We Are Trial Lawyers

Commercial Litigation

Our attorneys bring creativity to the practice of law. They think outside the box to strategically position cases. They are result-oriented and cost-effective; and care about the clients. This mindset is necessary where the stakes are high and the problems and challenges are significant. Examples of the practice areas and industries served include:

  • Real Estate
  • Finance
  • Entertainment/Media
  • Healthcare
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Energy
  • Policy Holder Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith
  • Government/Regulatory
  • Securities
  • Bankruptcy Litigation
  • Lender Liability
  • Appellate
  • Employment
  • Partnership/Business Disputes
  • Family Disputes
  • Class Action
  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Trade Secret
High Profile Cases

Entertainment Studios Networks

Our firm represents Entertainment Studios Networks, an African American-owned media company, in civil rights lawsuits against AT&T, DirecTV, Comcast and Charter for refusing carriage of Entertainment Studios channels, alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The cases against AT&T and DirecTV were resolved amicably and Entertainment Studios channels are now distributed on both platforms. The Comcast and Charter cases were litigated in California District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2020, following a decision by the Supreme Court, the Comcast case was resolved amicably and Entertainment Studios channels are now distributed by Comcast. The Charter case is pending and is expected to go to trial in late 2020. These are groundbreaking cases addressing a long-standing and serious issue in our society; namely, economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in our country’s economy, particularly in the media industry. [Read the Article]

City of Inglewood/L.A. Clippers

Our firm successfully represented the City of Inglewood and its Mayor James Butts against Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) attempts to block construction of a new arena in Inglewood for the LA Clippers of the National Basketball Association. Our attorneys played a key role in defending the City and Mayor Butts against MSG’s claims; and worked hand-in-glove with the lawyers for the Clippers. After nearly three years of hard-fought litigation, the case settled by way of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer purchasing The Forum in May 2020, taking another step towards the Clippers building their very own state-of-the-art arena in Inglewood. [Read the Article]

Aliso Canyon Gas Leak

Our firm represented Los Angeles County against SoCalGas arising from the Aliso Canyon gas leak. In October 2015, the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history occurred at the Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility. It spewed 100,000+ tons of chemicals into the atmosphere and forced thousands of Porter Ranch families to relocate from their homes. We worked closely with the County throughout this disaster, and the County’s response thereto, to ensure the safety of residents. On behalf of the County, we successfully obtained Court orders to extend the relocation program and for SoCalGas to clean residents’ homes. The County sought nuisance abatement as well as tens of millions of dollars in civil penalties and recovery costs against SoCalGas. In 2019, the parties (County, City, and State) finalized a settlement against SoCalGas for $119.5 million. Of the $119.5 million settlement, $25 million will go towards a long-term health study of the effects of exposure to natural gas from the leak, $26.5 million for greenhouse gas abatement, and $45.4 million will be used to fund other environmental remediation projects. [Read the Article]

Nissan

Our firm represented Superior Automotive Group and its owner, Michael Kahn, against Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation. Superior owned four Nissan and two Toyota dealerships that were financed, and ultimately shut down, by Nissan in early 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession. Nissan prevailed at the first trial, but our attorneys obtained a reversal in the Court of Appeal so that it could retry the case. In May 2017, after a 7-week trial, we obtained a $256 million jury award against Nissan consisting of $121.9 million in compensatory damages; and, the jury found Nissan’s conduct so reprehensible, they awarded $134.5 million in punitive damages. This verdict was recognized by the Daily Journal as a “Top 10 Plaintiff’s Verdict” of 2017 and was one of the ten largest verdicts in the U.S. that year. [Read the Article]

Toyota Safety Defects

Our firm represented two Toyota dealerships/franchisees against Toyota Motor Sales, USA. On July 15, 2019, we obtained a unanimous $15.8 million jury verdict against Toyota based on its discriminatory vehicle allocation and mishandling safety defects on 800,000+ 2010-2014 Priuses in the U.S. The jury found that Toyota violated the franchise agreements by mistreating our clients and failing to properly address vehicle safety. The jury’s award is a significant result for the automotive industry, in particular, and franchisees, in general. Against the odds and in the face of a Toyota-drafted contract, we prevailed for our clients and convinced the jury that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing protected Plaintiffs from Toyota’s misconduct, even if the express terms may not have. Toyota continues to face litigation over its handling of defects in the third-generation Prius, including a federal class action. [Read the Article]

Real Estate

Real estate litigation is a major part of our practice.

