Connor M. Karen is an attorney licensed in California since November of 2017, and who joined Kirtland & Packard LLP in January of 2018. Connor works in a variety of practice areas, having litigated in the context of catastrophic personal injury, employment and educational discrimination (including Title IX), wage-and-hour, land use, fraud, elder abuse, whistleblower and other cases.
Connor focuses on cases that affect the public interest in some noteworthy way. He currently devotes a significant portion of his work to qui tam or “whistleblower” cases arising under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers (or “relators”) with knowledge of fraud on the government’s budget to recover damages on behalf of the United States or any of the various States (and some counties and/or local municipalities), when contractors defraud federal, state or local governments out of public funds by submitting false or fraudulent requests for reimbursement.
Connor assists False Claims Act whistleblowers in the contexts of false Medicare claims for products that violate the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), as well as fraudulent government contract procurement, in violation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
In addition to handling cases involving frauds on the government’s budget, Connor also litigates Title IX and other educational discrimination cases, including those in which plaintiffs are harmed due to inadequate responses by school districts to incidents of sex abuse or other discrimination.
Connor further focuses the remainder of his practice on select employment discrimination, catastrophic personal injury, wage-and-hour class action, or other public interest cases.
Connor is well-versed in California state and federal motion practice, having written and personally argued substantially every type of motion relevant to civil litigation, before California state and federal courts. Connor also has appellate experience, having prepared and argued civil appeals before the California Court of Appeals and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Connor’s expertise in legal research and writing, coupled with his conviction and enthusiasm for pursing justice on behalf of civil plaintiffs, results in a creative advocacy style that often lends his clients an edge in contentious cases.
For example, the first case Connor filed as a lawyer, on behalf of five victims of brain injuries resulting from use of an electroconvulsive therapy device, resulted in a judicial opinion (Riera v. Somatics (C.D. Cal.) 2018 WL 6242154) that expanded protection to patients and consumers. It did so by clarifying the responsibilities of medical providers to warn patients of risks based on risk indicators in the Food & Drug Administration’s public risk database called the Medical and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database.
On appeal, in the same case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals isolated, and certified for resolution by the California Supreme Court, a question of state law under the “learned intermediary” doctrine that the cases raise, which the Court identified as presenting “important policy concerns.” Namely, the Ninth Circuit asked the California Supreme Court whether the plaintiff can succeed in a medical failure-to-warn case against a device manufacturer by proving that, had the manufacturer given an adequate warning of risks to physicians, the plaintiff’s physician would have passed along stronger warnings, and a reasonably prudent person in the plaintiff’s position would have declined to consent to the use of the device at issue (as opposed to proving that the physician would have declined to prescribe the treatment outright). Himes v. Somatics, LLC (9th Cir. 2022) 29 F. 4th 1125. The California Supreme Court is slated to either accept or reject the certified question for resolution in the coming months.
In 2019, Connor’s work in an employment discrimination case, Louis v. City of Los Angeles et al., helped result in California’s 26th largest civil rights settlement of the year 2019.
In 2020, Connor’s work resulted in the ostensibly-first opinion in the federal judicial system recognizing an “erroneous outcome” theory of Title IX liability, in a context where credible complaints of student-on-student sex abuse were wrongfully ignored by a school district (as opposed to the case of a student wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct).
While at Martin Luther King Hall within UC Davis School of Law, Connor participated in the Appellate Advocacy (or “Moot Court”) program during his second year, where he honed his oral argument skills that follow him into the courtroom to this day.
Connor has additionally received accolades for his legal writing skills through law school and afterward. Connor placed fifth and second in UC Davis Moot Court’s individual and team brief writing contests, respectively, during his second year of law school.
During his third year of law school, Connor submitted a paper to American Association for Justice(formerly American Trial Lawyers’ Association)’s national law student class action writing competition. Connor’s submission explored the possibility of class action litigation as a means of redressing mass injurydue to medical device risks that have been known to manufacturers, yet not reported to the FDA’s public risk database. Connor won the competition, placing first nationally among submissions from students of top law schools across the country, resulting in the publishing of Connor’s article in Advance, American Constitution Society’s legal journal in December of 2017.
Connor’s attitudes about the viability of class action litigation as a means of solving today’s social problems may have shifted over time, but his belief in the effectiveness and necessity of civil litigation, and his commitment tothe creative and aggressive pursuit of justice for his clients, has remained the same.
Outside of the office, Connor enjoys playing tennis, applying obscure music theory to the electric guitar, thinking and talking about politics and other philosophy, and roasting coffee beans.
Connor received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Philosophy, from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo in 2014.
Connor received his Juris Doctorate degree in May of 2017 from the University of California at Davis at its Martin Luther King Hall, where he participated in Appellate Advocacy (Moot Court), served as a Senior Articles Editor for the Environs Law Journal, and participated in Humanitarian Aid Legal Outreach (HALO).
Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star (reserved for top 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40) in 2020 and 2021.
#26 (tie) California civil rights settlement of the year 2019 in Louis v. City of Los Angeles.
Parallel State Duties: Ninth Circuit Class Actions Premised on Violations of the FDCA’s Adverse Event Reporting Requirements
- published in American Constitution Society’s Advance Law Journal in December 2017