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Lawrence P. Bemis

Lawrence P. Bemis

Lawrence P. Bemis is a complex civil litigation attorney, who is Of Counsel at Stearns Kim & Stearns. He has extensive experience in complex business disputes, including trade regulation, franchising, class actions, employment laws and contracts, accounting malpractice, products liability, environmental liability, securities laws, bankruptcy, race discrimination, secured transactions, and insurance.

Mr. Bemis has litigated cases throughout the United States in the following cities:  San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Fargo, North Dakota; Toledo, Ohio; New York, New York; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, and Sarasota, Florida.

Prior to joining Stearns Kim & Stearns, Mr. Bemis was a Partner at the following law firms:  Kirkland & Ellis, Steel Hector & Davis LLP, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Mr. Bemis was also a Law Clerk to the Honorable Prentice H. Marshall, United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois from 1974 to 1976.

Mr. Bemis belongs to several professional law associations, including the American Bar Association, the California Bar Association, and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. He is also admitted to practice law in all state courts of California, Illinois, and Florida; several U.S. District Courts of California, Illinois, and Florida; U.S. Courts of Appeals for various circuits; the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Education

Honors

Admissions

Previous Employment Experience

  • Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, 2000-2008 (Los Angeles Office)
  • Partner, Steel Hector & Davis LLP, 1986-2000 (Miami Office)
  • Partner, Kirkland & Ellis, 1981-1986 (Chicago Office)
  • Associate, Kirkland & Ellis, 1976-1981 (Chicago Office)
  • Law Clerk, Honorable Prentice H. Marshall, United States District Court,
    Northern District of Illinois, 1974-1976

Professional Law Associations, Affiliations, & Memberships

Litigation Experience and Representative Cases

Bautista v. Park West Galleries, Inc. (2009)

  • Represented Park West Galleries, Inc., Albert Scaglione, President and CEO
  • Class action for breach of contract and unfair business practices in the amount of approximately $100,000,000
  • After multiple proceedings in federal court, the case was dismissed with prejudice in California.

Brookshire Brothers, et al. v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., et al. (2005 to 2008)

  • Represented Chiquita Brands International, Inc., James E. Thompson, General      Counsel
  • Class action for price fixing in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act
  • Case settled for nominal amount at the close of discovery.

Joe Solo, et al. v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., et al. (2005 to 2008)

  • Represented Chiquita Brands International, Inc., James E. Thompson, General Counsel
  • Class action for price fixing in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act
  • Case settled for nominal amount at the close of discovery.

Coleman (Parent) Holding Inc. v. Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated (2004-2005)

  • Represented Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated
  • Complaint for fraud in connection with Sunbeam Corporation’s acquisition of The Coleman Company, Inc. in 1998
  • Florida District Court of Appeals directed judgment was entered for Morgan Stanley, reversing $1.6 billion damage award; Florida Supreme Court denied review.

Paula Parker, et al. v. El Pollo Loco, Inc., et al. (2003)

  • Represented El Pollo Loco, Inc., Pamela Milner, General Counsel
  • Class action complaint for alleged wage and hour violations
  • Case dismissed.

Donnie Cartwright, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. El Pollo Loco, Inc. (2003-2004)

  • Represented El Pollo Loco, Inc., Pamela Milner, General Counsel
  • Class action complaint for alleged wage and hour violations
  • Case dismissed.

Crane Environmental, Inc. v. Edward Closuit, et al.  (1999-2004)

  • Represented Crane Environmental, Inc., Augustus duPont, General Counsel, Crane Co.
  • Breach of contract and unfair competition claims for $9.3 million, plus attorney fees
  • Following an eleven-day trial in October 2003, the Court entered final injunction for Crane and awarded $1 million in attorney fees and costs; affirmed on appeal.

All Motorists Insurance Agency and WG Western General Reinsurance Company v. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. (2000-2002)

  • Represented Mitsubishi, Ellen Gleberman, former Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Government and External Affairs, Cypress, California
  • Breach of Contract, Unfair Business Practices (§ 17200), fraud and misrepresentation for approximately $4 million, plus punitive damages
  • Case was settled shortly before trial for defendant’s offer at mediation.

Huttig Sash & Door Company, Inc. v. Millwork Sales, Inc., et al. (1998-2000)

  • Represented Huttig, Inc., formerly a wholly owned subsidiary of Crane Co., Augustus duPont, General Counsel
  • Breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contract in excess of $22 million.
  • All cases settled after successful jury trial of the lead case.

