David Azar focuses his practice on class actions on behalf of defrauded investors and consumers, as well as disputes regarding contracts, partnerships, closely-held corporations, corporate governance, anti-SLAPP issues, real estate, and other complex commercial matters for businesses and individuals. He also provides corporate counseling as an outside general counsel and in pre-litigation and transactional matters, working with transactional or specialty counsel to provide a litigation perspective. Mr. Azar’s significant litigation experience includes first-chair trial and appellate work.
Mr. Azar graduated magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law in 1999, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif (top 10% of the class). While in law school, he served as a senior editor of Law and Contemporary Problems and was a member of the Moot Court Board. After law school, he clerked for Chief Justice Veasey of the Delaware Supreme Court. Before law school, he received his B.S. in Finance from Indiana University School of Business in 1991.
Mr. Azar has extensive knowledge of dispute resolution, having served as a mediator in more than 160 cases, and he has trained and reviewed other mediators. He is the legislative liaison of the Business Litigation Committee law of the California Lawyers Association, of which he is an appointed member. Mr. Azar also served as a volunteer prosecutor through the Los Angeles Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Project, and he was named by Los Angeles Magazine as a Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star.
He served for five years as the editor of the quarterly publication of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution and was honored with the association’s Presidential Recognition Award. He also played the divorce lawyer to Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the movie Her.
Building upon his nine years of experience representing business enterprises and high-net-worth individuals at two of the most prominent business litigation firms (Quinn Emanuel and Sullivan & Cromwell), Mr. Azar has prosecuted several multiparty and other class actions that resulted in more than $350 million in settlements.
Significant settlements include obtaining total recovery for investors of $219 million against Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo in a securities fraud/breach of contract action, which reflected one of the largest recoveries against indenture trustees in United States history.
In addition, Mr. Azar was part of the team that served as co-lead counsel in an antitrust class action resulting in $86 million in settlements on behalf of airline passengers who alleged that Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines conspired to fix the price of air travel between the United States and Korea. Mr. Azar’s significant litigation experience includes first-chair trial and appellate work.
Prior to Milberg, Mr. Azar also helped lead the team that obtained the $65 million settlement on behalf of the Winklevoss twins against Facebook Inc. and Mark Zuckerberg in connection with the dispute about the formation and intellectual property of Facebook, which was later made into the movie, The Social Network.
- Co-author of the chapters on LLC and partnership disputes in Litigating and Judging California Business Entity Governance Disputes, published by LexisNexis/ Matthew Bender (2019)
- Contributing author to the chapter on discovery in Antitrust Law Developments (7th Edition), published by the ABA Section of Antitrust Law
Representative Plaintiffs’ Class Action Matters
- Securities Fraud/Breach of Contract. Served as co-lead counsel in a class action resulting in total recovery for investors of $219 million against Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo relating to their work for a company that turned out to be a massive Ponzi scheme; reflects one of the largest recoveries against indenture trustees in United States history.
- Antitrust/Price Fixing. Served as co-lead counsel in a class action resulting in $86 million in settlements on behalf of airline passengers who alleged that Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines conspired to fix the price of air travel between the United States and Korea.
- Auditor Negligence/Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Represented the proposed class of investors of Direct Lending Investments LLC, against various individuals and entities responsible for collapse of the business and investor losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Closely Held Corporation/M&A. Served as lead counsel on behalf of shareholders of a medical group against inside management for breaches of fiduciary duty relating to merger negotiations, which helped facilitate the consummation of a merger on favorable terms; defeated California anti-SLAPP motion.
- Consumer Fraud. Served as co-lead counsel in MDL action on behalf of over 40,000 homeowners in eight states for bank’s failure to grant promised loan modifications.
- Lanham Act. Obtained successful settlement and change in practices for pharmacies whose names were used for promotional purposes by a third party without their permission.
- Merger & Acquisitions. Served as lead, co-lead counsel, or executive committee member in various corporate merger and acquisition class actions in which we obtained corrective disclosures so that shareholders could make fully informed decisions.
Representative Business Litigation Matters
- Closely Held Corporation/Litigation. Obtained $65 million settlement on behalf of the Winklevoss twins against Facebook Inc. and Mark Zuckerberg in connection with the dispute about the formation and intellectual property of Facebook, which was later made into the movie, The Social Network.
- Prevailing Party Fees/Partnership Dispute. Obtained prevailing party attorney fee award of more than $1.2 million in partnership dispute.
- Insurance Bad Faith. Retained as lead trial counsel in defense of a multimillion-dollar insurance bad faith claim approximately seven weeks before trial; settled the matter on favorable terms in mediation.
- Real Estate Partnership Dispute. Reversed two prior judgments against a client, and then successfully defended the client in actions by two former partners in real estate development, leading to favorable settlement on eve of trial.
- Family Dispute Regarding Real Estate Partnership/LLC. Represented family members in a dispute about interests in real estate partnership and LLC involving claims of breach of duty, fraud, conspiracy, and partnership accounting.
- Script Rights/Family Law. Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of former spouse in dispute about rights to ownership and income from derivative work to script prepared during marriage, including claims of fraud and rules differentiating polishes and rewrites.
- Securities Fraud. Represented a former outside director of a software company in five different actions filed by shareholders in federal and state court seeking in excess of $2 billion for alleged securities fraud, insider trading, and breach of fiduciary duty. Won dismissal with prejudice of one action, dismissal with prejudice of certain securities fraud claims in another action, and summary judgment of all claims in yet another action. The remaining claims and actions were settled.
- Breach of Contract and Fraud. Represented a bank in the prosecution of action against multiple parties seeking to recover approximately $20 million disbursed to a correspondent lender for loans that were never made. Obtained two multimillion-dollar pre-judgment writs of attachment against various defendants.
