Cohen Williams secures victory and punitive damages award in closely-watched trade secrets trial pitting Elysium Health against rival biosciences company Chromadex
After a five-day jury trial before the Hon. Cormac J. Carney in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the jury sided with Cohen Williams LLP's clients, Elysium Health, Inc. and Mark Morris, in a hotly contested dispute against biotechnology company Chromadex, Inc., the former supplier of ingredients Elysium Health used in its anti-aging supplement, Basis. After two days of deliberation, the jury delivered Elysium Health and the Cohen Williams team a victory on September 27, 2021.
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CW Partner presents to the Beverly Hills Bar Association on recent developments in Supreme Court jurisprudence
CW Partner Alyssa Bell recently gave a presentation to the Beverly Hills Bar Association reviewing the Supreme Court's criminal law jurisprudence and previewing trends to watch in the coming term. The panel of presenters included Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson and D.C.-based O'Melveny & Myers attorney Kendall Turner.
CW Counsel invited to serve as Visiting Lecturer/Coach at University of California - Davis School of Law
CW is pleased to announce that Roya Ladan will be serving as a visiting lecturer/coach at University of California - Davis School of Law, her alma mater, starting in the fall of 2021. She will be one of five small section leaders teaching an externship seminar for second and third year law students currently in field placements with government, judiciary, and non-profit organizations.
Litigator Atoosa Esmaili joins CW's team as an associate
CW is proud to announce that Atoosa Esmaili has joined the firm as an associate. Atoosa is an accomplished litigator with years of experience representing clients in complex commercial disputes, white collar criminal cases, and employment matters. Managing partner Marc Williams says: "We are thrilled to have Atoosa join our firm as an associate. She has the legal experience, sophistication and strategic thinking to be a valuable member of our team and contribute right away as we continue to grow and provide excellent service to our clients." Atoosa previously served as a law clerk for the Honorable Lawrence J. O'Neill of the Eastern District of California during his tenure as Chief Judge, and is a graduate of the New York University School of Law. For further reading, click here.
CW partner elected Treasurer of LA County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section
CW partner Kathleen Erskine has been elected Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Bar Association ("LACBA") Labor & Employment Law Section, after serving as the organization's Secretary last term. LACBA is an organization of over 20,000 attorneys in Los Angeles and promotes collegiality, ethics, and excellence in legal practice. The Labor & Employment Law Section is one of LACBA's largest sections and offers more educational programming and professional development opportunities than any other organization of its kind in the nation. Kathleen's term as Treasurer will run through June 30, 2022.
CW partner recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers of Thomson Reuters
CW partner Alyssa Bell has been named to the 2021 Rising Stars list by Thomson Reuters' Super Lawyers. The Rising Stars list recognizes accomplished lawyers under 40 for their achievements. Only 2.5% of lawyers in California are named to the Rising Stars list.
CW successfully negotiates non-prosecution of clients implicated in international bribery and public corruption investigation
CW represented two former US-AID subcontractors implicated in a bribery and public corruption investigation involving millions in intended loss and spanning three continents. Both stood accused of assisting in the falsification of documents to support a bid for a coveted US-government-funded project in Afghanistan, and the bribery of public officials in Uganda in support of the scheme. Following numerous rounds of negotiations, CW convinced federal prosecutors to decline to prosecute both clients.
CW secures complete reversal of unconstitutional university disciplinary action
CW's client faced summary expulsion in the wake of the nationwide admissions scandal. Following months of negotiations, the student's university reversed its initial decision to impose discipline unilterally, in violation of the student's due process rights, and agreed not to impose sanctions.
CW discusses federal courts' increasingly stringent standards for defense counsel's performance in the Daily Journal
Recent opinions across the Circuit Courts of Appeal demonstrate an increased willingness to protect criminal defendants against the potential missteps of their defense counsel. As CW's Alyssa Bell and Brittany Lane recently discussed in the Daily Journal, these precedents may help provide better guidance at the many crossroads defense attorneys face in the course of zealously defending their clients. For further reading, click here.
CW issues statement of solidarity with the AAPI community, denouncing anti-Asian violence
CW is deeply saddened by the escalation of hatred, violence, and discrimination against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community in our nation. The mass shooting in Atlanta that cut short the lives of eight innocent people -- six of them Asian -- was not an isolated incident, but part of an alarming surge of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Too often, these crimes target the most vulnerable among us. Victims, many of them elderly, have been shoved to the ground, slashed in the face, and set on fire. We condemn these heinous acts of hate. They have no place in a free and just society.
