Kent J. Schmidt
As a Partner in the Southern California office, Kent's practice includes virtually all types of general business litigation, with emphases in unfair business practices, trade secret litigation, consumer class actions, product liability, securities litigation and enforcement, shareholder disputes, commercial disputes, Prop 65 (environmental) claims and labor/employment matters. He is a zealous and creative courtroom advocate, equally accustomed to representing 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.
A significant part of Kent’s practice is using his two-plus decades of commercial litigation experience to advise companies on how to avoid litigation claims. In this prophylactic aspect of his practice, Kent advises on compliance policies and defensive strategies. He regularly speaks and writes on these topics, including in his recently-released book, Avoiding and Managing U.S. Litigation Risks: A Comprehensive Guide for Business Owners and the Attorneys Who Advise Them (Globe Law and Business 2021). (More information available at litigationrisks.com.) Kent’s government and internal investigation work has included white collar crimes ranging from the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to SEC insider trading violations, as well as a variety of internal investigations relating to corruption and corporate fraud.
Having spent his entire legal career at Dorsey, Kent most values the opportunity to collaborate with others throughout the firm’s 19 offices who have unique practices and experiences, combining his litigation experience with his partners’ expertise.
Kent is the author of Left Coast Law, a blog that discusses the unique challenges of doing business in California and avoiding litigation claims.
Recent and Ongoing Work
- Defeated anti-SLAPP challenge brought by a homeowner association in response to client’s lawsuit and affirmed unanimously by the appellate court. (Orange County Superior and California Court of Appeal 2018-20).
- Defeated class action claims brought against beverage distributor and senior executives alleging violation of California consumer deception statutes with respect to label and advertising statements. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California 2020).
- Lead counsel for a Korean public company which became a minority shareholder in a U.S. biomedical research venture. Commenced a lawsuit in Delaware Court of Chancery asserting both direct and derivative claims for breaches of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty, contract theories and outlining the self-dealing of corporate insiders and co-venturer research university. The case was settled along favorable terms within a few months of the filing. (Delaware Court of Chancery and California Superior Court 2018).
- Represented trucking company in litigation in a protracted dispute with landlord and tankwashing service provider. Case settled on favorable terms a few weeks before trial. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2018).
- Lead counsel in a probate court trial involving claims relating to changes made to estate planning documents, challenges to testamentary capacity and claims of undue influence by family member. Based on the expert testimony and other evidence presented at trial, the client prevailed on the principal issues, including the validity of the estate planning documents. (Orange County Superior Court 2017-18).
- Lead trial counsel in a $30 million-dollar food contamination case brought against the supplier of food packaging used in the product. The case involved dozens of party and third witnesses, and working with microbiology and food safety experts to determine the cause of the contamination. Claims were asserted between the co-manufacturer, packaging supplier and distributor. Following a two-and-a-year engagement, the matter settled on favorable terms to the client. (Pennsylvania State Court 2014-16).
- Represented broker of renewable fuel credits (RINs) in a $10 million lawsuit by a trader alleging that the broker breached fiduciary duties and engaged in constructive fraud and fraudulent concealment in connection with “sleeve” transactions of fraudulent RINS. Following a bench trial, judgment was entered in favor of the broker on all claims. Second-chaired the trial, including a two-day cross-examination of the trader and several other witnesses. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (2014-15) See Petro-Diamond Incorporated v. SCB & Associates, LLC, 122 F.Supp.3d 949 (2015).
- Worked on litigation team with other Dorsey partners in obtaining injunctions against enforcement of California regulations based on federal preemption principles including a 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).
Class Action and Consumer Representative Litigation
- Defended multiple cosmetic manufacturers in consumer class action lawsuits and claims relating to representations about its product, slack-fill violations, allegation concerning FDA approvals, violation of consumer protection statutes, ADA access cases. (Various California Courts).
- Represented electronics manufacturer in a putative class action lawsuit alleging violations of California’s Song-Beverly Act relating to its policies and practices of providing video camera repairs. 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- Obtained dismissal of class action lawsuit alleging pharmacy violated privacy laws relating to the handling of prescription information in connection with its use of de-identified information. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California 2009).
Product Liability Litigation
- Represented manufacturer and distributor of baby carrier in lawsuit in connection with alleged defects and injuries to infant. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California 2018).
- Represented product sellers in more than 25 Prop 65 cases concerning alleged chemical exposures from products ranging from purses, backpacks, electronics and various household items. (Various California Courts 2000-present).