During the 2008 recession, we obtained an injunction precluding the foreclosure of an 82-unit condominium project in Long Beach based upon impossibility of performance and frustration of contract, where the developer could not sell units because of the economic downturn. Using a quote in our brief from former Fed chief Alan Greenspan—“we’re in the midst of a once-in-a-century credit tsunami”—the Judge enjoined the lender from foreclosing. [Read the article] For the first time since that ruling, equitable doctrines such as impossibility/impracticability and frustration of purpose could have wide applicability due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Partner Dan Miller was recently quoted by the Daily Journal on how the recession-era ruling may help businesses during the current pandemic. [Read the article]

When the largest land developer in California needs litigation representation, it comes to us. We handled a series of bet-the-company cases for this client, including filing suit in federal court arising from the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy wherein our client sought to equitably subordinate over $2 billion in Lehman mortgage liens to the claims of unsecured creditors. We also filed suit in state court against (non-debtor) Lehman entities, conducted extensive discovery in both courts and filed a motion for summary judgment. The cases settled on favorable terms. [Read the article]

The firm won a $5 million jury verdict for the same client on a breach of contract claim over the sale of land in Riverside County [Read the article]; and we litigated and favorably resolved a case in federal court regarding development of the Alameda Naval Air Base adjacent to San Francisco Bay. Our firm represented one of the state’s biggest homebuilders in a complex, multi-million dollar partnership dispute. We are currently representing an apartment owner/developer in a $100 million insurance dispute.

The firm’s deep experience in real estate disputes has enabled this practice area to grow. Our clients range from developers and homebuilders to lenders and real estate private equity and investment firms.

Bankruptcy Litigation

Lehman/SunCal Bankruptcy

In the Lehman/SunCal bankruptcy case, our firm was litigation counsel for entities that owned 22 major real estate projects caught in the Great Recession whose work was stopped mid-project leaving over $300 million dollars of unsecured creditor claims.  Lehman initially agreed to fund, then stiffed, the unsecured creditors, consisting of vendors, contractors and surety bond providers.  We put the projects into bankruptcy in our home court, the Central District of California, away from the main Lehman bankruptcy in New York and filed suit to subordinate over $2 billion in Lehman mortgage liens.

Lehman sought to foreclose on the properties, leaving the unsecured creditors and debtors with nothing.  We stopped this tactic and kept the properties out of foreclosure.  Lehman failed to disclose, both when they sought relief from stay to foreclose, and when they filed proofs of claims, that they had sold most of the loans, pre-petition, to a third party pursuant to a repurchase agreement or so-called “repo” financing transaction.  They also tried to invoke their own automatic stay in New York to prevent us from subordinating the liens.

We overcame all of these obstacles.  When Lehman would not come clean about the repo transfers, we subpoenaed JP Morgan, and that’s when all the evidence came out.  The Court ruled that the repos were true sales and that Lehman misrepresented its ownership of the loans.  This adversely affected Lehman’s credibility with the court.

We also filed suit against non-debtor Lehman affiliates for over a $100 million in damages for breach of development agreements.  After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the bankruptcy court’s ruling that the repos were a true sale, we filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that by selling the loans, Lehman could not perform, and thereby breached, its restructuring agreement with the debtors.  The motion was pending when the case settled.  We were up against top firms—Weil Gotshal and Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones—and we fended off all their attacks and did so efficiently.  In connection with electronic discovery, we hired two dozen contract attorneys, did a short-term rental of vacant office space and computers, and set up a war room where we digested several million pages of documents in a few months, distilling and organizing the key documents for use at deposition and trial.

We took or defended nearly thirty depositions on both coasts.  When the case settled, the unsecured creditors received approximately 50 cents on the dollar pursuant to a plan of reorganization, instead of nothing as sought by Lehman; and the debtor, SunCal, received millions on its claims and acquired two of the properties.

Natrol Bankruptcy

Our firm represented the debtor—a prominent nutraceutical company—before and after the company filed for bankruptcy.  The company filed for bankruptcy to avoid being taken over by its primary lender, an aggressive multi-billion dollar hedge fund in New York.  We asserted claims against the hedge fund for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy to take over the company in a “loan to own” scheme.

