Mr. Cappello has challenged the “business as usual” way financial institutions, government entities and big corporations conduct themselves. He holds them accountable when they ignore the rights of individuals and small businesses. He has obtained verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 billion. Mr. Cappello has been the lead attorney in class action cases within the firm that have resulted in millions of dollars more in compensation to class members.
Mr. Cappello is known as the pioneer of lender liability, fighting for borrowers against giant financial institutions.
In a case that involved both lender liability and discrimination practices, Mr. Cappello and his law partner Leila Noël filed a class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo on behalf of 8,000 minority borrowers in Los Angeles, alleging that they were not given lending options as other equally qualified borrowers in non-minority neighborhoods. After five years of pre-trial discovery and motion-practice, the case went to trial. The jury rendered a multi-million dollar verdict against Wells Fargo for intentional discrimination. It was affirmed on appeal including a multi-million dollar fee award.
In another significant case, Mr. Cappello brought a lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara for violating the California Voting Rights Act by holding “at large” instead of “by-district” elections. After denying liability, the city eventually folded and agreed to hold by-district elections. Under a settlement agreement crafted by Mr. Cappello, two districts were created where Latinos are the majority—giving them the opportunity to have a voice in city government.
Currently, Mr. Cappello is lead trial counsel, working with three other law firms, in multiple class action lawsuits filed against Plains All American regarding a May 2015 pipeline rupture and resulting oil spill along the Santa Barbara County coast. Mr. Cappello has challenged the “business as usual” way financial institutions, government entities and big corporations conduct themselves. He holds them accountable when they ignore the rights of individuals and small businesses. Before entering private practice, Mr. Cappello served a seven-year tenure as city attorney of the City of Santa Barbara. During that period, he was the chief litigator against Union Oil, Mobil, Gulf and Texaco for the massive 1969 Santa Barbara Channel oil spill. The disaster and the ensuing litigation awakened the nation’s consciousness to the dangers to our environment and the tragic consequences if not protected. The case was settled in 1974 shortly before trial for $9.45 million. See Pacific Standard article on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara Channel spill.
Prior to being appointed city attorney, he was assistant district attorney in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office and served as a deputy attorney general for the State of California assigned to the Special Trials and Investigations Division.
Mr. Cappello was named one of the Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California for 2014 and 2020. In 2007, he was selected as a Top 100 Trial Attorneys in Southern California by the National Trial Lawyers Association and has been named a “Southern California Super Lawyer” since 2007. He is AV® Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell and consistently ranked as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in a U.S. News & World Report annual survey.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Cappello graduated from UCLA in 1962 with an A.B. and from UCLA School of Law in 1965. In 2007, he made a $1.25 million gift which led to the creation of the A. Barry Cappello Courtroom on the UCLA campus. It serves as UCLA Law’s primary courtroom where students compete in mock trials, moot courts and simulated trials and gain experience arguing in a realistic courtroom environment. Mr. Cappello is a frequent guest lecturer and spearheads “The Cappello Series: The Art of the Trial,” a twice-annual lecture series in which students gain insight into litigation techniques and strategies from top practitioners. In 2017, he provided an additional $1 million to transform the school’s trial advocacy program, providing scholarship support and extensive training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers as trial attorneys (Cappello Provides $1 million to Lift Trial Advocacy). In 2018, he was named UCLA School of Law Donor of the Year. In 2019, he donated another $500,000 to establish the A. Barry Cappello Trial Advocacy Quasi-Endowed Mock Trial Team Fund to support the operation of the UCLA Law Mock Trial Team. It will also assist in scholarships for trial advocacy students and to upgrade the school’s trial courtroom with the latest technology. He sits on the school’s Board of Advisors.