RAFEY BALABANIAN is the Managing Partner of Edelson PC and its director of nationwide litigation. He started his career a trial lawyer, serving as a prosecutor for the City of Chicago where he took part in dozens of trials. Rafey went on to join a litigation boutique in Chicago where he continued his trial work, before eventually starting with Edelson in 2008. He is regarded by his peers as a highly skilled litigator, and has been appointed lead class counsel in more than two dozen class actions in state and federal courts across the country. His work has led to groundbreaking results in trial courts nationwide, including a $925 million jury verdict which stands as the largest privacy verdict in this nation’s history.
Some of Rafey’s other more notable achievements consist of nationwide settlements involving the telecom industry, including companies such as AT&T, Google, Sony, Motricity, and OpenMarket valued at more than $100 million.
Rafey has also been appointed to the Executive Committee in the NCAA concussion cases, considered to be “one of the largest actions pending in the country, a multi district litigation … that currently included about 100 personal injury class actions filed by college football players[.]” He represents labor unions and governmental entities in lawsuits against the drug manufacturers and distributors over the on-going opioid crisis. And he serves on the creditor’s committee in the PG&E bankruptcy action in the wake of the California wildfires.
Rafey’s class action practice also includes his work in the privacy sphere, and he has reached groundbreaking settlements with companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, Walgreens, Nationstar and comScore. Rafey served as lead counsel in the case of Dunstan, et al. v. comScore, Inc., No. 11-cv-5807 (N.D. Ill.), where he led the effort to secure class certification of what is believed to be the largest adversarial class to be certified in a privacy case in the history of US jurisprudence.
Rafey’s work in general complex commercial litigation includes representing clients ranging from “emerging technology” companies, real estate developers, hotels, insurance companies, lenders, shareholders and attorneys. He has successfully litigated numerous multi-million dollar cases, including several “bet the company” cases.
Rafey is a frequent speaker on class and mass action issues, and has served as a guest lecturer on several occasions at UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law. Rafey also serves on the Executive Committee of the Antitrust, Unfair Competition and Privacy Section of the State Bar of California where he has been appointed Vice Chair of Privacy, as well as the Executive Committee of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.
Rafey received his J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law in 2005. A native of Colorado, Rafey received his B.A. in History, with distinction, from the University of Colorado – Boulder in 2002.
Rafey moved to Chicago for law school, where he lived for the next 13 years before relocating to San Francisco with his wife and two boys in 2016 to found Edelson’s west coast office. Living in California has always been one of Rafey’s life-long dreams, mainly because it provides the opportunity for year-round tennis (and to a lesser extent golf) and with it, the chance for his two boys to be professional tennis players.
Rafey is admitted to the State Bars of California and Illinois.
- Class counsel in Wakefield v. ViSalus, which recently resulted in a jury verdict equating to over $925 million. This is the largest privacy jury verdict in our nation’s history.
- Executive Committee Member in National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation – Single Sport/Single School (Football) multi-district litigation, bringing personal injury lawsuits against the NCAA, conferences, and its member institutions over concussion-related injuries.
- Representing labor unions and governmental entities in lawsuits against the drug manufacturers and distributors over the opioid crisis.
- Lead counsel in Dunstan, et al. v. comScore, Inc., No. 11-cv-5807 (N.D. Ill.), believed to be the largest adversarial class to be certified in a privacy case in the history of US jurisprudence. Case resulted in $14 million settlement and prospective relief, putting an end to the challenged conduct.
- Trial court counsel in Robins v. Spokeo, on remand from the United States Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after both courts holding that “intangible” harms can satisfy Article 3 standing requirements.
- Lead counsel in over a half-dozen nationwide class action settlements collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars involving claims of unauthorized charges on cellular telephones.
- Lead counsel in Kolinek v. Walgreen Company, resulting in $11 million-dollar privacy settlement.
- Lead counsel Wright v. Nationstar, resulting in $12 million-dollar privacy settlement.
- Lead counsel in Hopwood v. Nuance Communications, Inc., resulting in $9 million-dollar privacy settlement, with individual payments to class members in excess of $10,000.
- Lead counsel in over a half-dozen nationwide class action settlements with software companies collectively worth $50 million dollars involving claims of fraudulent marketing and unfair business practices.
- Successfully defended largest medical marijuana producer in state of Illinois related to the issuance of its cultivation licenses, securing a voluntary dismissal after the filing of motion to dismiss.
- Successfully represented founders and controlling shareholders of nationally known mineral water company on claims against minority shareholder for fraud and misappropriation.
- Successfully defended several “bet the company” cases involving commercial disputes against marketing company, all resulting in “nuisance value” type settlements
- Successfully defended largest mortgage lender in Illinois on claims of unjust enrichment, securing dismissals or settlements that ultimately amounted to a fraction of typical defense costs in class actions.
- Guest lecturer on several occasions at UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law on privacy and class action issues (Spring Semester, 2017)
- Guest speaker at Stanford Law School, Shaking the Foundations Annual Conference, What it Means to be a Public Interest Lawyer (Oct. 2016)
- Panelist for State Bar of California, Hot Topics and Trends in Privacy and Data Security Litigation (March, 2016).
- Panelist for State Bar of California, Expert Evidence in Class Action Litigation (Nov. 2016).
- Panelist for ACI Privacy & Security Conference, Privacy Litigation: Class Action, Standing, Causation, and Impact of Spokeo (Oct. 2016).
- Panelist for LSI Law Seminars International, Article 3 Standing After Spokeo v. Robins (Apr. 2017).
- Panelist for the Practicing Law Institute, Law and Regulation of ‘Intermediary’ Businesses 2015 (Nov. 2015)
- Panelist for the Practicing Law Institute, Defending Data Privacy, Security Breach and TCPA Class Action Suits 2016 (Jan. 2016).
- Panelist for the PLI’s Seventeenth Annual Institute on Privacy and Data Security Law, Privacy and Data Security Litigation (May 2016).
- Panelist for the Association of Corporate Counsel, ACC Symposium, Government Investigations and their Fallout as it Relates to Civil Litigation (Apr. 2015).
- Panelist for the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, Annual Conference, Cybersecurity Litigation: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going (Apr. 2016)
- Panelist for the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, Annual Conference, Still Standing? Article III Standing in Privacy and Data Breach Cases Following Robins v. Spokeo (May 2017).
- Editorial Board, California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Journal, Revised 2017
- Named a “Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer” in Data Privacy and Financial Litigation by LawDragon 2023.
- Top 100 Lawyer in California by California Daily Journal 2020, 2021
- Sports/Gaming/Entertainment Law Trailblazer by National Law Journal 2021
- Law360 Class Action Rising Star 2019
- Super Lawyers Rising Star 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- Emerging Lawyers 2015, 2016
- Benchmark Plaintiff Litigation Star 2014, 2015, 2016
- CALI Award – Advanced Trial Advocacy
- Certificate in International and Comparative Law
- State of California
- State of Illinois
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- United States District Court for the Central District of California
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
- United States District Court for the Southern District of California
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the District of Colorado
- United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida