Office: (310) 861-2470
Direct Dial: (310) 861-2471
Email: [email protected]
Chris is a trial lawyer, General Counsel, and deal maker.
Prior to his law career, Chris served in The United States Navy from 1989-1994 as an Operations Specialist Second Class (Surface Warfare) and Anti-Submarine Air Controller, during which time he received three letters of commendation and five medals serving in Operation Desert Storm, counter-narcotics operations, and other missions. Chris was raised in Cleveland, Ohio and is a huge Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Dayton Flyers, and Bowling Green Falcons fan.
Chris has won every case he has tried to a jury verdict. He represents clients in complex trial and litigation matters in a wide variety of industries including real estate, franchise, hospitality, construction, entertainment, sports, energy, and finance. The types of cases Chris has tried and litigated are as far reaching as the industries he has represented, including profits litigation, partnership disputes, franchise litigation, employment matters (representing both executives and companies), trade secret, trademark, corporate governance, white collar crime, and securities matters.
Having previously delivered successful results in “bet the company” disputes, Chris has also been asked to serve as General Counsel to clients in the construction and hospitality industries, managing transactional counsel, negotiating business terms, and establishing company policy and procedures.
Winning Trial/ Litigation Results
- Successfully defended nationwide franchisor in a putative false advertising class action resulting in a dismissal of individual claims with no class certification.
- Obtained a judgment, injunctive relief, and contempt finding in favor of a national franchisor against a former franchisee and its principals arising out of the breach of a non-competition covenant.
- Conducted an internal investigation for the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization as a result of sexual and gender based harassment allegations brought against the Chief Executive Officer.
- Obtained majority control of an interactive technology firm for minority shareholder during shareholder and derivative litigation resulting in the client being restored as President of the Company and Chairman of the Board.
- Successfully represented a Marvin partner in probate litigation resulting in the client being appointed the administrator of the Estate over the decedent's brothers and prevailing on summary judgment on the client's Marvin claim.
- Successfully defended religious organization in litigation brought by a parishioner seeking to void a charitable donation of real estate.
- Successfully represented motion picture producer in litigation against his former law firm and partners resulting in a substantial confidential settlement.
- Successfully defended high profile client in transgender discrimination litigation resulting in no payment from or on behalf of the client to the plaintiff.
- Successfully represented former partners of a law firm in a dissolution proceeding obtaining over $700,000 in past distributions, office space, and other assets as well as successfully defending claims brought against clients.
- Obtained dismissal of putative class action brought against large home improvement contractor and national franchisor alleging claims of false advertising and unfair business practices.
- Obtained a settlement massively reducing triple net lease charges for several groups of medical professionals based on claims of fraud in the procurement of leases and lease extensions after the acquisition of several Class A medical buildings.
- Represented numerous high level executives in litigation or negotiations against former employers, including the Chief Revenue Officer of a National Hockey Association team, editor of an internationally circulated magazine, the editor of a major internet portal, and a recording industry executive resulting in lucrative severance agreements.
- Successfully defended at trial a loan acquisition company against claims brought by a borrower who claimed that he had formed a joint venture with the client to obtain a loan pool from the FDIC and alleged claims including breach of a joint venture agreement, promissory estoppel, and wrongful foreclosure resulting in a judgment for the client.
- Representation of an aviation repair station in litigation involving major maintenance services performed on a commercial passenger aircraft.
- Defended a commercial office developer at trial from an attempt by a commercial lender to foreclose on a premier Class A office building, including numerous complex issues arising out of the loan documentation and loan administration as well as lender liability issues resulting in an avoidance of a foreclosure, modification of the loan, funding by the lender of the remaining loan balance, and extensions of the maturity date.
- Obtained a judgment against a joint venture partner in a multi-phase wind power development involving claims of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty resulting in an award of a 100% ownership interest in the development entity, injunctive relief, and damages.
- Prosecuted individual and derivative claims for the minority owner of an aviation maintenance and repair company against the majority shareholder resulting in a favorable buy out of the client's interest in the corporation.
- Successfully represented a hotel land developer and its principals in litigation against one of the largest private equity firms on the west coast alleging claims related to underfunding of the project and fraud as well as successfully defending the clients against breach of contract and alter ego claims asserted by the private equity firm.
- Obtained a jury verdict (including an award of punitive damages) in favor of a major dental practice management company that owns several dental practices in Southern California against another partner resulting in an award of the entire practice.
- Represented major home improvement contractors and several subsidiaries in an administrative action brought by the California Attorney General involving numerous allegations of unlawful business practices.
- Successfully defended the directors and officers of a large privately held corporation in litigation brought by a minority private equity investor alleging various claims including breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud resulting in a complete dismissal.
