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Fish Cases

(selected examples)

Fish Cases

(selected examples)

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In-Depth

Trade secret theft.  Steve acted as lead counsel for S&P 500 manufacturer of highly complex cancer detection and treatment machinery in bringing an action to address an egregious theft of trade secrets by a former senior-level sales executive, who downloaded thousands of electronic documents containing highly confidential sales, marketing and manufacturing information on her way out the door.  After the executive joined an arch-competitor, Steve’s legal team obtained a TRO against the former employee, barring her from working for the competitor.  After several months of discovery, the defense team secured a preliminary injunction, enjoining the executive and her employer from soliciting business from customers and using the client’s confidential information.

Collective action.  Steve has served as lead counsel in defending one of the country’s largest grocery retail merchandising brokers in a wage and hour collective action filed in Pennsylvania by more than 50 former employees on behalf of themselves and all other current and former retail representatives and/or data collectors employed by the company (a class of potentially 20,000 employees).  The plaintiffs claimed that they had not been paid for all time worked, including the time they spent driving from their homes to their first work location of the day and from their last work location of the day to their homes, time spent working in retail stores, and time spent performing administrative duties at their homes before the beginning of and after the completion of their work day.  After extensive discovery and briefing, the court summarily rejected the plaintiffs’ efforts to conditionally certify a class exceeding 20,000 persons.  The plaintiffs declined to appeal the decision, but filed 52 individual FLSA lawsuits against the client, many of which are still pending in jurisdictions around the country.

Collective action.  Steve served as lead counsel for a nationwide mortgage broker in a lawsuit brought in Texas federal court by a class of mortgage brokers who alleged that they had been misclassified as exempt under the FLSA.  After extensive discovery and the mortgage broker’s submission of a dispositive motion, the plaintiffs agreed to resolve their claims for pennies on the dollar.

Collective action.  Steve acted as lead counsel representing one of the country’s largest grocery retail merchandising brokers in a wage and hour collective action brought in Tennessee by retail sales representatives who alleged that the company had failed to compensate them for time spent driving to and from retail stores and time spent working from home at the beginning of their work day and at the end of their work day.  The plaintiffs sought to conditionally certify a class of more than 15,000 full-time and part-time employees. After extensive discovery, the court granted the client’s motion to deny conditional certification.  The plaintiffs declined to appeal the decision.

Inevitable disclosure.  Steve served as lead counsel for Fortune 500 gaming retailer in bringing an action to stop the company’s former Chief Financial Officer from beginning work for a competing retailer in a similar capacity.  Although the CFO had not signed a non-compete agreement preventing her from working for a competitor, Steve’s team obtained a TRO against the CFO.  Using the TRO as leverage, the client was able to force the CFO to accept limitations on her work activities at the new employer and to agree to a significant reduction in her post-employment compensation.

Collective action.  Steve served as lead counsel for one of the country’s largest retail grocery merchandising brokers in a state law class action filed in California alleging that the company failed to pay its current and former California-based retail sales representatives for all hours worked by them, failed to reimburse them for all expenses incurred by them in performing their duties, and issued deficient wage statements to them.  The plaintiff sought to represent a class of approximately 4,500 employees.  After extensive discovery and the client’s submission of a dispositive motion, the plaintiffs agreed to resolve their claims for pennies on the dollar.

Breach of contract.  Steve led the trial effort of a renowned computer-game developer and company executive against his former employer, Korea’s largest computer game development company, for breaching the executive’s stock option agreement when it terminated the executive without cause in 2008.  Steve and his team secured a jury verdict of $28 million (and a judgment of $32 million).  The award was named one of the Top Verdicts of 2010 by The National Law Journal (NLJ), in addition to being recognized as one of the year’s ten largest verdicts in Texas.

Inevitable disclosure.  Steve acted as lead counsel in bringing an action on behalf of the American-based sales and marketing organization of an Asia-based Fortune 200 electronics firm to address the departure of its Chief Marketing Officer who sought to join an arch-competitor in the same position.  Although the CMO had not signed an agreement containing a non-compete provision preventing him from working for a competitor, Steve’s team obtained a TRO on the basis that it was highly likely that the former executive would use our client’s confidential information in performing his new job.  Steve’s team leveraged the TRO to obtain a settlement preventing the former executive from working for the competitor for a period of time sufficient to protect the client’s trade secrets.

