Tobacco Sales, Electronic Payments Network (New York 2009)
Vegas Vices & Internet Payments: Understanding the Implications, National Automated Clearing House Association, Payments Conference (Las Vegas 2008)
Contributing Author, California Class Actions Practice & Procedure (LexisNexis 2003)
University of California
Hastings College of the Law (JD, 2000)
University of California at Berkeley
(BA, Integrative Biology, 1996)
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
United States District Court for the Western District of New York
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
United States District Court for the Central District of California
United States District Court for the Southern District of California