Everyone, regardless of race, is entitled to feel safe from discrimination and harassment. CW stands in solidarity with our Asian colleagues, friends, and neighbors, and we hereby commit to speak out and stand up against hatred and racism in our society, today and every day.
CW client pays nothing after settling multimillion dollar corporate espionage case brought against her
Accused of participating in a conspiracy of corporate espionage, CW's client was sued for trade secret misappropriation and invasion of privacy based on allegations that she surreptitiously photographed confidential communications on her boyfriend's cellphone from which an algorithm that predicts the stock market can be reverse engineered. The plaintiff sought to recover millions of dollars in lost income and unpaid royalties arising from CW's client purportedly disseminating his proprietary financial information to his business competitors without his consent. CW came onto the case more than two years after its inception when initial counsel was unable to advance any defense. After CW prevailed on four discovery motions, all of which resulted in sanctions awards against the plaintiff and one of which required the plaintiff to disclose his trade secrets with greater particularity, the plaintiff immediately agreed to a "walkaway" settlement in which CW's client paid nothing and the plaintiff dismissed all causes of action with prejudice.
CW discusses landmark, bipartisan legislation affirming prosecutors' Brady obligations in the Daily Journal
On October 21, 2020, during the homestretch of the presidential election, Congress unanimously passed the Due Process Protections Act (S. 1380) and President Trump signed it into law. As CW Partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler recently commented in the Daily Journal, the Act affords courts the opportunity to participate in, and supervise, the prosecution's otherwise unilateral determination of what Brady requires, both in terms of investigation and disclosure. For further reading, click here.
Federal district court dismisses near $100 million civil RICO, fraud and breach of contract case brought against CW client
CW's client was sued by his estranged wife in federal court for nearly $100 million in damages based on state law claims for fraud and breach of contract arising from his failure to have a Liechtenstein trust for which he was the protector distribute funds to her in exchange for her ending prior divorce proceedings. After CW moved to dismiss for lack of diversity jurisdiction, the plaintiff abandoned that jurisdictional ground and instead amended her complaint to add a civil RICO cause of action to create federal question jurisdiction and enable the state law claims to be heard based on supplemental jurisdiction. CW then filed a second motion to dismiss, arguing that the sole basis for federal question jurisdiction was fatally flawed because CW's client's alleged racketeering activity was not the proximate cause of the foreign trust not distributing the promised funds to the plaintiff. The district court agreed, holding that no causation existed despite the plaintiff's many theories of CW's client's predicate acts, such defect could not be remedied by subsequent amendment, and thus there was no basis for subject matter jurisdiction. In addition to dismissing the RICO causes of action with prejudice, the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims against CW's client and dismissed them as well.
Federal judge orders immediate release of CW client serving unprecedented 505-year sentence
More than 30 years ago, CW's client was convicted after a nine-month financial crimes trial tainted by Brady error. Following revelations that the government failed to disclose material benefits that the FBI conferred upon a key cooperating witness, CW assumed representation. After six years of litigation, the government relented, ultimately stipulating to Section 2255 habeas corpus relief. A federal district judge nonetheless denied the agreed-upon relief, a ruling that CW has challenged in the Ninth Circuit. In the interim, Alyssa Bell and Reuven Cohen moved the district court for compassionate release in light of the client's age, health, and unparalleled efforts at rehabilitation. Yesterday, the same federal judge granted that relief and ordered immediate release. Follow CNN's coverage here.
CW successfully negotiates non-prosecution for client implicated in high-profile corruption scandal
CW's client was a target of a large-scale corruption investigation that resulted in numerous indictments, including of multiple Los Angeles City councilmembers. Following numerous rounds of negotiations with the United States Attorney's Office, CW obtained a non-prosecution disposition clearing the client of wrongdoing.
CW Counsel selected as Co-Chair of Diversity Committee for Women in White Collar Criminal Defense Association
CW Counsel Rachel Rossi has been selected to serve as the Co-Chair of the Women in White Collar Criminal Defense Association ("WWCDA")'s Diversity Committee. WWCDA was founded in 1999 to address the glaring lack of women in white collar practice; currently, membership in these chapters consists of more than 2,000 women throughout the world in the practice of white collar defense. WWCDA recently formed the Diversity Committee to address racism and other discrimination and intolerances that are prevalent in our nation and criminal justice system. The Committee leads WWCDA efforts through, among other things, learning and educating on the issues, working to correct injustices, defending those who are wronged, and leading inclusively.
