Miller Johnson Law
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Representative Cases

The cases referenced below are representative of the work we have done over the years.  The results stated are a matter of public record because the disposition involved either trial or a dispositive motion; thus the results are not confidential and are verifiable.   

Intellectual Property 

Globefill Incorporated v. Elements Spirits

            Our client, the creator of KAH "Day of the Dead" Tequila, was 

sued for 
trade dress infringement by plaintiff, which marketed Crystal Head Vodka. The Plaintiff, Globelfill, is Crystal Head Vodka's parent company and is predominately owned by actor / comedian Dan Akroyd. Crystal Head alleged that KAH's stylized and hand-painted calavera-shaped bottle designs were similar to Crystal Head Vodka's unembellished, transparent and anatomically correct skull-shaped bottle design. A unanimous jury verdict denied Globefill Inc. its request for damages and a permanent injunction to stop Elements Spirits, Inc. from selling KAH tequila in skull bottles. We openly addressed the plaintiff's attempted monopoly on the "design" of the human skull and devaluation of traditional Mexican culture. 

L&L Francise v. Shaka Hawaiian BBQ

            Our client was sued for trademark infringement by L&L Franchise, the owner of the fast food chain known as "L&L Hawaiian Barbecue," which claimed that it owned the exclusive right to use the phrase "Hawaiian Barbecue." We obtained a summary adjudication from the U.S. District Court invalidating L&L's "Hawaiian Barbecue" trademark, and our motion to dismiss L&L's interlocutory appeal was granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Case No. 08-55614.

Spy Optic v. S.S.                                                                        

Trademark infringement and dilution claim brought by sunglass manufacturer against owner of a sunglass “hut.” Case was voluntarily dismissed by plaintiff with our motion to dismiss pending. We argued that the “second sale” doctrine barred the action and that any complaint plaintiff Spy Optic had with respect to “exclusive sales territories” and pricing should be taken up with Spy Optics’ licensed distributor.

BMW of North American v. L.J.L.                         

BMW sued our client claiming that a website address, "Just," was trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act. The case settled shortly after we obtained a summary adjudication from the United States District Court determining that the website address was a "fair use" of BMW's trademark and, therefore, not a violation of the Lanham Act.

"Anti-Slapp" Motions 

Bonita Country Day School v. K.F.                                     

Our client was sued for defamation, business disparagement, and assorted claims for publicizing health and fire hazards at a private school attended by her son. We filed an Anti-SLAPP motion, claiming the issues raised by K.F. were a matter of public importance. The trial court denied our motion, but the Court of Appeal reversed and instructed the trial court to dismiss the complaint and award our client attorney fees and costs incurred in bringing both the motion and the appeal.

Executive Escrow v. E.C.                                                                     
            Our clients were sued for the malicious prosecution of an underlying fraud case. We filed a special motion to strike under the California anti-SLAPP statute. We not only succeeded in securing a dismissal of the lawsuit, but also were awarded attorney’s fees and costs against the plaintiff. We then successfully defended the matter though appeal, and were awarded additional fees and costs to cover the appeal.  

Park Place v. A.A.                                                                       

Our client had filed an action in the small claims court, seeking payment for services. While that action was still pending, the small claims defendant filed a complaint in the Superior Court alleging that the small claims action was being maliciously prosecuted. We filed an "anti-SLAPP" motion to strike, on the ground that small claims actions cannot form the basis of a malicious prosecution action, and on the ground the action was premature. The Court granted the motion, and awarded attorney's fees. In exchange for a waiver of the right to enforce the judgment for fees, the malicious prosecution plaintiff agreed to dismiss his action against the insured.

Brewer v. K.C.Y.

An attorney represented his own client in a malpractice action against his client's predecessor attorney. The predecessor attorney filed a cross-complaint against the successor attorney, all
eging tortious and intentional interference with his contractual relationship with the client. We filed a special motion to strike the cross-complaint under the Anti-Slapp law. The motion was granted, the cross-complaint was dismissed, and we recovered attorney's fees against the predecessor attorney.

Unfair Competition and Disparagement v. S.R.                                                                            

Our client was sued by his former employer, based on internet postings that were allegedly libelous, accusing plaintiff SMS of being a “criminal operation.” Our investigation revealed that most of the information in the insured's postings was in fact true, including charges of unethical and unfair business activities by the plaintiff.  At the deposition of another employee, who had knowledge of our client’s postings, we examined the witness extensively about Labor Code violations and threats against him by SMS officers. The deposition was suspended during our cross-examination and plaintiff SMS dismissed our client.

