Kent J. Schmidt
PEOPLE

Kent J. Schmidt

Partner
schmidt.kent@dorsey.com

Overview

KENT REPRESENTS CLIENTS IN A WIDE VARIETY OF COMPLEX LITIGATION MATTERS PRIMARILY IN CALIFORNIA BUT ALSO AROUND THE COUNTRY.

As a Partner in the Southern California office, Kent's practice includes virtually all types of general business litigation, with an emphasis in unfair business practices, trade secret litigation, consumer class actions, product liability, securities litigation and enforcement, commercial disputes and Prop 65 (environmental) claims. He is a zealous and creative courtroom advocate, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. In addition to his general business litigation practice, Kent is an experienced First Amendment lawyer, representing clients on both sides of defamation cases and other matters involving free speech including California’s unique anti-SLAPP statute. Having spent his entire legal career at Dorsey, Kent is adept at finding the right lawyers in the firm to collaborate with in order to provide the best representation and value for his clients.

In addition to his commercial litigation practice, Kent advises companies on how to avoid litigation claims, developing compliance policies and strategies and conducting internal investigations. His government and internal investigation work has included white collar crimes ranging from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to insider trading violations.

Kent is the author of "Left Coast Law," a blog that discusses the unique challenges of doing business in California and avoiding litigation and other claims.

 

Education & Admissions

William Howard Taft University, Witkin School of Law (J.D., 1998)

Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit

Experience

Representative Experience

Recent and Ongoing Work

  • Represented broker of renewable fuel credits (RINs) in an action by a trader alleging that broker breached fiduciary duties and engaged in constructive fraud and fraudulent concealment in connection with “sleeve” transactions of fraudulent credits. Following a bench trial judgment was entered in favor of the broker on all claims. Second-chaired the trial and did the key cross-examination of the trader and several other witnesses. Petro-Diamond Incorporated v. SCB & Associates, LLC, 122 F.Supp.3d 949 (2015)
  • Lead trial counsel in a multi-million dollar baby food contamination case brought against the supplier of flexible pouches used in the product. The case involved dozens of party and third witnesses, microbiologist and food safety experts relating to the cause of the contamination. Claims were made between the co-manufacturer, packaging supplier and distributor. Following a two-and-a-year engagement, the matter settled on favorable terms to the client (2014-2016).
  • Represented video camera manufacturer in a putative class action lawsuit alleging violations of California’s Song-Beverly Act relating to its policies and practices of providing repairs to video cameras. The District Court’s order granting a motion to dismiss was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13607 (2016).
  • Represented developers of multi-million dollar commercial real estate development in defending against claims brought by disgruntled investors in multiple jurisdictions. (Following eight years of arbitration and vigorous litigation in various venues including New York, Los Angeles and Wilmington, Delaware, the case settled in 2016 on favorable terms).
  • Represented a prominent New York real estate developer on claims arising from alleged guaranty of construction loans in an action brought by the lender on the project (Ongoing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York).
  • Represented British Virgin Islands company in arbitration of a dispute over escrowed funds following acquisition of a target corporation (AAA Arbitration, case was settled).
  • Represented employees who left their company to start a competing business and were sued by prior employer for misappropriation of trade secrets. Resulted in a prompt “walkaway” settlement and mutual releases (Los Angeles County Superior Court 2012).
  • Obtained dismissal of putative class action lawsuit alleging manufacturers engaged in violations of state and federal antitrust laws. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California 2013).
  • Worked on litigation team with other Dorsey partners in obtaining injunctions against enforcement of California regulations based on federal preemption principles including one matter that resulted in a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court 2012 and 2013).
  • Successfully defeated on the merits a class action lawsuit relating to compliance with California law governing shipping and handling charges for offers of free merchandise (Orange County Superior Court 2013).
  • Represented casino management companies in litigation brought by Native American tribe alleging a variety of contract, tort and antitrust claims. Case settled on favorable terms (San Diego County Superior Court 2006-2011).