Experienced business and employment litigator Roya Ladan joins CW's elite trial lawyers
CW is proud to announce that Roya Ladan, most recently Senior Counsel at King & Spalding LLP and previously Boies Schiller LLP, has joined the firm as counsel. Before entering private practice, Roya was a trial attorney for the State of California, Department of Fair Employment & Housing, where she investigated and prosecuted civil rights cases including employment and housing discrimination and Unruh Act violations. For further reading, click here.
Ninth Circuit affirms district court's dismissal of indictment against CW client, based on flagrant Brady violations
On December 20, 2017, nearly two months into a federal criminal trial, a Nevada federal judge dismissed the case against cattleman Cliven Bundy and his sons with prejudice, finding that the prosecution committed multiple Brady violations by suppressing plainly exculpatory evidence in the custody of several investigating agencies assisting in the prosecution. On August 6, 2020, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal in a groundbreaking published opinion, saying prosecutors' misconduct was "flagrant," even if unintentional. CW partner Alyssa Bell, who represented Ryan Bundy on appeal, said in a statement: "The Ninth Circuit issued a historic decision today, one that sends a strong message nationwide that exculpatory evidence must be turned over to the accused if he or she is to receive a fair trial. We are thrilled with this righteous and amply justified decision." For further reading, click here.
CW issues press release decrying institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system following the brutal killing of George Floyd
Following George Floyd's murder, CW joined a chorus of voices in the legal community condemning this senseless act of violence and recognizing that Black lives matter, structural racism is entrenched in our judicial system, and the time for change is now. In solidarity with the protesters who risked their health and lives to demand meaningful reform, CW committed to change from within by representing, including on a pro bono basis, protestors and those charged with curfew violations; making financial contributions to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization dedicated to justice and healing for those negatively impacted by law enforcement's use of force; continuing to hire and promote diverse lawyers and staff; and, supporting minority-owned small businesses as vendors and experts, among other initiatives. For further reading, click here.
CW partner elected Secretary of LA County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section
CW Partner Kathleen Erskine has been elected Secretary of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Labor & Employment Law Section. LACBA is an organization of over 20,000 attorneys in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and promotes collegiality, ethics, and excellence in legal practice. The Labor & Employment Law Section is one of LACBA's largest sections and offers more educational programming and professional development opportunities than any other organization of its kind in the nation. Kathleen has organized, moderated, and been a featured speaker at dozens of seminars on labor and employment law topics, including serving as Chair of LACBA's 40th Annual Labor & Employment Law Symposium. Kathleen's term as Secretary will run from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
CW Counsel named to national COVID-19 criminal justice taskforce
CW Counsel Rachel Rossi has been named to a national taskforce uniting law enforcement and first responders in an effort to save lives in our nation's criminal justice system amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "Congressional funding is needed to incentivize further safe reductions in incarceration and to allocate resources to local jurisdictions, agencies and community-based organizations for improved reentry services and resources," Rossi said. For further reading, click here.
White-collar criminal defense specialist Michael Schafler joins CW's elite trial lawyers
Cohen Williams LLP is proud to announce that Michael Schafler, most recently a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and previously a partner at Caldwell Leslie & Proctor PC, has joined the firm as a partner. Before entering private practice, Michael was a Trial Deputy at the Federal Public Defender’s Office. For further reading, click here.
Ninth Circuit seals highly favorable outcome for CW client in civil jury trial
In 2013, federal authorities linked a hepatitis A outbreak in the western United States to consumption of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a blend of frozen fruits sold at Costco. CW's client, a multinational corporation, produced one of the multiple ingredients used in the Antioxidant Blend. The FDA and CDC identified CW's client as the sole cause of the outbreak. At trial, however, CW exposed flaws in the FDA and CDC analyses, and the jury held CW's client liable for less than 7% of the $40 million in damages caused by the outbreak. CW also handled the appeal, where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with CW's client, affirming the jury's favorable compensatory damages award and striking the jury's unlawful punitive damages award.
CW secures favorable outcome for client in nationwide admissions scandal
CW represented a student in University disciplinary proceedings. Following months of advocacy, and despite false statements made in the client's application for admission, CW's client avoided both suspension and expulsion.
CW achieves reversal of unlawful sentence before the Ninth Circuit
CW was appointed to represent a client on appeal after the district court imposed an unlawful, consecutive sentence lacking a factual basis in the record. Following several rounds of negotiations, CW convinced the government to concede the error and jointly request relief. The Ninth Circuit remanded for a plenary resentencing, permitting CW's client to present additional mitigation to the sentencing judge.
CW named Top Boutique in the Daily Journal
CW has been named one of the 2019 Top Boutique Law Firms in California by the Daily Journal. The Daily Journal noted CW's "culture of inclusivity, grounded in meaningful professional development." For further reading, click here.
