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ABOUT David W. Sanford

David Sanford is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national law firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and Nashville. He received his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1995.

Legal Representation

David Sanford has recovered more than one billion dollars for individual clients and the United States government since 2004. Mr. Sanford represents C-suite executives, as well as non-managerial, hourly employees throughout the United States. David has served as lead counsel in more than 50 class actions and numerous qui tam fraud cases around the country. David has represented more than 100 General Counsel and attorneys (in-house and outside counsel) in contract disputes, employment matters, and severance packages.

David is currently class counsel in gender discrimination cases against Forest Labs, Merck, and KPMG; class counsel in a race discrimination matter against the U.S. Marshal Service; lead counsel representing general counsel of Armani and Zara; class counsel in a matter against Georgetown and other defendants on behalf of women who were surreptitiously videotaped while performing a cleansing ritual; lead counsel representing a professor at the Columbia Business School in a gender discrimination/sexual harassment matter; qui tam counsel against Depuy; lead counsel representing partners of law firms throughout America; class counsel in a gender discrimination matter against the law firm Chadbourne & Parke; lead counsel in a gender discrimination matter brought on behalf of a partner at Proskauer Rose; class counsel against Oracle alleging Labor Code violations; counsel against BET and Viacom in a discrimination matter brought on behalf of a BET executive; and class counsel in ERISA matter against Morgan Stanley.

David recently settled gender discrimination class actions with extensive class wide relief against: Daiichi Pharmaceuticals; Qualcomm; Publicis; Forest Pharmaceuticals; and Alcon Pharmaceuticals.

Professional Recognition

David Sanford was inducted into the National Law Journal’s Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame and he is listed among the top 100 trial lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers. Mr. Sanford has been recognized as a “Top Employment Lawyer” by American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and the National Law Journal; is rated Band One by Chambers and Partners; was recognized by Law 360 as an Employment Lawyer MVP in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and as “Titan of the Plaintiffs’ Bar;” and he has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” in both Washington, DC and New York. Since 2006, Mr. Sanford has been AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating given to an attorney by judges and attorneys throughout the United States.

Largest Employment Verdict in United States History

Mr. Sanford served as lead counsel representing approximately 7,000 female employees in Velez v. Novartis. After a seven-week trial, Mr. Sanford secured the largest employment verdict ($253 million) in United States history. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “brilliantly tried” and the result as “extraordinary” and “one of a kind.”

Presentation at the United Nations

In July 2011, Mr. Sanford gave an address on women’s rights at the United Nations. The United Nations recognized the Novartis case as among the top 10 cases in the world advancing women’s rights, and is the only case from the United States so recognized by the UN.

One of Largest Wage Settlements in United States History

Mr. Sanford served as lead counsel in a wage and hour case against Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation. The case settled for $99 million on behalf of sales representatives who were not paid overtime wages.

Lead Counsel In False Claims Act (Qui Tam) Cases

Mr. Sanford has served as lead counsel in numerous fraud matters brought by individuals on behalf of the United States government. Among his successful False Claims Act (qui tam) matters, Mr. Sanford was lead counsel for a relator in a case against Amgen that the United States government settled for $762 million to resolve criminal liability and False Claims Act allegations. Mr. Sanford was the lead counsel in a case against Smith & Nephew, which was the first whistleblower settlement involving false country of origin claims for medical devices. The case settled for $11 million. Mr. Sanford was also lead counsel in a case against Medtronic, which settled for $23.5 million.

Historic Settlement Against Cracker Barrel

Mr. Sanford was lead counsel in a race discrimination class action against the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, which was the only race discrimination case intervened in by the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Sanford represented the NAACP, as well as Cracker Barrel employees and customers. The case settled for more than $8 million.

Television Interviews, Radio Appearances and Professional Presentations

Mr. Sanford has appeared on most major television networks and cable news shows, including “Good Morning America,” “NBC News with Brian Williams,” “20/20,” Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and Voice of America. Mr. Sanford appeared on the Forbes Radio Channel in a “Special Tribute to America’s Best Lawyers,” and has been quoted in major newspapers and journals throughout America on pending matters of importance in the law.

Mr. Sanford speaks throughout the United States on complex litigation matters. He has recently addressed the 4th World Litigation Forum — Silicon Valley; Yale Law School; Stanford Law School; Harvard Law School; Columbia Law School; Vanderbilt Law School; the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the American Bar Association; the Memphis Bar Association; the National Employment Lawyers Association; the American Conference Institute; the National ABA Conference; the Pennsylvania Bar’s Employment Law Institute; the New York County Lawyers’ Association; the ABA National Institute on Class Actions; the District Director/Regional Attorney Conference of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and a group of judges and attorneys at a New York/Chicago JAMS Conference.

Board Membership

Mr. Sanford sits on the Board of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem; the Board of Corps Africa; and the Board of the Center for WorkLife Law. Mr. Sanford is also an advisory board member of FAIR (Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion, and Resources), which is a non-profit designed to increase diversity in the plaintiffs’ employment bar and to raise public consciousness about workers’ rights.

Prior to Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Before founding his firm in 2004, Mr. Sanford opened and was the managing partner of the Washington, DC, office of a civil rights firm from 1998 through 2003. He also worked with David Boies on antitrust matters and commercial litigation and worked in the appellate division of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, drafting petitions of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Sanford served as a law clerk for the Honorable Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; as a law clerk in the White House Counsel’s Office under President Clinton; and as a summer law clerk for the Honorable Dorothy Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Before law school, Mr. Sanford was a professor of philosophy at Williams College and taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Oberlin College.

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Areas of LAW

  • Americans With Disabilities Act
  • Appellate Practice
  • Employment
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Whistleblower Litigation

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