LTL Prevails In $150 Million Decade-Long International Dispute

On November 8, 2021, the California Court of Appeal sided with LTL Attorneys’ client DAS Corporation, headquartered in Korea, against Optional Capital, Inc., another Korean company, in the parties’ decade-long dispute over stolen funds. The result is a complete victory for LTL’s client in the litigation.

Optional sued DAS in 2011, claiming that funds DAS had received from a Swiss bank account maintained by a third-party fraudster belonged to Optional. The fraudster had stolen funds from DAS and Optional, but DAS was the first to collect on its debt. Unable to enforce its judgment against the fraudster, Optional sued DAS for conversion, fraudulent transfer, and receipt of stolen property, seeking over $150 million—the $12.6 million DAS received, an additional $25 million allegedly owed to Optional by the fraudster (claimed to be DAS’s co-conspirator), treble damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

In a three-week 2019 trial conducted by LTL Partners Joe Tuffaha and Prashanth Chennakesavan, with assistance from associates David Crane and Kevin Kelly, a jury rejected most of Optional’s claims, but awarded Optional $2 million after finding that DAS knowingly received stolen funds. Both sides appealed. A unanimous panel agreed with LTL, reversed the judgment, and rejected Optional’s cross-appeal.

“We couldn’t be more gratified with the Court of Appeal’s decision. This was truly a slugfest in the trial court, and while we were disappointed that the jury did not find in DAS’ favor on all of the claims, we were confident that the Court of Appeal would correct that mistake” said LTL Managing Partner David Ammons. “Joe and Prashanth, and really the entire LTL team did an outstanding job in both the trial court and the court of appeal, and we could not be prouder to continue our unbeaten streak in the state and federal courts of appeal over the last four years,” said Ammons.

LTL Obtains $1.4 Million Jury Verdict for Client MSC.Software Corporation

On Friday, September 17, 2021, a Los Angeles jury awarded LTL client MSC.Software Corporation (“MSC”) $1.4 million in damages in MSC’s contract dispute with former client Heroux-Devtek, Inc. (“HDI”).

The three-day trial involved MSC’s claim that HDI, a Canadian aerospace supplier, breached the parties’ agreement when it did not destroy and continued to use software which it contractually committed to destroy. HDI’s continued use of the software permitted it to continue engineering operations for years when one of its servers became unavailable. HDI admitted that it breached the parties’ contract, but argued that MSC had suffered no damages because it never used more software than the contract permitted, and also argued that the suit was untimely. The eight-person federal jury rejected these defenses awarding MSC the full amount of its requested damages consisting of unpaid software license fees.

“We are grateful that the jurors were able to sift through the misdirection that was thrown them at trial and award compensation to MSC for the products and services HDI used for years without paying for them,” said lead trial counsel David Ammons.

LTL Managing Partner joins California Minority Counsel Program Board

LTL Managing Partner David Ammons has joined the Board of Directors of the California Minority Counsel Program (“CMCP”). Since 1989, CMCP has been dedicated to eliminating the disparity between the percentage of minorities in California’s population and the legal profession. Through its many programs, CMCP has given minority attorneys direct access to corporate decision-makers, assisted corporations and law firms in meeting their commitments to increasing the number of diverse attorneys in their ranks, and assisting public and private entities in increasing their minority outside spend. “LTL Attorneys has been a proud sponsor of many CMCP programs over the years, and I look forward to this leadership role in ensuring that the legal profession accurately reflects the diverse state that it serves.”

LTL Welcomes Associate Colin Ravelle

On June 7, LTL welcomed its newest associate Colin Ravelle to its ranks. Colin is a 2019 Berkeley grad, and joins LTL from Kaufman Dolowich Voluck LLP where his practice focused on real estate litigation, representing Homeowners’ Associations, property owners, landlords, and real estate brokers/agents in real property and contract matters including purchase and sale agreements, construction defects, non-disclosure, partitions, unlawful detainer, and mobile home law. At Berkeley, Colin was a member of the editorial board for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, and graduated with a specialization certification in Technology Law.

LTL Obtains Dismissal of Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit for Client EMPTECH

On June 24, 2020, the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed an employment discrimination and retaliation suit brought by a former employee of LTL client EMPTECH.  The suit alleged that following nearly a decade of exceptional performance, Plaintiff, the former Director of Operations, was demoted and ultimately fired for accommodating a subordinate employee’s disability and for championing the employee’s right to accommodation.  Plaintiff claimed that when Emptech’s Chief Executive Officer learned about the accommodation, he became hostile towards both employees.  Plaintiff further alleged that the CEO subsequently reprimanded, suspended and terminated the subordinate employee, and when Plaintiff protested these actions as purportedly illegal, she too was demoted and then fired within a few months of her complaints.

