Tauler Smith Obtains $10 Million Verdict Against Supplement Manufacturer

Daily Journal ArticleLOS ANGELES, CA – 12/18/2015 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — Commercial litigation firm Tauler Smith LLP obtained a $10.2 million jury verdict on behalf of plaintiff Ahmad Alkayali against Neocell Corporation, a nutritional supplement company, and its officers and directors (“Defendants”).  The dispute centered on the one-time manufacturer for Neocell Corporation, a company called Healthwise Nutraceuticals, Inc.  Defendants conspired to dissolve Healthwise and transfer its assets to NeoCell without informing or compensating Mr. Alkayali, despite his 72 percent interest in the company.

Mr. Alkayali was awarded $9.5 million in economic and non-economic damages in connection with claims of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as punitive damages amounting to $685,000.

“We are very happy that the jury awarded Mr. Alkayali the value of his interest in Healthwise, as well as emotional distress and punitive damages,” said lead attorney Robert Tauler, founding partner of Tauler Smith. “It was a very hard-fought and emotional month-long trial and the verdict is vindication for our efforts.”

The verdict underscores a slew of recent litigation involving nutritional supplements.  Tauler Smith has pursued several bodybuilding supplement companies for false advertising and unfair competition related to ingredients in their products.


Healthwise and Neocell were sister companies in adjoining rental space.  Healthwise manufactured the supplements, while Neocell marketed and sold the supplements.  Litigation concerning the ownership of NeoCell began in October 2008, during which Mr. Alkayali’s ownership right to NeoCell was extinguished and an injunction was issued barring him from entering the NeoCell premises, which was next door to the Healthwise facility. Although Mr. Alkayali was unable to manage the day-to-day affairs of Healthwise, he maintained his equity stake in the business. In August 2010, the defendants held a meeting where they dissolved Healthwise and transferred its assets to NeoCell, knowing that Mr. Alkayali would be unable to attend.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2782300#ixzz3v0I51vYu

Four Tauler Smith Attorneys Named to 2015 Super Lawyer list of Rising Stars

Four Tauler Smith attorneys were recently named to the 2015 Southern California Super Lawyers list of “Rising Stars,” a legal industry recognition only given to 2.5% of all lawyers in Los Angeles.  Firm Attorneys Robert Tauler, Gil Peles, Bryan Lazarski and Daniel Forouzan were given the honor.

Rising Star recognition is given to attorneys who are either 40 years old SL2015or younger or have been in practice for 10 years or less, and have attained high degrees of peer recognition and professional achievement.



Firm Partner Matt Smith Part of Team Obtaining U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Immigrants

On June 8, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Madrigal-Barcenas v. Lynch(“Madrigal”), vacated the underlying decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the recent June 1, 2015 decision in the similar case of Mellouli v. Lynch (“Mellouli”).   Petitioner Madrigal-Barcenas can now return to the Ninth Circuit to seek a favorable disposition of his case based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Mellouli.


Tauler Smith partner Matt Smith, while at his former firm McDermott Will & Emery, was part of the team advocating on behalf of Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas. The outcome of these Supreme Court rulings significantly advanced the due process protections for immigrants facing deportation or removal proceedings following very minor convictions under state law.


Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas, a 35-year-old citizen of Mexico, has lived as an SCOTUSimmigrant in the United States for over fifteen years. He supports his four young children (three of whom are U.S. citizens), his father (a U.S. citizen), and his mother (a legal permanent resident). During his first ten years in the United States, Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas remained free of any criminal convictions or arrests. But in January 2008, Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas was arrested and pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor under Nevada law. The “drug paraphernalia” Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas was charged with possessing was a glass pipe with “burnt residue,” but the charge and conviction did not specifically identify a controlled substance.


As a result of his conviction, the government initiated removal proceedings in an effort to send Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas back to Mexico. Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas fought to cancel the removal proceedings on the basis that his absence would cause hardship to his four young children and his aging parents. The government, however, argued that Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas’ misdemeanor drug paraphernalia conviction rendered him ineligible to seek cancellation of removal. The assigned Immigration Judge (IJ) agreed with the government, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) subsequently affirmed the IJ’s finding. When Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas initiated proceedings pro per in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, McDermott was asked to handle the appeal through the court’s pro bono program.