- Represented a Fortune 500 business solutions company for over 20 years in dozens of product warranty cases throughout California including multiple appeals. (2000-present).
- Represented Canadian technology company as nationwide counsel in claims brought by customers alleging defects in RV electrical systems. (Various Courts in the U.S. 2002-2008).
- Represented surgical implant distributor in a breach of warranty claim against manufacturer. (San Diego Superior Court 2005).
- 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. (Solano County Superior Court 2002-2007).
Shareholder Derivative and Other Corporate Governance Litigation
- Lead counsel for developers of a $1 billion Las Vegas commercial real estate project, defending against claims brought by disgruntled investors in multiple jurisdictions. Following eight years of litigation, including actions brought in arbitration and venues. The case settled on favorable terms to the client. (New York Supreme Court, Los Angeles Superior Court, Delaware Court of Chancery 2008-2016).
- Lead counsel for the developer of a 15-story, 114-unit residential condominium in Brooklyn on claims by investors seeking to enforce alleged guaranty of construction loans. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York 2012-16).
- Represented employees who left their company to start a competing business and were sued by former employer for misappropriation of trade secrets. Brought counterclaims for antitrust and violation of federal procurement regulations, which were promptly resolved with a “walkaway” settlement and mutual releases (Los Angeles County Superior Court 2012).
- Represented British Virgin Islands company in arbitration of a dispute over escrowed funds following acquisition of a target corporation (AAA Arbitration 2013).
- 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 Chinese travel broker in 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 which 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).
- Defended Chinese food and beverage company in connection with direct and derivative shareholder claims brought by minority investors alleging breach of fiduciary duty and self-dealing. Case settled on favorable terms. (Los Angeles Superior Court 2018).
First Amendment and Other Speech Related Litigation Including Anti-SLAPP Challenges
- Represented two doctors/bloggers in a defamation action against multiple defendants who attacked the doctors’/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 association for statement (Pre-Lawsuit Settlement).
- Defended individual sued by candidate for public office asserting claims for defamation and other torts. Plaintiff dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice hours before the Court of Appeal oral argument on the anti-SLAPP challenge. (San Diego Superior Court and California Court of Appeal 2016-2017).
- 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 and California’s anti-SLAPP challenge. 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
- Represented financial advisor in a lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duty and conflict of interest in connection with an accredited investor’s investment losses. (Orange County Superior Court 2018-19).
- 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. (Various Courts 1998).
- Obtained dismissal of federal class action against venture capital firm and acquiring corporation for alleged securities law violations in connection with tender offer. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California 2002).
- Successfully defended national bank in action for alleged unfair business practices regarding safe deposit box access by successor trustees. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2008).
- Represented technology company in connection with a licensing dispute relating to a $4.5 million license of entertainment content from Hasbro Studios. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2018).
- Represented management company in disputes concerning commissions from Guns N’ Roses following the breakup of the band. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2005-2006).
- Represented musical band *NSYNC securing dismissal of action claiming copyright infringement relating to the group's alleged sale of merchandise using photos of plaintiff’s puppets created for the American Music Awards. (U.S. District Court for the Central District 2004).
Indian & Gaming
- Represent various Native American tribes in litigation relating to tribal matters, including contracts with gaming companies, internal investigation, disputes with outside vendors and other business enterprises.
- 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).
- Obtained dismissal of a counterclaim in U.S. District Court based on tribal client’s sovereign immunity. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2009).
- 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, and 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. (San Diego Superior Court, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 2007-2013).
- Represented tribal entities in claims relating to arm-of-the-tribe doctrine and whether a business entity formed by the tribe enjoys sovereign immunity. (Various Courts 2016-2017).
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
Events & Speaking Engagements
Industries & Practices
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- Anti-Corruption Group
- Antitrust & Competition Law
- Banking & Financial Institutions
- Class Action Litigation
- Closely Held Businesses
- Commercial Litigation
- Creative Industries
- Cybersecurity, Privacy & Social Media
- Electronic Discovery
- Emerging Companies
- Energy & Natural Resources
- Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
- Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Indian & Alaska Native
- Products Liability
- Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement
- Technology Commerce
- Trusts & Estates Litigation
- Contributed more than 50 Challenge pro bono hours, 2021
- Contributed more than 100 Challenge pro bono hours, 2020
- 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