Jonathan Michaels, ESQ.


Defining the Automotive Liability Industry Since 1995

Jonathan Michaels has been in practice since 1995, and during that time has created an exemplary law firm. By challenging some of the largest companies in the world, Michaels has gained national recognition as the “go to” attorney for high stakes litigation, when everything is on the line.

Michaels has developed a unique practice in the automotive industry, where he has litigated cases against nearly every major automotive manufacturer in the world. This includes cases against GM, Audi, Maserati, Mitsubishi, FCA, Kia, Nissan, Honda, AM General, Isuzu, Toyota, Hyundai, Harley-Davidson, Ford, Acura, Tesla, Volvo, Volkswagen, Aston Martin, Land Rover, Mercedes and Porsche.

Leader in Vehicle Product Liability Litigation

Michaels has filed some of the largest and most important automotive class action cases in the United States. These cases have led to Congressional hearings, Department of Justice investigations and billion-dollar settlements, as well as the recall of millions of defective vehicles. Michaels’ work has drawn attention from a multitude of media outlets, including appearances in The New York Times, ReutersFortuneUSA Today and The Wall Street Journal, as well as feature stories on CBS Evening News and ABC Evening News.

Michaels authored the best-selling book Automotive 101: The Car Industry Exposed, and has also authored more than 100 articles for the distinguished Los Angeles Daily Journal – more than any person in the paper’s history, dating back to 1880. In 2015, Michaels was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for his work on the GM ignition switch recall.

Complex Business Transactions Structuring Expertise

Michaels is also aptly skilled at structuring complex business transactions. In 2013, he was involved in taking the supercar company Saleen Automotive public, and during his career he has structured international distribution agreements, supply-chain agreements and automotive dealer networks. Michaels has also been involved in structuring race teams that have competed in some of the most heralded races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.

Respected by Peers in Legal Profession and Academic Community

Michaels’ efforts have earned him the respect of his peers. He has received the prestigious “Super Lawyers” award every year since 2012, a distinction reserved for no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state. In addition to his professional work, Michaels maintains close ties to the academic community. He is privileged to have been invited to speak at numerous law schools and business schools about effective litigation strategy, and in 2012 he was named “Attorney of the Year” by his law school alma mater.

All of this follows a strong scholastic beginning. Michaels graduated from the USC Marshall School of Business in 1992, before attending Whittier Law School where he graduated in 1995 in the top 4 percent of his class. In law school, Michaels served as the Notes and Comments Editor of Law Review, he competed in several national Moot Court Honors Board competitions, and he published a winning Law Review article that is permanently housed in the U.S. Library of Congress.

Michaels is a member of the California, Colorado and Michigan state bars, and is actively involved in the Southern California community. He is the proud father of two sons, Jake and Dean.

Jonathan Michaels’ Notable Cases

ZF-TRW Airbag Control Unit

Automakers Kia, Hyundai, and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) recalled approximately 12.3 million vehicles due to faulty airbag control units (ACU), which posed the risk failing to engage the airbags in the event of a collision. The same defect is also linked to Toyota, Acura, Honda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Volkswagen vehicles. 


GM Ignition Switch Fraud

In early 2014, General Motors recalled approximately 800,000 vehicles due to faulty ignition switches, which posed the risk of spontaneously shutting off the vehicle’s engine during normal operation. On March 21, 2014, MLG’s auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against General Motors relating to this massive recall.

GM Ignition

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

The Volkswagen emission scandal surfaced in September 2015, when Volkswagen admitted that it had been falsifying emissions data for nearly 500,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S., and that it had instructed its software engineers to develop a sophisticated “defeat device” that would conceal the vehicles’ true emissions levels from regulators.

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

Apple Texting and Driving

On January 17, 2017, MLG’s team of auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, Inc., to address the extremely serious problem of texting and driving which endangers the lives of tens of millions of people every day. The case was filed in state court in Los Angeles, and is entitled Julio Ceja v. Apple, Inc.

Apple Texting and Driving

Hyundai and Kia Power Window Defect

MLG’s team of auto lawyers identified Hyundai and Kia vehicles with dangerous power windows, capable of amputating passenger body parts. On October 29, 2019, MLG filed the class-action lawsuit of McCready v. Hyundai in California state court in an effort to force Hyundai and Kia to correct its power window systems.