Thomas Bruce v. Huttig Sash & Door Co., Inc. (1998-2000)

  • Represented Huttig, Inc., formerly a wholly owned subsidiary of Crane Co., Augustus duPont, General Counsel
  • Breach of contract, breach of promise, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty, for $350,000, plus punitive damages
  • After one-week jury trial, the court directed a verdict for Huttig on all but two claims, and the jury rejected the plaintiff’s principal claim, awarding the plaintiff approximately ten percent of his total claim.
  • The case was settled by substantial payment to Huttig.

Bexley Trading, S.A. v. Beiersdorf-Jobst, Inc. (1997-2000)

  • Represented Bexley Trading, Dr. Jean-Jacques Chatrousse, President
  • Breach of contract to distribute a medical device, fraud, tortious interference with contract for more than $50,000,000
  • Case settled for a confidential payment to Bexley in October 2000.

Richard Ungaro v. Blockbuster Entertainment Group, a business group of Viacom Inc.

  • Represented Blockbuster
  • Breach of executive employment agreement for more than $6 million
  • Case settled two weeks before jury trial.

Richard Loehr, et al. v. Hot ‘n Now, Inc. (1995-1999)

  • Represented Hot ‘n Now, Inc., then a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc., Bridgette Berry-Smith, Corporate Counsel, Richard Smith, former General Counsel
  • Breach of franchise agreements action for more than $6.5 million and counterclaims
  • After one-month jury trial, jury returned a verdict for Hot ‘n Now, Inc. on all claims and counterclaims; court awarded Hot ‘n Now, Inc. attorney fees and costs of $1.1 million.

Chambers, et al. v. SafeCard Services, Inc., et al. (1995-1998)

  • Represented PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (Miami), Theodore Senger, Assistant General Counsel
  • Class action for securities fraud and accounting malpractice in excess of $100 million
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP refused to join the class settlement, and the plaintiffs dismissed their claims against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP for a nominal amount rather than proceed to trial.

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. v. Coopers & Lybrand, et al. (1994-1996)

  • Represented Mitsubishi, Richard Recchia, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Ellen Gleberman, former Vice President and General Counsel, Government and External Affairs, Cypress, California
  • Action for professional negligence and spoliation of documents for $50,000,000
  • Successful confidential settlement was reached in June 1996 following four-day arbitration with Kenneth Feinberg.

HEM Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Seymour Cohn, et al. (1995-1996)

  • Represented Seymour Cohn, New York, New York
  • Action to avoid payment on $5 million note
  • After one week trial, we obtained for Mr. Cohn (selected as one of “Fortune 400”) a preliminary injunction (to secure payment of note) on the distribution of $5.9 million of proceeds of an initial public offering; injunction affirmed on emergency appeal; case settled at trial on the merits for $6.5 million, which included Mr. Cohn’s attorney fees.

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. v. Advantage Rent-a-Car, Inc. (1995-1996)

  • Represented Mitsubishi, Douglas Westhoff, Esq., Managing Attorney, Cypress, California
  • Breach of contract and fraud for $4 million
  • After two trials, we obtained a judgment for Mitsubishi, and physically recovered approximately 350 automobiles belonging to Mitsubishi that were scattered throughout Florida.

Cohen v. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc., et al. (1991-1993)

  • Represented Mitsubishi, Richard Recchia, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ellen Gleberman, former Vice President and General Counsel, Government and External Affairs, Cypress, California, and Value Rent-A-Car, Inc.
  • Breach of contract and securities fraud action for $65,000,000
  • The case was settled at jury selection on terms extremely favorable to the client; the plaintiffs were later indicted and pled guilty to various federal felonies.

Value Rent-A-Car, Inc. (1991-1998)

  • Represented Value in state and federal courts and before state agencies in numerous cases; represented Mitsubishi and Value in the sale of Value to Republic Industries, Inc.
  • Client contacts:  Mitsubishi, Richard Recchia, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ellen Gleberman, former Vice President and General Counsel, Government and External Affairs, Cypress, California

Merrill Lynch Hubbard, Inc. v. Mann Development (1989-1993)

  • Represented Merrill Lynch Hubbard, Inc., Christina M. Titus, General Counsel,
  • Breach of contract action for $2,600,000
  • We obtained judgment on liability, but after 17-day jury trial, the jury in 6-2 verdict found for the defendant on an affirmative defense of waiver; the case settled on appeal.