Inevitable disclosure and trade secret theft.  Steve served as co-lead counsel in bringing an action in Texas against former senior-level management employee of a Fortune 100 semi-conductor company after he abruptly resigned to take a similar position with a competing company, alleging probable disclosure of trade secrets. After obtaining a TRO and preliminary injunction against the new employer and the former employee, prohibiting them from contacting certain customers, using client’s trade secrets, and soliciting or hiring client’s employees, the new employer initiated an action in California state court to nullify the effect of the injunction.  After the California court denied a request to enjoin the injunction, the case settled on favorable terms.

Collective action.  Steve served as lead counsel for one of the country’s largest retail grocery merchandising brokers in a wage and hour collective action filed in New Jersey by retail sales representatives who alleged that the company had failed to pay them for time spent performing administrative duties at home in the morning and in the evening, as well as time spent driving to and from retail stores.  The plaintiffs sought to conditionally certify a class of 12,000 full-time and part-time workers.  After extensive discovery, the court rejected plaintiffs’ motion for conditional certification.  The plaintiffs declined to appeal the decision.

Section 1983.  Steve was retained by a school district to defend the district, its superintendent, and 4 other senior executives in a high profile employment lawsuit brought by a former district employee.  The employee claimed her civil rights were violated when she was placed on paid administrative leave (and later terminated) after news accounts showed potential abuse of a purchasing program that she oversaw.  Steve’s team obtained summary judgment on the eve of trial, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed on appeal.

Employment discrimination/retaliation/Section 1981.  Steve was retained by one of Texas’ largest utilities to defend the company in a lawsuit filed by a then-current African-American employee who alleged that he was retaliated against (under Title VII and Section 1981) for complaining about the company’s failure to pay for his certification training even though it allegedly did so for training provided to Caucasian employees.  After extensive discovery, the court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, rejecting all of the plaintiff’s claims and awarding costs against the plaintiff.

Inevitable disclosure.  Steve served as lead counsel in initiating a lawsuit in Texas against nine employees and their new employer after the employees abruptly resigned from a Fortune 100 semi-conductor design and manufacturing company to join a competing company, alleging trade secret theft and contract violations. After obtaining temporary and permanent injunctions against the new employer and the former employees prohibiting them from contacting certain customers, using client’s trade secrets, and soliciting or hiring client’s employees, the case settled on favorable terms.

Collective action.  Steve acted as lead counsel for a Fortune 100 semiconductor manufacturing company in an FLSA collective action brought in Texas by current and former employees who claimed they were not properly compensated for time spent donning and doffing cleanroom attire and walking to and from their workstations within the company’s cleanroom facilities.  The plaintiffs sought to certify a class of more than 8,000 employees stationed at seven plants located in four states.  After the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for conditional certification, the case was resolved on favorable terms.

Trade secret theft.  Steve served as lead counsel for a bank consulting business specializing in providing consulting services and software solutions to financial institutions throughout the world in connection with filing a lawsuit against a former employee who left the company and began using the client’s trade secrets.  When a second employee resigned under suspicious circumstances (lying about where he was going to work), Steve’s team discovered through forensic computer analysis that both employees had downloaded gigabytes of data shortly before departing.  At the conclusion of a three-day temporary injunction hearing, Steve’s team obtained a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the employees from providing services to his former clients.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve acted as lead counsel in defending a county and a sitting Justice of the Peace in a lawsuit filed by a former employee who was terminated for poor work performance.  The termination occurred after the employee had filed a charge of discrimination, alleging gender and age discrimination and sexual harassment.  After being fired, the employee asserted claims for discrimination, harassment and retaliation against the county and her supervisor, the Justice of the Peace.  After successfully narrowing the scope of the claims through summary judgment, the lawsuit was settled on favorable terms.

