In The News


Congratulations to Dick Semerdjian on being recognized as a "Lawyer of the Year" award recipient in the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©!   Dick received the highest ratings this year from his attorney peers and judges in the area of personal injury defense work in San Diego County, making him the only attorney in San Diego  to receive the "Lawyer of the Year" award in this practice area.

Dick was also recognized again as a “Best Lawyer” in 2017 in his practice area of Labor and Employment Law.

Best Lawyers® is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Awards are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers and judges confidentially evaluate their peers.  Best Lawyers peer-reviewed listings are published in almost 70 countries around the world.


Schwartz Semerdjian partners John Moot and Sarah Evans will join a variety of firm clients and contacts at the South County Economic Development Council's 26th Annual Economic Summit at the San Diego Convention Center.  For the past several years, Schwartz Semerdjian has sponsored a table at the summit, which brings together border region political and economic leaders to discuss common issues and celebrate award-winning work in San Diego's South Bay.


Schwartz Semerdjian has joined the University of San Diego School of Law Named Scholarship Program. The firm will sponsor the Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot Community Service Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is awarded to a law student who has demonstrated commitment to community service in San Diego County.  The scholarship supports the firm’s efforts to encourage and promote voluntary community service by its attorneys and by future members of the legal profession.  The scholarship will be awarded to a law student who meets the requirements and has demonstrated financial need.


Schwartz Semerdjian associate Kristen Bush has been appointed to the Ethics and Professionalism Committee within the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association (ABA).  This committee examines issues of ethics and professionalism for attorneys.  The committee identifies potential changes to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and provides comments to the ABA’s governing body with respect to ethics related issues. Congratulations, Kristen!


Schwartz Semerdjian is proud to congratulate founding partner Dick Semerdjian as the 2016 recipient of the James K. Carroll Leadership Award from the Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association (ABA). This annual award honors a TIPS member who, like James K. Carroll, has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in service to TIPS. Dick has been an active member of the ABA and TIPS since 1986, serving as TIPS Chair during the 2012-2013 bar year. In 2014-2015, Dick was appointed the Chair of the ABA Commission on the American Jury.  This year, Dick is the Co-Chair of the ABA/TIPS Leadership Academy.  The James K. Carroll Award will be presented to Dick at the TIPS Leadership Dinner, on August 6, 2016, at the annual ABA meeting in San Francisco. Congratulations, Dick!


Schwartz Semerdjian partner Sierra Spitzer received an “Exceptional Achievement” award during the Annual American Bar Association Meeting in San Francisco.  Sierra was honored for her work as the 2015-2016 Chair of the Employment & Labor Law Committee of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association (ABA).  Congratulations, Sierra!


On June 21, 2016, founding partner Dick Semerdjian was appointed by American Bar Association (ABA) President-Elect Linda Klein as the Chair of the Standing Committee of the American Judicial System Subcommittee on State Courts. Dick's term will commence in August 2016 after adjournment of the ABA annual meeting in San Francisco. We are very proud to have Dick representing Schwartz Semerdjian and our industry at the national level. Congratulations, Dick!


Schwartz Semerdjian associate attorney Mark Bale was invited to speak to the San Diego Chapter of the Forensic Expert Witness Association (“FEWA”) at their dinner meeting on July 25, 2016.  Mark’s presentation to the FEWA members will address recent changes to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the impact of those changes on the work of attorneys and expert witnesses.


Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot is representing client Grand Central West in a civil case to preserve access to transportation services at the US-Mexico Border crossing, a case featured in the Union Tribune's Watchdog Report. The Metropolitan Transit System claims there is an illegal doorway that trespasses on its land, however, Moot argues that "it's not about a door, it's more about protecting and advancing the private arrangement they've made with this new entity." Link to the June 18, 2016 UT Watchdog Report.


A civil anti-corruption case being handled by Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot is headed to the California Supreme Court. The lawsuit seeks the return of 26 million to the Sweetwater Union High School District from contractors who lavished expensive meals, theater, and sports tickets to obtain the contracts. A District Attorney investigation resulted in guilty pleas from several of the former Board members and the issue to be decided by the Supreme Court is whether testimony from the criminal grand jury and guilty pleas can be used in the civil case. Link to July 8, 2016 Star News article.


Schwartz Semerdjian client ItalFlavors, LLC Prevails in Ninth Circuit Appeal Overturning District Court’s Order to Arbitrate Dispute Internationally - The Ninth Circuit recently published an opinion overturning a U.S. District Court order that required Schwartz Semerdjian client, ItalFlavors, LLC, to arbitrate a California franchise law dispute in Switzerland.  At issue was whether ItalFlavors entered into a binding arbitration agreement with Italian company Casa del Caffe Vergnano S.p.A. when it simultaneously executed two agreements in Italy in 2010.  The first agreement was a boilerplate franchise agreement created in an effort to expedite immigration paperwork.  This agreement contained an international arbitration clause.  The second agreement, executed simultaneously, explicitly disavowed any legal effect of the first agreement and made clear the parties would execute a formal franchise agreement in the future.  The District Court held that the effect of the second agreement on the first agreement was a question to be decided by an international arbitrator—essentially, a Swiss arbitrator would decide whether the case was arbitrable in the first place.  The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that when parties do not have a meeting of the minds on forming a contract, an arbitration clause in the unformed contract is not effective.  The parties can now resolve their dispute in California.  Link to the published opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. Link to the video of Attorney Owen Praskievicz’ oral argument before the Ninth Circuit.


Schwartz Semerdjian client Sweetwater Union High School District Prevails in Contractors' Appeal on ‘Free Speech’ Gifts Ruling - California's Fourth District Court of Appeals recently published its opinion in the Sweetwater Union High School District's case handled by Schwartz Semerdjian attorneys John Moot, Sarah Evans and Kristen Bush.  As is described in the attached article from the Union-Tribune, "Jersey Boys" tickets, lavish meals, and free trips were among the gifts lavished on Sweetwater officials by contractors, who contend that the entertainment was a form of free speech.  The San Diego appeals court disagreed, and the ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal affirmed a decision by San Diego Superior Court Judge Sturgeon in December 2014, in a case filed by Sweetwater Union High School District against construction contractors Gilbane and The Seville Group. The district is trying to recover millions of dollars it paid to the companies for a series of school building projects. Link to published opinion of California’s 4th District Court of AppealLink to the full March 2, 2016 Union Tribune article.


Schwartz Semerdjian will sponsor a February 4, 2016 seminar and reception for corporate counsel and litigation managers as part of the American Bar Association (ABA) Mid-Year Conference in San Diego (Feb. 3 - Feb. 9, 2016). This corporate counsel-focused program will include separate and distinct presentations on cutting edge issues that keep companies and clients up at night. This unique program is planned and presented by five ABA committees - Corporate Counsel, Employment Litigation, Products Liability, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law, and Self-Insurers and Risk Managers Committees - and will feature leading San Diego based corporate counsel and trial lawyers from each of these disciplines. Dick Semerdjian will be the moderator of the Employment Litigation program. Click here for the event flyer on our website.