Josh Branson is a partner in the firm who regularly serves as lead counsel in high-stakes trial, appellate, and regulatory matters. Drawing on skills he honed as a record-setting, national-champion collegiate debater, Mr. Branson has successfully represented clients in a range of contentious disputes worth billions of dollars.
Mr. Branson is a creative, versatile litigator with a track record of mastering difficult legal problems and prevailing in trial and appellate courts. His experience as lead counsel includes civil terrorism-funding lawsuits; copyright litigation; shareholder disputes; commercial contract cases; whistleblower litigation; and telecommunications matters. He also has significant experience in antitrust, securities and foreign exchange, and defamation litigation. Mr. Branson has tried multiple cases to judgment, including a nearly billion-dollar interstate-water dispute in the U.S. Supreme Court; was lead counsel in a multi-billion-dollar copyright dispute that settled on the eve of trial; and has successfully argued both sides of dispositive motions on an array of cutting-edge issues.
At the appellate level, Mr. Branson is undefeated in the five U.S. Court of Appeals cases in which he was primary counsel. He also has drafted many additional briefs – including merits, certiorari, and amicus briefs – in the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Those appellate representations spanned a range of topics, including bankruptcy, terrorism, antitrust, telecommunications, and ERISA. Further, he has advised multiple litigation funders and represented clients in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission.
Mr. Branson has been quoted discussing his cases in many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg. In 2022, the American Lawyer named him the national Litigator of the Week for his D.C. Circuit appellate victory in Atchley v. AstraZeneca, No. 20-2077 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 4, 2022), which unanimously reversed the dismissal of a high-profile lawsuit on behalf of Gold Star Families and other Americans harmed by terrorism in Iraq. He received recognition in David Lat’s weekly Original Jurisdiction newsletter for the same victory. In 2022, Mr. Branson was named among the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Mr. Branson also has delivered a guest lecture on complex litigation at Georgetown University Law Center.
Mr. Branson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Diana Gribbon Motz on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Baltimore. Before law school, he was a championship policy debater at Northwestern University, where he broke the then-record for best individual performance at the 2006 National Debate Tournament. Similarly, in high school, he won the U.S. national championship in policy debate for St. Mark’s School of Texas.
Atchley v. AstraZeneca UK Limited, No. 17-cv-02136 (D.D.C.) – Lead counsel representing U.S. service members, civilians, and their families in a terrorism lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, GE Healthcare, AstraZeneca, and Roche for bribing Jaysh al-Mahdi terrorists in Iraq. Obtained unanimous D.C. Circuit opinion reversing dismissal of claims.
Cabrera v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 19-cv-03835 (D.D.C.) – Lead counsel representing U.S. service members, civilians, and their families in a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act against Iran for proving material support to the Afghan Taliban. Conducted bench trial on liability and bellwether damages in October 2021. Obtained 126-page opinion entering judgment on liability and awarding more than $100 million in damages to bellwether clients.
In re Determination of Royalty Rates & Terms For Making & Distributing Phonorecords (“Phonorecords IV”), No. 21-CRB-0001-PR (2023-2027) – Represented Amazon as lead trial counsel in Copyright Royalty Board rate-setting proceeding to establish statutory mechanical-royalty rates for interactive music streaming. Case resolved on eve of trial.
WNAC v. Verizon, No. 21-cv-10750 (D. Mass.) – Lead counsel defending Verizon against copyright-infringement lawsuit alleging unlawful retransmission of broadcast station signal. Obtained threshold dismissal of most claims; discovery ongoing for remainder.
Tenny Journal Communications, Inc. v. Verizon New Jersey, No. 19-cv-19183 (D.N.J.) – Represented Verizon as lead counsel in lawsuit alleging overbilling for payphone service. Secured complete dismissal of all claims, as well as final judgment awarding Verizon its full damages on all counterclaims.
ControlCase Attestation Services LLC v. ControlCase LLC, No. CL2020-19720 (Va. Cir. Ct.) – Represented SOC 2 auditor as lead counsel defending breach-of-contract and tortious-interference lawsuit brought by former joint-venture partner. Obtained complete dismissal of all claims.