Hyundai and Kia Power Window Defect

Uber Fraudulent Business Practices

As the company was beginning to build momentum, ride-share sensation Uber was alleged to have made numerous misrepresentations to the public about the safety of its driver background checks. On January 26, 2015, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Uber for fraudulent business practices.

Uber Fraudulent Business Practices

BMW i3 Range Extender

BMW’s new all electric vehicle, the i3 REx, is alleged to contain a faulty and dangerous “range extender” feature. On May 17, 2016, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against BMW for these defects in the 2014 to 2016 models.

BMW i3 Range Extender

Toyota Soy-Based Wiring

In the mid-2000s, Toyota began replacing its plastic wire coverings with a soy-based product. The move was intended to be more environmentally friendly, but it had a very disastrous side effect: the soy materials invited rodents to chew through the insulation, causing severe damage to vehicles’ electrical system.

Toyota Soy-Based Wiring

Kia Fuel Economy Fraud

MLG’s team of auto lawyers sought to hold Kia responsible for their false statements regarding Kia’s purported fuel efficiency. On January 9, 2013, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Kia, alleging the car company misrepresented the gas mileage capabilities of certain 2011-2013 model vehicles.

Kia Fuel Economy Fraud

Maserati’s Defective Locking System

Maserati North America, Inc. was faced with a class action filed by MLG for its 2014 to 2016 model year Ghibli vehicles equipped with a defect that allows the key fob to be locked inside the vehicle without a way to unlock it, creating a dangerous situation if a pet or child is locked inside the car.

Maserati's Defective Locking System

Hyundai/Kia Engine Immobilizer

MLG’s pivotal class action lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia addressed a glaring safety flaw in older vehicle models lacking engine immobilizers, which significantly heightened theft risks. In November of 2023, a federal judge approved a $200 million settlement for Hyundai and Kia owners.

Hyundai/Kia Engine Immobilizer

Tesla Autopilot Defect

In 2023, MLG litigated the first Tesla autopilot fatality case to go to trial, exposing a dangerous defect lurking in the shadows. Two months after the trial, Tesla recalled two million vehicles related to the same issue.

Tesla Autopilot Defect


  • Whittier Law School (J.D. 1995, Summa Cum Laude)
  • University of Southern California (B.S. 1992)

Certifications & Memberships

  • California State Bar
  • Colorado State Bar
  • Michigan State Bar
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Federal Circuit

Honors & Awards


  • California State Bar – Admitted
  • Colorado State Bar – Admitted
  • Michigan State Bar – Admitted
  • U.S. Supreme Court – Admitted
  • 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals – Admitted
  • 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals – Admitted
  • Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan – Admitted
  • U.S. District Court, Federal Circuit – Admitted
  • Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society – Member
  • Super Lawyers – Member and Blue Ribbon Panelist
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers – Board of Directors
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association – Board of Directors
  • Robert A. Banyard Inn of Court – Member
  • American Bar Association – Member
  • Orange County Bar Association – Masters Division
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association – Member
  • Young Entrepreneur’s Organization – President, OC Chapter
  • Young Entrepreneur’s Organization – Membership Chair, OC Chapter
  • Young Entrepreneur’s Organization – Events Chair, OC Chapter
  • Consumer Attorneys of California – Board of Directors
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los AngelesMember
  • American Association for Justice – Member
  • America’s Top 100 – Member
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 – Member
  • Attorney Information Exchange Group – Member
  • Gerry Spence Method – Graduate
  • Best Lawyers – Member
  • Western Trial Lawyers Association – Member


  • USC Marshall Partners – Chairman, OC Chapter
  • USC Marshall Partners – Executive Committee
  • USC Marshall Alumni Association – Member
  • USC-Harvard Business Conference – Committee Chair
  • Whittier Law School – Dean’s Council


  • National Association of Motor Vehicle Boards – Member
  • Motor Press Guild – Member
  • National Association of Dealer Counsel – Member
  • California New Car Dealers Assn. – Member
  • Orange County Automobile Dealers Assn. – Member
  • Southland Motor Car Dealers Assn. – Member
  • Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Assn. – Member
  • Checkered Flag 200 – Member
  • Historic Motor Sports Assn. – Member


  • Child Guidance Center – Board of Directors
  • Orangewood Foundation – Humanitarian Award
  • Segerstrom Center – Circle Council
  • Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities – Honorary Member
  • MLG Legal Empowerment Grant – Founder


