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Michelman & Robinson, LLP’s (M&Rs) Commercial & Business Litigation Department is renowned for providing our clients with highly personal and aggressive representation of their business interests. We represent clients across the country in a vast array of industries and provide counsel with a company’s bottom line and business goals at the forefront of each decision. Our attorneys evaluate actual and potential lawsuits at all stages, and when an effective settlement cannot be obtained, we devise and execute litigation strategies that are hard hitting but cost effective. We regularly undertake high profile, complex litigation cases that involve business contract disputes and torts, class actions, corporate and partnership conflicts, board takeovers, unfair competition and trade secret misappropriation, and non-compete agreements.

We have achieved unparalleled results for our clients, having handled virtually all types of commercial conflicts before courts throughout the United States, administrative and regulatory agencies and alternative dispute resolution organizations. Tenacious negotiators, litigators, and trial attorneys, we are well-versed in complicated, complex business disputes and have a comprehensive understanding of our clients’ niche industries, recognizing that each company’s legal needs are unique. As an industry-focused firm, we apply an interdisciplinary approach that utilizes the skills and expertise of attorneys in our various practice and industry groups. This highly effective strategy has consistently achieved optimum results for our clients.

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Areas Of Expertise

The following is a select sampling of our representative matters:

  • Anti-Slapp Defense: Plaintiff filed suit against a multinational insurance company for malicious prosecution and a cause of action against its co-defendant, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, for civil rights violations. These actions stemmed from an incident wherein Plaintiff gave false information on an application for worker’s compensation insurance, which ultimately led to the cancellation of his policy. On behalf our client, M&R filed a successful Anti-SLAPP motion and obtained complete dismissal of the complaint, while securing a $140,000 award for our client in monetary sanctions.
  • Commercial and Business Litigation – Shareholder/Partnership Dispute: A large energy company was in the middle of shareholder litigation over control of the company, among other issues, including fraud by board members and executives. On the eve of a settlement for less than the value of the clients’ shares, the clients changed counsel. M&R designed a defense that included the filing of a lawsuit against the parties that sought control. After approximately a year of litigation, the case was resolved with M&R securing approximately $45 million for its clients.
  • Computer Trade Secrets: A young entrepreneur hired M&R after his “life’s work” was stolen by a large corporation who claimed the work was owned by the company.  Our lawyers quickly filed a lawsuit for damages. After a four-year legal battle, pitting M&R against some of the largest national law firms, the case went to trial. Our client obtained a multi-million dollar verdict that represents one of the largest awards in the United States for the misappropriation of computer trade secrets.
  • Employment, Trade Secrets and Business Litigation: The former regional president of a national insurance brokerage left the company, along with trade secrets, client lists and customers. The former president was also allegedly entitled to a multi-million dollar buyout of his shares in the company. A lawsuit was filed against the former president for breach of contract and theft of trade secrets. It was argued that the value of those claims offset the value of the buyout of the shares. The case settled for $5,000, in favor of M&R’s clients, with an order barring the former president from use of the stolen trade secrets.
  • Fraud Allegations: After pleading guilty to a long list of federal crimes for bribery and money laundering activities, an individual hired M&R to respond to a civil lawsuit that sought to recover nearly $48 million earned through the criminal activity. Given the admissions of guilt and terms of the lengthy plea agreement, our lawyers crafted a strategy to obtain dismissal of the civil lawsuit by arguing that, as a matter of law, the acts that gave rise to the federal crimes did not result in any civil liability to the individual. As expected, the trial court refused to dismiss the lawsuit and an appeal was quickly taken. The court of appeal agreed with M&R’s argument and ordered that the lawsuit be dismissed, and the client recover his fees and costs on appeal.
