TruConnect Summary Judgment

Firm Wins Summary Judgment in Qui Tam Employment Claim

TruConnect Summary Judgment

The California employment defense attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP recently served as co-counsel with Greenberg Traurig to represent TruConnect in a retaliation and wrongful termination case. The firm secured a decisive victory in the case by persuading a U.S. District Court to grant a motion for summary judgment. This means that the workplace retaliation & wrongful termination claims were thrown out at the summary judgment stage without the need for oral argument.

The court’s decision can be read in its entirety here. To learn more about Tauler Smith’s victory in the qui tam employment claim, keep reading this blog.

Los Angeles Employment Attorney Robert Tauler Serves as Co-Counsel for TruConnect

TruConnect Communications, Inc. is a wireless and telecommunications company that provides cell phone service and mobile data plans in the United States, including a partnership with the federal government on the Lifeline Program that subsidizes low-income families with free wireless service. Los Angeles employment attorney Robert Tauler of Tauler Smith LLP worked with the lawyers at Greenberg Traurig to represent TruConnect at several different stages of a qui tam employment retaliation action.

The legal action began when two former employees of Sage Telecom, Inc. filed a qui tam whistleblower claim with the federal government after their positions at the company were eliminated due to significant market contractions. Attorney Robert Tauler was initially hired to defend two of TruConnect’s individual CEOs against the ex-employees’ allegations of qui tam whistleblower retaliation, and he successfully got that part of the case dismissed within a few months. Mr. Tauler was subsequently brought on as co-counsel in the larger employment action involving TruConnect, and now that case has also concluded with Mr. Tauler helping to win a court ruling on behalf of the telecom company.

District Court Grants Motion for Summary Judgment in California False Claims Act Case

The employment retaliation case was heard in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Despite having already lost their qui tam whistleblower claim involving TruConnect, the former employees still argued that they were entitled to damages for retaliation and wrongful termination. These claims were filed under three statutes:

  1. False Claims Act (alleging retaliation)
  2. California False Claims Act (alleging retaliation)
  3. California Labor Code (alleging wrongful termination)

On June 21, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez granted a motion for summary judgment that effectively ended the case by dismissing all of the plaintiffs’ claims of retaliation and wrongful termination. The court stated that TruConnect was entitled to judgment “as a matter of law,” which meant that there was no need to proceed to trial.

Los Angeles Litigator Robert Tauler Wins Cases for Clients in California State and Federal Courts

The TruConnect qui tam retaliation case represents another huge victory for Tauler Smith LLP. Attorney Robert Tauler and the other skilled members of the firm’s litigation team have earned the respect of their peers in the legal community, including judges, opposing attorneys, and legal experts. Whether it’s an employment matter, an intellectual property claim, or a business dispute, our lawyers always prepare every case with the expectation that it will go to trial. This gives us a significant advantage during the pre-trial stages, and it puts our clients in the best possible position to win.

Contact the California Employment Defense Attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP

The attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP have extensive experience handling California employment claims. We represent both plaintiffs and defendants, and our litigators know how to file successful motions for summary judgment in federal and state courts. If you are involved in litigation, the Tauler Smith LLP legal team can help you. Call 310-590-3927 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

PPE Fraud Lawyer

Tauler Smith Obtains Judgment for Fraud Against PPE Scam

The California business fraud lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP recently helped a client obtain a judgment for fraud against a PPE scam. After a two-day bench trial, a U.S. District Court granted 100% of the compensatory damages sought by plaintiff Solmark International in the case.

PPE Fraud Lawyer

L.A. Law Firm Tauler Smith LLP Secures Victory for Client in PPE Fraud Case

 

On February 4, 2022, federal judge Hon. Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr. for the United States District Court for the Central District of California entered Judgment for Fraud on behalf of Tauler Smith client Solmark International against PPE scammers.

Solmark International is a major supplier of personal protective equipment to companies in the United States. The defendants in the case were PPE scammers who had engaged in a scheme to sell non-existent PPE (personal protective equipment) to national distributors like Solmark. The PPE fraud scheme began with the defendants falsely representing that they had acquired millions of masks to service Solmark International’s clients who were looking to return to work more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the defendants received a bank wire transfer for the PPE products, they effectively vanished. This resulted in a series of defaults from the defendants.