  • National Association of Dealer CounselSpeaker
  • California New Motor Vehicle BoardSpeaker
  • Motor Press GuildSpeaker
  • VistageSpeaker
  • Young Entrepreneur’s OrganizationSpeaker
  • Consumer Attorneys of CaliforniaSpeaker
  • Trial Lawyers UniversitySpeaker
  • USC Marshall School of BusinessGuest lecturer
  • Pepperdine School of BusinessGuest lecturer
  • Whittier Law SchoolGuest lecturer
  • Chapman Law SchoolGuest lecturer


Learn More


  • 9/18/18– LADJ Article, “Chapter 11, Here We Come”
  • 8/14/18– LADJ Article, “All Things 100”
  • 7/19/18– LADJ Article, “Investor’s Paradise”
  • 6/19/18– LADJ Article, “Driving to Recessionary Times”
  • 5/15/18– LADJ Article, “The Long And The Short Of It”
  • 4/24/18– LADJ Article, “A Development in Progress”
  • 3/13/18– LADJ Article, “A Bit More Than A Coin”
  • 2/13/18– LADJ Article, “The Future of Privacy”
  • 1/9/18– LADJ Article, “Electrifying!”
  • 12/6/17– LADJ Article, “Will They Make the Turn?”
  • 11/8/17– LADJ Article, “It’s Harder Than It Looks”
  • 10/10/17– LADJ Article, “When Will They Stop?”
  • 9/6/17– LADJ Article, “Autonomous Fear”
  • 8/1/17 – LADJ Article, “The Truth About Lithium”
  • 7/7/17 – LADJ Article, “Selling Cars in Tomorrowland”
  • 6/6/17 – LADJ Article, “Oh, Snap!”
  • 5/2/17 – LADJ Article, “Phantom Stock”
  • 4/4/17 – LADJ Article, “Generation Next”
  • 3/14/17 – LADJ Article, “Drive it Like You Stole It”
  • 2/8/17 – LADJ Article, “Mexican Standoff”
  • 1/4/17 – LADJ Article, “Automobile Weaponry”
  • 12/6/16 – LADJ Article, “Public Enemy No. 1: Texting and Driving”
  • 11/1/16 – LADJ Article, “The Next Four Years”
  • 10/5/16 – LADJ Article, “Formulas One’s $8 Billion Deal”
  • 9/8/16 – LADJ Article, “The Exporting Enigma”
  • 8/2/16 – LADJ Article, “The Brazilian Nightmare”
  • 7/12/16 – LADJ Article, “Britian’s Exit and the Auto Industry”
  • 6/14/16 – LADJ Article, “Airbag Recall Understood”
  • 5/3/16 – LADJ Article, “NY’s Response to Texting and Driving”
  • 4/5/16 – LADJ Article, “Autonomous Cars Have Finally Arrived”
  • 3/8/16 – LADJ Article, “EPA’s Slams the Door on High Performance”
  • 2/4/16 – LADJ Article, “Oil’s New Economy”
  • 1/6/16 – LADJ Article, “What Will Become of Us?”
  • 12/1/15 – LADJ Article, “The Harder They Fall”
  • 11/4/15 – LADJ Article, “Generation Forward”
  • 10/7/15 – LADJ Article, “When Will They Stop?”
  • 9/1/15 – LADJ Article, “Gold Rush”
  • 8/5/15 – LADJ Article, “Chrysler’s Redord-Breaking Fine Not Nearly Enough”
  • 7/8/15 – LADJ Article, “Uber’s Worst Nightmare”
  • 6/3/15 – LADJ Article, “War Crimes”
  • 5/5/15 – LADJ Article, “The Tragedy of Progress”
  • 4/8/15 – LADJ Article, “Paul Walker, Concluded”
  • 3/3/15 – LADJ Article, “Getting It Right”
  • 2/4/15 – LADJ Article, “Swimming in a Sea of Oil”
  • 1/6/15 – LADJ Article, “An Uber Mess”
  • 12/2/14 – LADJ Article, “Year of the Snake”
  • 11/11/14 – LADJ Article, “A Failed System”
  • 10/7/14 – LADJ Article, “Twenty Years Out”
  • 9/4/14 – LADJ Article, “The Shocking Truth”
  • 8/6/14 – LADJ Article, “There’s No Honor in the System”
  • 7/8/14 – LADJ Article, “The Company Without a Soul”
  • 6/3/14 – LADJ Article, “Moments of Atrocity”
