Richard L. Seabolt is co-head of the Commercial, Securities and Antitrust division of Duane Morris' Trial Practice Group. Mr. Seabolt practices in the area of litigation, with a focus on complex trials and appeals arising from commercial disputes, including those involving technology, construction and insurance. He has successfully defended various class actions, and recently obtained dismissals of two significant class actions following pre-trial motions.
During his more than 35 years as a lawyer, Mr. Seabolt has tried a number of multimillion-dollar cases to defense verdicts, including a jury trial that was profiled on the front page of the National Law Journal as among the largest cases tried to a defense verdict in 1992.
Mr. Seabolt was Chair of the 10,000-member Litigation Section of the State Bar of California in 2005-2006. In January 2013 he became President of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), Northern California Chapter. He also serves on the California Judicial Council's Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions (CACI Committee). Mr. Seabolt is co-author of the four-volume California Practice Guides California Pretrial Civil Procedure and California Civil Discovery published by Lexis Nexis/Matthew Bender. Mr. Seabolt is listed in The Best Lawyers in America (Client Comments), Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Who's Who in America and Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition - The Top Attorneys in Business Litigation.
Mr. Seabolt is a 1975 graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a graduate, with distinction, of the University of Michigan.
· In re Zynga Privacy Litigation- Commercial Litigation - Obtained November 2011 judgment dismissing consolidated federal class actions alleging claims under Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Stored Communications Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as state common-law and statutory claims. Plaintiffs alleged that Zynga shared personally identifiable information with advertisers through the transmission of referrer headers that linked to Facebook user pages - allegations that were the subject of an October 18, 2010, front-page Wall Street Journal article. Zynga's defenses included assertions that any leakage resulted from standard web-browser operations and that plaintiffs suffered no actual harm. Judgment and dismissal were concurrent with the dismissal of the related action, In re Facebook Privacy Litigation.
· Swift v. Zynga Inc. - Commercial Litigation - obtained a dismissal with prejudice of a class action brought against Zynga Inc. under the California Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, following a successful motion to compel arbitration based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion decision. In the first application of that decision to an online terms of service agreement, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that the Zynga's modified click-wrap agreement was effective to bind the plaintiff to arbitrate the claims as an individual - and, did not allow the plaintiff to pursue her claim as a representative of the putative class. Swift v. Zynga Game Network, Inc., 805 F.Supp. 2d 904 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
· The Kindred Limited Partnership v. Screen Actors Guild- Commercial Litigation - Copyright infringement and wrongful foreclosure action brought on behalf of Feldman/Meeker Co. to obtain return of copyright for the motion picture The Kindred. Obtained partial summary judgment that SAG's foreclosure on the motion picture copyright was unlawful and ineffective. Damages claim settled shortly before trial set for June 2010.
· Airis v. City and County of San Francisco - Commercial Litigation - Plaintiff's jury verdict in May-June 2007 trial in favor of world's largest air cargo developer arising from planned quarter-billion dollar air cargo facility at SFO. The verdict against the city was based on a unanimous jury finding that the city's airport staff breached its contract duties under a San Francisco Airport Commission-awarded exclusive negotiation agreement by unfairly interfering with the approval process before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The California Court of Appeal, First District, Division Two, in September 2010 reversed the trial court's JNOV and reinstated the unanimous jury verdict. Following reinstatement of the judgment and an Airis motion for attorneys' fees and costs as the prevailing party, the City paid the judgment and settled the attorneys' fees and costs issue by paying $8.8 million.
· PeopleData v. Yahoo! - Commercial Litigation - representation of Yahoo! in defense of breach of "pay-per-click" advertising contract and various related tort claims and prosecution of cross-complaint for successor liability and fraudulent conveyance of business assets. Matter was settled, with Yahoo! as a defendant obtaining an affirmative recovery.
· Hool and Meeker v. Village Roadshow Limited - Commercial Litigation - representation of independent movie producers in fraudulent conveyance action against entertainment industry conglomerate based on transfer of business and employees of a corporate subsidiary following arbitration award and judgment, which with interest totaled $40 million. Case settled after defeating summary judgment motions and within one month of trial.
· Pacific Resources v. ULR - Commercial Litigation - successful defense, including recovery of defense attorneys' fees in a three-judge arbitration panel dispute involving breach of contract/fiduciary duty claims associated with the dissolution of a financial consulting joint venture
· FMC v. London Market Insurers - Insurance Coverage - defense jury verdict in FMC's $20 million claim for environmental cleanup at its Mouat site (later reported at FMC Corporation v. Plaisted and Companies, 61 Cal.App.4th 1132, 1165-1179 (1998).