Trade secret theft.  Steve served as lead counsel for Fortune 50 computer/printer company in bringing multi-million dollar suit against former high-level employees who, while still employed by the client, covertly organized and began operating a competing business venture using the client’s resources, contacts and trade secrets to steal product designs, market analyses and other confidential and proprietary business information. After prevailing in jurisdictional dispute, the case settled.

Trade secret theft.  Steve was retained by a leading provider of payment processing software used by banks and retailers to manage automatic teller machine and check transactions to bring suit against the company’s former President and another former executive who started a competing firm and began to hire design engineers with whom they had worked. Steve’s team obtained a TRO at a contested hearing and, after engaging in several months of discovery, settled on terms which included the imposition of restrictions on the employee prohibiting them from doing business with the client’s customers and from hiring the client’s employees.

Cyberlaw/trade secret theft.  Steve was retained by a Fortune 100 semiconductor company to serve as lead counsel to stop a former disgruntled employee who created several Internet websites containing confidential information and video clips, as well as derogatory comments about the company.  Steve’s team obtained a TRO requiring the employee to take down the offensive websites and, thereafter, used computer forensics to obtain a permanent injunction prohibiting employee from using any trade secrets and from posting certain company information on the Internet.

Breach of contract.  Steve served as lead trial counsel in defending a Fortune 100 semiconductor firm in a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by former vendor of quartz materials used in the client’s manufacturing processes.  The plaintiff claimed that it entered into fiduciary relationship with the client based on the parties’ course of dealing.  When vendor’s business collapsed because of market conditions and poor management, it sued for breach of contract and fiduciary duty.  Steve’s team narrowed the scope of the dispute by obtaining summary judgment on several claims, enabling the client to settle on favorable terms.

Breach of contract.  Steve served as lead trial counsel for one of the country’s largest retail grocery merchandising brokers in a breach of contract lawsuit filed by a salesman who alleged that he was due hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission payments.  The employer had terminated the salesman for sexual harassment.  After the termination, the salesman alleged that the employer had breached a commission payment plan by failing to pay him commissions on sales consummated after his departure.  After a 5-day trial, the jury rejected 4 out of 5 of the plaintiff’s claims, awarding him nominal damages.  While on appeal, the case settled on favorable terms.

Inevitable disclosure.  Steve served as lead counsel in a lawsuit brought on behalf of a Fortune 100 semi-conductor design and manufacturing company against a former employee/scientist who was intimately involved in the development of the company’s state of the art and industry-leading digital processing technology.  After the scientist resigned under suspicious circumstances and began working for competitor, Steve’s team obtained a TRO, enjoining scientist from working for competitor.  Within days, scientist resigned his senior leadership position with competitor and returned to work for the client.

Section 1983.  Steve was retained by a Texas county to defend the county and its commissioners in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled employee who was terminated for violating county policy by campaigning for office during working hours and for threatening other employees.  The employee asserted a claim for retaliation under Section 1983, alleging he was terminated because he reported allegations of misconduct by a county officer and because he ran for public office.  After Steve’s team successfully narrowed the scope of discovery to limit the commissioners’ personal exposure and to prevent their depositions from taking place, the court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment.  After oral argument in 2008, the Fifth Circuit dismissed the employee’s appeal.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve acted as lead defense counsel in a lawsuit filed by a female instructor/employee of a for-profit college who was fired after she made racially derogatory statements to African-American students and college administrators.  The employee asserted claims for breach of contract, reverse race discrimination, and retaliation, alleging that the college discriminated against her when it terminated her employment on the basis that an African-American employee would not have been terminated for making the same racially offensive remarks.  On summary judgment, the court summarily rejected all of the plaintiff’s claims, and awarded court costs to the college.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve was retained to serve as lead defense counsel in a lawsuit filed in Texas by an African-American employee who was laid off by a Fortune 500 telecommunications company as part of a reduction in force.  After the RIF, the former employee asserted claims for race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII.  The court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all of the plaintiff’s claims and awarding court costs to the employer.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve served as lead counsel for one of the country’s largest distributors of electronic components, computer products and embedded technology in defense of a lawsuit filed by an employee terminated for poor performance who alleged that he was terminated on account of his age.  After engaging in vigorous discovery, the case settled on favorable terms.