  • Insurance Consumer Class Action: A large insurance company was sued over allegations that its distribution channel was comprised of brokers who were actually “de-facto” agents. The plaintiffs sought an injunction and damages that equated to approximately $600 million for the defendant. M&R designed a multi-prong defense that included arguments that the class representative was “inadequate” and the actions of the insurer and broker were compliant. After lengthy litigation, M&R defeated the plaintiffs’ attempt to certify the class, and had the class representative declared “inadequate” and removed. Immediately thereafter, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case. Following this case, we successfully defended ten other similar class actions.   
  • Insurance Employment Class Action: A prominent insurance brokerage was held liable for violating California’s wage and hour overtime laws, among related issues. Facing a $42 million judgment, the client retained M&R. After conducting in-depth analysis, our attorneys designed a defense around the argument that the $42 million judgment should be reduced to $1.2 million because of a conflict in federal and state employment laws that were being misapplied by the plaintiffs' lawyers. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that pursuant to California’s Business & Professions Code section 17200 (Unfair Competition Laws), it could expand the “class” under federal law. M&R countered that the United States Congress changed the law in the 1930’s, and again in 1949, to prohibit the expansion of federal law as being applied in this case. After intense litigation regarding the legislative intent, the federal court agreed with M&R’s argument, limiting the judgment to $1.2 million. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling.
  • Media Company Derivative Shareholder Litigation: A founder of one of the largest media companies in its space was under attack from shareholders seeking to take control of the company. In a strategy designed to retain control or force a lucrative buyout, M&R filed a lawsuit that was eventually resolved, with an approximate 40 percent premium over the value of the founder’s shares.
  • Patent Infringement and Shareholder Litigation: An automotive supplier’s product was being infringed upon. In addition, the shareholder of a subsidiary company was attempting to take control of the entire company. M&R designed a strategy of litigation regarding the patents, the scope of the corporate governance documents and, ultimately, the sale of the company. After two years of intense litigation, our client was able to retain control and sell the company for the highest multiple seen in that industry; well over nine figures.
  • Private Equity Fund Governmental Investigation: A high profile private equity firm was being investigated by various agencies, including the SEC, the Department of Justice and multiple offices of the Attorney General, which sought to fine the fund over $30 million. A large and well-known national law firm was unable to resolve the investigations, so the client retained M&R. After years of litigation in eight different jurisdictions, against numerous agencies, the case was resolved with “closing letters” received from certain agencies, stating that the investigation was over. The M&R attorneys later obtained a $9 million investigation reimbursement for the client from a third party.
  • Private Equity Fund Manager Litigation: A client was sued by a state pension fund for $25 million along with numerous other investors. M&R designed a defense strategy of examining the method of pension plan investment strategies. Following almost half of a decade of protracted litigation, a complete dismissal of the fund manager was obtained; the only one in the entire case.
  • Shareholder/Partnership Dispute: Shareholders filed suit alleging $140 million in damages against the company’s CEO, executives and board members, alleging that they were “duped” into selling their shares just prior to the sale of the company for greater value. The clients were on the eve of settling for approximately $40 million when they decided to change counsel. M&R redesigned their defense, and after two years of litigation, obtained a dismissal of the entire lawsuit the day prior to trial. 
  • Trade Secrets: An owner of a small insurance brokerage came to M&R after he had been sued by two longtime former employees for wrongful termination. We determined the plaintiffs were wrongfully using his client list to solicit his customers, and filed a cross complaint for misappropriation of trade secrets. M&R was subsequently able to establish through depositions of the parties and our client’s expert that the plaintiffs’ claims against him were not viable. We won a summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ complaint and then went to trial on the cross complaint, where we ultimately received a unanimous jury verdict for $500,000 in compensatory damages.
  • Whistleblower Litigation: Successfully defended an environmental consultant in an employment retaliation and discrimination lawsuit while concurrently defending a Qui Tam whistleblower case that involved a related criminal investigation.
  • Wrongful Death Defense: On behalf of State of California – Department of Transportation (“Caltrans”) we negotiated a settlement of less than $40,000 in a wrongful death case that involved a $2.25 million settlement demand.

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