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, and other complex commercial matters for businesses and individuals. He also provides corporate counseling in pre-litigation and transactional matters, working with transactional or specialty counsel to provide a litigation perspective or to act as an outside general counsel. A description of his representative class action and business litigation matters is included below.
Building upon his nine years of experience representing business enterprises and high-net-worth individuals at two of the most prominent business litigation firms, Mr. Azar has prosecuted several multiparty and other class actions that resulted in more than $300 million in settlements during the past three years alone. Mr. Azar’s significant litigation experience includes first-chair trial and appellate work. He is also a contributing author of the Antitrust Law Developments (7th Edition), published by the ABA Section of Antitrust Law.
Mr. Azar graduated from Duke University School of Law, magna cum laude, 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, one of the two competitive law reviews, and was a member of the Moot Court Board. After law school, he clerked for Chief Justice Veasey of the Delaware Supreme Court. Prior to law school, he received his B.S. in Finance from Indiana University School of Business in 1991 and then worked both for closely-held businesses and in the real estate investment banking group of a national firm. His experiences included performing investment analyses, partnership negotiations, due diligence and management duties for real estate projects, new business ventures, workouts and turnarounds, and assisting with the placement of debt and equity capital for all major property types.
Mr. Azar serves as a volunteer prosecutor through the Los Angeles Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Project, and he has been named by Los Angeles Magazine as a Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star. 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 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.
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.
- 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.
- False Advertising. Co-lead counsel in pending MDL class action regarding misleading food labels (“100% Natural” claims).
- Consumer Fraud. 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 confidential 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.
- 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. Representing family members in a dispute about interests in real estate partnership and LLC involving claims of breach of duty, fraud, conspiracy, and partnership accounting.
- 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 bank in the prosecution of action against multiple parties seeking to recover approximately $20 million disbursed to 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 bank against against $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 bank in prosecution of $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 favorable settlement.
- Royalty Dispute. Successfully defended entertainment company in multimillion dollar breach of contract case relating to royalties for well-known animated property, resulting in favorable settlement at mediation.
- Joint Venture Broadcasting Dispute. Defended multimillion dollar contract and business tort claims relating to failed joint venture regarding broadcasting stations, resulting in favorable settlement at mediation.
- Closely-Held Bank Dispute. Represented major investor and former board member of closely held bank in 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 real estate developer in multimillion dollar arbitration against joint venture partner regarding breach of agreements regarding land development project and acquisition of water rights, resulting in favorable settlement.
- Marital Dissolution Case (Asset Tracing and Valuation). Led successful discovery and motion to attach assets of charitable remainder unit trust, which held bulk of assets at issue in nine-figure divorce case; key issue concerned whether a successful company started by one spouse had been community or separate property. Attachment of the trust led case to favorable settlement.
- Lender to Closely Held Entities. Successfully obtained dismissal of claims against lender that it wrongfully manipulated the default of more than 74 related media companies on more than $65 million of bonds.
- Administrative Trial Regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Claim. Successfully first chaired four-day civil trial before an administrative law judge concerning claims under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Brought into the case three days before trial. Court subsequently approved attorney fees as reasonable and ordered defendant to pay them as the losing party, establishing helpful precedent.
- Contempt. Successfully defended multinational company against contempt proceedings in 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 original action, and matter eventually settled on favorable terms.
- Antitrust. Researched and co-wrote winning summary judgment briefs in $7 billion private antitrust action against jet engine manufacturer.
- Partnership / Contract Dispute / Jurisdiction. Secured dismissal of international breeder of show dogs from claims for breach of contract and other business torts for lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction.
Representative Non-Litigation or Corporate Counseling / Transactional Matters:
- Advised British multinational firm in a joint venture dispute with an Italian entity regarding investment in a Brazilian telecommunications company, where the operative agreements had different choice of law and venue provisions.
- Helped to devise strategy for resolving multinational real estate joint venture dispute.
- Helped to negotiate settlement agreement for alleged cross breaches of complicated loan agreement to holding company and subsidiaries.
- Helped to devise 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 individual claiming to be both a partner in the project and a vendor with a mechanics.
- Assisted with strategy in 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 bank shareholder in contested effort to join board of directors, without need for litigation.
Pro Bono and Speaking Engagements
- Mr. Azar serves on the pro bono panel of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, and he was awarded a Distinguished Service Award in 2009 for his continuing representation of a disabled father in a complex family law matter.
- Mr. Azar’s pro bono work has also included successfully persuading 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; assisting tenants in disputes with their landlords; and assisting a translator in defending against contempt proceedings relating to her alleged whistleblowing about safety defects in automobiles.
Speaking engagements include: “Consumer Class Action Litigation: Leveraging New Developments in Class Certification, Causation and Reliance” (October 2011); and session titled “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).
- B.A., Indiana University, Bloomington, 1991
- J.D., Duke University, 1999
- California, 2001
- Serves on the pro bono panel of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law