Christopher K. Leung
Chris, a partner in the firm, is an experienced litigator and successful trial attorney who has tirelessly worked to protect the public interest. His practice includes representing public health groups and states in litigation. Recent cases include successfully suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove menthol as a characterizing flavor from cigarettes, and representing the State of New Mexico in an arbitration involving over $37 million in disputed tobacco payments. Chris also represents whistleblowers, injured employees, and consumers in litigation.
He is a fierce, effective advocate for his clients, and his track record speaks for itself.
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, including obtaining a $247 million trial verdict (together with the City of New York) against the common carrier United Parcel Service. For his work, Chris received the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award, the New York Attorney General’s highest commendation for superior service, and most recently the Sunset Award from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
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 College of the Law, San Francisco. 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.
- 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.
- Participated in writing California Class Actions Practice & Procedure (LexisNexis 2003) as a contributing author.
Note: This list may include matters completed prior to joining Pollock Cohen LLP.
Amazon's Unlawful Biometric Data Collection
Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. Unlawful Use of Biometric Data
TLC's Undercover Operations
Starbucks' Unlawful Biometric Data Collection
Tainted Baby Food
Growing up in California, Chris spent an inordinate amount of time with friends in the woods, at the beach, and going on nighttime hikes to look at the stars. Drinking coffee was a constant as was listening to lots and lots of music. But he did not just listen—he also played the bass and was part of a college band that played salsa, Latin jazz, and Banda music. And, before becoming a successful trial lawyer protecting the public interest, he was an assistant jazz manager at Tower Records.
Now in New York City, Chris enjoys camping around the Finger Lakes, Catskills, and Adirondacks. And together with his family, he still spends an inordinate amount of time listening to music at home or while in the car with them driving to the next camp site. His favorite part about camping is everything—particularly the part after a hike or swim, around a fire, with friends, s’mores, and stories to share. And about that coffee—it's still a constant at home and in the office!