- Obtained a judgment for a real estate developer of a mixed use development adjacent to a major sports facility dismissing claims by a former investor for fraud, securities fraud, and breach of contract arising out of the investor's attempt to rescind a put option previously exercised by the investor and thus benefit from the ultimate extraordinary profitability of the development.
- Conducted internal theft investigation for business management firm involving the alleged theft of over $7 million in celebrity client funds and successfully represented the client in subsequent litigation against the partner that embezzled the funds resulting in a multi-million dollar judgment and criminal prosecution.
- Represented a national franchisor in multi-state litigation against former franchisees and their principals involving issues of misappropriation of trade secrets, trademark infringement, unfair business practices, breach of contract, and conversion.
- Successfully represented the minority partner of a premier major sports event against the majority partner/major entertainment and sports conglomerate in corporate governance/fraud/breach of fiduciary duty/profits litigation resulting in multi-million dollar settlement.
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of an investment company in a case brought by an investor involving several complex transactions.
- Represented a world-renowned music recording and performing artist in surcharge litigation brought by the California Attorney General, including allegations of breach of fiduciary duty arising out of a charitable trust and probate estate of the artist's world-famous mother. The case resulted in a settlement involving no out-of-pocket payment from the client.
- Prosecuted in state and bankruptcy court high profile litigation including claims for racketeering, usury, fraud, and breach of contract on behalf of a client developing a 400 acre mixed use development surrounding a major sports complex against a commercial lender resulting in an unprecedented release of a $110 million personal guarantee, interest rate reduction, extension of the loan term for up to 5 years, no payments due until maturity, subordination for construction, and additional funding.
- Defended multiple home improvement companies in a wage and hour class action involving allegations of unpaid wages, expenses, and charge backs resulting in a nuisance value claims made settlement with a class wide release.
- Successfully prosecuted claims on behalf of a large home-furnishings company and national franchisor for fraud, breach of contract, intentional interference, and unlawful business practices against private equity funds and their principals, ultimately resulting in the entire preferred return (in excess of $49 million) associated with stock issued to the private equity funds being eliminated and the preferred shares surrendered to the company for less than half of the amount of the original principal investment of the private equity funds.
- Obtained a multi-million dollar settlement for the minority members of a company that operates one of the nation's premier multi-day sporting events against a national event and venue owner in profits litigation involving claims of breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Won a jury verdict for a medical management company against an operating partner including an award of punitive damages.
- Obtained a defense jury verdict for an investment company and its principal in a case brought by a former investor alleging fraud and breach of contract among other claims.
- Prosecuted claims on behalf of a large home-furnishings company and national franchisor for fraud, breach of contract, intentional interference, and unlawful business practices against private equity funds and their principals, ultimately resulting in the elimination of the entire preferred return (in excess of $49 million) associated with stock issued to the private equity funds. The case also resulted in the surrender of the preferred shares to the company for less than half of the amount of the original principal investment of the private equity funds.
- Successfully represented a hotel land developer and its principals in litigation against one of the largest private equity firms on the West Coast. Chris prosecuted claims related to under funding of the project and fraud and also successfully defended the clients against breach of contract and alter ego claims asserted by the private equity firm.
- Defended the directors and officers of a large privately held corporation in litigation brought by a minority private equity investor alleging various claims, including breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud. The case resulted in a complete dismissal.
- Defended at trial a loan acquisition company against claims brought by a borrower who claimed that he had formed a joint venture with the client to obtain a loan pool from the FDIC and alleged claims including breach of a joint venture agreement, promissory estoppel, and wrongful foreclosure resulting in a judgment for the client.
- Obtained a judgment (including damages and injunctive relief) on behalf of national franchisor against a franchisee who abandoned its franchise and attempted to sell the franchisor's intellectual property and other assets to a third party.
- Successfully prosecuted at trial claims for breach of a construction loan agreement on behalf of a multi-unit residential developer against a large international bank and subsequent acquirer of the loan for failure to timely and completely fund the loan resulting in a favorable settlement in the middle of trial.
- Obtained the dismissal, on a motion to dismiss, of a case brought by a franchisee association against a national franchisor, resulting in the validation of numerous business practices as well as a finding that the franchisee association lacked standing, thus preventing future litigation.
- Obtained a judgment at trial on behalf of a loan investor against a lender arising out of defaulted loans on various real estate projects due to inadequate due diligence performed by the lender prior to funding the loan, inappropriate construction draw approvals, and disregard of the investor's instructions during the foreclosure process.
- Represented the founder and owner of an over twenty-five-year-old world famous nightclub against his prior institutional partner, resulting in an advantageous buy-out that restored full ownership to the client.