  • 5/8/14 – LADJ Article, “Tesla’s Federal Showdown”
  • 4/1/14 – LADJ Article, “GM’s Day of Reckoning
  • 3/4/14 – LADJ Article, “What Evil That Men Do”
  • 2/4/14 – LADJ Article, “Rock Bottom”
  • 1/7/14 – LADJ Article, “Success Redefined”
  • 12/4/13 – LADJ Article, “Life Interrupted”
  • 11/5/13 – LADJ Article, “Dodging a Bullet”
  • 10/1/13 – LADJ Article, “Head Rush”
  • 9/4/13 – LADJ Article, “Pop the Champagne”
  • 8/6/13 – LADJ Article, “The Deadliest Weapon”
  • 7/2/13 – LADJ Article, “So You Think You’re Safe”
  • 6/4/13 – LADJ Article, “Eliminating All Doubt”
  • 5/7/13 – LADJ Article, “The Fallen Angel”
  • 4/2/13 – LADJ Article, “The Root of All Evil”
  • 3/6/13 – LADJ Article, “Chasing the Seven Percent”
  • 2/5/13 – LADJ Article, “The Electric Car Myth”
  • 1/8/13 – LADJ Article, “Chrysler Dealers Bring Suit Against U.S. for the Fifth Amendment”
  • 12/4/12 – LADJ Article, “Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave”
  • 11/2/12 – LADJ Article, “Obama and the Automotive Industry”
  • 10/3/12 – LADJ Article, “Could GM Be At It Again?”
  • 9/5/12 – LADJ Article, “Market Forces Challenge Electric Car Industry”
  • 8/7/12 – LADJ Article, “The Grand Ol’ Plan”
  • 7/3/12 – LADJ Article, “Theft, Hiding and Restitution.”
  • 6/6/12 – LADJ Article, “Chrysler Dealers Get Rejected Once Again”
  • 5/1/12 – LADJ Article, “An Industry Lost”
  • 4/3/12 – LADJ Article, “The Love of All Things Ferrari”
  • 3/6/12 – LADJ Article, “Fisker’s Power Outage”
  • 2/7/12 – LADJ Article, “Porche’s Billion Dollar Blunder”
  • 1/5/12 – LADJ Article, “Up in Smoke”
  • 12/6/11 – LADJ Article, “Spend it Like You Got It”
  • 11/1/11 – LADJ Article, “Basking in the Ferrari Sun”
  • 10/4/11 – LADJ Article, “The Pain is Far From Over”
  • 9/6/11 – LADJ Article, “Troubles with the New Fuel Regulations Sure to Come”
  • 8/8/11 – LADJ Article, “The $1 Million Question”
  • 7/5/11 – LADJ Article, “Will the Real Team Lotus Please Stand Up”
  • 6/7/11 – LADJ Article, “Winning at All Costs”
  • 5/3/11 – LADJ Article, “How Soon We Forget”
  • 4/4/11 – LADJ Article, “Will Oil Become Extinct?”
  • 3/7/11 – LADJ Article, “How Many More Have to Die”
  • 2/8/11 – LADJ Article, “Do it for the Kids”
  • 1/12/11 – LADJ Article, “Ethanol Still Ablaze”
  • 12/6/10 – LADJ Article, “The Dirty Little Secret”
  • 11/4/10 – LADJ Article, “The Killing Fields”
  • 10/8/10 – LADJ Article, “Ghost in the Machine”
  • 9/7/10 – LADJ Article, “Electric Shock”
  • 8/2/10 – LADJ Article, “Somebody Tell Them the Party’s Over”
  • 7/6/10 – LADJ Article, “Tesla Business Model: Brilliance or Impending Disaster?”
  • 5/13/10 – LADJ Article, “Auto Dealers Beware: Big Brother is Looming”
  • 2/10/10 – LADJ Article, “The Appropriateness of Toyota’s Gas Pedal Recall”
  • 1994 – Whittier Law Review, “The U.S. Constitution and the Texas Death Penalty”

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston Churchill

My Driving Force

I believe life is a gift and I have truly been blessed by family, friends and in my professional life.
I’ve also worked incredibly hard living by Gandhi’s admonition, “Live as though you will die tomorrow. Learn as though you will live forever.”