· Aerojet-General v. Cheshire and Companies - Insurance Coverage Litigation - Mr. Seabolt was lead defense counsel in Aerojet-General Corp. v. Transport Indemnity Co., a ten-month, four-phase trial (including two jury trial phases) in a specially constructed, converted auditorium courtroom involving more than 30 other law firms. After three months of trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, rejecting Aerojet's claim against its insurers for pollution cleanup costs estimated at between $500 million to $1 billion. The National Law Journal and the San Francisco Daily Journal highlighted the case as among the largest jury trials tried to a defense verdict in 1992. Mr. Seabolt's opening statement in that case has been published in Environmental Insurance Litigation (Shepard's/ McGraw-Hill 1992). The California Supreme Court later affirmed the defense verdict on Aerojet's indemnity claim. Aerojet-General v. Transport 17 Cal.4th 38 (1997). The Court of Appeal later affirmed the res judicata effect of that judgment and quoted part of Mr. Seabolt's closing argument at the original trial. See, Aerojet-General Corp. v. American Excess, 97 Cal.App.4th 387, 412 (Feb. 2002).
· Kelly v. Alexander Grant - Commercial Litigation - successful defense of preliminary injunction and arbitration brought by a national accounting firm against key Tax partner under partnership noncompete clause.
· Briscoe v. Morrison-Knudsen - Construction Litigation - successful defense of construction manager in a $30 million construction delay case involving an advanced wastewater treatment plant (other aspects of the case reported at Frank Briscoe Co. v. Clark County, 857 F.2d 606 (9th Cir. 1988)).
· Morrison-Knudsen v. Kaiser Cement - Construction Litigation - International Chamber of Commerce arbitration arising from the construction of a cement plant in Indonesia.
· Other Construction Litigation Matters - representation of contractor for construction contract delay claim arising from the construction of the Trans-Panama Pipeline, defense of design engineers arising from dam failures at Winslow, Arizona and Bajo Piura, Peru, defense of design engineer on San Francisco Muni-Metro Rail Center
· Representation of the company that developed the first computerized engraving system in a trade secret dispute.
· Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2006-present
· Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP
- Partner, 1982-2005
- Associate, 1975-1981
· Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Northern California Chapter
- President (2013); Board of Governors (2003-present)
· Litigation Section, State Bar of California, Chair (2005-2006) (Executive Committee or Officer, 2001-2005)
· Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), California Judicial Council (2003-present). Recently re-appointed by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court to another three-year term ending October 31, 2015.
· American Arbitration Association, Large Complex Case Panel
· University of California, Hastings College of the Law, UC Hastings Foundation Board of Trustees (2008-present)
Honors and Awards
· Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, 2013
· Listed in:
- The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, Construction and Insurance
- Chambers USA - America's Leading Lawyers for Business
- SuperLawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition, Business Litigation
- Northern California Super Lawyers, Business Litigation
- Who's Who in America
· AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
· "Do Something That Scares You" - the first in Litigation Section's series titled "I Learned About Litigating from That," California Litigation, Vol. 25 No. 1 (2012)
· Co-author, "Class Action Waivers Declared Enforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court," Duane Morris Alert, April 29, 2011
· Co-author, "Supreme Court Allows Arbitrators to Determine Validity of Arbitration Agreements, Strengthening Enforcement," Duane Morris Alert, June 24, 2010
· Co-author, "U.S. Supreme Court Endorses "Nerve Center" Test to Determine Corporations' State Citizenship, Potentially Affecting California Litigation," Duane Morris Alert, February 26, 2010
· "Direct Effect: The Advantages of the Direct/Independent Calendar System Over the Master Calendar System" and "The Judicial System Must Evolve, Adapt In Order to Meet Demand," Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 10 and 17, 2008. Reprinted with permission of Daily Journal Corp. (2008)
· "Roundtable Discussion: In-House Perspective on Litigation," Moderator with discussion among: Charles James, Chevron GC; Mark Chandler, Cisco GC; Rick Burt, Bechtel GC; Jill Dessalines, McKesson AGC - Litigation; and Joe Catalano, Union Bank AGC - Litigation, California Litigation, Winter 2006
· "E-Discovery: From Avoiding Malpractice to Gaining a Litigation Edge," California Litigation, Winter 2006
· "Legal London and the Courts of England," California Litigation, Fall 2006
· "Stay Connected," California Litigation, Spring 2006
· "Video Recording of Trial Testimony for Closing Argument," California Litigation, December 1, 2004