- Represented a world-renowned music recording and performing artist in surcharge litigation brought by the California Attorney General, including allegations of breach of fiduciary duty arising out of a charitable trust and probate estate of the artist's world-famous mother. The case resulted in a settlement involving no out-of-pocket payment from the client and reimbursement of her attorney fees and costs.
- Represented a client in an investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney arising out of a tax assessor scandal resulting in no charges being brought against the client.
- Conducted numerous internal investigations for clients including the investigation of an alleged multi-million dollar theft by the former partner of an entertainment management company resulting in successful litigation and criminal prosecution against the former partner.
- Represented numerous high level executives in litigation or negotiations against former employers, including the executive editor of an internationally circulated magazine, a professional hockey team executive, the editor of a major internet portal, and a recording industry executive.
- Successfully represented a large construction company in several wage and hour class actions and discrimination cases.
- Established employment policies and procedures as well as artist/executive agreements for clients including a film editing company.
- Successfully represented an international food distributor in trade secret litigation against a former partner and several former employees resulting in the buy-out of the former partner from several real estate investments.
Winning Transaction Results
- Closed multiple financings for commercial real estate holding company of manufacturing and office facilities resulting in a compete refinance of the entire portfolio valued at approximately $100 million.
- Represented a real estate development partner in a transaction for the relocation of a major sports organization to a mixed-use sports and entertainment complex in which the client is a partner.
- Navigated a nationwide franchise network though COVID-19 pandemic including analyzing orders to establish essential business exemptions in numerous states and jurisdictions, facilitating participation in the Paycheck Protection Program, planning for Paycheck Protection Loan forgiveness, and analyzing business interruption insurance claims.
- Negotiated and closed, as General Counsel, the acquisition of a night club including leasing, licensing, permitting, and construction.
- Closed, as General Counsel, a building/real estate acquisition and associated financing to serve as the headquarters for a national franchisor.
- Successfully negotiated and closed, as General Counsel to a nightclub and restaurant holding company and its principal, the reacquisition and financing of the majority interest in a world renowned night club.
- Negotiated and closed, as General Counsel, the acquisition of a minority interest in a to be built high end Italian restaurant including obtaining for the client an approved lease transfer, entitlement payments, and entity governance protections.
- Closed international exclusive distribution agreement for wholesale water distribution company.
- Closed several acquisitions, related financings, and lease transactions for real estate developer and holding company including an $18 million acquisition of an industrial building with unique title and zoning issues.
- Successfully closed several franchise acquisitions for a national franchisor.
- Successfully represented a water container and distribution company in several acquisitions of retail locations as well as establishment of a franchising unit.
- Closed a $100 million private equity acquisition of an international food distributor.
- Served as General Counsel in the refinancing of a senior debt facility on behalf of a large home-furnishings company and national franchisor, the acquisition and re-branding of several competing companies, and the negotiation of a new form franchise agreement with its franchisee association.
- Served as General Counsel to a hospitality company in an $11.9 million financing package for a nightclub and restaurant, the acquisition and re-branding of a competing nightclub, and an investment in a high-end restaurant.
- Successfully closed the $18,000,000 acquisition and associated financing of an over 100,000 square foot industrial building in Hayward, California to house the Northern California operations of one of the largest custom closet and home organization companies in the country.
- University of Dayton School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude (1997)
- University of the State of New York, B.S., Political Science and Sociology (1993)
- The Ohio State University (1988-1989)
- Leadership Council and Corporations Committee, Lambda Legal
- International Franchise Association
- The Ohio State University Alumni Association
- US. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- US. District Court, Central District of California
- US. District Court, Eastern District of California
- US. District Court, Northern District of California
- US. District Court, Southern District of California
- “Nev. High Court Split The Baby In Key Foreclosure Law Case,” Law360 (November 21, 2013)
- “Riverisland Ruling Gives Calif. Fraud Victims Fairer Shake,” Law360 (January 23, 2013)
- Named a Southern California “Super Lawyer,” Super Lawyers (2015-2023)*
- Named top 100 Super Lawyers in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023
- “Fund Exits 2018: What are notable exit trends from the past year?” Information Management Network, Laguna Beach, California (January 18, 2018)
- “Fund Exits 2017: What is the Best Exit Strategy in Today's Market?” Information Management Network, Laguna Beach, California (January 19, 2017)
- “New Fund/Emerging Manager Trouble-Shooting Roundtable: Managing the Inherent Risks/Challenges of Getting Started in Today's Regulated Climate,” Information Management Network, Laguna Beach, California (January 19, 2017)
- “Small-Mid Sized Funds: Niche Opportunities & Tricks of the Trade,” Information Management Network, Laguna Beach, California (January 21, 2016)
*Being named to the list or receiving the award is not intended and should not be viewed as comparative to other lawyers or to create an expectation about results that might be achieved in a future matter