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John J. Verber and Robert M. Bodzin Prevail at Trial on International Commercial Litigation Case Involving Distributor in China

August 2005

Following a week-long bench trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, these Burnham Brown partners successfully defended a major U.S. electronics company against claims for breach of contract brought by the company's former exclusive distributor for China, Macau and Hong Kong. Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing were denied on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to prove compliance with material obligations of the contract. Burnham Brown's client also prevailed on its counterclaim to rescind the contract based on Plaintiff's failure to obtain a business license in China, an important condition of the agreement. The verdict follows three years of active litigation which required Messrs. Verber and Bodzin to travel to Hong Kong to depose several witnesses residing in Mainland China. During discovery, Plaintiff's $11,000,000 settlement demand was rejected. At trial, Plaintiff asked the court for an award of $8,000,000.

Prior to trial, Burnham Brown won several key motions, including summary adjudication dismissing all fraud, tort and punitive damages claims and a motion to strike which precluded Plaintiff from seeking over $4,000,000 in alleged lost earnings. During motions in limine, the Court granted a motion for judgment on partial findings and dismissed the Unfair Business Practices Act Claims brought by Plaintiff pursuant to Business and Professions Code Sections 17200 and 17500. Burnham Brown also prevailed on motions to dismiss, which eliminated Plaintiff's claims against two companies based in Hong Kong and Singapore which were allegedly part of a conspiracy to damage Plaintiff; the motions were granted on the grounds these companies lacked sufficient contacts to be sued in California.

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