Elizabeth Cabraser rushed into her law firm’s conference room an hour late, but wasted little time making apologies.
“I don’t know anymore what time zone I’m in,” explained Ms. Cabraser, who commutes between New York and San Francisco like others might travel between different neighborhoods.
In New York, she is one of the lawyers suing General Motors over defective ignition switches, which are linked to at least 124 fatalities and possibly many more.
Three time zones away in California, Ms. Cabraser is suing Volkswagen for rigging emission levels on hundreds of thousands of diesel-engine vehicles sold in the United States. Last month, she was named to represent angry customers and dealers in a consumer lawsuit against the German carmaker.
Ms. Cabraser could prove dangerous for Volkswagen. Class-action lawsuits are her specialty. During the 1990s, she was one of the lawyers who won billions in damages against tobacco companies and brought the industry to its knees.