Mississippi v. Tennessee, et al., No. 143, Orig. (U.S.) – Conducted trial of original-jurisdiction claims concerning interstate water dispute over the Middle Claiborne Aquifer. Obtained full dismissal of claims before Special Master and unanimous affirmance from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cabrera v. Black & Veatch, No. 19-cv-03833 (D.D.C.) – Lead counsel representing U.S. service members, civilians, and their families in a terrorism lawsuit alleging that large Western contractors paid protection money to the Afghan Taliban.
In re Aearo Technologies, LLC, No. 22-2606 (7th Cir.) – Represents Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors Related To Use Of Combat Arms Version 2 Earplug in high-profile bankruptcy case concerning scope of automatic stay for largest MDL in U.S. history. Led drafting of Official Committee’s merits brief, which represents the interests of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military veterans harmed by 3M’s defective earplugs.
Roy Moore v. Tiana Lowe, No. 20-cv-00124 (N.D. Al.) – Represents journalists against defamation claims brought by former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. Delivered oral argument on motion to dismiss and obtained dismissal of all claims in district court. Appeal pending.
Mattil v. Department of State, No. 2020-1322 (Fed. Cir.) – Represented whistleblower as lead counsel in appeal from adverse Merit Systems Protection Board decision. Case settled on favorable terms after appellate briefing in the Federal Circuit.
CenturyLink Communications, LLC v. Verizon Services Corp., et al., No. 18-33 (FCC) – Represented Verizon as lead counsel in significant regulatory dispute with CenturyLink over special-access charges. Obtained full dismissal of CenturyLink’s claims after contested evidentiary proceeding.
Midcontinent Communications v. MCI Communications Services, Inc., No. 16-cv-04070 (D.S.D.) – Represented Verizon as lead trial counsel in billing dispute with South Dakota-based cable company. Secured final judgment in Verizon’s favor on both Plaintiff’s claims and Verizon’s counterclaims.
CallerID4u, Inc. v. MCI Communications Services Inc., No. 15-35028 (9th Cir.) – Delivered oral argument in Ninth Circuit federal-preemption case concerning state-law equitable claims brought by competitive local exchange carrier. Obtained published opinion affirming favorable ruling below.
Maxi Dinga Sopo v. U.S. Attorney General, No. 17-15426-EE (11th Cir.) – Delivered oral argument in Eleventh Circuit case concerning the constitutionality of indefinite civil immigration detention. Obtained published opinion reversing dismissal of claims below.
Redbox Automated Retail, LLC v. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-00677 (C.D. Cal.) – After fully briefing a motion to dismiss, successfully resolved antitrust claims against merchandising wholesaler alleging anticompetitive conduct in the DVD rental market.
Roy Jones v. Party City Holdco Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-09080 (S.D.N.Y.) – Obtained full dismissal of securities-law claims against Party City for alleged misstatements in offering documents.
Stephen Robertson, et al. v. John Franco, et al., No. 49C01-0812-MI-057122-001 (Ind. Cir. Ct.) – Successfully resolved fiduciary-duty claims brought against outside directors of liquidated Indiana life insurance company.
Ronan Telephone Company, et al. v. Federal Communications Commission, et al., No. 05-71995 (9th Cir.) – Delivered oral argument in Ninth Circuit case concerning administrative-law challenge to a Federal Communications Commission declaratory rule. Successfully avoided vacatur of the FCC’s rule to enable favorable resolution on remand.
In re Bank of New York Mellon Forex Transactions Litig., No. 12-md-2335 (S.D.N.Y.) – Represented Bank of New York Mellon in consolidated lawsuits alleging that BNYM overcharged its custody customers on foreign-exchange services. Obtained full dismissal of parallel state False Claims Act claims brought in six states, alleging billions of dollars in damages.
In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323 (E.D. Pa.) – Represented retired football players in prominent MDL alleging that NFL was responsible for players’ head injuries. Served as primary brief drafter, and assisted in oral argument, on NFL’s threshold preemption defense. Case settled favorably after argument on the NFL’s motion to dismiss.
Too Hot for Courts to Handle: Fuel Temperatures, Global Warming, and the Political Question Doctrine, with Laurence H. Tribe and Tristan L. Duncan, Washington Legal Foundation Working Paper No. 169 (Jan. 2010)
Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 2010
Northwestern University, B.S., magna cum laude, 2006
- National Intercollegiate Debate Champion, 2005; Top Oralist, 2006
Law Clerk, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 2010-2011
- Lawdragon Leading Litigator (2022)
- Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council (2022-present)
- Department of Justice, Office for Access to Justice (2010)