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Joshua D. Branson

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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 subjects 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; has examined and cross-examined fact and expert witnesses before a variety of tribunals; and has briefed and argued critical district-court motions. 

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.  Further, he has advised multiple litigation funders and represented clients in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Branson has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among other national outlets, in stories addressing his cases.  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.  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.

Noteworthy Representations

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. 

In re Determination of Royalty Rates & Terms For Making & Distributing Phonorecords (Phonorecords IV”), No. 21-CRB-0001-PR (2023-2027) – Lead counsel representing Amazon in Copyright Royalty Board rate-setting proceeding to establish statutory mechanical-royalty rates for interactive music streaming.

WNAC v. Verizon, No. 21-cv-10750 (D. Mass.) – Lead counsel defending Verizon against copyright-infringement lawsuit alleging unlawful retransmission of broadcast station signal.

Tenny Journal Communications, Inc. v. Verizon New Jersey, No. 19-cv-19183 (D.N.J.) – Lead counsel defending Verizon against lawsuit alleging overbilling for payphone service.  Successfully defeated motion for preliminary injunction; litigation over remaining claims remains ongoing.   

ControlCase Attestation Services LLC v. ControlCase LLC, No. CL2020-19720 (Va. Cir. Ct.) – Lead counsel defending compliance auditor against lawsuit by former joint-venture partner.

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. 

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.  Successfully briefed and argued motion to dismiss Moore’s original complaint; motion to dismiss Amended Complaint 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.  Obtained 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 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

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