James P. Bennett

James P. Bennett

Education

University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1972)
University of California, Hastings College of the Law (J.D., 1975)

Bar Admissions

California

James is one of the firm’s most experienced trial lawyers, and he has mastered the craft of turning complex fact patterns into persuasive trial presentations. He has led over 30 commercial jury trials, successfully defending multiple cases in which damages sought were in excess of $100 million.

In the five week trial, In re JDS Uniphase Corp. Securities Litigation, James was successful in securing one of the largest victories for his client where the plaintiff sought over $20 billion in damages. Of the result, the National Law Journal wrote that James “...hammered the experts and gave the jury a credible, coherent story they can understand.” 

He also routinely defends clients in bet–the–company litigation in the intellectual property arena and has experience representing plaintiffs’ cases for a variety of commercial matters, obtaining verdicts and judgments collectively valued at over $160 million. On numerous occasions, he has argued before the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit.

James is currently a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and an associate member of The American Board of Trial Advocates. He also served as the chair of the firm’s litigation department from 1999 to 2003. During law school, he was a member of the editorial staff of the Hastings Law Journal and was elected to Order of the Coif.

Rankings

  • Recognized for Commercial Litigation – Best Lawyers in America (2013, 2016-2019)

In re JDSU Securities Litigation
(United States District Court, Northern District of California). In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act by making numerous false statements regarding JDSU business prospects. The plaintiffs also alleged defendant’s financial statements were false and misleading. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that each of the individual defendants had engaged in illegal insider trading. Plaintiffs sought damages in excess of $20 billion based on these claims. This is one of the largest damages claims ever presented at trial in the United states. After a four week trial the jury, after less than two days of deliberation, returned a unanimous verdict on behalf of each of the defendants on every claim advanced by the plaintiffs.  (2007)


United States ex rel. Richard Wilson and Chris Maranto v. Maxxam Inc., et al.
(United States District Court, Northern District of California). Obtained a favorable settlement for client in a False Claims Act case brought by two California state agency employees against Maxxam and its principal shareholder Charles Hurwitz (former owners of Pacific Lumber Co.). The claim was based on alleged fraud related to the sale of the Headwaters Forest to the United States government. Settlement was reached after parties had completed six days of a 15–day jury trial. Final amount of settlement was a small fraction compared to the original damages. There was no admission of liability by either defendant. State court dismissal on Noerr–Pennington grounds (First Amendment right to petition) was the first time this doctrine has been applied to defeat a false claims act case.


Altera Corporation v. Clear Logic, Incorporated
(Northern District of California). Won two–week jury trial on behalf of Altera Corporation as a plaintiff in a suit brought against Clear Logic for violation of the Federal Semiconductor Chip Protection Act and common law unfair competition. The case, which is the only one ever tried under the Federal Act, resulted in a $35–million judgment and permanent injunction in favor of Altera. This maskwork and tortious interference action was filed in 1999 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Clear Logic Inc. After a two–week jury trial before Judge James Ware, the jury found for Altera Corporation on all claims and an award was entered for Altera. We defended the case on appeal and the judgment for Altera was affirmed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (2002, 2005)


Altera Corporation v. Xilinx, Inc.; Xilinx Inc. v. Altera Corporation
(Northern District of California and International Trade Commission, 337–TA–441). Successfully defended Altera Corporation in patent infringement litigation with Xilinx, Inc., its major competitor in the programmable logic device industry. In this federal action, the United States Court for the Northern District of California granted Judgment as a Matter of Law to Altera following a six–week jury trial. The firm then represented Altera in a trial at the International Trade Commission on a patent infringement complaint brought by Xilinx. The district court granted Judgment to Altera, and a favorable settlement was reached before a post–trial decision was rendered by the Judge in the ITC action.


Dowhal v. SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, et al.
(CA Superior Court, San Francisco County; CA Supreme Court). Won summary judgment in a Prop 65 suit filed against SmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and 15 other manufacturers, marketers, and retailers of Nicoderm CQ, Nicorette, and Nicotrol, smoking cessation products. The lawsuit alleged that the pregnancy warning language on the products did not satisfy Prop 65 requirements.  The California Attorney General intervened on behalf of the plaintiff, but the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of our clients.  The Supreme Court’s decision was the first favoring a defendant’s position in a Prop 65 action, the first holding that Prop 65 could be and was preempted by federal law, and the first ruling that the State could not defeat preemption by requiring off–label advertising. (2004)


FutureSelect v. Ernst & Young. (Superior Court, King County, Washington).
James led a trial team that successfully defended claims brought under Washington law arising out of EY’s audit of a Madoff feeder fund. The Plaintiff investor in that fund claimed damages of $112 million. The jury rejected all but one of plaintiff’s claims and awarded damages of only $10 million. The FutureSelect case is the only Madoff‑related audit case ever taken to trial.