Shores Import Export Co. v. United States Gypsum Co. (1989-1994)

  • Represented U.S.G. Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Christopher J. McElroy, General Counsel
  • Breach of contract and tort action for $5 million, plus punitive damages.
  • Case settled at jury selection on extremely favorable terms to USG

NCL Corp. v. Lone Star Industries, Inc. (1989-1993)

  • Represented NCL Corp., Las Vegas, Nevada, Michael R. D-Appolonia, President
  • Superfund cost recovery claim for approximately $10,000,000
  • Case settled for $7,300,000 payment to NCL Corp. in 1993.

Morley v. Trafalgar Developers of Florida, Inc. (1989)

  • Represented Trafalgar Developers of Florida, Inc., Miami, Florida, and General Electric Capital Corporation, Stamford, Connecticut, Burton J. Kloster, Jr., former Vice President and General Counsel
  • Breach of contract and tort action for approximately $20,000,000, plus punitive damages of $50,000,000
  • We were retained after liability had been conclusively determined on the majority of claims. We obtained summary judgment on a number of other claims. The balance of the claims were settled the day of trial on terms that were extremely favorable to the client based on affirmative defenses that we developed after being retained.

The Hartford Insurance Company v. Levi Strauss (1985-1988)

  • Represented Alumax Inc., Dennis P. McPencow, former Assistant General Counsel and Secretary, San Mateo, California, Mervyn’s, Marjorie Holmes, Hayward, California, Vidal Sassoon, Inc., Harrison B. Wilson, Esq., The Proctor & Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, Mitsubishi Motor Sales, Inc., Ellen J. Gleberman, Esq., Cypress, California, Motorola, Inc., Hans Stucki, Esq., Senior Litigation Counsel, Schaumberg, Illinois, Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A., Michael Cornelius, Carson, California, Pharmavite Corporation/Pharmavite Shared Services, Christopher Polk, Esq., Aran & Miller, Los Angeles, California
  • Declaratory judgment action and counterclaims on a fidelity bond for approximately $15,000,000, plus punitive damages for losses incurred in fraud scheme
  • After jury selection, The Hartford settled the case for the face amount of the clients’ losses, attorney fees, costs, and interest.

Miles, Inc. (1987-1988)

  • Represented Miles, Inc.
  • Florida counsel for Miles in a number of negligence actions brought by hemophiliacs who alleged they contracted AIDS by infusing a blood product sold by a division of Miles
  • Jury verdict in favor of Miles after two-week trial

Hansen v. Southeast Bank, N.A. (1986)

  • Represented former Southeast Bank, N.A., Miami, Florida
  • Three federal securities law and lender liability actions for more than $4 million; we obtained a dismissal on the merits of the action pending in federal court.
  • After we obtained liquidation of the borrowers’ collateral in the state action, the case then settled on terms favorable to the Bank.

Evans Transportation Company, Monon Trailer Division v. Alumax Extrusions, Inc. (1986)

  • Represented Alumax Extrusions, Inc., a subsidiary of Alumax, Inc., San Mateo, California, Dennis P. McPencow, former Assistant General Counsel and Secretary,  Donald L. Peterhans, V.P. Industrial Relations
  • Breach of contract and products liability action for allegedly defective aluminum rails used in 1800 over-the-road truck trailers. Plaintiffs claimed damages in excess of $140,000,000. I was retained seven months before the trial to replace another law firm.
  • We obtained summary judgment on $70,000,000 of claims of one plaintiff; the balance of claims settled the day of trial at no cost to client.

In re Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company (1984-1985)

  • Represented the Bond and Debenture Holders Protective Committee, representing secured and unsecured claims totaling approximately $185,000,000; James E. Evans, General Counsel, American Financial Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Railroad reorganization under section 77 of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898
  • We successfully settled the claims of the secured creditors and obtained early payment in full with interest outside of the reorganization. After a bench trial, the court entered judgment on the claims of the unsecured creditors for $92,000,000, which was $68,000,000 more than proposed by the debtor. The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of approximately $88,000,000, which was paid. We also recovered all attorney fees.

Barker v. Lee County Bank (1985)

  • Represented the former Coopers & Lybrand, Fort Myers, Florida
  • Federal securities fraud class action; plaintiffs claimed losses of $11 million
  • Court entered summary judgment for Coopers after three and one-half years of discovery and multiple hearings; all other defendants but one settled or defaulted; affirmed on appeal.