Product Liability Litigation

  • Represented a Fortune 500 business solutions company for over 15 years in dozens of product warranty cases throughout California including appeals.
  • Represented Canadian technology company as nationwide counsel in claims brought by customers alleging defects in RV electrical systems.
  • Represented surgical implant distributor in a breach of warranty claim against manufacturer.
  • Obtained reversal of multi-million dollar default judgment entered against a medical device manufacturer in case alleging personal injury (Default judgment entered prior to the firm’s entry into the case) and thereafter obtained a dismissal of the entire case.

China-Related Litigation

Kent frequently works with colleagues in Dorsey’s China offices to defend Chinese companies that are sued or need to bring claims in the U.S.

  • Led a team of lawyers in successfully defending a Chinese company and its CEO in a complex shareholder derivative lawsuit filed in San Francisco. Prevailed on a motion to dismiss and obtained sanctions against opposing counsel for filing a frivolous claim. Filed a parallel lawsuit against the plaintiff/minority shareholder which resulted in a $12 million judgment in favor of the corporation and against the shareholders that had brought the San Francisco lawsuit (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia 2013).
  • Represented travel broker in parallel state and federal lawsuits brought by a competitor alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, wrongful solicitation of employees and copyright infringement of marketing materials. In response to counterclaims, the plaintiff who initiated the action voluntarily dismissed its own claims and paid a substantial portion of attorney fees incurred by the client as part of a settlement (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and Los Angeles Superior Court 2016).

First Amendment and Other Speech Related Litigation Including Anti-SLAPP Challenges

  • Represented two doctor/bloggers in a defamation action against multiple defendants who attacked the doctor/bloggers qualifications and engaged in related tortious conduct. Defeated anti-SLAPP motion in trial court and order was affirmed on appeal. (Orange County Superior Court, 2015 Settlement).
  • Represented architect and interior design professional on claims of defamation against home owner’s association for statement (Pre-Lawsuit Settlement).
  • Currently defending individual sued by candidate for public office asserting claims for defamation and other torts (San Diego Superior Court).
  • Worked with two other Dorsey partners representing publisher Penguin Group (USA) LLC in consumer fraud class action brought on behalf of the California residents who purchased Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About the Bike. Case dismissed with prejudice and no liability to client on basis of First Amendment principles. Stutzman v. Armstrong, et al., 2013 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 129204 (E.D. Cal., Sep. 9, 2013) (counsel for publisher defendant).
  • Multiple trial court and appellate wins under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, both as the moving party and opposing party.

Securities and Financial Institutions Litigation

  • Successfully resolved various disputes and issues arising in connection with an investigation by the SEC and the FDIC following a client’s acquisition of a failed bank in California (2010).
  • Represented broker-dealer in multiple arbitrations brought by customers alleging unsuitability of investments and similar claims (experience with NASD, NYSE and FINRA arbitrations).
  • Represented Canadian financial institution in a class action, prevailing on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
  • Represented securities clearing firm in successfully asserting claims against venture capital firm that failed to pay for multi-million stock purchase; also filed claims against the customer’s accountant for fraudulent statements made in connection with the transaction and the customer’s broker (NASD arbitration).
  • Represented broker-dealer in multi-state actions arising from sale of annuities issued by former affiliate. Actions were brought by ten separate state guaranty associations to recover payments to policyholders.
  • Obtained dismissal of federal class action against venture capital firm and acquiring corporation for alleged securities law violations in connection with tender offer.
  • Successfully defended national bank in action for alleged unfair business practices regarding safe deposit box access by successor trustees.

Entertainment Litigation

  • Represented management company in disputes concerning commissions from Guns N’ Roses following the breakup of the band.
  • Represented musical band *NSYNC securing dismissal of action claiming copyright infringement relating to the band's alleged sale of merchandise using photos of plaintiff’s puppets created for the American Music Awards.
  • Represented technology company in connection with a licensing dispute relating to a $4.5 license of entertainment content from Hasbro Studios.

