Deborah J. La Fetra
Principal Attorney, National Litigation Center
Deborah La Fetra is a principal attorney, directing PLF’s Free Enterprise Project to file amicus briefs in state and federal Supreme Court cases focusing on limiting the expansion of civil liability and protecting the freedom of contract. The Free Enterprise Project provides policy arguments to shape the law so as to protect businesses against the abuse of tort law by mercenary lawyers who enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and entrepreneurs, and against inventive contract theories by which judges impose their concept of “social justice” on people in spite of their contractual decisions. Ms. La Fetra also manages PLF’s Amicus Project, supervising the filing of friend of the court briefs in state and federal courts across the country from trial courts to the United States Supreme Court in all the subject areas in which PLF litigates.
Selected recent cases:
- Knox v. SEIU (United States Supreme Court requires opt-in for mid-year union assessments against nonmembers)
- CTIA - The Wireless Assn. v. C&C of San Francisco (Ninth Circuit affirmed injunction against ordinance compelling speech about unproven risks of cell phone use)
- O'Neil v. Crane (California Supreme Court refused to extend asbestos liability to manufacturers whose products did not actually contain asbestos)
- Centocor v. Hamilton (Texas Supreme Court retained validity of learned intermediary doctrine in context of direct-to-consumer advertising)
- D.R. Horton v. National Labor Relations Board (Fifth Circuit considering whether employer mandate of individual arbitration of employment disputes is an "unfair labor practice" under the National Labor Relations Act)
- Whirlpool v. Glazer (United States Supreme Court considering whether to review class action certification where a minimum of 65% of the class suffered no injury)
- Chochorowski v. Home Depot (Missouri Supreme Court considering whether to uphold freedom of contract for consumers who sign rental agreements with damage waiver fees)
Ms. La Fetra joined Pacific Legal Foundation in 1990. She is admitted to the bars of California, Arizona, and the United States Supreme Court.
Publications / Achievements
Her most recent published articles are Medical Marijuana and the Limits of the Compassionate Use Act: Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, 12 Chapman L. Rev. 71 (2008); A Moving Target: Property Owners’ Duty to Prevent Criminal Acts on the Premises, 28 Whittier Law Rev. 409 (2006), and Kick It Up a Notch: First Amendment Protection for Commercial Speech, 54 Case Western Res. L. Rev. 1205 (2004).
Ms. La Fetra received her B.A. with honors in Political Science and History from Claremont McKenna College in 1987, and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center in 1990.