In re Sefel Geophysical Ltd. (1985)

  • Represented Clarkson Gordon, Inc., a member of Arthur Young, International, as receiver of the debtor’s assets, Calgary, Alberta
  • Ancillary foreign proceeding under section 304 of the Bankruptcy Code
  • After trial, court granted all relief requested.

The deHavilland Aircraft of Canada, Ltd. v. Justin Colin (1984)

  • Represented deHavilland, Downsview, Ontario, Robert E. Waller (retired), Corporate Secretary
  • Action for breach of contract for failure to accept delivery of three Dash-7 passenger aircraft, which was later tried in the bankruptcy court when the purchaser filed for bankruptcy
  • After trial, bankruptcy court awarded deHavilland approximately $3,200,000, representing lost profits on aircraft, even though deHavilland had resold the planes after the debtor’s breach of contract at a higher price. The judgment was collected.

Stallion Corporation and NRM Corporation v. FMC (1982-1984)

  • Represented FMC, Chicago, Illinois, Robert Day, 312-861-5923; Patrick J. Head, General Counsel
  • Action for breach of warranty on approximately 1600 pieces of machinery used in oil field pumping; plaintiffs claimed $13,000,000 in damages
  • The case settled for nominal amount after we obtained summary judgment on major liability issues.

Manning v. Ashland Chemical Corporation (1983)

  • Represented Ashland, Lexington, Kentucky. Stephen W. Leermakers, legal counsel
  • Product liability action for severe burns suffered when lacquer thinner exploded in a residence
  • After one-week jury trial, the court directed a verdict for Ashland; affirmed on appeal.

In re General Motors Engine Interchange Litigation (MDL) (1981)

  • Represented General Motors, Detroit, Michigan, Thomas Gottschalk, former General Counsel, General Motors Corporation
  • Class action for breach of warranty against GM for interchanging Chevrolet engines in Oldsmobiles; was responsible for the development of expert testimony and exhibits on the historical practice of all car manufacturers to interchange engines
  • After 16-week jury trial, verdict for GM on the plaintiffs’ principal claim; verdict for plaintiffs on other claims. The court granted GM’s motion for new trial on verdict for plaintiffs; case settled.

In re General Motors Radio Litigation (1980)

  • Represented General Motors, Detroit, Michigan
  • Class action for violation of federal antitrust laws
  • No-cash class settlement reached after extensive pretrial proceedings

In Re Alumco Industries (1981)

  • Represented Alumax, Inc., San Mateo, California
  • Action for appointment of Trustee in chapter 11 reorganization on grounds of fraud by debtor
  • After one-week trial, the Court appointed a Trustee and Alumax awarded attorney fees from the estate. In addition, the estate paid Alumax’s claim.

Mays v. Motorola, Inc. (1980-81)

  • Represented Motorola (Schaumberg, Illinois) on appeal, Joseph Hack, legal counsel
  • Appeal of adverse judgment in Title VII class action for race discrimination
  • Court of appeals, on motion and briefs, stayed the trial court judgment against Motorola; case then settled on favorable terms.

General Foam Fabricators v. Tenneco Chemicals, Inc. (1980)

  • Represented Tenneco Chemicals, Inc., New Jersey, Mark Minkus
  • Action for tortious interference with business; sought $1,500,000
  • Tried to verdict against Tenneco, and trial court then entered a JNOV for Teneco. The United States Court of Appeals reversed the JNOV, but affirmed the new trial; the case then settled for nominal amount.

S.E.L.V.N. v. HUD (1980)

  • Represented plaintiffs, residents of the community in Chicago where a high-rise building was to be built
  • Action to enjoin construction of federally subsidized building; case tried before Hon. Julius J. Hoffman
  • After a two-week trial and two emergency appeals to United States Court of Appeals, the plaintiffs’ case was declared moot because the building was constructed.

Contran Corporation v. P.S.A. (1979)

  • Represented Contran, Dallas, Texas, Harold Simmons, president
  • Federal proxy litigation against Pacific Southwest Airlines, San Diego, California
  • After trial, Contran’s motion for preliminary injunction was denied; case settled.

Contran Tender Offer Cases (1977-78)

  • Represented Contran, Dallas, Texas, Harold Simmons, President
  • Multiple federal and state actions arising out of tender offer for Contran Corporation
  • After multiple trials, Contran was successful in all forums and the tender offer was defeated.