CW secures declaratory relief establishing client's controlling interest in lucrative California cannabis business
CW represented two partners in arbitration against a third partner who claimed to be the sole director and owner of the business. Following a four-day arbitration hearing against an international law firm, the arbitrator issued an award establishing that CW's clients are directors and controlling owners of the business.
CW attains complete reversal of disciplinary action on behalf of University student
In the wake of the nationwide college admissions scandal, CW's client was summarily expelled in violation of her due process rights. After CW set forth its legal position and made a fulsome presentation of the facts and equities, the University reversed course 100% and reinstated CW's client to her prior status as an enrolled student.
CW partner named Top 40 under 40 in the Daily Journal
CW Partner Alyssa Bell has been named one of the 2019 Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal. The Daily Journal noted Bell's criminal appellate accomplishments in a "field where young women are a rarity, and even the smallest successes are hard-earned." For further reading, click here.
CW hosts WWCDA luncheon
CW had the pleasure of hosting members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (“WWCDA”) for a luncheon focusing on the oft-debated theme of "self-care." Chandler Chang, a licensed psychologist, therapist, and co-founder of Golden Hour Therapy and Therapy Lab, discussed evidence-based approaches to maintaining work-life balance in our highly digitized environment. Sustain LA, a local woman-owned business, provided sustainable event services.
CW promotes three lawyers to partnership
CW is proud to announce that Alyssa D. Bell, Kathleen M. Erskine, and Gabriel Pardo have been named Partners. "We are thrilled to welcome these immensely talented attorneys to our partnership. Their track record of litigation success and their skill as attorneys demonstrate the firm's commitment to providing the highest quality services to our clients," said Managing Partner Marc Williams. As partners, Bell, Erskine, and Pardo will continue to further the firm's commitment to aggressive, client-centered advocacy in a collegial and inclusive environment.
CW attains reversal of 108-month sentence on appeal before the Ninth Circuit in seminal, published opinion
Before retaining CW, the client, a prominent Southern California physician, was convicted on multiple counts of healthcare fraud arising from his certification of patients as eligible for hospice care. On appeal, CW argued that the client's 108-month sentence violated the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause because the district court applied the most recent federal sentencing guidelines' manual, although an earlier, less-punitive version applied to all but one count of conviction. The Ninth Circuit reversed, rejecting the government's theory that the continuing offense doctrine permitted sentencing for a scheme to defraud under a single manual, despite the prosecution's election to charge the client with multiple counts arising from independent executions of the alleged scheme.
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CW secures terminating sanctions on the eve of trial in defense of business fraud claim
After a prominent local surgeon lost nearly $1 million at trial on a claim that she defrauded the seller of real estate, she retained CW to retry the matter in Los Angeles Superior Court. Following extensive motions practice, CW convinced the court that the plaintiff abused the discovery process and provided false testimony on material facts at the first trial. The court granted CW's request for terminating sanctions mere days before retrial was to commence.
CW attains reversal of three healthcare fraud counts on appeal before the Ninth Circuit
CW was retained after the client sustained three healthcare fraud convictions and received a 57-month sentence. On appeal, CW argued that the district court erred in admitting prejudicial expert testimony and failed to adequately instruct the jury on how to weigh the expert's opinions. The Ninth Circuit reversed, agreeing with CW that the district court failed to exercise its gatekeeping function.
CW argues before the Ninth Circuit on a First Amendment matter of first impression
As part of an ongoing commitment to giving back the local community, CW continued its representation of indigent clients before the Ninth Circuit. The client, a federal inmate, faced discipline that included solitary confinement after sending outgoing correspondence that expressed his frustration with the justice system in harsh terms. CW argued that the First Amendment protected his speech, and that the BOP regulation under which he was subject to sanction was not tailored to any legitimate government interest.
CW negotiates dismissal of federal assault charges on behalf of foreign national
Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with sexual assault on an airplane, arising out of two separate incidents. After CW litigated numerous pretrial motions, the prosecution dropped the assault charges and the parties agreed to a probationary disposition. The client was permitted to return to his home nation without serving a single additional day in custody.
Client sentenced to time-served after CW attains reversal on appeal in rare, published opinion
CW stepped in to handle the appeal in an aggravated identity theft case after the client was convicted at trial on two counts and sentenced to 65 months in custody. Before the Ninth Circuit, CW argued that the district court erred in refusing to excuse an obviously biased juror for cause. Upon remand, CW successfully negotiated a time-served sentence. For further reading, click here.
