Nationally recognized class action attorney Helen Zeldes joined Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP in August 2019. Helen has dedicated her 20-year career to representing plaintiffs in complex cases involving fraud, deceptive business practices, defective products, antitrust, insurance bad faith, mortgage lending and banking fraud, employment discrimination, wage and hour and human rights violations. Helen is a fearless advocate for her clients who has demonstrated time and again for the millions of consumers she has represented over her career that she's truly in it for the long haul, working tirelessly in the trenches to bring corporate wrongdoers to justice.
Helen routinely leads the charge as lead or co-lead counsel on high profile complex cases. Some of Helen's recent noteworthy cases include:
► Toll Roads Litigation. Helen currently serves as Co-Lead Counsel in In re Toll Roads Litigation, representing a certified class of millions of California drivers bringing claims against the Transportation Corridor Agencies and a handful of private defendants who plaintiffs allege are improperly and unfairly operating the toll roads in Southern California, violating their privacy rights and collecting unfair fines and penalties from them. In re Toll Roads Litigation, Case No. 8:16-cv-00262-AG-JCG (C.D. Cal). Ms. Zeldes also represents plaintiffs in three other toll roads litigation matters across California.
► Trump University. Helen initiated and served as Co-Lead Counsel with the team of attorneys who filed, prosecuted and settled the well-publicized class action against Trump University, LLC and Donald Trump for violations of California, Florida, and New York consumer protection statutes and California and Florida elder abuse claims regarding its real estate investing seminars, which resulted in a $25 million settlement for the plaintiffs. Initiating and investigating the case here in North County, Helen attended a local Trump University seminar and met with students who were taken for tens of thousands of dollars spent on worthless Trump University courses. Helen served on and put together the litigation team for this groundbreaking case. Makaeff v. Trump University, LLC, et al., Case No. 3:10-CV-00940-GPC-WVG (S.D. Cal.).
► Sony Electronics Trackpad Defect Litigation. Helen served as Co-Lead Counsel for a multi-state class action against Sony Electronics, Inc. alleging fundamental flaws in the design and/or manufacturing process in certain VAIO Touchpad Notebooks. In Re Sony VAIO Computer Notebook Trackpad Litigation, Case No. 3:09-CV-02109-BAS-MDD (S.D. Cal.). A multi-million dollar settlement was approved.
► Apple Power Adapter Defect Litigation. Helen served as Co-Lead Counsel for a nationwide consumer class action against Apple, Inc. representing a class of laptop owners for product defect claims that Apple's power adapter was defectively designed. In Re Magsafe Apple Power Adapter Litigation, Case No. 5:09-CV-01911-EJD (N.D. Cal). A nationwide multi-million dollar settlement was approved, wherein eligible class members received relief for the defective adapters. Helen also served as Co-Lead Counsel for a nationwide class of over two million purchasers of an alleged defective power adapter in a consumer product defect class action against Apple, Inc. Gordon v. Apple Computer, Inc., Case No. 5:06-CV-05358-JW. A multi-million dollar nationwide settlement was approved (in which Helen Zeldes was appointed Co-Lead Counsel for the settlement class), wherein eligible class members received $25-$79 each.
► Mylife.com Reputation Fraud Litigation. Helen represents a San Diego resident who was induced to purchase a subscription to the website Mylife.com, a spinoff of Reunion.com, after he was shocked by the false claims made on that site that he had a criminal record, among other things. Cohen v. Mylife.com, Inc.
► US Healthworks Wage Hour Class Action. Helen is counsel in a class action brought on behalf of thousands of health care workers whose employer understaffs the healthcare facilities and allegedly denies them proper meal and rest breaks in violation of the California Labor Code. Keich et al. v. U.S. Healthworks, Inc. Case No. 37-2017-00015343-CU-OE-CTL (San Diego Super. Ct.).
