Jesse is an experienced trial lawyer. He counsels and represents clients in all phases of litigation and in their efforts to avoid the substantial burdens imposed by litigation. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, business disputes and employment litigation. He has significant experience handling false claims act matters, trade secret and non-compete litigation, the defense of claims of unfair competition, including claims arising under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200, and statutory discrimination claims. Jesse has also defended businesses in consumer class action matters, including a current putative class action involving the California Automobile Sales Finance Act. Jesse began his legal career at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, and he has substantial first-chair experience in the courtroom, arbitrations and before administrative panels.
Jesse also has significant experience with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and he counsels employers regarding military leave law issues arising under USERRA and analogous state laws. With his background as an attorney and professional Soldier, Jesse offers his clients a unique capability.
Jesse previously served as deputy practice group leader for the firm’s Commercial Litigation Group.
Pro Bono & Civic Engagement
Jesse's pro bono work representing Soldiers in need has received national attention. In January 2010, Jesse was awarded a Jefferson Award for his outstanding commitment to public service through his pro bono work and military service. Established in 1972, The Jefferson Awards are a nationwide program to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public service and community efforts. In 2007, Jesse was named a "Pro Bono Star" during Reed Smith's Sean Halpin Awards. His efforts pursuing benefits for a wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran were featured on National Public Radio and in front-page stories in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. The American Lawyer selected Jesse’s work on this matter as a pro bono case of the year for 2007, and later featured Jesse’s work on several other pro bono matters in a piece on top military cases. In 2009, a Reed Smith trial team won a jury verdict in Arizona on behalf of an aggrieved combat veteran who was victimized financially while convalescing at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Jesse’s commentary on military and Veterans’ issues have also been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Corporate Legal Times, The Daily Journal, Lawyers Weekly USA, The Baltimore Sun and on Military.com.
Jesse is a decorated Infantry officer whose military career has spanned nearly 23 years. He is currently assigned as the Deputy Joint Operations Officer for the California National Guard, which is the largest national guard force in the United States with nearly 23,000 soldiers and airmen. Jesse has served in a number of other key leadership assignments including as commander of the 1-18th Cavalry Squadron (2012-2014) and Operations Officer for the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (2010-2012).
Jesse is what is known as a "Citizen Soldier." This means that his military duties come in addition to those of his civilian career and family responsibilities. Jesse joined the Army as an enlisted soldier and later was commissioned as an Infantry officer after attending Officer Candidate School. During his military career, Jesse has served as a key leader during a number of contingency operations and state emergencies. Following the events of 9/11, Jesse's infantry unit was mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and he commanded a 160-man rifle company in Kuwait for six months.
In 2005, Jesse deployed to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina as part of the military relief effort serving as the operations officer for Joint Task Force - California. In 2007, Jesse deployed to San Diego at the onset of the Southern California wildfires serving on the primary staff of a Brigade sized task force made up of over 2,200 Soldiers and Airmen. In December 2009, Jesse's unit returned from a one-year deployment to the Balkans where it conducted peace enforcement operations as part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force. During the mission, Jesse served as the executive officer and second-in-command of an infantry battalion task force.
• Currently serving as lead trial counsel for California’s largest school transportation company in a multi-year, highly contentious case under California’s False Claims Act (“CFCA”). The case involves complex and untested issues under the CFCA and could result in the first California trial testing the validity of the “implied certification” theory of liability. After securing a series of motion practice victories (which included a preliminary injunction and admonishment of plaintiffs and their counsel for witness tampering), Jesse and his team secured summary judgment for the client. The Court of Appeal reversed, however, setting the stage for a potentially novel trial under the CFCA.
• Served as lead counsel in an arbitration victory for an internationally-based robotics company in 2014, in which the defendant refused to deliver $7.7 million of equipment that Reed Smith’s client had paid for. Jesse’s team obtained a temporary protective order in Sacramento Superior Court, preventing the defendant from selling or otherwise disposing of the equipment in dispute, and then initiated arbitration proceedings with AAA. The defendant responded with a counterclaim seeking damages of over $10 million. After a two-week arbitration in which Jesse and his team examined over 10 witnesses, the three-member AAA tribunal issued a lengthy reasoned decision and awarded Reed Smith’s client approximately $9.9 million in cash and equipment. The tribunal also declared the firm’s client the prevailing party, and awarded nearly $700,000 in attorneys’ fees.
