Mark’s counseling work includes crisis management/mitigation, investigation, claim prevention, mergers and acquisitions, contract-equity-executive compensation, competitive business practices/restrictive covenants, trade secret protection and counter-measures, and outside general counsel services.
A prolific author and in-demand speaker, Mark has been quoted on employment law and litigation issues for television news, the Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Law360, Practical Law, Society of Human Resource Professionals’ SHRM Online, HREOnline, Los Angeles Daily Journal, California CPA Magazine, and Laborsphere, the firm’s labor and employment blog. He speaks to companies, trade associations and professional organizations on topics ranging from anti-harassment training to risk management and trade secret protection.
Highlights of Mark’s representative matters follow:
- Led client and third-party investigative and forensic teams, and worked in cooperation with the FBI and United States Attorney’s Office, in a major fraud and embezzlement matter culminating in the conviction and imprisonment of, and near complete restitution made to the client by the former executive. Professional fees and the balance of funds taken recovered from client’s insurer.
- Defended and ultimately resolved at mediation a wage-and-hour class and California Private Attorneys General Act representative action for about 13% of plaintiffs’ demand involving 2,500 putative class members.
- Resolution of allegation that a client’s executive raped another employee while away for business travel. Immediate and intensive investigation revealed that the interaction was consensual.
- Won dismissal of three putative class actions brought in multiple states against an administrator of self-directed individual retirement accounts; both federal Courts of Appeals to which appeals were taken affirmed.
- Won summary judgment in a multi-year corporate control litigation, defeating claims of alleged $30 million fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Defended multiple discrimination and wrongful termination cases brought in state court against a defense contractor operating on U.S. military bases, successfully removed them to federal court and disposed of them through motion practice and/or early discovery and modest settlements.
- Coached and led client and forensic team on investigation of key professional financial services employee suspected of taking client funds, leading to termination of employment and restitution made by the employee.
- After counselling client on internal investigation of sexual harassment and gender discrimination claim by a public-person-of-interest former employee, convinced the other side to participate in pre-litigation mediation where the matter, constituting grossly exaggerated allegations, confidentially settled for a fraction of the demand.
- Led winning defense team at a labor arbitration that denied an unjust discharge grievance brought by a worker employed by our client at a U.S. Army base.
- Won a defense award at labor arbitration over a union’s wage claims brought on behalf of entire workforce against U.S. Navy contractor — Teamsters Local 533 v. Chugach Support Services, Inc., 2005 WL 2693582, 121 Lab. Arb. (BNA) 818.
- Obtained preliminary injunctions against a financial services sector client’s former employees and their new employer due to misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition; the case resolved after the injunctions were issued.
- Won defense award at labor arbitration against claims of unjust discharge brought on behalf of a worker discharged for threats of workplace violence — CMI and IBEW Local 611, 2006 WL 4674958, 123 Lab. Arb. (BNA) 1390.
- Defended a company and executive accused of unfair competition and theft of trade secrets after the executive left the plaintiff company and became employed by the client company; the action resolved on the eve of an mediation when confidential briefs were exchanged and the plaintiff competitor could see that taking a very modest settlement early in the case was superior to the expense of litigating it fully and likely losing.
- Defended, mediated and resolved, pending court-approval, a California Private Attorneys General Act representative wage and hour penalties action for about 10% of the demand.
- Quarterbacked client and investigative teams revealing major fraud embezzlement and financial misconduct and sexual misconduct by an executive that culminated in the former executive giving forensic assistance to the client to help correct the company’s books and tax reporting.
- Jury trial defending alleged several-million-dollar fraud and fiduciary breach involving an artworks partnership resulting in jury verdict limited to $40,000 followed by court-supervised partition of assets.
- As special counsel (not litigation counsel), investigated allegations of sexual harassment made by a mid-level executive against the client’s CFO, including interviews of the accuser, the accused and other witnesses; examining written communications and other documents; and issuing a report of factual findings.
- At the request of a company in which a majority interest was being sold to a third party, handled executive employment and equity contracts for the executive management team to be effective after the change of control.
- Led investigation team in workplace drugs investigation that led to arrests, employment terminations and other disciplinary actions.
- Defended claims of artists who alleged that client violated the California Talent Agency Act and who sought disgorgement of all fees paid to client; confidential settlement reached at mediation for a fraction of the amounts sought.
- Defended owner of joint venture sued in California Superior Court despite arbitration clause in joint venture agreement between the entities that required arbitration in China; obtained reversal of Trial Court order in Court of Appeal resulting in dismissal of the CA case — Azirian v. Ma, 2006 WL 847213 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.).
- Prosecuted unfair business practices and RICO claims against client’s former sales team who secretly set up competing manufacturing and sales network while still employed by the client. After we won dismissal of cross-claims for trade libel and antitrust seeking $18 million, these state and federal court litigations settled on a confidential basis.
- Defended a pension administrator against claims for $2.5 million of investment losses resulting from alleged breach of fiduciary duty and negligence; the investors’ claims were defeated on a summary judgment motion, and the client was awarded its attorney’s fees and costs; judgment was affirmed on appeal — Brown v. California Pension Administrators and Consultants (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 333.
- Prosecuted and obtained restraining order on unfair competition and theft of trade secret claims against technician firm that serviced client’s electronics business.
- Prosecuted general partners of a real estate partnership and their management company on claims for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud on behalf of a limited partner; unanimous jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff for nearly six times the plaintiff’s investment.