• Contacts

    CRAIG J. DE RECAT

    Partner
    email

    BARRY W. LEE

    Partner

    Co-Chair, Financial Services Litigation
    Co-Chair, Trial Practice
    email

    Trial Practice

    Manatt trial lawyers don’t live for the billable hour. They live for the moment. The moment you are victorious. The moment you are vindicated in everyone’s eyes. The moment you walk down the courthouse steps and can, once again, move forward. Preparation for this moment begins the second they meet you. Seasoned courtroom veterans, they will act as integral members of your team, identifying key elements of the case that are sure to be raised if it goes to trial. Their strategy will be to prevent excessive discovery and to maintain a laser focus on the primary task at hand: resolving the case early and favorably to preclude the need for a trial. But if the case does wind up in court, playing to win is deeply rooted in Manatt’s DNA.

    Some law firms pair clients with litigators who practice inside specialty areas but do not have experience trying cases. Other firms have trial lawyers who know nothing about a client’s business. Manatt combines the two. Embodying the best qualities of an agile litigation boutique and a full-service law firms, our litigation teams pair lawyers who know what it takes to win in the courtroom with lawyers who have an understanding of the client’s industry. Other firms claim access to industry thought leaders, but Manatt truly has them.

    Our Results

    Rincon EV Realty LLC, et al, v. Maiden Lane Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities, et al.
    We won a complete defense verdict in a major lender liability/wrongful foreclosure action against San Francisco-based real estate investment firm Carmel Partners and affiliates. The case arose out of a complex series of commercial transactions that began when Richard D. Cohen, founder of New York-based real estate firm Capital Properties, purchased Rincon Residential Towers, a high-rise apartment complex in San Francisco, for $143 million. To finance the acquisition, Cohen’s entities took out a two-year, $110 million loan from Bear Stearns. Following Bear Stearns’ collapse a year later, Carmel Partners, through special purpose entity CP III Rincon Towers Inc., acquired the troubled loan and then foreclosed upon the collateral.

    Dairy Farmers of America v. Cacique, Inc.
    We secured a $14.3 million verdict for DFA, the largest manufacturer of Hispanic-style cheeses and creams in the world. Under a contract between DFA and Cacique, DFA supplied approximately 22 million pounds of milk each month. In August 2007, Cacique suddenly terminated the contract on 10 days’ notice, which DFA claimed was a breach of the contract’s six-month-notice requirement. Cacique attempted to justify the termination by arguing that in 2004 it had to recall several batches of defective cheese that it claimed were caused by DFA milk and that it had learned the defect was DFA’s fault only in August 2007. Cacique cross-complained, seeking damages for the recall and damage to its reputation as a result of the recall. However, after a five-week trial, the court found that (1) Cacique breached its contract with DFA, (2) Cacique failed to show that DFA delivered defective milk in 2004, (3) DFA had negotiated with Cacique in good faith, and (4) Cacique did not act in good faith in its dealings with DFA. The court did not believe Cacique’s claimed justification for the termination.

    Hailey v. Blue Shield of California
    The issue of when a health insurer is entitled to cancel an individual’s health insurance policy for misrepresenting his or her health history at the time of enrollment has been a hot issue in California for several years and has also received nationwide attention. In this case, the plaintiffs, a married couple, alleged that our client, Blue Shield of California, had wrongfully rescinded their health coverage, leaving them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills after a devastating car accident. Not only was this case the seminal lawsuit concerning rescission, but it was also the first rescission case in California to proceed to a jury trial. As the trial progressed and the evidence mounted that the plaintiffs had engaged in willful misconduct, it became evident that they could not continue. In a dramatic conclusion, the plaintiffs confessed that they had intentionally sought to mislead Blue Shield and agreed that Blue Shield had done nothing wrong. Following their confession, the trial court entered a directed verdict in favor of Blue Shield, and the health insurance industry breathed a collective sigh of relief.

    Altfillisch Construction v. Orange County Flood Control District
    A jury in Riverside County, Calif., returned a huge verdict in favor of our client Altfillisch Construction Company, and against the Orange County Flood Control District in the amount of $15 million. The matter was a hard-fought eminent domain case. Our client owns 364 acres of undeveloped land straddling the Santa Ana River in the City of Eastvale, in western Riverside County, and the main issue in the case was the extent to which Altfillisch's property could have been developed in the absence of the condemnation by the Flood Control District. Our experts established that development would have been likely even within the floodway of the Santa Ana River, by a process of modifying the floodway through FEMA and filling wetlands by obtaining a series of regulatory permits to do so. The Flood Control District took the position that the Santa Ana River floodway had never been modified before, that the regulatory permits could not be obtained, and therefore the portion of the Property that it took was undevelopable and of little value. The Flood Control District told the jury that the total compensation owed should only be $2.3 million. After a five-week trial, the jury's verdict of over $15 million is indicative of the successful approach we presented at trial.

