Jonah M. Knobler practices in the Firm’s Litigation department. His practice centers on class action defense; false advertising litigation; and food-and-drug law.
Mr. Knobler has over a decade of experience representing global and national pharmaceutical, food, beverage, cosmetic, and dietary supplement manufacturers in high-stakes false advertising, consumer protection, civil RICO, and product liability suits. His practice has given him a keen understanding of FDA-regulated industries and the surrounding regulatory landscape. He frequently litigates and publishes on cutting-edge legal topics of interest to these industries, such as standing, preemption, class certification, damages models, innovator liability, and commercial free speech. Mr. Knobler has also handled key appeals in both the state and federal systems, including in the U.S. Supreme Court and most federal Courts of Appeals. His active pro bono practice presently focuses on voting rights and LGBT rights.
Recently, Mr. Knobler was named to the National LGBT Bar Association’s 2018 “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40,” which recognizes 40 LGBT legal professionals “who have distinguished themselves in their field and have demonstrated a profound commitment to LGBT equality.” He was also named to Benchmark Litigation’s 2017 and 2018 “Under 40 Hotlist,” which recognizes “practitioners … aged 40 or younger [who] have been deemed the most promising emerging talent in their respective litigation communities … by peers and clients.”
From 2009 to 2010, Mr. Knobler served as a law clerk to the Honorable Danny J. Boggs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. From 2008 to 2009, Mr. Knobler served as a law clerk to the Honorable Frederic Block of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In 2004, Mr. Knobler held a McCleary Law Fellowship at the Human Rights Campaign.
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Litigation
- Represented a global pharmaceutical company in a putative civil RICO class action asserting false advertising and off-label marketing of a prescription medicine, which followed the manufacturer’s guilty plea and settlement with the Department of Justice. Obtained dismissal of all civil claims and complete affirmance on appeal, in a decision named among the year’s most important by Drug and Device Law.
- Represented a global pharmaceutical company in proceedings before a state supreme court in a product liability case brought by a patient who took a generic version of the client’s drug. Persuaded the court to reject the “innovator liability” doctrine and hold that name-brand manufacturers cannot be held liable by consumers of generic analogues.
- Represented a major dietary supplement manufacturer in a putative consumer class action asserting false advertising and consumer protection claims regarding a patented vitamin supplement. Defeated class certification, largely by persuading the court that the plaintiffs’ “hedonic regression” and “contingent valuation” damages models were flawed. Successfully opposed interlocutory appeal, then obtained summary judgment for client on all claims.
- Successfully handled the appeal of a cosmetics company whose flagship product had been enjoined nationwide for purported violations of the FDCA and parallel state law. Obtained an appellate ruling on novel Commerce Clause grounds narrowing the lower court’s injunction to just one state, permitting the client to continue selling its product in the other 49.
- Represented a major confectionery company in a putative consumer class action asserting an obligation to disclose certain labor practices in the client’s overseas supply chain. Moved to dismiss on various grounds, including lack of duty and commercial free speech. Obtained dismissal of all claims and successfully defended the judgment on appeal.
- Defended a major pet food manufacturer against Lanham Act false advertising claims asserted by a competitor, and against several copycat consumer class actions. Simultaneously litigated false advertising counterclaims against that competitor and novel third-party claims against the competitor’s advertising agencies. Successfully defended a favorable class settlement of the consumer claims from the attacks of professional objectors, and obtained affirmance of the settlement on appeal.
- Represented a major dietary supplement manufacturer in litigation against dozens of parties who produced and/or sold counterfeit versions of the client’s product. Obtained a precedent-setting $20 million summary judgment award against the counterfeiters and favorable settlements from numerous wholesalers who had trafficked in the counterfeits. The litigation resulted in criminal prosecution and conviction of the central defendants under conspiracy and anti-counterfeiting laws.
- Represented a global beverage manufacturer in a putative consumer class action alleging failure to disclose added flavorings and consequent violations of FDCA standards of identity and state consumer protection laws. Persuaded the court to reject the plaintiffs’ damages models and deny certification of a damages class, resulting in favorable pretrial resolution.
- Obtained favorable resolution prior to the class certification stage of putative food class actions involving “natural” claims, nutrient content claims, non-functional slack fill, and other asserted instances of mislabeling and misbranding.
Pro Bono and Public Interest
- Currently representing a nonpartisan organization, a state political party, and 15 North Carolina voters in Rucho v. Common Cause, a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging North Carolina’s congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. At the trial level, obtained the first-ever ruling by a federal court striking down a state’s congressional plan on this basis.
- Prepared and filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals on behalf of nonprofits, cities and counties, officeholders, and private individuals in major cases including Obergefell v. Hodges (marriage equality); Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.(trans students’ rights); Gill v. Whitford (partisan gerrymandering); andEvenwel v. Abbott(consideration of noncitizens in redistricting).
- Represented a national disability rights group and several state disability rights groups in litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeking relief for two individuals with intellectual disabilities who had been denied the right to live together as a married couple.
- Successfully represented a local television station in litigation against the City of New York and the NYPD seeking access to police body-camera footage under the New York Freedom of Information Law.
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Federal Circuits
- U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
- New York
- National LGBT Bar Association's 2018 "Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40"
- Benchmark Litigation’s 2017 “Under 40 Hotlist”
- "NY’s Legislature Should Fix Runaway Consumer Class Action Damages—Not Make Them Worse," New York Law Journal, (May 17, 2019)
- Co-Author, "Frank v. Gaos: Cy Pres Gets Its Day at the Supreme Court," Bloomberg Law, (June 8, 2018)
- "Seventh Circuit Issues Strong Endorsement of Learned Intermediary Doctrine in Medical-Device MDL,” Washington Legal Foundation (April 2018)
- "City Select v. BMW: Ascertainability Is Alive And Well In The Third Circuit," Bloomberg BNA’s Class Action Litigation Report (September 2017)
- "Petrobras Renounces 2nd Circ. ‘Preference’ For Class Cert.," Law360 (July 2017)
- "Petrobras Does Little To Clarify Class Ascertainability," Law360 (July 2017)
- "Town Of Chester: An Answer On Class-Member Standing?," Law360 (June 2017)
- "Tyson Foods: Victory in Defeat for Class-Action Defendants?," Bloomberg BNA’s Class Action Litigation Report (April 2016)
- "Class Actions in the Second Circuit: Do Plaintiffs Have Unfair Advantage?," New York Law Journal (March 2015)
- "Public Performance Rights in Music Downloads : United States v. ASCAP and Beyond," Journal of Internet Law (June 2008)
- "Performance Anxiety: The Internet and Copyright's Vanishing Performance/Distribution Distinction," Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal (December 2007)