Christopher Beatty Honored on Daily Journal’s list of Top 40 Under 40
By Don DeBenedictis, Daily Journal – July 28, 2021 – Beatty takes on complex business litigation for individuals and companies, especially cases involving startups, founders and executives.
He currently represents a bankruptcy trustee suing the founders of the Ruby’s Diner restaurants and also the creators of a new, hot social media app suing the company CEO.
“I deal a lot in the startup sector,” Beatty said. “This is what I’m known for at my firm.”
One pair of clients developed an app that allows celebrities to send texts to all their fans simultaneously. The project struggled at first, so they brought in a former colleague and roommate to take their company over. Without informing the founders, who by then had left the company, the new CEO landed some multimillion-dollar investments, including from Ashton Kutcher’s firm, as well as participation from some well-known musicians, according to Beatty. Instead, the CEO persuaded the pair to sell their stock back to the company for about $20,000 each. The company now is valued at $450 million, he said. Buffin v. Community.com Inc., 2:20-cv-07552 (C.D. Cal., filed Aug. 20, 2020).
In an adversarial proceeding filed in March seeking $35 million, Beatty alleges the Ruby’s founders used their company’s assets and goodwill to launch a pair of successful Newport Beach restaurants in their own names. He quickly obtained a $2 million writ of attachment against them for old loans that he argued had been improperly recharacterized as distributions. In re: Ruby’s Diner Inc., 8:18-bk-13311 (Bankr. C.D. Cal., filed Sept. 15, 2018).
Beatty has used such writs several times before. “I like provisional remedies,” he said. “I think if you know how to present them and are good at identifying the situations where they arise … they give you a lot of leverage in negotiations.”
For example, he used a writ of possession to force the return of eight airplanes to an “all-you-can-fly” subscription airline service called Surf Air from the separate company that previously had been providing pilots and operating the routes. “They lost their entire California fleet of airplanes,” he said about his client. “This was truly a bet-the-company case.” After the writ, the case settled without his client paying any money. Encompass Aviation LLC v. Surf Air Inc., 18-cv-5530 (S.D. N.Y., filed June 19, 2018).
More recently, he obtained a writ of attachment for $8 million against a charitable foundation that had stopped making promised payments on its $10 million pledge to a hospital. The judge’s tentative ruling was for $4 million, but Beatty convinced the judge to award the full amount owing including future payments. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center v. The Saul and Joyce Brandman Foundation, 20STCV00836 (L.A. Super. Ct., filed Jan. 7, 2020).
During the pandemic, Beatty has represented some much smaller businesses without filing suit. Working through the LA Represents program and Bet Tzedek Legal Services, he has helped a hair salon, a Persian restaurant and a play space for children, he said.