We were able to resolve the claims against the hedge fund and, in the process of the bankruptcy, also successfully defended against several class actions asserted against Natrol.  The company ultimately emerged from bankruptcy with several million dollars in equity after all debt was paid off.

EZ Lube/Invotex

In the EZ Lube/Invotex case, we represented the defendants in a multi-million dollar fraudulent conveyance action.  There, claims exceeding $50 million for fraudulent transfer and breach of fiduciary duty arising from a leveraged buy-out were asserted against our clients, who were the owners and directors of the debtor.

We litigated the case for two years and then settled for a small fraction of the $50 million by way of the excess carrier dropping down and paying the settlement; and we then litigated as co-plaintiffs with the excess carrier in a bad faith action against the underlying carrier.  All of this litigation was settled on favorable terms.

Woodbridge Litigation

Miller Barondess currently represents Plaintiff Michael Goldberg, trustee of the Woodbridge Liquidation Trust, in a lawsuit filed against multiple law firms and individual attorneys accusing them of aiding and abetting the real estate investment firm, Woodbridge Group, in a five year $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme.

In 2019, former Woodbridge CEO/founder Robert Shapiro was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme in which he defrauded investors—mainly retirees—by using investor money to purchase properties through sham loans made by “third-party” entities secretly controlled by Shapiro.  Shapiro used money from new investors to pay back old investors and cover deficiencies, also taking millions for his own personal use.

In our lawsuit, we allege that the law firm Defendants committed securities violations and fraudulent acts, including knowingly and/or negligently preparing loan documents containing false statements, concealing material facts, assisting in the creation of phony borrowing “entities,” and preparing opinion letters in furtherance of the scheme.  The liquidation Trust is part of a plan approved by the bankruptcy court to assist investors in recovering from their losses.  The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $500 million, as well as restitution and punitive damages, to reimburse several thousand victims for their losses.

Financial Institutions

The firm has a robust practice representing financial institutions including private equity, venture capital, investment banks, commercial banks and other financial institutions. The firm has handled matters recently for the Gores Group, a leading private equity firm.  Invariably, these cases involve high stakes and millions of dollars; all were concluded favorably.

Our firm has tried and won cases for commercial banks. We currently represent five publicly-traded, multi-billion dollar (assets) banks based in California. This representation has included defending lender liability, fraud and class action suits. Notable among them was a defense jury verdict in a lender liability trial representing East West Bank against a borrower seeking in excess of $50 million; and the bank was awarded $2 million in legal fees. [Read the article]

Our attorneys represented Cathay Bank and obtained summary judgment against a borrower seeking in excess of $20 million on a lender liability claim. [Read the article]

We obtained summary judgment on behalf of East West Bank on a lender liability claim wherein the borrower was seeking in excess of $50 million; and the bank was awarded $1.1 million in legal fees. [Read the article]

We also obtained summary judgment on behalf of Opus Bank establishing coverage against an insurance carrier.

Our attorneys represented investors who purchased a billion dollars of preferred stock in Internet incubator Idealab; the case resolved after suit was filed for dissolution and wind-up of the company. We recently won a significant decision in a FINRA arbitration for an investment bank. We also have defended mutual funds and money managers against breach of fiduciary and trade secret claims; and defeated motions for preliminary injunction therein.

Entertainment

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world — a place where disputes arise involving celebrities as well as the people who represent them and manage their careers. This creates a demand for a level of sophistication necessary in all aspects of the entertainment industry.

Our attorneys have represented movie and television studios, record companies, musicians, actors, songwriters, managers, promoters, studio executives and media personalities. A partial list includes: Rod Stewart, Elton John, Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles), Lionel Richie, Sean Connery, Larry King, Motley Crüe, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Tupac Shakur’s Estate, Stone Temple Pilots and others.

We have a multitude of war stories. Years ago, one of our attorneys helped Rod Stewart recover millions of dollars from a former manager who tried to enforce a management contract after pilfering funds from the artist. Since then, we have won multiple cases for Rod, including victories in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Court of Appeal.

Don Felder was a key member of the Eagles and wrote the music for the band’s biggest hit, Hotel California. After he left the band, we litigated his claims and ultimately obtained a settlement for the singer/songwriter. We also helped rock band  Mötley Crüe re-group following a challenge to its management; with its manager in place, the band subsequently released a comeback album and embarked on a global tour, generating critical acclaim and financial success.

