Miller Barondess LLP has been in the thick of public health debates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the firm helped its government clients defend emergency measures on indoor dining and worship services.
Miller Barondess won a published decision from the state’s Second District Court of Appeal on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, B309416 (Cal. App. 2nd Dist., Dec. 17, 2020). The county had restricted outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars. The California Restaurant Association fought to keep the county from implementing those restrictions.
Meanwhile, Miller Barondess also obtained an injunction on behalf of Los Angeles County against Grace Community Church, which had argued that public health orders restricting indoor worship services were unconstitutional. Grace Community Church of the Valley v. Villanueva, 20BBCV00497 (Los Angeles Sup. Ct., filed Aug. 12, 2020).
While the coronavirus pandemic is unique to this era, the legal challenges to public health orders compelled Miller Barondess attorneys to dig into age-old state and federal foundational laws.
“Covid became a political hot topic that led to more constitutional challenges,” Partner Amnon Siegel said.
He said the firm is proud of its role in protecting the Los Angeles community while setting a precedent for public officials to have broad discretion during a health crisis.
“We pride ourselves on being able to adapt to new areas of law,” said Siegel, noting the attorneys were primarily working remotely. “It speaks to the firm’s agility and nimbleness. Even working from home, we didn’t miss a beat.”
Siegel said Miller Barondess has had a good working relationship with the County of Los Angeles on public health matters since the firm successfully represented the county in its suit against Southern California Gas. The Aliso Canyon natural gas leak—the largest of its kind in U.S. history—ultimately led to a 2019 settlement against SoCalGas for $119.5 million.
Miller Barondess has 40 attorneys, 12 of whom are partners. The 15-year-old firm represents individuals, companies, and public agencies in all phases of litigation. They’ve tried cases at state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, for clients in industries ranging from technology to real estate to sports and entertainment.
Partner Louis “Skip” Miller represented marquee entertainers from Elton John to Sean Connery. In April 2021, he helped settle a multimillion-dollar naming rights dispute among members of the rock band Journey.
“Invariably, it’s through referrals,” said Miller, whose sons Dan and Jim are also attorneys in the firm. “People just know I’ll take care of them.”
Among its pending cases is a federal class action by about 800,000 Prius owners against Toyota Japan and its U.S. subsidiary regarding safety defects in certain cars made between 2010 and 2014. Remy McCarthy v. Toyota Motor Corp. 8:18-cv-00201-JLS-KES (C.D. Cal, filed Feb. 5, 2018).
The suit alleges Toyota knew about a defect in their hybrid engines that caused Priuses to shut down or “limp home” while driving, but didn’t entirely fix it. Plaintiffs filed their class certification motion in April 2021.
Siegel said the firm’s attorneys are invigorated by the variety of cases they take on. While Miller Barondess’ caseload doesn’t easily fit into a niche, Siegel said their work boils down to “good cases for good clients on complicated legal issues.”
“We’re about treating people the way you want to be treated. That means devotion and commitment to their situation and their case,” he said.