ERISA class action.  Steve assisted in defending an ERISA class action brought in Texas federal court by two pilots of an airline who claimed that the airline and its benefits consulting firm breached fiduciary duties with regard to a transfer of their pension plans after their former employer was acquired by another airline.  The defense team obtained summary judgment, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed on appeal.

Employment discrimination/Equal Pay Act/retaliation.  Steve served as lead counsel for a nationally-renowned hotelier in obtaining dismissal of gender discrimination, retaliation and Equal Pay Act claims asserted by a female employee who was laid off as a result of a downturn in the North Texas economy after the events of 9/11.  The employee’s retaliation claim was particularly challenging (and broad).  Prior to the RIF, the employee was physically assaulted by a co-worker who was subsequently fired.  Nonetheless, when she was laid off, the employee claimed that she was retaliated against for having reported the assault.  After the company filed a motion for summary judgment, the employee dismissed her claims with prejudice.

Collective Action.  Steve was retained to serve as lead counsel in defending a for-profit college system in an FLSA collective action brought in Texas by outside sales representatives who claimed that their positions were misclassified as exempt.  After convincing a California federal district court (in a parallel action) to deny class certification status on the basis that the sales representatives were exempt under the FLSA regulations as “outside salespersons” because all of their functions were sales or incidental to sales, the Texas plaintiff dismissed her collective action allegations, saving millions of dollars in alleged overtime pay.  Thereafter, the federal judge granted summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claim that the employer had willfully misclassified her position.  Soon thereafter, the case was resolved on favorable terms.

Employment discrimination class action.  Steve assisted in the defense of a putative class action lawsuit filed by former employees of Dallas’ leading newspaper who claimed that black employees were systematically denied promotions on the basis of their race.  The Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.

Employee solicitation.  Steve was retained by the country’s largest supplier of supplemental educational products to school districts to defend the Wisconsin-based employer in a lawsuit brought by one its competitors which alleged that the employer had tortuously interfered with employment contracts between it and some employees who left the competitor to work for Steve’s client company.  After the court denied the competitor’s request for a temporary injunction, the parties took 60 depositions throughout the country in 3 months.  Thereafter, the competitor gave up the fight and agreed to be bought by the client.

Employment discrimination class action.  Steve assisted in representing a one of the largest technology consulting businesses in Texas in defense of a class action lawsuit brought by nine former employees, alleging race discrimination and retaliation.  After pursuing an aggressive defense of the case, including a vigorous opposition to class certification, the court dismissed the class allegations on the defendant’s motion, and also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.

Non-compete/trade secret theft.  Steve served as lead counsel in prosecuting a lawsuit on behalf of the country’s largest automobile leasing company against two salesmen who resigned to work for Steve’s client’s biggest competitor.  Through a little known technique rarely used in non-compete litigation, Steve’s team obtained a court order authorizing the sheriff to enter the competitor’s premises and seize materials in the possession of the former employees.  These “smoking gun” materials enabled Steve’s client to settle the lawsuit on favorable terms, including an agreement by the competitor not to hire any more of the client’s employees.

Sabine Pilot.  Steve assisted in defending a meat-processing business against a Sabine Pilot (wrongful termination in violation of public policy) claim filed by a former employee who alleged that he was fired after refusing to over-spray beef carcasses while they were being processed.  The court partially granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, and the case settled after jury selection.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve assisted in defending one of the country’s largest telecommunications providers in a series of lawsuits filed by various employees who were laid off as part of a reduction in force or terminated for poor performance.  The former employees asserted claims for race discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation under Title VII and breach of contract.  In one case, the court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment on the eve of trial.  In another case, the parties settled after jury selection.

Employment discrimination/retaliation.  Steve was hired to serve as lead counsel or assisted in defending numerous employers in lawsuits filed in Texas and other jurisdictions alleging discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, or religion; wrongful termination; sexual harassment; and/or retaliation.

Breach of contract.  Steve was hired to serve as lead trial counsel or assisted in defending numerous companies and employers in lawsuits filed in Texas and other jurisdictions alleging breach of contract, fraud, and/or breach of fiduciary duties arising out of employment and business relationships.