Ernest J. Getto

Retired Partner

Ernest J. Getto retired from the partnership in January 2011. He was a partner in the Litigation Department of Latham & Watkins and practiced in the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. His extensive experience in major litigation covers a period of over 40 years. Mr. Getto represented many companies in massive environmental and toxic tort litigations. Georgia Pacific, Pacific Gas & Electric, Occidental Petroleum, PepsiAmericas, Chevron, and Newmont Mining were among his clients in that area. Mr. Getto led a Latham team in obtaining summary judgment for Georgia Pacific in the largest CERCLA case ever decided. The ruling exonerated Georgia Pacific from any liability for contribution to the estimated US$1.5 billion cost of removing PCB contamination from the Fox River in Wisconsin. Mr. Getto, representing Chevron, also led a Latham team that won all 12 motions for summary judgment in the highly publicized Beverly Hills High School toxic tort litigation. He also represented IBM, Mobil, National Semiconductor, Allied-Signal, Hughes, TRW, Montrose Chemical Corporation, Unocal, Siemens and Smithkline Beecham in significant toxic tort cases. Mr. Getto was also lead litigation counsel for The Directors Guild of America where he represented the Guild and a number of film directors in litigation involving intellectual property and artists rights. In that regard, he was successful in obtaining summary judgment enjoining unauthorized editing of feature films in the “Cleanflicks” litigation in Colorado. Mr. Getto served as lead counsel in numerous complex, multiparty cases, and has substantial experience in consumer fraud, class actions, products liability, entertainment, securities and antitrust litigation. He led a Latham team in obtaining judgment on the pleadings in the “Hot Fuels” consumer fraud class action litigation in California. He also served as lead trial counsel in the massive toxic tort litigation involving the Stringfellow waste disposal site in California. 

With a long history in firm management, Mr. Getto served as Chairman of the Litigation Department at Latham from 1991-1995. He was named one of the "Top 100 Outside Counsel” by The Hollywood Reporter and has appeared in numerous editions of The Best Lawyers in America.

Mr. Getto, a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, served as Co-Chair of the Federal Procedure Committee of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association, Program Chairman of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and as a member of their Board of Governors. He served as member of the Board of Directors of the California Pediatric and Family Medical Center and as President of the Family and Pediatric Medical Center Foundation, receiving their Man of the Year Award. At the time of his retirement, Mr. Getto served as a member of the Directors Roundtable of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was active in fund raising for Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, Vanderbilt University School of Law and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. Mr. Getto also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles Research Institute and as Deputy General Counsel of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department (the "Christopher Commission").

Mr. Getto has been a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education programs and has published numerous articles, particularly on expert testimony. His publications include:

  • "Peremptory Disqualification of the Trial Judge," Litigation, Winter 1975
  • "Discovery of the Adversary Expert," New York Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1978
  • "Preparing the Expert Witness," New York Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1980
  • "The Federal Rules of Evidence and Pre-Trial Preparation," New York Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1981
  • "Evidentiary Considerations in Products Liability Cases," New York Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1982
  • "Recent Developments in Toxic Tort Litigation," Executive Enterprises, Inc., 1989
  • "The Admissibility of Epidemiological Evidence In Toxic Tort Litigation," Industrial Epidemiology Forum, October 25, 1991
  • "Expert Witnesses In Chemical Exposure Litigation," Practising Law Institute Press, 1991
  • "Notes on Nuisance:  A Framework for Understanding Nuisance Law in a Modern Industrial Setting," (Two Part Series) Toxic Law Reporter, 1991 (co-author, James Arnone)
  • "Recent Developments in Environmental and Toxic Tort Liability," USC Corporate Institute, 1992
  • " The Artification of Science: The Problem of Unscientific 'Scientific' Evidence," Environmental Law Reporter, July 1993 (co-author Cynthia Cwik)
  • "'Potter v. Firestone Tire And Rubber Co.' -- Fear Alone Is Not Enough," Toxics Law Reporter, March 9, 1994 (co-author Cynthia Cwik)
  • "Medical Monitoring Claims in Environmental Class Actions," Toxics Law Reporter, March 8, 1995 (co-author, Myra Pasek)
  • "Report of the Federal Procedure Committee of the Section of Litigation of the American Bar Association on the Civil Justice Reform Act and the 1993 Discovery Amendments," American Bar Association, Committee on Pretrial Practice and Discovery Newsletter, March 1996
  • "Evolving Standards for Fear of Future Disease Claims in the Post-Potter Era," Tulane Environmental Law Journal, Summer 1997 (co-author Cynthia Cwik)
  • "Medical Monitoring and Class Actions," Natural Resources and Environment, Spring 2003
    (co-author Daniel Martens)
  • "The Statute of Limitations: The First and Best Defense in Toxic Tort Litigation," Toxics Law Reporter, July 10, 2003 (co-authors Dana Linker and Ellen Brown)
  • "Current Issues in Chemical Exposure Litigation Involving the Semiconductor Industry." Toxics Law Reporter; December 30, 2004 (co-authors Cynthia Cwik, Shannon Eagan and Jennifer Barry)
  • "Nanotechnology:  Will Tiny Particles Create Large Legal Issues?" The SciTech Lawyer, Summer 2009 (co-authors Cynthia Cwik and L. David Russel)


  • JD, Vanderbilt University Law School, 1969
  • BA, Cornell University, 1966