• Currently representing automobile financing company in multiple consumer class action matters arising under California Automobile Sales Finance Act.
• Served as first chair trial counsel for Charles Schwab in a contentious USERRA matter, winning a unanimous defense award following a two-week FINRA arbitration in 2011. See FINRA Case Number: 09-05551. The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado confirmed the award in January 2012. Michael H. Ohlfs v.Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., 2012 WL 202776 (D. Colo. Jan. 24, 2012) Prior to the commencement of litigation, Jesse helped Schwab obtain a “no merit” finding from the Department of Labor in response to the plaintiff’s administrative charge. Reed Smith later successfully compelled the matter to arbitration from the District of Colorado.
• Served as first chair trial counsel in successfully representing Westinghouse in a USERRA case in 2013, regarding the notice for and proof of military related absences and attendance policy, in the Northern District of Illinois. The case concluded successfully following a winning defense motion for evidentiary sanctions against the plaintiff, which came shortly before trial. The court also imposed a monetary sanction against the plaintiff and admonished plaintiff’s counsel that an adverse inference instruction might be given at trial that set the conditions for plaintiff’s retreat.
• Served as first chair trial counsel in successfully representing GE Transportation in a USERRA case, winning an early motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania.
• Served as lead trial counsel for a case team defending California’s largest school transportation company in a complex failure-to-warn case under California’s Proposition 65. The case raised novel legal issues under Proposition 65 and involved not only a large vehicle fleet but also a diverse ridership population. Unique among Proposition 65 cases, the case progressed for over two years and did not settle until the evening before trial. The mutually-agreeable settlement provided for a creative resolution to the case, allowing for technological upgrades and retrofits rather than fines.
• Successfully moved to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to challenge transportation contracts between client and the County of San Diego. Jesse and his team met the high burden of convincing the court that the plaintiff was a vexatious litigant. The court issued an order prohibiting the plaintiff from filing a lawsuit in any district court in the United States, saving the client from future unmeritorious and costly lawsuits.
• Represented two technology companies and ten individual defendants in a contentious fraud and breach of fiduciary duty action. Following the filing of defense motions for summary judgment on behalf of each defendant, plaintiffs dismissed their case with prejudice.
• Represented a German-based technology manufacturer in a case involving allegations of corporate espionage and millions of dollars in sought-for damages, successfully opposing the issuance of a preliminary injunction, and achieving an early and highly favorable settlement of the matter.
• Represented clients during administrative hearings and trials regarding employment tax matters.
• Represented clients during administrative hearings and trials regarding employment tax matters, recently prevailing for a creative talent agency after hearing before an ALJ of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board of New York.
• Represented a group of six industrial defendants in complex litigation regarding claims involving groundwater contamination, including perchlorate contamination, asserted under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
• Represented individuals and businesses in audits and investigations conducted by the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in connection with alleged tax shelter-related activity.
• Served as lead trial counsel in a contentious real estate dispute involving the re-development of a famous San Francisco landmark. After the commencement of trial, and the assignment to a settlement Judge, Jesse achieved a favorable settlement for his client.
• Successfully represented a number of employers during administrative investigations of military service related discrimination claims under USERRA and analogous state laws including matters investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Veterans' Employment and Training Services. In nearly all cases, Jesse’s work has led to “no merit” findings by the government or case closure letters.
• Represented a leading information technology company in a complex, multi-party matter involving unfair competition and false advertising claims concerning the sales and marketing of printing and digital imaging devices in California.
• Represented Union Bank of California (UBOC) in a matter against the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) involving the methodology that UBOC could use to compute its bad debt reserve deductions and deductions for securities losses for franchise (income) tax purposes in California. The case involved technical issues regarding appropriate deductions under the California Revenue and Taxation Code, as well as constitutional issues. The case was settled with the FTB's agreement to refund tax and interest to UBOC in an amount in excess of $113 million.
• Secured dismissal of a case, with prejudice, for a national security organization in a military reemployment action under USERRA by current employee for discrimination.
• Represented a leading provider of enterprise data integration in a dispute over the scope of its software licensing agreement with plaintiff. The suit involved counter-claims for breach of the license agreement and copyright infringement. Following the order granting Reed Smith’s Rule 56(d) motion, a favorable settlement was reached.