McLeod Witham

Our Practice

Our
Practice

We have represented clients in complex litigation in federal and state courts, administrative proceedings and private arbitrations and mediations. We have substantial experience in a broad range of complex business and tort cases including antitrust and trade regulation, contractual disputes, business torts, investment and other business fraud, real estate disputes, entertainment, consumer law, employment, mass tort, product liability, professional liability, securities, trade secrets and unfair competition matters. We also provide general advice regarding contract negotiations, internal and governmental investigations, pre-litigation disputes and general business issues.

Our clients have included Fortune 500 companies, financial services entities, partnerships, medium and small businesses and individuals. A summary of our practice areas follows:

Business Litigation

We have represented banks, investment banks and managers, private equity groups, retirement investment funds and securities brokers, and their employees, officers and directors, in breach of fiduciary duty, contract, fraud, lender liability, professional liability, securities, tax shelter, trade secrets and unfair competition cases in state and federal courts, and in FINRA (formerly NASD) and private arbitrations and mediations. We have also represented institutional investors prosecuting claims against financial institutions.

Employment

We have substantial experience representing employers of all sizes with their employment-related needs. We have represented national retailers, restaurants, entertainment companies and major healthcare providers in single-plaintiff lawsuits involving a variety of claims, including claims of wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination and harassment. We also have extensive experience defending employers in wage and hour matters and have represented employers in wage and hour class actions across a variety of industries. We also provide advice and counseling to employers on a variety of topics - including employee leaves of absence, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage and hour compliance, the WARN Act, and employee discipline and terminations - to help minimize the risk of litigation while assisting in achievement of clients' business goals.

Energy

We represented oil and has companies, drilling companies, pipeline operators, refinery operators, power generators and utilities in a broad range of cases involving every phase of the energy industry. These cases have involved business claims including antitrust, contract, regulatory, transactional and unfair competition issues and tort claims including environmental, negligence and personal injury claims. We have also handled internal and governmental investigation for energy clients.

Entertainment

We have represented guilds, production companies and studios in contract, employment, intellectual property and securities matters.

Health Care

We have represented hospitals, insurers, medical groups and pharmaceutical companies in antitrust, contract, corporate control and unfair competition cases, as well as internal and governmental investigations.

Labor

We have represented Taft-Hartley Trust Funds and board of trustee members in litigation involving breach of contract, ERISA, fiduciary duty and pension and trust fund issues. We have also conducted internal investigations and provided general advice to several Trust Funds.

Professional Liability

We have substantial experience in professional liability matters involving attorneys, actuaries, banks and investment advisors. Our lawyers have handled professional liability matters on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Our cases have involved claims of professional negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and securities law violations.

