MoFo News Item

Daily Journal Recognizes Morrison & Foerster with Two Top Defense Verdicts of 2020

05 Feb 2021

The Daily Journal has recognized Morrison & Foerster in its 2020 Top Verdicts feature, highlighting two California defense verdicts led by partners Tritia Murata, Wendy Ray, and James Schurz, as well as senior counsel Karen Kubin.

Jill LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Company in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles

In LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Company, a team of Morrison & Foerster employment litigators won a complete defense verdict for Ralphs Grocery Company in the first suitable seating case to go to trial since the California Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

“The Kilby decision underscores that the touchstone of the analysis is reasonableness, with the employee’s need for a seat balanced against the employer’s considerations of practicability and feasibility,” said Tritia Murata, co-chair of the Employment & Labor Group at the firm.

The plaintiff claimed Ralphs owed nearly $100 million in PAGA civil penalties for not providing cashiers with seats while performing their duties. After a 13-day bench trial, the MoFo team persuaded the trial judge that the dynamic nature of the work that Ralphs’ cashiers perform does not reasonably permit the use of seats.

Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Starbucks Corp. et al. in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles

The Council for Research and Education on Toxics brought an industry-wide action against coffee roasters and retailers alleging that, because coffee contains acrylamide, a Proposition 65‑listed chemical, the industry was required to post a Proposition 65 warning and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. Morrison & Foerster partner James Schurz represented a joint defense group of 53 individual coffee roasters. After two initial phases of trial that comprised 38 days of expert trial testimony, MoFo secured judgment for all co-defendants that roast, package, and distribute over 90% of the coffee sold in the United States, including Starbucks Corporation, The J.M. Smucker Company, and other major players, ending a 10-year litigation battle.

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