Solmark International then filed suit in 2020 with predecessor counsel, and the case was scheduled for trial in late-2021. Los Angeles law firm Tauler Smith LLP ultimately helped the plaintiff secure a favorable judgment and recover significant compensation.

Federal Court Issues Final Judgment in Favor of Solmark International

A final judgment was issued by United States District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr. on February 4, 2022. The specifics of the federal court’s ruling were as follows:

  • Compensatory Damages: The defendants were ordered to pay plaintiff Solmark International the sum of approximately $100,000.
  • Counterclaims Dismissed: The defendants’ counterclaims against Solmark International were dismissed.

Attorney Robert Tauler Fights for Victims of Business Fraud in California

“I am very pleased our team was able to obtain a fraud judgment against dishonest people who thought only about themselves at the expense of others during such a sensitive time in our history,” said L.A. business fraud attorney Robert Tauler. “I am fortunate to have clients like Solmark International that believe justice is worth fighting for.”

Tauler Smith LLP is a law firm with a history of success in California business fraud cases. Our experienced litigators have successfully represented clients in business disputes and fraud matters in both local California courts and federal courts. We understand the nuances of this complicated area of the law, and we have the institutional expertise needed to guide you through the legal system and get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact the Los Angeles Business Fraud Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

If you were a victim of business fraud, corporate fraud, or consumer fraud, the litigators at Tauler Smith LLP can help you. Call 310-590-3927 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Los Angeles Real Estate Lawyer

Tauler Smith LLP Wins Real Estate Dispute

Tauler Smith LLP, a Los Angeles-based law firm, recently represented a client in a real estate law matter with yet another successful outcome. The case involved a family, the Schallerts, who had been sued by a land developer that wanted a right-of-way over the family’s land for a development.

Los Angeles Real Estate Lawyer

Robert Tauler Helps Los Angeles Family Fight Developer in Court

Attorney Robert Tauler, one of the firm’s co-founders, represented the Schallert family and secured the victory for them at trial. Tauler successfully argued in Los Angeles Superior Court that the developer’s request for an “easement by necessity” should not be granted because there are other ways to access the developer’s property without crossing over the family’s land. The judge in the case, the Honorable Stephen P. Pfahler, agreed with Mr. Tauler and issued a ruling in favor of the family.

The case has received media coverage. To read more, including comments from the judge and attorneys, click here.

Firm Obtains Early Dismissal Copyright Infringement Claim Brought by Attorney Richard Liebowitz and Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal dismisses “selfie” copyright case against Paper Mag after legal maneuvering goes awry.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Five years after she came to national attention for identifying as black woman while being of European ancestry and having no verifiable African ancestry, Rachel Dolezal is again at the heart of a legal controversy. This time, Dolezal filed suit for copyright infringement after Paper Magazine included Dolezal’s public Instagram post as part of their news coverage. 

Last summer, Dolezal announced on Instagram that she’s bisexual. Among the pop culture and celebrity media that covered the June 15 announcement was New York-based Paper Magazine, which published a story, including Dolezal’s Instagram selfie which was part of her announcement.

Three months later, a lawsuit filed on behalf of New York company Polaris Images accused Paper Magazine of copyright infringement based on an alleged “exclusive license” to market all images of Dolezal.

The Subject Image in the litigation.

The Sept. 3 lawsuit was filed by New York attorney Richard Liebowitz, who was recently called a “copyright troll” by a federal judge due to his prolific litigation history — filing over 1,100 copyright infringement lawsuits over the past three years .

The lawsuit against Paper Magazine sought all profits earned from publishing the photo, plus $150,000 in damages — the maximum allowed under federal law for willful infringement of a copyrighted work.

This time, however, Robert Tauler, Paper Magazine’s Los Angeles attorney, found the way to stop Liebowitz’s deluge of copyright lawsuits stemming from social media posts.

“Our team was able to find a legal loophole in Mr. Liebowitz’s modus operandi, which forced Liebowitz to backtrack and name Dolezal as the plaintiff instead of the original plaintiff, Polaris,” Tauler said. “However, plaintiff’s lawyers can’t switch horses in the middle of a copyright lawsuit, and when we challenged Mr. Liebowitz’s second attempt he was forced to dismiss the case before our motion to dismiss was even heard by the court.”

Liebowitz dropped the lawsuit on Jan. 29, and apologized to U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla, explaining that the switch was just a misunderstanding – an explanation Tauler expects to challenge when seeking attorneys fees for his client.