Indian & Gaming

  • Represent various Native American tribes in litigation relating to tribal matters including contracts with gaming companies and other business enterprises.
  • Obtained dismissal of a counterclaim in U.S. District Court based on tribal client’s sovereign immunity.
  • Dorsey represented a California Tribe and development and gaming management company in connection with a series of lawsuits filed in opposition to the development of a casino. The lawsuits were brought by a variety of individuals and entities ranging from dissenting tribal members to neighborhood organizations opposed to the project. Parallel and overlapping lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts as well as tribal courts and required coordinating with California and federal agencies such as CalTrans, the California Attorney General, the Bureau of Indian Affair on matters including highway design, archeological and cultural objections, legitimacy of tribal elections, federal recognition of the tribe and environmental impact concerns.
  • Represented tribal entities in claims relating to arm-of-the-tribe doctrine and whether a business entity formed by the tribe enjoys sovereign immunity.

Other

  • Acted as lead trial counsel for pro bono tenants in litigation asserting adverse possession theories against purported landlord based on landlord’s abandonment of property. Tenants became owners of the property pursuant to a settlement reached the day before trial.
  • Worked on litigation team representing the Florida Legislature in Bush v. Gore election dispute.
  • Represented Chinese dissident in political asylum application (pro bono).

News & Resources

Articles

Avoiding Unnecessary U.S. Litigation Arising from the Export of Products Across the Border
New California Class Action Targeting Ivanka Trump’s Fashion Line Tests the Limits of California’s Unfair Competition Law
Fashion Retailer Zara Hit With Pricing Disclosure Lawsuit
Kent Schmidt, Jessica Linehan, “Recognizing Employee Privacy Issues in the Workplace”.
Kent Schmidt, "The Overlooked Characteristic of the Most Effective Business Litigators".
New Opportunities for Brokers to Obtain Expungement in Equity
Litigation Risks Arising From Failed Contract Negotiations, Orange County Business Journal
California Supreme Court Rules on Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma
"Is BAE Systems Too Big to Fail?: The Unintended Consequences of Anti-Bribery Investigations," The Anti-Fraud Network Newsletter
"Bailout For California Action Plaintiffs Bar," Law360
Anticipated Trends in FCPA Compliance and Enforcement: The Obama Administration’s Challenges in a Worldwide Economic Crisis
"Beyond the Basics: Implementing an Anti-Bribery Program that Works" The Anti-Fraud Network
"Greasing Global Palms," Los Angeles Daily Journal
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance: A New Focus for Mergers & Acquisitions
United States v. Booker: A Critical Change to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
"International Judicial Assistance in Civil Matters," Transnational Publishers, contributing author

News & Press Mentions

Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Comments on Prop 65 Impact to Produce Industry
Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Comments on Regulation of Tribal Marijuana
Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Discusses Zara Lawsuit
Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Comments on Facebook Post Jurisdiction Case
Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Interviewed on Critical Mass Radio Show
Dorsey Partner Kent Schmidt Comments on the Risks of Deposition Tactics
Kent Schmidt Offers His Tips for Prepping a Witness Without Crossing the Line in Law360

Industries & Practices

Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
Cybersecurity, Privacy & Social Media
Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement
  • Anti-Corruption Group
  • Antitrust & Competition Law
  • Appellate
  • Asia-Pacific
  • Banking
  • China
  • Class Action Litigation
  • Closely Held Businesses
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Cybersecurity, Privacy & Social Media
  • Electronic Discovery
  • Emerging Companies
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
  • Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
  • Health Care
  • Health Litigation
  • Indian & Alaska Native
  • Israel
  • Products Liability
  • Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement
  • Technology Commerce

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Member, Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars of the Center for International Legal Studies.

Accolades

  • Named Partner of the Year 2010—One of six partner recipients selected by associates in the firm based on mentoring efforts throughout the year.
  • Listed as a Southern California Rising Star by Southern California Super Lawyers, 2005 - 2007
Kent J. Schmidt