    Visto Corp. v. Seven Networks Inc.
    We represented Visto Corp. (now Good Technology) in a patent infringement action in the Eastern District of Texas brought by Seven Networks, the provider of Sprint Business Connection software and Cingular Xpress Mail software. After a jury verdict of willful infringement in favor of Visto, the court doubled damages, awarded attorneys’ fees and entered a stayed injunction. The case subsequently settled on very favorable terms for our client.

    Watanabe v. Blue Shield of California
    In 2007, Manatt won a landmark case at trial for the healthcare and health insurance industries. The plaintiff was a woman who feared she had a brain tumor. Her doctor requested an MRI, but the doctor’s supervising medical group denied the request. Later, while visiting Japan, the plaintiff collapsed. An MRI revealed that she had a brain tumor the size of a lemon. She sued the medical group and her health insurance plan, Blue Shield. The case appeared to be so strong for the plaintiff that Michael Moore tried to film the trial for Sicko, his movie indicting the U.S. healthcare system. We prevented Moore from turning the case into a circus and, through a month-long trial, secured a favorable verdict for Blue Shield. In late 2008, our appellate lawyers secured its position as a landmark case by obtaining a unanimous published opinion from the California Court of Appeal that cuts off a massive zone of liability for both healthcare providers and health insurers by holding that they are not vicariously liable for each other’s conduct.

    Elgin Baylor v. Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Club
    After resigning as the Clippers’ general manager and executive vice president in 2008, Elgin Baylor sued the team, its owner, and its president for unlawful termination, discrimination and harassment based on his age, and racial discrimination and harassment. Baylor and his lawyers sought millions of dollars for economic damages, non-economic damages for mental distress and punitive damages.

    Refusing to settle and willing to take the lawsuit all the way to trial, the Clippers hired us to mount an aggressive defense. Just one day before the trial was set to begin, the court granted several of our pivotal evidentiary motions that paralyzed Baylor’s race claims, leading Baylor to dismiss them with prejudice. Our team was then able to quickly revise its strategy to focus on unraveling Baylor’s age claims at trial. By a unanimous 12-0 vote, the jury determined that none of Baylor’s claims had merit and fully exonerated the Clippers; its owner, Donald T. Sterling; and its president, Andy Roeser.

    Greene v. Julien’s Auction House
    We represented Julien’s Auction House in a case brought by Milton H. Greene involving the unauthorized use of photographs of Marilyn Monroe in connection with an auction of Monroe memorabilia on consignment from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. We were brought in as special trial counsel after summary adjudication had been granted to Greene on the issue of liability. After a full trial on the issue of damages, the jury returned a verdict of approximately $34,000, even though Greene had previously demanded $2.9 million.

    Ticketmaster v. Cleveland Cavaliers Operating Co., LLC
    The Cavaliers organization had entered into an agreement to use only our client Ticketmaster’s services and products. However, the organization started using a service and product by Flash Seats (a company controlled by the same principals as the Cavaliers). Following a bench trial, the court ruled that the Cavaliers organization had breached its agreement with Ticketmaster and entered a permanent injunction enjoining the Cavaliers from using Flash Seats.

    Harris v. CashCall
    The plaintiff in this case, who had been terminated as part of a reduction in force, brought a seven-count action against our client, CashCall Inc., and her former supervisor, alleging pregnancy discrimination, failure to accommodate, interference with her pregnancy leave rights and wrongful termination, among other claims. The case proceeded to a jury trial, but the plaintiff later waived a jury in favor of a bench trial, where a verdict was rendered in favor of our client on all causes of action, following intensive posttrial briefing and argument.

    Kirkpatrick, et al. v. Washington Umberto Cinel
    We obtained a nearly $2.75 million verdict on behalf of Washington Umberto Cinel, a Brazilian businessman. The four-week trial culminated with a jury verdict in favor of Mr. Cinel on all counts, as well as punitive damages against each of the defendants. The case is significant because it resulted in two published California court of appeal decisions relating to waiver of the right to arbitration after nonpayment of arbitration fees, and a trial court’s ability to reassert jurisdiction over the case after nonpayment of arbitration fees. These important dispute resolution topics had been sparsely examined before Manatt’s attorneys obtained these results.

    Attorneys & Professionals

    Email
    Name
    Office
    Phone
    de Recat, Craig J. Los Angeles 310.312.4319
    Lee, Barry W. San Francisco 415.291.7450
    Peluso, Kimo S. New York 212.790.4570

    Trial Practice

    Representative Clients

    • Blue Shield of California
    • Carmel Partners
    • Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Club
    • NBC Universal
    • Swiss Reinsurance
    • Ticketmaster

     

  • Awards & Rankings

    logo/img/@altRanked Nationally in Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation 2014–2015