FBBC wins at Court of Appeal, arbitration agreement declared unenforceable.
In a hotly contested malpractice case, where FBBC’s clients suffered $20,000,000 in damages from the transactional representation provided by their former law firm, FBBC had its arguments tested—and validated–by the California Court of Appeal. FBBC’s clients were a family who had been represented for decades by a prominent and prestigious large law firm. During the real estate boom, the law firm advised the clients to structure a proposed sale of large multi-family residential property in a manner that was supposed to protect the clients’ interest whether the boom continued, or whether a bust occurred. When the clients attempted to enforce the deal, the proposed purchasers sued the clients in a class action.
When the clients were forced to settle the class action (after losing on the liability phase of the trial), they had to give up not only their property, but also became liable for millions of dollars in damages to the purchasers. In response to FBBC filing suit against the former law firm, the former law firm contended that an arbitration provision of a new fee agreement applied retroactively to all prior representation, including the transactional representation from over five years prior. On an expedited briefing scheduled, FBBC convinced the trial court that the former law firm was wrong. The former law firm appealed. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Gilbert, the Court of Appeal agreed with FBBC’s arguments, finding that the defendant law firm could not enforce the arbitration agreement retroactively. (Click here to read the Court of Appeal decision.)
Smith et al. adv. Westport Financial Services, Ltd.
30-2009-00121324, Superior Court of California, County of Orange
FBBC Successfully Defends Couple Personally Sued for $2,400,000 by Commercial Lender
A commercial lender sued FBBC’s clients seeking $2,400,000 on a personal guarantee agreement they signed. The couple signed the agreement with the lender guaranteeing the debt of a family member’s business. When that business went under, the lender personally sued the couple for recovery of the entire debt, totaling $2,400,000. If successful, the suit would have economically devastated the couple. After a three-week jury trial, FBBC obtained a complete defense verdict in favor of the couple. FBBC proved that the lender had concealed information from the couple, lulling them into signing the guarantee by, among other things, withholding key information from them. In addition, FBBC proved that the lender had actually paid itself from funds that were supposed to have gone to family member’s business, which ultimately caused the collapse of the business. As a result, the jury found in favor of FBBC’s client on all claims, awarding the lender nothing. FBBC then successfully obtained an order from the Court compelling the lender to pay all of the couple’s attorney’s fees and expenses incurred in the case. Despite the vociferous objection by the lender, the couple was awarded approximately $300,000 in attorney’s fees and expenses from the lender. At the same time, the lender filed a motion for a new trial and a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Both of the lender’s motions were denied by the Court.
Lozano v AT&T Wireless Services, Inc.
05-56466, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Stern v. Gambello
10-56929, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
AT&T agrees to pay up to $80,981,548 customers nationwide for billing practices claimed to be improper
After eight and a half years of hard fought litigation, punctuated by careful analysis and strategy by FBBC, AT&T agreed to settle two related cases filed in the United States District Court. The Court approved both class action settlements, Paul Lozano v. AT&T Wireless and Heather Stern v. AT&T Mobility, requiring that AT&T Wireless pay benefits to the class members up to approximately $80,981,548. This nationwide class had been filed to recover monies the class contended had been improperly charged under certain AT&T billing practices.
Bank of the West v. Ballantine Produce Co. et al.,
09CECG01818, Superior Court of California, County of Fresno
Bank of the West (“BOW”) filed an action against Ballantine Produce Company and the primary Guarantor claiming it was owed over $18,000,000 in secured and unpaid debt. This demand was more than the company was worth as it was essentially out of business, and BOW thus sought the repayment directly from the Guarantor of the loan. The defendants retained FBBC to defend their interests. After careful strategic analysis, FBBC counterclaimed against BOW on behalf of its clients alleging fraud and interference with Ballantine’s business by BOW. On the eve of trial, after losing its Motion for Summary Judgment filed against Ballantine and the Guarantor, BOW agreed to settle the case by providing free and clear real property and other consideration valued, net, at over $15,000,000.
Beauperthuy, et al. v. 24 Hour Fitness
3:06-cv-00715-SC, United States District Court, Northern District of California
FBBC settles unpaid overtime claims for hundreds of personal trainers and managers against 24 Hour Fitness
In what began as a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California against 24 Hour Fitness for unpaid overtime for personal trainers and misclassification claims for managers resulted in a settlement paid by 24 Hour exceeding $17.4 million for hundreds of personal trainers and managers. After the FLSA collective action was decertified by the Court (a situation where most firms would simply have given up), FBBC and its co-counsel pressed on, and continued strategizing as to how they could obtain a significant recovery for hundreds of workers in individual arbitrations. Consequently, FBBC innovated a plan to file hundreds of individual arbitration claims in the Federal District court for the Northern District of California. 24 Hour Fitness, which was represented by Littler Mendelson, the largest law firm in the country representing employers in wage and hour cases, with offices around the world, declared “war” in an email on the workers and FBBC, and commenced filing hundreds of competing arbitration petitions in Federal District courts all across the country in Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska, Washington State, and most states in between. FBBC and its co-counsel, through resourcefulness and ingenuity, sizable financial resources to fund the case, and with a team of attorneys just a mere fraction of the size of 24 Hour Fitness’s team, obtained favorable rulings from Federal District courts in each of those states. Ultimately, after 24 Hour’s competing arbitration petitions were dismissed all over the country, 24 Hour brought in a new law firm to arbitrate individual cases in the Federal District court for the Northern District of California. After favorable results for the workers in the first six individual arbitrations, 24 Hour Fitness paid over $17.4 million to settle hundreds of the remaining individual claims. Many of the workers each recovered tens of thousands of dollars from the settlement.
B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. et al.
FBBC Victory at Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is Focal Point of First Trademark Case in 10 years to be Decided by U.S. Supreme Court
Moore, et al. v. CELLCO Partnership, et al.
3:09-cv-04592-FLW-LHG, United States District Court, District of New Jersey
Judge Approves National Class Action Settlement Against Verizon Wireless Totaling Over $55 million
F&F, LLC et al v East West Bank
BC462714, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
FBBC obtains $38,914,610 jury verdict for family owned business against East West Bank
Emmett McDonough et al v. James Knell et al.
1415007, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, Anacapa Division
After earning a complete Defense verdict for its long time clients in a multi-million dollar jury trial, FBBC obtained additional relief for their Clients by way of a successful motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. After the verdict was entered, and as part of entry of judgment, FBBC sought and received, on behalf of its clients, $2,000,000 award in fees and costs against the Plaintiffs.
Dana Bostick v. Herbalife International of America Inc., et al.
CV 13-02488-BRO (RZx), United States District Court, Central District of California