· "The Demand for Public Judicial Review in Private Dispute Resolution: How to Obtain It," Association of Corporate Counsel - SF Bay Chapter's June 2004 Newsletter, June 1, 2004
· California Pretrial Civil Procedure and California Civil Discovery, LexisNexis Matthew Bender California Practice Guides, co-author and editorial consultant, October 2003 and ongoing
· "Lost Profits Damages: From Expert Testimony Through Jury Instructions," California Litigation, May 1, 2003
· "The Pattern of Successful Defense Jury Verdicts in California Environmental Coverage Cases," Mealey's Litigation Report, June 20, 2000
· "Technology Spurs New Contract-Formation Disputes," San Francisco Daily Journal, September 20, 1999
· "Victorious, Unheralded - The NLJ Examines Some of the Biggest Wins for Civil Defendants," The National Law Journal, March 15, 1993
Selected Speaking Engagements
· Speaker, "Hot Topics in Commercial Litigation," Bay Area GC Group, San Francisco, October 2, 2012
· Panelist, Hot Topics in Commercial Litigation, sponsored by UC Hastings College of the Law Alumni Center, San Francisco, California, July 26, 2012
· Panelist, "Best Practices: How to Take and Defend a Winning Deposition," The Recorder Roundtable, Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, California, March 23, 2011, moderated by Scott Graham, Editor-in-Chief, The Recorder (Video Excerpts)
· Panelist, "E-Discovery from A to Z - Procedures and Strategies," State Bar of California's 83rd Annual Meeting, Monterey, California, September 23, 2010, with Patrick O'Donnell, Supervising Attorney at the California Judicial Council's Office of General Counsel
· Moderator, "Economical Litigation Agreements (ELAs) -- Alternative ADR Provisions/Civil Litigation Prenuptial Agreements," Bay Area GC Group luncheon, San Francisco, California, October 6, 2009
· Moderator, "Practice Under California's New Electronic Discovery Act," Law Seminars International teleconference, September 17, 2009, with Patrick O'Donnell, California Admin. Office of the Courts and Mark Michels of Cisco
· Panelist, "International Arbitration," Construction SuperConference 2008, The Palace Hotel, San Francisco, December 12, 2008
· Panelist, "Notes from the Jury Box: Jury Trials in Complex Construction Cases" Construction SuperConference 07 San Francisco, The Palace Hotel, San Francisco, December 14, 2007
· Panelist, "Planning, Managing and Winning Jury Trials in the 21st Century" with Judge Victoria G. Chaney (Los Angeles - Complex) and Judge Jon S. Tigar (Alameda), hosted by State Bar of California - California Judges Association - California Judicial Council - Biannual Joint Conference, Anaheim, September 29, 2007
· Panelist, "E-Discovery" panel discussion with Prof. Richard Marcus, principal author of new Federal Rules on e- Discovery, hosted by UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, July 12, 2007
· Panelist, "The Litigator's Perspective," Annual Meeting of Presiding Judges of California's 58 counties, hosted by California Judicial Council, San Francisco, January 12, 2007
· Panelist, "E-Discovery and Strategies under the New Federal Rules," Teleconference, September 27, 2006
· Featured speaker, Topic: Electronic Litigation Risk Management Issues, annual meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, San Francisco, California, March 23, 2006
· Panelist, "Special Jury Instructions," California Judicial Council's Annual Civil Law Institute held in San Diego, California, March 8-9, 2006
· "Corporate Internal Investigations/Audits and the Attorney-Client Privilege," sponsored by Association of Corporate Counsel America (AAC-A), Palace Hotel, San Francisco, California and Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto, California, June 9, 2005 and June 10, 2005; also presented to Bay Area General Counsel Group, City Club, San Francisco, November 1, 2005
· "Dispute Resolution Solutions: Protecting Your Company & Its Assets," 2005 International Client Seminar, sponsored by the American Law Firm Association, Boca Raton, Florida, March 10-12, 2005
· "Negotiating and Drafting the Right Dispute Provisions - From the Litigator's Perspective," sponsored by Association of Corporate Counsel - America, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto and the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, California, April 20-21, 2004
· "The Art of Trying Cases, Champions of the Courtroom," sponsored by State Bar of California, Litigation Section, Silverado Resort, Napa, California, April 16, 2004
· "CACI: California's New Civil Jury Instructions," sponsored by CEB-California. Co-sponsored by the California State Bar, Litigation Section, Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, California, January 23, 2004
· "CACI: California's New Civil Jury Instructions," sponsored by CEB-California. Co-sponsored by the California State Bar, Litigation Section, Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, California, January 9, 2004
· "Evaluating and Proving Damages in Business Litigation," sponsored by CEB-California, Crown Plaza Hotel Savoy, San Francisco, California, November 15, 2003