Thomas R. Freeman is a principal at Bird Marella and a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law (1987). He is certified as an appellate specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and has argued countless cases before federal and state appellate courts and major motions at the trial court level.
Mr. Freeman has handled a broad range of complex matters, including claims brought under federal and state antitrust and false claims statutes, federal communication laws, California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act, healthcare law, copyright law, securities laws, the U.S. and California Constitutions, California’s anti-SLAPP statute, and RICO.
Recently, Mr. Freeman was lead appellate counsel for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) in a 2022 case where he successfully argued that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to hear an appeal by Malibu residents after the first phase of a bifurcated trial resulted in a court order declaring that the residents must have a legal obligation to remove signs and refrain from taking other actions that curtail public access to MRCA property and an adjoining public trail.
He is currently representing a wireless communications provider appealing a trial court’s dismissal of its negligence claims against a private contractor retained by the California Public Utilities Commission to administer a PUC program for providing free telephone services to low-income households. The appeal raises important questions of preemption under the Public Utilities Code and the existence of a duty owed by the contractor to exercise reasonable care to avoid inflicting purely economic injury on those who provide telephone services under the PUC program.
In 2017, Mr. Freeman filed a successful petition for writ of mandate challenging a trial court’s order overruling a demurrer filed by an established California law firm in a qui tam action based on California’s False Claims Act. He filed a second petition for writ of mandate in 2019, challenging the trial court’s order overruling the law firm’s demurrer to the qui tam plaintiff’s amended complaint. Within days of receiving the Court of Appeal’s order directing the plaintiff to file an opposition brief, the case settled.
Mr. Freeman successfully represented the proponents of Measure B, a 2012 ballot initiative in Los Angeles County mandating the use of condoms in adult films, in an appeal brought by adult film producers and actors challenging the measure’s constitutionality. In Vivid Ent. v. Fielding, 774 F.3d 566 (9th Cir. 2014), the Ninth Circuit held that the ballot proponents had standing to defend the measure’s constitutionality on appeal and that the measure was not unconstitutional.
Mr. Freeman has been lead appellate counsel in a wide variety of precedent-setting appeals. In Prospect Medical Group v. Northridge Medical Emergency Group (2009) 45 Cal.4th 497, he successfully argued in the California Supreme Court that emergency-care providers cannot “balance bill” HMO enrollees for the difference between the amount billed by the provider and the amount paid by the HMO.
Mr. Freeman filed a successful petition for writ of mandate in Canon U.S.A., Inc. v. Superior Court (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1 after the trial court denied a pleading challenge to the plaintiff’s allegation of a nationwide class. In a precedent-setting opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the nationwide scope of the putative class was properly challenged at the pleading stage. Prior to that ruling, trial courts had commonly ruled that any challenge to the nationwide scope of an alleged class must await the completion of expensive nationwide discovery.
And in the precedent-setting case of Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, Mr. Freeman successfully argued that contention-style deposition questions are improper because it is the lawyer’s (not the client’s) role to determine which facts support the client’s contentions, even where, as in Rifkind, the client happens to be an attorney.
Mr. Freeman is an elected member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, has an AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Litigation Counsel of America (the Trial Lawyer Honorary Society), and is listed in Best Lawyers in America (Appellate Law and White Collar Criminal Defense) and in Los Angeles Magazine’s “Southern California Super Lawyers.”