 

Although it was discovered during the litigation that Plaintiff was having an extra-marital affair with the subordinate employee for several years, that the two stole the company’s trade secrets and attempted to steal the company’s clients by starting a competing business, the Company did not assert such as a basis for Plaintiff’s separation.  Rather, it was the CEO’s loss of confidence in Plaintiff’s ability to steer the company as second-in-command after receiving several complaints about her lack of guidance and productivity, a client’s dissatisfaction with her handling of its account, and Plaintiff’s sudden and unexcused absence from a critical meeting with a potential client that justified her dismissal.

 

LTL filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the case should be dismissed without trial because Plaintiff could not establish that her termination was motivated by anything other than her performance.  In granting the motion, the Court observed that an employee cannot simply show the employer’s decision was wrong, mistaken or unwise and, in this case, Plaintiff’s evidence failed to show the employer’s reasoning was implausible or incredible.

 

“We are pleased that the Court was able to carefully consider our arguments that Plaintiff’s separation from the Company was based on nothing more than her performance,” said LTL’s Managing Partner David Ammons, Emptech’s lead counsel.  “We could not be more excited for EMPTECH, a small business which has had to endure this litigation for more than two years.”

 

Associates Julia Levitskaia and Michael Pearlson assisted in the Company’s defense.

LTL Wins Dismissal of Putative Consumer Class Action Related to Wi-Fi Networking Speeds in the Northern District of California

On November 4, 2019, LTL attained dismissal on behalf of client TP-Link USA Corporation in a putative class action involving alleged false advertising related to Wi-Fi networking speed claims. The case involved two rounds of motion practice. In the initial round, Judge Richard Seeborg granted TP-Link’s motion to dismiss forcing Plaintiffs to amend their complaint to drastically narrow the scope of the putative class, as well as add three additional plaintiffs in an attempt to save their case. In the second round, LTL defeated this narrowed putative class as well. Although the Court granted leave to amend, Plaintiffs declined. Plaintiffs’ counsel are well-known class action attorneys.

The case was originally filed in August 2018 in the Superior Court of San Francisco.  LTL successfully removed the case to federal court and proceeded to cut down the scope of Plaintiffs’ case through motion practice.  We were also able to keep Plaintiffs’ discovery demands to a minimum until dismissal.

This decision is important for all types of consumer products. Essentially the Court found that if a manufacturer advertises according to industry practice, then no reasonable consumer would be misled or harmed unless very specific conditions are met. The Court’s ruling supports businesses’ ability to advertise following industry practices that make sense for the type of product at issue.

The case was handled by LTL partners Prashanth Chennakesavan and Heather Auyang, and associates David Crane and Blake Guererro.  This result further highlights LTL’s successful expertise in defending clients against consumer class actions.

LTL Obtains Affirmance of Judgment for Probate Client in the Second Appellate District

On August 19, 2019, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment LTL obtained for client Gong Hua Xi.  The Appellant had initiated a spousal property petition in the Los Angeles Superior Court Probate Department claiming that she became the putative spouse of the decedent four years prior to her legal marriage to him, and sought to use such status to claim community property ownership over real property the decedent held and purchased as separate property two years prior to their marriage.  Representing the decedent’s biological family, LTL obtained a judgment following trial denying the petition on the ground that the Appellant had failed to meet her burden to demonstrate that she was the putative spouse at the time that the property was purchased.  The Court of Appeal unanimously swept aside the Appellant’s arguments that the family lacked standing to object to her petition and that the trial court applied the incorrect legal standard.  LTL Senior Counsel Alex Hu and Associate Blake Guerrero briefed and argued the appeal.

LTL Secures Dismissal of Retaliation and Disability Suit

On June 25, 2019, LTL obtained summary judgment on behalf of client Walmart, Inc. from the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissing a former long-term employee’s suit claiming that he had been retaliated against after filing a worker’s compensation suit and complaining of harassment.  The employee had worked at a Sam’s Club for nearly 13 years when he filed a 2016 worker’s compensation claim.  However, he failed to report the workplace injury to his managers before filing the claim in contravention of a Club policy mandating that workplace injuries be reported to management immediately– his fourth policy violation in 10 months.  When the employee’s managers received notice of the worker’s compensation filing, they questioned him as to why he had not reported the injury to anyone.  At the end of the conversation, the former employee stated that his managers were always harassing him.   Two days later, the employee was dismissed for excessive policy violations.

 

The former employee then brought suit alleging retaliation, disability discrimination and failure to accommodate his disability, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.  Nearly two years after the suit was commenced, the Los Angeles Superior Court granted summary judgment to Walmart dismissing Plaintiff’s claims in their entirety and awarded Walmart the right to seek its costs.  The suit was handled by LTL Managing Partner David Ammons and Associate Tiffany Hansen.

LTL Recovers $103.2 Million For Client In Arbitration