- Aiding and Abetting Ponzi Scheme. Defended a bank against a $45 million suit by bankruptcy trustee alleging the bank, and two other financial institutions, aided and abetted a Ponzi scheme; negotiated favorable settlement shortly before trial, which was approximately 10% of the verdict against the non-settling defendant.
- Tax Refund. Represented a bank in the prosecution of a $91-million tax refund action against the Franchise Tax Board relating to FTB’s disallowance of dividend deductions from real estate investment trust (REIT) and regulated investment company (RIC) as an improper tax shelter, resulting in a favorable settlement.
- Royalty Dispute. Successfully defended an entertainment company in a multimillion-dollar breach of contract case relating to royalties for well-known animated property, resulting in a favorable settlement at mediation.
- Joint Venture Broadcasting Dispute. Defended a multimillion-dollar contract and business tort claim relating to failed joint venture regarding broadcasting stations, resulting in a favorable settlement at mediation.
- Closely Held Bank Dispute. Represented a major investor and former board member of a closely held bank in a dispute concerning corporate governance issues and buy/sell agreement for his shares. Negotiated successful resolution at mediation.
- Real Estate Joint Venture/Breach of Settlement Agreement. Represented a real estate developer in multimillion-dollar arbitration against a joint venture partner regarding breach of agreements regarding a land development project and acquisition of water rights, resulting in a favorable settlement.
- Marital Dissolution Case (Asset Tracing and Valuation). Led to the successful discovery and motion to attach assets of charitable remainder unit trust, which held the bulk of assets at issue in a nine-figure divorce case; key issue concerned whether a successful company started by one spouse had been the community or separate property. Attachment of the trust led the case to a favorable settlement.
- Lender to Closely Held Entities. Successfully obtained dismissal of claims against a lender that it wrongfully manipulated the default of more than 74 related media companies on more than $65 million in bonds.
- Finder’s Fee/Real Estate Commission Dispute. Obtained settlement on behalf of real estate professionals who introduced purchaser to an off-market property and then were circumvented.
- Administrative Trial Regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Claim. Successfully first-chaired a four-day civil trial before an administrative law judge concerning claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Brought into the case three days before trial. Court subsequently approved attorney fees as reasonable and ordered the defendant to pay them as the losing party, establishing helpful precedent.
- Contempt. Successfully defended a multinational company against contempt proceedings in a case involving defamation claims in case involving airplane crash.
- RICO and Business Torts. Defended insurer from RICO and business tort claims relating to workers’ compensation reinsurance premiums; helped obtain dismissal of the original action, and the matter eventually settled on favorable terms.
- Antitrust. Researched and co-wrote the winning summary judgment briefs in $7 billion private antitrust actions against a jet engine manufacturer.
- Partnership/Contract Dispute/Jurisdiction. Secured the dismissal of an international breeder of show dogs from claims for breach of contract and other business torts for lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction.
- Divorce/Separate Versus Community Interests. Worked with specialty family law counsel to successfully settle divorce and extricate spouse from claims that his family’s real estate business had become partial community property.
Representative Non-Litigation/Corporate Counseling/Transactional Matters
- Advised a British multinational firm in a joint venture dispute with an Italian entity regarding investment in a Brazilian telecommunications company, where the operative agreements had a different choice of law and venue provisions
- Helped to devise a strategy for resolving a multinational real estate joint venture dispute
- Helped to negotiate a settlement agreement for alleged cross breaches of a complicated loan agreement to holding company and subsidiaries
- Helped to devise a strategy in successful arbitration to enforce settlement agreement provisions and obtain tolling of deadlines
- Resolved threatened termination of operating rights to an oil well
- Coordinated efforts to foreclose on vacant land subject to claims of an individual claiming to be both a partner in the project and a vendor with mechanics
- Assisted with a strategy in a dispute over control and management of condominium association between controlling ownership group and owner-occupants
- Performed collateral reviews of litigation portfolios for litigation financing
- Assisted a bank shareholder in a contested effort to join the board of directors without need for litigation
- Served on the pro bono panel of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law and was awarded a Distinguished Service Award in 2009 for continuing representation of a disabled father in a complex family law matter
- Obtained reinstatement on appeal of predatory mortgage claim by homeowner whose attorney committed malpractice, thus leading to dismissal of claim and threatened foreclosure
- Coordinated successful multi-firm effort to obtain settlements and defeat an anti-SLAPP fee motion in several actions on behalf of a seriously injured individual who suffered from both alleged medical malpractice and legal malpractice by personal injury counsel
- Persuaded the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a disabled prisoner’s federal civil rights case to proceed, resulting in a published decision on a matter of first impression
- Defended translator in defending against contempt proceedings relating to her alleged whistleblowing about safety defects in automobiles
- Represented tenants in various disputes with landlords
- “Attorney Fees in Class Action Settlements,” on-demand CLE for the National Association of Legal Fee Analysis (2017)
- “Pre-Certification Dispositive Motions, Pleadings Challenges, Class vs. Merit Discovery, Ex Parte Communication with Putative Class Members, and Precertification Production of a Class List” at Bridgeport’s Twelfth Annual Class Action Litigation & Management Conference (April 19, 2012)
- “Consumer Class Action Litigation: Leveraging New Developments in Class Certification, Causation and Reliance” (October 2011)
- J.D., Duke University, 1999
- B.A., Indiana University, Bloomington, 1991
- California, 2001
- Business Litigation Committee law of the California Lawyers Association, Legislative Liaison/Appointed Member
- Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, Pro Bono Panel