• Biography

    M.C. Sungaila has briefed and argued appeals raising cutting-edge and core business issues, and helped secure important rights for women and girls nationally and internationally. Clients call on her to craft approaches to emerging legal issues across multiple cases and jurisdictions and to provide pretrial and trial consultations in cases where an appeal by either side appears inevitable or a “key case” outcome might impact a whole series of cases for a client.

    At the core of her broad appellate practice is M.C.’s passion for the rule of law and for helping shape undeveloped areas within it. Her work has helped to:

    • Preserve the attorney-client privilege
    • Develop the standards for the admission of expert testimony
    • Determine limits to the reach of class actions and securities laws
    • Extend the assumption of the risk doctrine
    • Develop rules for preventing compelled speech under the First Amendment
    • Define the scope of the duty to warn sophisticated users of product hazards
    • Limit the reach of medical monitoring claims
    • Clarify the standards for interstate enforcement of non-compete agreements
    • Secure important rights for women worldwide
    • Reverse significant judgments for clients
    • Limit franchisor liability for the acts of franchisee employees
    • Define the scope of the Establishment Clause under the California Constitution and preserve a public school yoga physical education program

    M.C. has repeatedly been named a “Notable Appellate Practitioner” by Chambers USA, Chambers and Partners (2013-2020). Clients describe her in one Chambers listing as a “gifted appellate lawyer who consistently delivers bottom line results” and praise her for her “great practical sense,” “laser” focus on key issues, “excellence in creative thinking,”and ability to “advise on the business side just as well as she does on the legal side.” She has been repeatedly recognized by the Daily Journal, Daily Journal Corporation as one of California’s 100 Leading Women Lawyers (2005, 2010-2017) and in 2015 as one of the state’s Top Labor & Employment Lawyers. She was a recipient of two back-to-back California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) awards, including one in 2015 from California Lawyer magazine, Daily Journal Corporation, for the precedent-setting franchisor vicarious liability case she argued before the California Supreme Court, Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza.

    M.C. has also been honored for her sustained commitment to community service and pro bono work, receiving recognition from groups as diverse as California Women Lawyers, Alpha Phi International Fraternity, the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and Coastline Community College Foundation. In 2017, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, whose recipients include seven U.S. Presidents, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity, for her combined professional achievements and humanitarian and pro bono work.

    In addition, M.C.’s various articles on effective amicus briefing, appellate brief writing, and gender issues have been cited in more than 45 law review articles, treatises and blogs, and appear as required reading on law school course syllabi throughout North America. Her commentary has appeared in a variety of publications ranging from the ABA Journal and National Law Journal to the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

    Selected Representative Matters

    *Some of these representations were handled by M.C. Sungaila prior to her joining Haynes and Boone, LLP. M.C. acted as lead counsel or co-lead counsel in all matters listed.


    • Visiting Nurses Association v. Jupiter Medical Center (2015) __ U.S.__,135 S.Ct. 2052

    Assumption of the Risk

    • Nalwa v. Cedar Fair (2012) 55 Cal.4th 1148

    Attorney-Client Privilege

    • Center Partners, Ltd. v. Growth Head GP, LLC 2012 IL 113107, 981 N.E.2d 345 (2012)


    • Epic Systems v. Lewis (2018) __ U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1612
    • Patterson v. Domino's (2014) 60 Cal.4th 474
    • Brunner v. Liautaud (N.D. Ill., Apr. 8, 2015) 2015 WL 1598106
    • Advanced Bionics Corp v. Medtronic, Inc. (2012) 29 Cal.4th 697
    • Lewellen v. Molina Healthcare, Inc. (Cal.App.2d Dist., Jan. 28, 2015, B250557) 2015 WL 357149

    First Amendment and Anti-SLAPP

    • Sedlock v. Baird (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 874
    • Hurvitz v. Hoefflin (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1232
    • CTIA – The Wireless Association v. City and County of San Francisco (Ninth Circuit Case Nos. 11-17707, 11-17773) (September 10, 2012) (mem. dispo.)
    • Sander v. State Bar (2013) 58 Cal. 4th 300

    Pleading Standards

    • Thrifty Payless, Inc. v. Americana at Brand, LLC (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1230


    • In re Estate of Duke (2015) 61 Cal.4th 871

    Professional Liability

    • Southwest Nonprofit Housing Corp. v. Nowak (2014) 234 Ariz. 387, 322 P.3d 204

    Toxic Tort, Product Liability and Expert Testimony

    • Kim v. Toyota (2018) 6 Cal.5th 21
    • Bixby v. KBR, Inc. (May 14, 2015) 603 Fed.Appx. 605, 2015 WL 2242170, mem. dispo.
    • Stengel v. Medtronic (9th Cir. 2012) 686 F.3d 1121
    • Johnson v. Honeywell International, Inc. (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 549
    • Johnson v. American Standard (2008) 43 Cal.4th 56
    • Lockheed Martin v. Superior Court (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1096
    • Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. United States (2009) 129 S.Ct. 1870, 556 U.S. 599
    • Dee v. PCS Property Management (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 390
    • Geffcken v. D’Andrea (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 1298
    • In re Lockheed Litigation Cases (2005) 23 Cal.Rptr.3d 762
    • Jennings v. Palomar Pomerado Health Systems (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 1108
    • Stewart v. Union Carbide (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 23

    Venue and Jurisdiction

    • Porter v. Nabors Drilling USA, L.P., 854 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2017)
    • Viking Global Equities, L.P. v. Porsche Automobil Holding SE (1st Dep’t, 2012) 101 A.D.3d 640, 958 N.Y.S.2d 35
    • Toyota Motor Corp. v. Superior Court (Stewart) (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 1107


    • Donlen v. Ford Motor Co. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 138
    • Revious v. Ford Motor Co. (Cal.App.5th Dist., Sept. 4, 2012, F062211) 2012 WL 3801558

    Pro Bono

    • Jameson v. Desta (2018) __Cal.5th __
    • Cassier v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation 862 F.3d 951 (9th Cir. 2017)
    • Bringas-Rodriguez v. Sessions, 850 F.3d 1051 (9th Cir. 2017) (en banc)
    • Moloney v. U.S. (2013) 133 S.Ct. 1796
    • Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Case No. 12.626 (Merits Report No. 80/11 dated July 21, 2011, made public August 17, 2011)
    • Campo Algodonero (case of Gonzales et al. “Cotton Field cases”) v. Mexico, Case Nos. 12.496, 12.497 and 12.498 (Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 6, 2009)
    • U.S. v. Morrison (2000) 529 U.S. 598
    • Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education (1999) 526 U.S. 629
    • U.S. v. Lanier (1999) 520 U.S. 259

    To read more about these cases, click here.

  • Education and Clerkships

    • J.D., University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, 1991
    • B.A., Political Science, Stanford University, 1988, with distinction, Honors in Humanities
      • Law Clerk to the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1993-1994
      • Law Clerk to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, 1991-1992
      • Extern to the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1990
  • Admissions

    • California
  • Court Admissions

    • Supreme Court of California
    • United States Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois