Leslie A. Brueckner is a senior attorney at Public Justice. She received her A.B. degree summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley in 1983, where she was awarded the University Medal for the Most Distinguished Graduating Senior. Leslie is also a 1987 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. In December 1993, she joined Public Justice (then Trial Lawyers for Public Justice), where her areas of practice include class actions, constitutional law, food safety, federal preemption, and combating court secrecy.
Among other victories, Ms. Brueckner has won unanimous preemption rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court in Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine Corp., 537 U.S. 51 (2002) (upholding an injury victim’s right to sue a manufacturer for failing to install a propeller guard on its recreational motor boat engines), and from the California Supreme Court in Quesada v. Herb Thyme Farms, Inc. , 62 Cal. 4th 298 (2015)(upholding consumers’ rights to sue an organic grower for mislabeling its conventionally grown herbs as “organic”).
In 2011, Leslie became the director of Public Justice’s new Food Safety & Health Project, which seeks to hold corporations accountable for the manufacture, distribution and marketing of food and other products that endanger consumers’ safety, health and nutrition. The Food Safety & Health Project spans the gamut of Public Justice’s key practice areas, from workers’ rights, consumers’ rights and access to justice to environmental protection. In fighting the myriad abuses against consumers, workers, animals and the environment, the Project works with other public interest groups, not only on litigation, but also in educating consumers about food safety and health issues.
Leslie is co-lead counsel in T.H. v. Novartis, where the California Supreme Court will decide whether whether brand-name prescription drug manufacturers can be sued for injuries caused by generic versions of their drugs. Public Justice represents the plaintiffs in the case, twin boys who were brain damaged in utero by a drug that was prescribed without any warnings that it posed a serious risk of injury to the developing fetal brain. If the case is resolved favorably to the plaintiffs, California will be the only jurisdiction in the country that allows the victims of generic drugs to seek damages from brand-name prescription drug manufacturers.
Leslie is also lead appellate counsel in Novotny v. Sossan, where the South Dakota Supreme Court is considering a federal constitutional challenge to the the state’s medical peer review privilege. The lawsuit alleges that two South Dakota Hospitals conspired with a dangerously unethical spine surgeon to commit high-risk, unneccesary surgeries on over 30 patients, leaving many permanently disabled. The suit, if successful, will be the first in the country to create a “crime-fraud” exception to a statutory medical peer review privilege.
Leslie is also counsel for one or more plaintiffs in a series of lawsuits challenging so-called “ag-gag” laws that seek to criminalize whistleblowing in animal agriculture and elsewhere. One such law—Idaho’s—has been declared unconstitutional by the trial court and is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Public Justice’s challenge to two other laws (in Wyoming and North Carolina, respectively—are pending in the federal trial courts.)
In 2012, Leslie was honored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund with its “Pro Bono Achievement Award” for her work fighting the unsafe and inhumane treatment of animals in factory farms.
In addition to her litigation work, Leslie has taught appellate advocacy at American University Law School and Georgetown University School of Law.