Willenken's 2016 Year in Review
Jason Wilson Selected as “Client Service All Star”
Willenken kicked off 2016 by learning that firm partner, Jason Wilson, had been selected by BTI Consulting Group as a Client Service All-Star for 2016. Jason was one of 312 attorneys nationwide to be selected—a prestigious honor because no attorney or firm can self-nominate, self-refer, or pay to be included. The only way to be recognized as a Client Service All-Star is to be identified by corporate counsel.
Eileen Ahern Defeats Class Certification Motion
In 2015, plaintiff, Geoff Chait, filed a putative class action against firm client, Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., alleging that Harbor Freight violates the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1747.08 et seq., by requesting PII during credit card purchases in its stores. After Plaintiff filed a motion for class certification, firm partner, Eileen Ahern, opposed Plaintiff’s motion, arguing the Act required the court to determine whether a reasonable consumer would perceive the request for PII as a requirement to completing the credit card transaction; thus, certification was inappropriate as individualized issues predominated, where liability determinations would require analysis of, inter alia, what was said during each particular transaction, when PII might have been requested, and whether the consumer volunteered the PII for some purpose (e.g., joining one of Harbor Freight’s membership programs). In May 2016, the court sided with Harbor Freight and denied certification, agreeing with Harbor Freight’s interpretation of the Act and holding Plaintiff had failed to establish the existence of predominant common questions of fact, a class representative with claims typical of the class, or an ascertainable class.
A Quick Dismissal for Microsoft
In August 2014, plaintiff, Krubim 26 International, Inc., filed suit against multiple defendants in connection with a software upgrade and implementation that allegedly went awry and caused Plaintiff damage. In 2016, Plaintiff attempted to add firm client, Microsoft Corporation, as a defendant in the matter. Microsoft retained firm partner, William Delgado, who immediately attacked the complaint via demurrer with a host of arguments. Prior to the hearing on Microsoft’s demurrer, Plaintiff once amended its complaint to eliminate all references to Microsoft from the complaint, effectively dismissing Microsoft from the matter entirely.
An Appellate Victory for Walgreen Co.
In 2013, firm lawyers, Jason Wilson and Scott Norton, successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of Walgreen Co. on plaintiff Nordhoff Way's claim to recover consequential damages for breach of a lease to build out and occupy commercial rental property. Plaintiff appealed from the judgment. In October 2016, the Second Appellate District issued an order affirming the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in Walgreen’s favor.
A Pro Bono Victory in Immigration Court
Nicole Diaz and Aarti Wilson obtained a victory in a pro bono asylum case referred by Public Counsel. Their client was a 23-year old Guatemalan woman fleeing severe domestic abuse and gang violence, including death threats, beatings, and rape. After entering the country with an illegal visa, their client was detained for close to a year at Santa Ana prison while awaiting a hearing before Judge Munoz. Nicole and Aarti filed a voluminous merits brief, arguing that their client should be granted relief due to the past persecution she suffered as a member of the particular social group of Guatemalan woman in domestic relationships they cannot leave, as well as on multiple other grounds. After close to a year of litigation, the government finally agreed to grant withholding status, which allows their client the right to live and work in this country. Their client is now living in New Jersey with family friends, preparing to begin her new life.
CLE Presentations Across the United States
Willenken lawyers spent a good deal of 2016 traversing the United States as they presented on various CLE topics. Firm partner, Asha Muldro, kicked the year off by participating on a panel on white collar crimes at the NAMWOLF Business Meeting in New Orleans in February 2016. In April 2016, together with other NAMWOLF firm participants, partner, Paul Loh presented a seminar on 30(b)(6) depositions for Walmart. Paul and Asha returned to Walmart in June 2016 to present a seminar on white collar cases. Firm partner Will Delgado worked over time in the second half of the year. In early September 2016, he participated on a panel on the relationship between outside counsel and in-house counsel at the HNBA Annual Convention in Chicago. A week later, he moderated a panel on cloud services agreements at the NAMWOLF Annual Meeting in Houston. Two weeks later, Will and Jason Wilson (together with Lynn Carillo of NBCUniversal) presented a CLE on cutting litigation cost at the ACC of South Florida’s Sixth Annual CLE Conference. Finally, in October 2016, Will and Paul presented at the MCCA Global TEC Forum in New Orleans on the use of technology in trial settings.