Notable Cases/Trials

Mancinelli v. Rustie’s Unique Designs, Inc., California Superior Court for the County of San Diego, April through May, 2004 (Jury and Court trial)

The client, an executive of a prominent doll manufacturer and distributor was approached by another doll manufacturer, Rustie’s Unique Designs, Inc., and orally offered a position as CEO with an equity stake in the company by the company’s principals, Kathleen Siewak and Fred Barlow.  The client accepted the offer, quit his position with the doll manufacturer and began his new career with Rustie’s Unique Designs, Inc. Within six months, Siewak and Barlow disclaimed their offer, and told the client that he was terminated. Scott McMillan brought the lawsuit and represented the client through the eight and a half day jury trial for his claims of breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud and wrongful interference with contract and economic interference. The client was awarded $962,029.00 for damages. Of the $962,029, $350,000 was designated as punitive damages against defendants Fred Barlow and Rustie’s Unique Designs, Inc.

Western Pet Wholesalers, Inc., et al. v. Natura Pet Products, Inc., et al., and related cross actions. California Superior Court for the County of San Diego, March through June 2003 (Jury and Court trial)

Western Pet Wholesalers held an exclusive distribution agreement with Natura Pet Products to distribute within a Southern California territory. Natura employed James Balsimo, a sales representative who managed the Western Pet account. Balsimo went to Western Pet’s headquarters and obtained Western Pet’s customer list just before Natura announced that it was terminating Western Pet’s exclusive distribution agreement. Balsimo then became the exclusive distributor for Natura, and began exploiting the list and selling into the same market that Western Pet developed. Western Pet brought a lawsuit naming Natura, Balsimo, and Balsimo’s company Quality Pet Products, Inc., for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, and interference with prospective economic advantage.

In response to Western Pet Wholesaler’s action, the defendants brought a private attorney general suit, as a cross-complaint against Western Pet Wholesaler, Inc. for supposed wage and hour law violations. The defendants sought to have their cross-complaint heard by the jury. Scott McMillan defended the case not only procedurally, but on the merits. Scott McMillan successfully moved to exclude the allegations from presentation in the jury trial, and demonstrated that there were no actual violations as claimed by the defendants.

The jury trial commenced, and after six weeks of argument and testimony, the jury returned a verdict in excess of $2 Million for the clients of attorneys Kowalsky and Shawn and Scott McMillan. Following entry of the judgment, the court awarded the attorneys almost $700,000 in attorneys fees.

Mendoza - Caballero, et al. v. Lee, et al., California Superior Court for the County of San Diego, July 2003 (Jury trial)

Lazaro Mendoza-Caballero, an immigrant from Mexico, together with his family, purchased a “snack bar” inside an indoor swap meet. The snack bar was subject to a partially written, partially oral lease arrangement. A dispute arose over the terms of the lease, and the landlord of the snack bar, i.e., the operator of the indoor swapmeet began engaging in self-help measures to obtain Mendoza-Caballero’s cooperation. The Mendoza family engaged the The McMillan Law Firm, and Scott McMillan filed a lawsuit for damages arising from the sale of the business and the self-help efforts of the landlord. In the course of a separate lawsuit, Mendoza-Caballero and his family were evicted from the snack bar. The suit for damages went to trial after the defendants offered only $20,000 in payment, with McMillan’s clients demanding $85,000. After three days of trial, Scott McMillan obtained a cash settlement of $150,000 and a satisfaction of the $35,000 judgment held by the landlord, for a net recovery of $185,000 from the landlord.

Simmons v. City of San Diego, et al. California Superior Court for the County of San Diego, January, 2002 (Court trial)

Simmons v. City of San Diego involved a challenge to the City of San Diego’s sale of bonds to finance the San Diego Padres Ballpark project.  Scott McMillan represented Gardener Osborne, a concerned citizen, who joined a lawsuit to block City’s sale of bonds to build what’s presently named the Petco Park. At an overwhelming disadvantage, and despite being forced to trial the court day following his client’s response to the suit against the City of San Diego, the Padres, and all other “interested persons,” McMillan and Osborne did not quit. Rather, McMillan argued Osborne’s case in a trial widely perceived to be decided before even begun. The manner of determining the decision in the case by the trial judge is still a source of controversy particularly since the recent disclosure of the bankrupt finances of the City of San Diego.