Chuck Cole has won challenging appeals at every level of the judicial system. His wins include three 9-0 victories in the US Supreme Court, in fields as diverse as tribal sovereignty (Atkinson Trading Company v. Shirley), international trade (USEC v Eurodif), and railroad regulation (Southern Pacific Transp. v. Commercial Metals Co.). He has also won split decisions in the US Supreme Court, such as his defense of federal preemption in New York v. FERC.
Chuck has handled appeals in every federal circuit. Those cases have concerned federal preemption, administrative law, railroad law, insurance law, energy law, class actions, tribal sovereignty, punitive damages, bankruptcy, and constitutional law. At the state level, he has won appeals in California, New York, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Montana and West Virginia.
Chuck believes in the power of language – writing that tells a story. His writing won him one of the first Burton Awards for Achievement in Legal Writing as well as an award from The Green Bag for an amicus brief that he filed on behalf of 18 former chief justices of the state supreme courts. Chuck’s insight as an oral advocate has led to his role as a moot court judge for the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute and a similar role preparing Supreme Court advocates for the National Association of Attorneys General.
Chuck has served as national Chair of the 600-member ABA Council of Appellate Lawyers and has also received a Recognition of Excellence Award from the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel. The Best Lawyers in America named Chuck “Lawyer of the Year” for Railroad Law, DC for 2018.
- District of Columbia
- Supreme Court of the United States
- US Tax Court
- US District Court, District of Columbia
- US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
- US Court of Appeals, First Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
- US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
- Hon. Byron R. White, Supreme Court of the United States, 1977-1978
- Hon. Harold Leventhal, US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, 1976-1977
- J.D., Harvard Law School, 1976, magna cum laude; Senior Note Editor, Harvard Law Review
- B.A., Yale University, 1973, summa cum laude
Areas of Practice
US Supreme Court
- United States v. Eurodif, 555 U.S. 305 (2009)—Obtained unanimous decision on applicability of US antidumping laws to uranium enrichment contracts.
- United States v. Navajo Nation, 556 U.S. 287 (2009)—Filed amicus brief on behalf of an electric utility and obtained reversal of Federal Circuit decision.
- New York v. FERC, 535 U.S. 1 (2002)—Represented Edison Electric Institute as respondent and obtained affirmance of FERC order delineating federal preemption of state jurisdiction over retail transmission.
- Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley, 532 U.S. 645 (2001)—Represented hotel on private land within reservation, obtained 9-0 decision invalidating tribal tax (argued).
- Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States, 556 U.S. 599 (2009)—Served as co-counsel in a case viewed as a watershed in CERCLA Superfund practice. Entered the case after an adverse panel decision and wrote the petition for rehearing en banc, which garnered eight dissenting votes in the Ninth Circuit. The US Supreme Court granted cert and reversed, by vote of 8-1.
Recent Federal Circuit Appeals
- Page v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 16-5318 (D.C. Cir. argued Dec. 4, 2017)—Represented government agency in appeal brought by class counsel for more fees.
- Emera Maine v. FERC, 854 F.3d 9 (D.C. Cir. 2017)—Represented petitioning transmission owners in persuading D.C. Circuit that FERC had not adequately explained its process for setting return on equity.
- Weitz Company LLC v. Lexington Ins. Co., 786 F.3d 641 (8th 2015)—Represented insurance companies faced with a $47 million subrogation claim and persuaded the Eighth Circuit to reject it on equitable grounds (argued).
- Tennille v. The Western Union Co., 809 F.3d 422 (10th 2015)—Represented company in challenge to class action attorneys’ fees award (argued).
- Millennium Inorganic Chem. Ltd. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3096 (4th Cir. 2014)—Represented an insurance company in a case involving a $10 million claim for contingent business interruption insurance and obtained a reversal of a grant of summary judgment against the insurer and entry of judgment in favor of the insurer (argued).
- Federal Trade Commission v. The Western Union Company, No.13-3100 (2d Cir. October 7, 2014)—Represented company served with a government agency subpoena; obtained an order from the court of appeals vacating enforcement and remanding for further findings (argued).
- Southern California Edison v. FERC, 717 F.3d 177 (D.C. Cir. 2013)—On behalf of utility, challenged FERC's methodology for establishing ROE on transmission assets (argued).
- Rhodes v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 636 F.3d 88 (4th Cir. 2011)—In water contamination case, obtained decision upholding summary judgment against claims for negligence, trespass, nuisance, and battery and denying class certification on medical monitoring (argued).
- Southern Cal. Edison Co. v. FERC, 603 F.3d 996 (DC Cir. 2010)—Represented Southern California Edison in successful challenge to FERC’s authority to set the measurement period for the sale of station power.
- Esso Standard Oil Co. v. Lopez-Fretes, 522 F.3d 136(1st Cir. 2008)—Obtained decision holding that local environmental agency violated due process in proposing large fine against Exxon subsidiary (argued).
Recent State Appeals
- Mundt v. BNSF Ry.Co., 2013 CA1257 (Colo.Ct App March 26, 2015)—Represented railroad defendant in FELA case and achieved a 75% reduction in judgment based on a pre-existing condition.
- Arnold v. The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, COA14-715 (N.C. Ct. of App. Dec. 31, 2014)—Represented insurance company in interlocutory appeal of $2.4 million discovery sanction and obtained vacatur of sanctions order.
- Arizona v. Western Union Financial Services, Inc., 208 P.3d 218 (Ariz. 2009)—Represented financial services company in appeal raising issues of first impression under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment regarding a state’s personal jurisdiction over corporation’s wire transfers from other states to Mexico. Obtained holding that the State of Arizona lacked personal jurisdiction to issue a warrant to seize out-of-state wire transfers (argued).
News & Publications
March 4, 2019
August 15, 2018
February 9, 2018
August 15, 2017
August 15, 2016
August 18, 2015
August 17, 2015
- Best Lawyers in America, Railroad Law (2015-2019)
- Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year," Railroad Law, DC (2016, 2018)
- National Association of Attorneys General Supreme Court Seminar, "Distinguished Recognition Award” (2014)
- National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, Recognition of Excellence Award (Dec. 2008)
- Burton Award for Achievement in Legal Writing (2000)
- Chair, ABA Council of Appellate Lawyers (2004-2005)
- "Honorable Mention" in Exemplary Legal Writing from the 2007 Green Bag Almanac for amicus brief on behalf of 18 former chief justices in Dimick v. Republican Party of Minnesota, 126 S.Ct. 1165 (2006)
- Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court (2002-present)
- Chair, Council of Appellate Lawyers, American Bar Association (2004-2005)
- Board Member, Council of Appellate Lawyers, American Bar Association (2000-2006)
- Executive Committee, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (2007-2014)
- Project Advisory Board, State of Criminal Justice, American Bar Association (1994-2000)