“I believe the loophole we exposed can put an end to endless filing of copyright lawsuits like this one,” Tauler said. “Some copyright attorneys make a living exploiting technical aspects of the law that do not advance any of the objectives of the Copyright Act, let alone provide any benefit to society. Lawsuits like this hurt the legal profession by flooding our courts and draining the resources of legitimate businesses.”

A copy of the lawsuit and Liebowitz’s apology letter to the court can be found here.

Tauler Smith LLP Defeats Three Successive Motions for Summary Adjudication in Protein Bar Dispute

LOS ANGELES, November 10, 2019 ‑ Tauler Smith LLP has successfully defeated three motions for summary adjudication in complex multi-party litigation regarding the manufacture of protein bars. The triad of motions were brought by cross-defendants Defense Nutrition, LLC, Sapphire Bakery Co., and Bruce Olsen, Sapphire’s former CEO, against law firm client and cross-complainant Eagle Mist Corporation.

The litigation has spanned over three years and includes three cross-complaints between seven parties, all relating to business disputes surrounding the manufacture of thirteen types of nutritional protein bars. In one cross-complaint, Eagle Mist Corporation, which specializes in formulation of foods, has alleged that various entities conspired to commit fraud and breach a series of contracts culminating in the conversion of Eagle Mist Corporation’s assets.

In two separate hearings on October 1 and November 8, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield denied cross-defendants’ Motion for Summary Adjudication in their entirety, allowing Eagle Mist’s claims of breach of contract, conversion, concealment, and fraudulent misrepresentation proceed to trial.

The Court rejected the arguments brought by Cross-Defendants, including that lost profits were unavailable to Eagle Mist, reasoning that the availability of lost profits “is a quintessential jury question.”

The case is set for a two-week jury trial in January, 2020. “We are very pleased that the Court has agreed that our clients’ claims should proceed to trial,” lead counsel Robert Tauler said.

Appellate court upholds multimillion-dollar verdict for collagen supplement inventor

Jury ruled that NeoCell Corp. officers conspired to dissolve the majority partner’s shares in
the Irvine supplement company’s manufacturing arm.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., April 8, 2019 — A jury’s $5.4 million verdict against an Irvine, Calif.
skincare company for trying to cheat a business partner was unanimously upheld by a
three-justice panel of the California Court of Appeal in a decision released on April 5.
Inventor Ahmad Alkayali sued NeoCell Corp. and his former business partners in 2013 after
they dissolved his 72% equity share in a collagen supplement factory without paying him or
even informing him of the move.

“I am very pleased the Court of Appeal reached the right decision and upheld the jury
verdict in all respects,” said Attorney Robert Tauler, of Los Angeles commercial litigation
firm Tauler Smith LLP. Tauler obtained the verdict in late 2015 after 14 days of trial
spanning three months. “It has been a long and difficult road to obtain this result, but the
Court’s detailed opinion makes this all the more gratifying.”

The justices upheld the Riverside County jury’s 2015 decision to award Alkayali $4.26
million in economic damages and $500,000 for emotional distress, plus $185,000 in punitive
damages against Akram Quadri, one of his former business partners.

The dispute centered around collagen supplement manufacturer Healthwise Nutraceuticals,
Inc., and sister company NeoCell, which marketed and sold the products. Alkayali owned
most of Healthwise, and the defendants owned Neocell and 28% of Healthwise. Following a
lawsuit over NeoCell, which Alkayali founded and sold, the defendants colluded to dissolve
Healthwise and transfer its assets to NeoCell without informing or compensating Alkayali.
The trial court reduced the jury verdict after trial, in portions of the final judgment that were
not part of the appeal.

The appellants unsuccessfully argued that the final judgment was not supported by
substantial evidence in various respects, including the eventual amount of damages
awarded. “We disagree with (Appellant’s) characterization of the state of the evidence,”
Justice Marsha G. Slough wrote in the April 5 decision. Justice Douglas P. Miller and Justice
Carol D. Codrington concurred.

Tauler Smith Successfully Defends Real Estate Developer in Seven Day Jury Trial

Firm Attorneys Robert Tauler and Dillon Millar successfully defended a real estate holding corporation and several individual defendants after a seven day jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, obtaining dismissal of 23 claims, including fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, in litigation that spanned close to three years.