In re Clearwire Merger and Appraisal Litigation (ACP v. Sprint Corp.) (Delaware Court of Chancery).
Representing SoftBank Corporation in breach of fiduciary duty and appraisal litigation associated with Sprint’s cash merger with Clearwire Corporation. Served as co–lead counsel at a trial of the fiduciary duty and appraisal claims in the fall of 2016. The case is currently one of the largest appraisal actions ongoing in the Court of Chancery.


In re JDSU Securities Litigation (United States District Court, Northern District of California).
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act by making numerous false statements regarding JDSU business prospects and that the defendant’s financial statements were false and misleading. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that each of the individual defendants had engaged in illegal insider trading. The Plaintiffs sought damages in excess of $20 billion based on these claims. This is one of the largest damages claims ever presented at trial in the United States. After a four week trial, and after less than two days of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict on behalf the defendants on every claim. 


United States ex rel. Richard Wilson and Chris Maranto v. Maxxam Inc., et al. (United States District Court, Northern District of California).
Obtained a favorable settlement in a False Claims Act case brought by two California state agency employees against client Maxxam and its principal shareholder Charles Hurwitz (former owners of Pacific Lumber Co.). The claim was based on alleged fraud related to the sale of the Headwaters Forest to the United States government. Six days into the 15–day trial, a settlement that was a small fraction compared to the original damages was reached. Furthermore, there was no admission of liability by either defendant. The State court dismissal on Noerr–Pennington grounds (First Amendment right to petition) was the first time this doctrine has been applied to defeat a false claims act case.


Altera Corporation v. Clear Logic, Incorporated (Northern District of California).
Won two–week jury trial on behalf of Altera Corporation, the plaintiff, in a suit brought against Clear Logic for violation of the Federal Semiconductor Chip Protection Act and common law unfair competition. The case, which is the only one ever tried under the Federal Act, resulted in a $35–million judgment and permanent injunction in favor of Altera. This mask work and tortious interference action was filed in 1999 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Clear Logic Inc. After a two–week jury trial before Judge James Ware, the jury found for Altera Corporation on all claims and an award was entered for Altera. We defended the case on appeal and the judgment for Altera was affirmed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Altera Corporation v. Xilinx, Inc.; Xilinx Inc. v. Altera Corporation (Northern District of California and International Trade Commission, 337–TA–441).
Successfully defended Altera Corporation in patent infringement litigation with Xilinx, Inc., its major competitor in the programmable logic device industry. In this federal action, the United States Court for the Northern District of California granted Judgment as a Matter of Law to Altera following a six–week jury trial. The firm then represented Altera in a trial at the International Trade Commission on a patent infringement complaint brought by Xilinx. The district court granted Judgment to Altera, and a favorable settlement was reached before a post–trial decision was rendered by the Judge in the ITC action.


Dowhal v. SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, et al. (CA Superior Court, San Francisco County; CA Supreme Court).
Won summary judgment in a Prop 65 suit filed against SmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and 15 other manufacturers, marketers, and retailers of Nicoderm CQ, Nicorette, and Nicotrol, smoking cessation products. The lawsuit alleged that the pregnancy warning language on the products did not satisfy Prop 65 requirements. The California Attorney General intervened on behalf of the plaintiff, but the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of our clients. The Supreme Court’s decision was the first favoring a defendant’s position in a Prop 65 action, the first holding that Prop 65 could be and was preempted by federal law, and the first ruling that the State could not defeat preemption by requiring off–label advertising. (2004)

James Bennett  is recommended as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA 2010, Best Lawyers In America 2013, 2016-2019 and Super Lawyers 2011. He received a California Lawyer 2008 Attorneys of the Year Award for his successful defense of JDSU Uniphase Corp. and its former executives in a securities class action jury trial. He was further honored for this victory by The National Law Journal’s 2008 'Winning' feature, which recognizes victors of 10 cases from scores of nationwide nominations.

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