As one of the firm’s most experienced trial lawyers, James Bennett brings a mastery of turning complex fact patterns into persuasive trial presentations. “James Bennett hammered the experts and gave the jury a credible, coherent story they can understand,” wrote the National Law Journal, about the defense verdict Jim and the MoFo trial team secured in In re JDS Uniphase Corp. Securities Litigation (2007). Mr. Bennett acted as lead trial counsel in the five week trial of the JDSU case, which ended in a complete defense verdict. In the case, plaintiffs sought damages in excess of $20 billion which made the case one of the largest of any type ever taken to trial and successfully defended.
Mr. Bennett is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and an associate member of The American Board of Trial Advocates. He has first-chaired over 30 complex commercial jury trials. He has successfully defended at trial multiple cases in which damages in excess of $100 million were sought. Mr. Bennett also has extensive experience representing plaintiffs in a variety of commercial matters. His trial record includes four plaintiffs' cases in which he has obtained verdicts and judgments with a collective value in excess of $160 million.
Mr. Bennett routinely defends clients in bet-the-company litigation. He has litigated numerous cases in the intellectual property arena, including the representation of Altera Corporation in patent infringement litigation and a plaintiffs’ suit. In 2009, Mr. Bennett obtained a favorable settlement in a False Claims Act case brought by two California state agency employees against Maxxam and its principal shareholder in which the plaintiffs sought recovery and damages of over $1 billion. Mr. Bennett also received favorable jury verdicts in the defense of Mercury Companies in a trade secrets and breach-of-contract case in which plaintiff’s were seeking in excess of $150,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Mr. Bennett has also argued on numerous occasions before the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit. His most recent argument before the California Supreme Court was in the case of Dowhal v. SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare (2004) 32 Cal.4th 910, where he obtained a unanimous decision affirming the trial court’s ruling that Proposition 65’s labeling requirements as to SmithKline’s smoking cessation products is preempted under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations.
Mr. Bennett served as firmwide Chair of the Litigation Department from 1999 to 2003. He is the recipient of the California Lawyer 2008 Attorney of the Year Award, and has on multiple occasions been listed in San Francisco Magazine as one of Northern California's top 100 lawyers for General Litigation.
During law school, Mr. Bennett was a member of the editorial staff of the Hastings Law Journal and was elected to Order of the Coif.
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)
James Bennett is recommended as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA 2010, Best Lawyers In America 2013 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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