CW teams up with the ACLU to represent undocumented people and homeless advocates
As part of an ongoing commitment to pro bono representation, throughout the summer, CW partnered with the ACLU of Southern California and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center to provide legal counsel to undocumented persons detained in federal prison without charge. This fall, CW attorneys joined the team representing a local advocate for the rights of homeless and food-insecure people to receive food in Orange County's public parks.
CW attains a $1.95 million settlement for the family of a homeless man killed by LAPD officers
Three LAPD officers fatally shot a mentally ill homeless man on Skid Row. CW represented the victim's mother in the family's wrongful death suit against the City of Los Angeles. After the jury found that the officers used excessive force, the City Council approved a substantial award and settlement agreement in the family's favor. For further reading, click here.
CW achieves dismissal of all charges on behalf of European-based client
Local prosecutors charged CW's foreign client with grand theft, and theft of personal property, arising from a series of suspicious transactions. CW used evidence that the client had been a frequent victim of identity theft to argue persuasively, and successfully, for a dismissal of the charges.
CW partner presents to the 2018 Fidler Institute on Criminal Justice
Reuven L. Cohen was invited to speak on the topics of the federal preemption of state laws and the legalization of marijuana.
CW partner named to Super Lawyers' Top 100
CW founding partner Reuven Cohen was named to Super Lawyers' 2018 Top 100 Southern California Lawyers. Reuven is one of only 7 white-collar practitioners to receive this honor. For further reading, click here.
JD Journal Names CW to 2017 List of Top Los Angeles Litigation Boutiques
Cohen Williams was named one of the top litigation boutiques in Los Angeles by the JD Journal. For further reading, click here.
Rare, voluntary dismissal with prejudice following USAO presentation
Federal prosecutors charged CW's client, a bank officer, with conspiring to launder money and evading a currency reporting requirement. Following aggressive negotiations and a presentation inside the United States Attorney's Office, prosecutors took the extraordinary step of voluntarily dismissing all charges against the client with prejudice, saving the client money and avoiding the stress and publicity of trial.
Complete, mid-trial dismissal of felony extortion charges following bruising cross-examinations
Local prosecutors charged CW's client, a technology entrepreneur, with two counts of felony extortion. After vigorous cross-examinations – in which it was shown that the star witness was repeatedly perjuring herself – and a motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct, prosecutors gave up, dropping the entire case three weeks into an expected four-week trial.
Complete acquittal following two-week federal jury trial
Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with a string of bank thefts that allegedly netted him and his co-conspirators more than $20 million. Before retaining CW, the client pleaded guilty to similar crimes that took place both before and after the charged events. Following an eight-day trial, in which the government called two cooperating witnesses, 10 law-enforcement officers, and multiple experts, the jury returned a verdict completely acquitting the client. His co-defendant was convicted.
CW clears federal prosecutor of wrongdoing.
CW was retained to represent an Assistant United States Attorney facing false allegations of misconduct. Following an extensive evidentiary hearing, the court found in the client's favor, and his professional reputation remained untarnished.
Complete defense victory and $500,000 fee award in arbitration between former business partners
Two firm clients removed their former business partners as managers of a jointly-owned LLC. The former business partners responded by suing for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and defamation, claiming $6 million in damages. Following a four-day arbitration, the arbitrator found in favor of the firm clients and ordered the former business partners to pay all of the firm clients' attorney's fees, which she characterized as "just and reasonable" for several years of litigation.
Complete dismissal of 57-count indictment in $150 million fraud prosecution
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office obtained a 57-count indictment charging CW's client with conspiracy, insurance fraud, and 21 counts of aggravated mayhem, each of which carried a $1 million bond and potential life sentence. After extensive briefing and argument, the Court dismissed the case -- in full -- based on prosecutors' errors during grand jury proceedings.
CW teams up with O’Melveny & Meyers, LLP to secure $7.9 million arbitration award for clients
CW's client, a committee of hedge fund investors, sued a fund manager to recover losses suffered as a result of the manager's self-dealing. After an eight-day arbitration hearing involving complex financial expert testimony, the arbitration panel found the fund manager liable for willful misconduct and ordered it to repay $7.9 million.
Article in "California Lawyer" on Southern California law firm office design looks features the firm's office
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Complete acquittal in complex federal prosecution
Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with two Clean Water Act violations and two counts of criminal contempt. The contempt charges stemmed from nine years of Clean Water Act litigation brought by the United States Attorney’s Office. The client also had a prior Clean Water Act conviction. Following an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a “Not Guilty” verdict on all four counts. For further reading, click here.