Representative
Matters

Defense Cases

  • Defense of employee benefit plan manager and trustees in putative class action alleging ERISA violations and breach of fiduciary duties.
  • Defense of officer of investment advisory firm in case filed by institutional investors alleging securities fraud, breach of contract and professional negligence.
  • Defense of hospital in contract dispute with medical billing vendor. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Defense of pharmaceuticals manufacturer in putative class action by indirect purchasers alleging state antitrust violations. Motion to dismiss granted.
  • Defense of a hospital in a class action alleging state antitrust claims. Summary judgment for the defendants was granted and the case is on appeal.
  • Defense of a Section 2 monopolization claim for a major electronic manufacturer. Obtained summary judgment in favor of client.
  • Representation of a hospital in litigation with a medical group. Defense of claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Prosecution of claims for breach of partnership agreement and breach of fiduciary duty. Tried cases in multiple phases, obtaining favorable results in each.
  • Defense of coordinated class actions alleging wage and benefit fixing in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. Defeated class certification.
  • Representation of an investment bank in connection with professional negligence claims arising from the issuance of a solvency opinion related to the acquisition of MGM.
  • Defense of officers and directors against federal and state securities, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Defense of claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition. Successfully opposed application for preliminary injunction in Los Angeles County Superior Court and compelled NASD arbitration. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Defense of claim against biotechnology company for breach of patent license agreement. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Defense of officers and directors in San Francisco County Superior Court coordinated litigation involving shareholder derivative and individual claims asserting breaches of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and interference with contract. Defeated motion for preliminary injunction. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Defense of a regional medical center in defending a claim for breach of charitable trust. Obtained summary judgment for client, affirmed on appeal.
  • Defense of computer manufacturer in antitrust case filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, related to patent infringement case filed in another district. Actions resolved by agreement under which adverse party ceased production and sale of infringing products.
  • Defense of a major electronic manufacturer against claims for breach of contract relating to television advertising. Case settled on confidential terms on eve of trial.
  • Defense of advertising agency against claims for breach of contract and quantum meruit. Client prevailed on contract claim and jury awarded nominal quantum meruit damages.
  • Representation of a major oil company in three separate litigations arising from three different explosions and fires at a local refinery. Each case involved between 10,000 and 27,000 personal injury claims. In all matters, we defeated injunctive and class certification efforts. We brought order to a nearly unmanageable set of circumstances and disposed of the matters with virtually no imposition on the refinery personnel or operations. All cases were either settled on reasonable terms or dismissed for failure to comply with court ordered case management.
  • Representation of Unocal before the FTC in connection with the sale of an agricultural products business. Regulatory approval obtained upon negotiation of asset divestiture.
  • International Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, Local 7-517 et al. v. UNO-VEN Company et al., 170 F.3d 779 (7th Cir. 1999). Defense of claim by union to enjoin transaction based on federal labor laws. Summary judgment affirmed by Seventh Circuit.
  • Defense of class action against Mobil arising from alleged toxic release at a refinery in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Defeated class certification.
  • Ford v. Mobil Oil Corporation, et al., Louisiana State Court. We were substituted into this mass tort case arising from a refinery explosion approximately 90 days prior to trial. A class had already been certified. We obtained certiori from the Louisiana Supreme Court and convinced it to de-certify the class and dismiss the action. Ford v. Murphy Oil et al., 703 So. 2nd 542 (La. S. Ct. 1997). Another related mass tort refinery explosion case, Lailhengue, was settled during trial.
  • Obtained a significant recovery for an oil company for lost revenue and property damage caused by defective equipment sold by defendants which led to an explosion, fire and refinery shutdown.
  • Parejo Ltd. 1981 v. Getty Oil Co., et al., 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17671 (E.D. Cal. 1991). Defense of claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and accounting in connection with oil and gas joint venture agreement in which plaintiff sought more than $1 billion in damages. After three month trial, obtained complete defense victory.
  • Obtained a verdict in the U.S. District Court, District of Alaska, declaring unconstitutional a state oil pollution clean-up scheme which sought to impose substantial monetary charges on certain entities involved in the handling and transportation of crude oil from the North Slope.
  • We have defended hundreds of personal injury cases of all types including catastrophic injuries (wrongful death, paralysis, burns, brain damage, etc.) and mass tort claims, particularly involving acute and chronic exposure allegations. Due to the range of cases we have handled, we have developed particular expertise in effective case management; challenging and defending the scientific reliability and relevance of expert testimony; defending medical monitoring claims; defending fear-of-disease claims; and attacking causation. The nature of our practice has caused us to have to deal with so called scientific experts from a very wide range of disciplines.

Plaintiff Cases

  • Representation of franchisee in contract dispute with national franchisor. Case settled on confidential terms during trial.
  • Representation of public and private employee retirement systems in professional negligence claims against actuaries. Settled several matters on confidential terms.
  • Representation of numerous employees in claims for wrongful termination, discrimination, breach of contract and wage and hour claims. All cases were settled on confidential terms.
  • Arbitrated case for contract and wage and hour claims. Obtained arbitration award on behalf of clients.
  • Representation of investor for breach of contract claims against advisory bank. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Representation of drilling contractor against equipment manufacture in case arising from explosion on offshore drilling rig. Case settled on confidential terms.
  • Representation of oil refiner for lost profit claims against equipment manufacturer in case arising from refinery fire.