The dispute arose in 2016 regarding loan agreements obtained for a property development in Los Angeles. Judge Elizabeth White presided over the seven day jury trial, dismissing claims during trial by granting Defendants’ motion for nonsuit, as well as dismissing Plaintiffs’ claim for attorneys fees.

“I could not be more pleased with our preparation and performance” said lead trial attorney Robert Tauler, “we really gave it everything we had, and I am glad things went our way.”

After submitting their case, the parties were able to resolve their remaining claims prior to receiving a final judgment, forestalling future litigation and culminating in dismissal.

Tauler Smith’s Valerie Saryan named Top 40 Young Lawyer by NAOWIL

Valerie Saryan has been selected as a Top 40 Young Lawyer in Business Law by the National Alliance of Women in Law.

Saryan’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and she focuses on transactional law, fashion law, and false advertising. Saryan is a graduate of Whittier College School of Law and received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tufts University in Massachusetts. She joined Tauler Smith LLP in 2016.

“I am proud to see Ms. Saryan’s hard work get recognized at such an early stage in her career,” said Robert Tauler, of Tauler Smith LLP.

NAOWIL honors the best women lawyers in the country as part of their mission to advance the position of women in the legal profession.

Click here to read the full press release on EIN.

Nomad Management Loses Key Rulings Against Industry Model Group in Trade Secrets Lawsuit

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that a lawsuit will proceed against Co-founder and Director of Nomad Model Management LA and former employees of Industry Model Group for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition, and that countersuits against Industry will be dismissed, in a series of rulings handed down against Nomad Model Management. A similar judgement also took place in New York City, where Nomad Model Management’s motion to dismiss was denied and Industry Model Group’s cross-motion to discontinue the action without prejudice in order to pursue the California Action was granted.

Click here to read the full article.

Fraud Case Against Puls Technologies Headed to Trial

Multimillion-dollar startup and founder Itai Hirsch alleged to have defrauded early shareholder; plaintiff seeks to subpoena future investors

It is important that early stage employees who are promised equity obtain full discovery of what was told to future investors about them…”

— Attorney Robert Tauler

A San Diego Superior Court judge indicated at a Nov. 30 hearing that subpoenas to investors in Puls Technologies would likely go forward in a case dealing with alleged early stage fraud. The underlying lawsuit accuses Puls Technologies Inc., of San Francisco, and its CEO Itai Hirsch of defrauding an early-stage shareholder out of millions of dollars, equivalent to a 5 percent stake in the company. The court also recently ruled that the lawsuit would go to trial, denying Puls’ and Hirch’s attempt at summary judgment.

Court papers allege that Hirsch was holding secret funding talks with Sequoia CapitaI that were not disclosed to the plaintiff. The fraud claim alleges that the plaintiff was dismissed from the company under false pretenses just weeks before Puls (then known as Cellsavers and based in San Diego) announced $3 million in funding in December 2015, the lawsuit states. Altogether, Puls has now raised over $90 million in funding, with $50 million just this year coming from multiple sources, including Samsung and Temasek, a holding company owned by the government of Singapore — thus dramatically increasing the value of the plaintiff’s stock, according to the claim.

“It is important that early stage employees who are promised equity obtain full discovery of what was told to future investors about them,” said Robert Tauler, the plaintiff’s Los Angeles attorney. “A lot of startups are financed in the shadows, and individuals who claim they are owed equity are entitled to know about all deals that impact their investment.”

According to the lawsuit, Hirsch kept the funding deal under wraps so that he could keep the plaintiff’s promised equity for himself and his new investors, while taking advantage of the plaintiff’s work — which was crucial in justifying the start-up’s valuation. Though a gamble, work-for-stock deals are not an unusual arrangement in the start-up world, with the potential of owning a valuable equity stake in a successful company.

“We are not sure at this time what Plaintiff’s stock is worth today, because valuations in start ups tend to fluctuate,” said Tauler, of Tauler Smith LLP. “Experts will be engaged to make this determination.”

Puls provides in-home repair and installation for electronic devices and smart homes, like a Lyft for technicians. It was recently named one of LinkedIn’s top start-ups to watch.

About Tauler Smith LLP
Tauler Smith LLP is available for high-stakes commercial litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of areas, including business disputes, false advertising, the foreign corrupt practices act, and unfair competition.

Robert Frank
Newsroom Public Relations
+1 206-790-6324
robert@newsroompr.com