Bad Faith 

Allan Clark v. Depositors Insurance                                                           

Bad faith claim brought by Depositor’s insured, who was injured in an automobile accident caused by an uninsured motorist. Benefits were not paid until nearly six years post-accident. Claim was for delay in payment and failure to give advance partial payment after nature and extent of injuries were known. Lowest demand going into trial was $2,000,000, raised to $4,000,000 after a "Collossus search" was allowed into evidence. After a jury trial, Depositors was declared the prevailing party, and was awarded costs.

Swidan dba Speaker City v. Allied/Nationwide Insurance                    

The insured made claims for benefits arising out of alleged burglaries of his business, and contended that our client was liable for bad faith because it took to long to investigate and then pay the benefits. At trial, we were able to establish that AMCO paid the insured all benefits to which it was entitled, and that any delay in paying benefits was caused by the insured, who was unable to produce invoices or receipts for the allegedly stolen property, claimed that he did not have any tax or inventory information regarding that property, and engaged in other behavior that raised numerous "red flags." The jury returned a verdict in defendants' favor after an hour and a half of deliberation.                             

Alliance v. Morberg                                       

            Our client was Allied Insurance, the Morbergs were Allied insureds who received a defense of a mold remediation action. When Allied attempted to settle the claim, the Morbergs withdrew their defense tender and refused to approve the settlement. Allied settled anyway, and the Morbergs sued Allied for bad faith.   

The Morbergs’s bad faith counsel had performed work, as an independent contractor, for Allied’s panel defense counsel. Our review of defense counsel’s file unearthed e-mails from the Morbergs’ bad faith counsel to the Morbergs, establishing a plan to set Allied up for a bad faith action. We filed a motion to disqualify counsel on the ground she owed a duty to Allied, and therefore could not ethically sue the company. The trial court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeal issued an order to show cause why relief should not be granted to Allied. Within a week of the issuance of this order, plaintiffs dismissed their lawsuit against Allied.

Strecker v. Nationwide                                                                                 

Our client, an insurance company, was sued for bad faith after its insured was denied a defense and indemnity for damage caused to a property owned and stored at the insured's storage facility. We established after one deposition that the destruction of the property was willful and excluded under the insurance policy, and our motion for summary judgement was granted. 

Barnes v. AMCO                                                                                          

Bad faith case where AMCO declined to defend or indemnify Mr. Barnes under a restaurant liability policy. Barnes was a shareholder and the son of the founder of the restaurant, and he used that status to sexually harass some of the restaurant’s waitresses.  Our motion for summary judgment was granted.

Puerta v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Company                                                                    

This was a faith case brought by a named insured based upon the refusal of our client, the insurance company, to pay for damage to an automobile. We established that the insured lacked an " insurable interest" in the car, and our motion for summary judgement was granted and affirmed on appeal.

Rombe Corp. v. Allied Insurance                                                                                         

This was a bad faith action brought against our client, an insurer, by an insured whose request for a defense and indemnification had been denied. The insured was a temporary employment agency that had been sued by a competitor, which alleged that the insured had breached a franchise agreement, misappropriated confidential information, and improperly solicited customers. The Court granted our motion for summary judgment, ruling that such solicitation was not a covered "advertising injury."  The ruling was affirmed in a published Court of Appeal decision, at 128 Cal.App.4th 482, and review was denied by the California Supreme Court.

Barbosa v. AMCO                                                                                     

This was an action against our clients, two insurers, brought by insureds whose homes had been damaged by a landslide. We removed the action from state court to the U.S. District Court, and that Court granted out motion to dismiss.

Gillespie v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance

The court granted our motion to dismiss the plaintiff's bad faith complaint, based on the plaintiff's failure to comply with discovery orders. 

Catastrophic Injuries 

McCullough v. R.W.J.T.                            

Personal injury case involving a catastrophic brain injury to a two year old child who fell from a balcony at an insured’s apartment complex.  Demand in the case was $10,000,000. After three depositions, we filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted and subsequently affirmed on appeal.

Geib v. G.F.                                                                     

Action for severe bodily injuries, including permanent brain damage, suffered by plaintiff in an automobile collision. Plaintiff alleged that numerous surrounding homeowners, including our client, had a duty to warn drivers that an intersection in the area was dangerous.  The Court granted summary judgment on the issue of whether homeowners have a duty to place signage on a private road. After this ruling was affirmed on appeal, plaintiff dismissed all claims against our clients. 


Other matters handled by the firm include cases involving  property use and easement, business and partnership disputes, breach of contract, and contested probate matters.                                                                                

(619) 232-0086

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