After briefing and argument, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the BIA’s decision and concluded that Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas was ineligible for cancellation of removal. McDermott then filed a petition for writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that under the plain text of Section 1182 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a drug paraphernalia conviction does not render a noncitizen ineligible for cancellation of removal unless it explicitly relates to a controlled substance listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – which Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas’ did not.


After McDermott filed its petition, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Mellouli, an Eighth Circuit case that presented a similar statutory interpretation question under Section 1182, and held Madrigal in abeyance. Armed with the background legal research from theMadrigal case, McDermott’s pro bono team then filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Mellouli as counsel for Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).


On June 1, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held, consistent with McDermott’s argument, that “to trigger removal under [the INA], the Government must connect an element of the alien’s conviction to a drug defined in [the CSA].” (Slip. Op. at 14.) In its opinion, the Court favorably cited the amicus brief McDermott filed on behalf of NIJC and AILA, which noted the differences in drug paraphernalia criminalization statutes on a state-by-state basis.


A week later, the Court granted certiorari in Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas’ case, vacating the Ninth Circuit’s decision and remanding with instructions to consider the decision in Mellouli. The McDermott team will now return to the Ninth Circuit and seek to persuade that court that Mr. Madrigal-Barcenas should be permitted to remain with his family in the United States.

Tauler Smith Wins Fourth Case in a Year After Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice

Tauler Smith LLP won its fourth case in the last 12 months after Plaintiff BCG Attorney Search voluntarily dismissed its case with prejudice against firm client Lateral Link Group.  The Complaint sought damages for unfair competition and interference with contractual relations.  The voluntary dismissal came on the heels of the service of a motion for sanctions, asserting that Plaintiff’s complaint was frivolous and seeking attorneys fees and disciplinary charges.

Dismissal Obtained In Mass. State Court Against Massachusetts Law Firm Plaintiff

Tauler Smith recently obtained a complete dismissal of a lawsuit brought against a long time firm client in Massachusetts State Court. The lawsuit, brought by prominent New England Law firm BLA Schwartz, alleged that defendant Lateral Link Group, a leading placement firm,
had failed to perform under a oral contract for services.  The Court granted defendants motion to dismiss and awarded costs to defendant.

Attorneys Robert Tauler and Mark Dell’Orfano represented defendant Lateral Link Group.

A copy of the Court’s Order can be found here.

Claim against Firm Client Voluntarily Dismissed after Demurrer Sustained

The Plaintiff in an unfair competition lawsuit against firm client Lateral Link Group has voluntarily dismissed their claims after the Court sustained Defendant’s demurrer (motion to dismiss) to Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint.  Plaintiff sought damages for unfair competition and interference with contractual relations, but the Court found that the claimslacked merit as pled.  The Court granted leave to amend, but Defendant’s voluntarily dismissed the case seven days later instead of amending their complaint.

Firm Wins Dismissal of Suit Brought By Starbucks Against Outdoor Furniture Manufacturer

Attorney Robert Tauler recently won dismissal of a claim brought by Starbucks Corporation against firm client Outdoor Lifestyle, Inc.  Starbucks filed suit in February 2013 alleging that certain chairs and tables manufactured by Outdoor Lifestyle were defective.  Tauler prevailed on a motion to stay or dismiss the action based on a forum selection clause limiting the proper forum to the courts of Gaston County, North Carolina.  A copy of the notice of ruling attaching the Court’s order can be found here.

Robert Tauler named to 2014 Super Lawyer list of Rising Stars

Firm principal Robert Tauler was recently named to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list of “Rising Stars,” a legal industry recognition only given to 2.5% of all lawyers in Los Angeles.

Rising Star recognition is given to attorneys who are either 40 years old or younger or have been in practice for 10 years or less, and have attained high degrees of peer recognition and professional achievement.  Mr. Tauler’s Super Lawyer profile can be found here.