Our attorneys have represented a European concert promoter against Michael Jackson for failing to perform two concerts over the Millennium—one in Sydney and the other in Honolulu —and won a multi-million dollar jury verdict. [Read the article] Our attorneys have also obtained summary judgment for Universal Music Group in a trademark infringement action [Read the article]; obtained summary judgment for Bob Dylan in a contract dispute; won the dismissal of a contractual interference claim for entertainer/media executive Byron Allen and his Entertainment Studios involving the film rights to the life of Sammy Davis Jr. [Read the article]; won summary judgment for  Mötley Crüe in a copyright infringement action [Read the article]; favorably represented an heir of the Spencer Tracy Estate in a breach of fiduciary duty action; and our attorneys have handled matters for MGM, Paramount, Lions Gate, Sony, Miramax and EMI/Capitol Records.

Whether on the studio, talent or management side, Miller Barondess is experienced and able to handle any dispute in the entertainment business.

Appellate Practice

We have broad experience representing clients in appeals in California’s appellate courts and the federal courts of appeals. Our firm has handled appeals in nearly every area of civil litigation.

Some of our notable victories include reversing a jury verdict in favor of a Los Angeles County employee who sued the County under the California Family Medical Leave Act; this was the first published decision in the area.

Our attorneys prevailed on appeal in a case against Patron Tequila wherein our client was seeking $45 million for breach of contract and fraud. After the lower court granted summary judgment against our client, the Court of Appeal reversed, and the case proceeded to trial and settled before closing arguments. [Read the article]

Our firm obtained summary judgment on behalf of the County of Los Angeles and its Board of Supervisors in a Brown Act/waste/tax case. That victory was upheld on appeal in a published decision that helps to clarify the counters of the Brown Act and the scope of delegation powers for municipal governmental agencies throughout California. We have also successfully resolved numerous appeals brought under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.

The firm’s appellate department often assists our litigation teams with complex issues in the trial court. We step in to assist trial counsel with complicated post-trial briefing and high-stakes law and motion matters long before a case ends up in the appellate court. Our depth helps us ensure that our clients’ interests are protected on appeal.

Tough Cases

Clients trust us with their controversial, high-profile cases. In the 1990’s, Skip Miller defended the City of Los Angeles in the civil rights lawsuit brought by Rodney King. He also represented the City in connection with lawsuits involving the Special Investigation Section (SIS) of the LAPD, an elite unit charged with apprehending the City’s most dangerous criminals. The policies and practices of the SIS were upheld in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Skip represented the City of Riverside in an emotionally charged action filed by the family of Tyisha Miller, who was shot and killed by the Riverside Police Department; famed civil rights attorney Johnnie Cochran represented the plaintiff. Skip represented the City of Beverly Hills and won a lawsuit alleging racial profiling by the BHPD.

We also have experience with cases involving sexual harassment, environmental claims/toxic torts, racial discrimination, insurance coverage, and inverse condemnation. Our attorneys have represented the County of Los Angeles and various cities including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Carson, Anaheim, Riverside and Monterey Park.

In addition, we have tried and won cases for Asian companies and investors including a $46 million jury verdict for a Chinese electronics manufacturer in Los Angeles Superior Court (Burbank). [Read the article] We have handled high-stakes, multi-million dollar real estate/commercial cases in California for a prominent Hong Kong based investor.

Pro Bono

The firm maintains an active pro bono practice and encourages its attorneys to handle such matters.

Our firm is committed to supporting our local community and has initiated a pro bono program to provide free legal advice to local small businesses and non-profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about our program, visit: Pro Bono Program-The CARES Act.

Our firm previously undertook a pro bono project regarding prominent politician Zev Yaroslavsky lobbying against drilling for oil in Santa Monica Bay and who was up against a major oil company. We helped keep the anti-drilling ads on the air, and the campaign was successful. To this day, there are no oil derricks and no oil drilling in Santa Monica Bay.

One of our attorneys represented a client who lost a family member in the September 11th tragedy. We found an economic expert who was also willing to work on the case pro bono. After litigating the case in front of a hearing officer appointed to oversee claims with the Victims Compensation Fund,  we obtained over $3 million from the federal government. This amount was far in excess of what the Victims Compensation formula provided for.

Our attorneys bring creativity and
innovation to the practice of law.