► AMG Wage Hour Class Action. Helen represented plaintiffs in a wage and hour class action against their employer for failure to pay for all time worked, overtime, and meal and rest break premiums. The matter has settled and class members received significant relief. Sabato et al. v. AMG Demolition & Environmental Service, Case No. 37-2018-00002502-CU-OE-CTL (San Diego Super. Ct.).
► In re: Facebook, Inc. Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation. Helen is a member of the team of attorneys who filed the broadly publicized class action against Facebook, Inc. and other defendants for the data scandal arising from Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of an estimated 87 million Facebook users' personal data in 2015 which was used to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
►County Supervisor Dave Roberts. Helen represented a state employee who brought claims for constructive discharge against the County of San Diego and County Supervisor Dave Roberts, for misconduct including, among other things, forcing her to work on his campaign on county time and putting pressure on her to lie to investigators. Masukawa v. County of San Diego.
Like her prior firms, Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP prides itself on our fearlessness: no defendant is too large or powerful for us to tackle. Prior to joining SSHH, Helen founded the class action group at Coast Law Group in 2017 and before that she founded Zeldes & Haeggquist, LLP in 2008. Prior to that she worked for many years at the nation's largest plaintiffs' class action firm, Milberg Weiss/Lerach Coughlin (now Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd) in its consumer and insurance fraud class action practice group. There, Helen was instrumental in litigating a series of nationwide senior annuities fraud class actions in which her former firm was appointed Co-Lead Counsel against insurance giants like AIG, Allianz and Midland National. Other nationwide class actions Helen litigated at her former firms included: a wage/hour overtime action against Cintas, one of the nation's largest commercial laundries for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for misclassifying truck drivers as salesmen to avoid payment of overtime wages; race discrimination underwriting class actions against large insurance companies for their practice of intentionally charging African-Americans and other minorities more for life insurance than similarly situated Caucasians (cases that collectively recovered over $400 million for African-Americans and other minority class members as redress for the civil rights abuses they were subjected to); race discrimination underwriting class actions against insurance companies based upon the improper use of credit scoring or geographical redlining to charge minorities higher premiums against insurance giants like Allstate and State Farm; a statewide consumer class action over the propriety of a private contractor operating "red light camera" systems throughout California, Red Light Photo Enforcement Cases, JCCP No. 4305 (San Diego Super. Ct.), a case which Ms. Zeldes co-chaired at trial; a multi-state antitrust action entitled In re Medical Waste Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1546 (D. Utah), in which plaintiffs brought claims for defendants' alleged conspiracy to allocate customers and territories in the market for the collection, transportation and disposal of medical waste, as well as for unlawful monopolization.
Helen was named a San Diego Super Lawyer in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She was also nominated for the 2016 National Association of Women Business Owners' Woman Business Owner Of The Year award and was a 2016 finalist in the San Diego Business Journal's Women Who Mean Business Awards. Helen is committed to giving back to the community - she currently champions sustainable farming and food justice issues on the Board of the Berry Good Food Foundation, is on the Advisory Board of Think Dignity, and was on the Board of San Diego BayKeeper (now CoastKeeper), to name a few.
Ms. Zeldes is licensed to practice law in the California and Hawaii and is admitted to practice before all the federal district courts in both states.
In an alternate universe somewhere Helen owns super cool local artist galleries in Encinitas and Hawaii, loves stand up and outrigger paddling and sneaks off to Bali and Mexico when no one is watching. When not fighting the good fight, she spends quality time with her daughter and new puppy.
- Class Actions
- Wage and Hour
- Civil Rights
- Police Misconduct
- Wrongful Convictions
- Personal Injury
- International Human Rights
- Employment Law
- University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law, Honolulu, Hawaii
- J.D. - 2000
- Honors: cum laude
- University of California at Davis
- B.A. - 1988
- University of Hawaii Law Review
- Outside Articles Editor
- Editorial Board Recipient; Edward H. Nakamura Memorial Public Interest/Service Scholarship
- CALI Award for Highest Grade in Domestic Ocean & Coastal Law
- George Washington-Oxford International Human Rights Law Program Scholarship