Dennis S. Ellis is a partner in the Litigation Department of Paul Hastings and is chair of the Complex Litigation and Arbitration Practice group. Mr. Ellis is resident in the Los Angeles office and concentrates his practice in the defense of consumer class actions, complex commercial cases, mass tort and toxic tort litigation, and product liability lawsuits. Mr. Ellis also has a thriving practice representing Plaintiffs in various business litigation makers, including copyright, trademark trade secret and breach of contract actions. He has worked for a diverse group of clients, including major retail chains, cosmetic, petroleum, pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies, and internationally known celebrities.
Before studying law, Mr. Ellis was one of 18 individuals, from a nationwide pool of over 350 applicants, selected to work for the California State Assembly as a Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellow. After completing the year-long Fellowship program, he was hired as a legislative aide to Assemblywoman Carol Bentley. As Assemblywoman Bentley's chief legislative advisor, Mr. Ellis briefed the Assemblywoman on pending legislation and was responsible for drafting many of the bills that she introduced.
Mr. Ellis graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 1990, where he was a scholarship student-athlete and starting offensive lineman on the Titan football team. He graduated cum laude from Howard University School of Law in 1995. While there, Mr. Ellis was first runner-up in the Charles H. Houston Moot Court Competition, a member of the National Moot Court Team, and a member of the Howard Law Journal.
Consumer Class Action Defense: Mr. Ellis currently represents his cosmetic client L'Or?al USA, Inc. in multiple class actions pending in state and federal court alleging false advertising and unfair competition.
MVUInvestors, LLC v. General Electric Company: Represented The General Electric Company (?GE?) as lead counsel in breach of contract and fraud case (based on failed negotiations surrounding a purchase of medical device patents). A motion for summary judgment was granted in favor of GE by the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which was affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit.
John Doe, Mary Doe and Oscar C. Russell, Jr. v. ABC Corporation, DEF Corporation, XYZ Corporation, and Hibernia Corporation: Represented defendant bank, acquired by Capital One Bank, in a lawsuit brought by two bank executives for breach of their employment contracts and fraud. Based on the allegations in the lawsuit, Mr. Ellis was required to deal with, inter alia, complex issues regarding federal regulation of the banking system. The case, which was pending in Louisiana State Court, had been litigated for 14 years at the time Mr. Ellis was brought into the matter. After working on the case for less than 18 months, during a mediation handled by Mr. Ellis, a confidential resolution of the case was reached just before trial.
New World TMT Limited v. PrediWave Corporation, et al.: Mr. Ellis was lead attorney in the case which resulted in what is believed to be the largest judgment ever obtained by a Chinese firm in a U.S. court. In New World, Paul Hastings successfully brought a motion for terminating sanctions against PrediWave Corporation, eight PrediWave related companies, and their CEO Jianping ?Tony? Qu. In its order, the court struck all of the defendants' answers and cross-claims, and ordered that default be entered against them and in favor of Mr. Ellis' client New World. A default hearing to prove compensatory damages and punitive damages resulted in a total judgment in excess of $2.8 billion.
Recent Significant Trials
Vitascan v. GE Healthcare: Mr. Ellis was the lead trial lawyer in the Vitascan case, handling the opening, closing, and direct and cross-examination of all of the major witnesses. This case was tried over three months in Santa Barbara County. In Vitascan, Paul Hastings successfully defended GE Healthcare in a $16 million lawsuit filed by a Santa Barbara based preventative medical scanning company. The jury concluded that the company's demise was due to a downward industry trend in the full-body scanning market and its own poor management decisions, rather than the company's claims of malfunctioning equipment manufactured by GE Healthcare. The jury also found in favor of GE Healthcare's claims for unpaid services and awarded more than $50,000 to GE Healthcare. GE's litigation department was named the ?Litigation Department of the Year? by Corporate Counsel magazine for 2007, which cited the Vitascan victory as the primary reason GE merited distinction.
Broadlink Communications, Inc. v. MRV Communications, Inc.: Mr. Ellis was the lead trial lawyer in the Broadlink case, assisted only by a junior associate, where Paul Hastings represented iTouch Communications, Inc. ("iTouch"), a division of MRV Communications, Inc. ("MRV"), in a sale of goods case for breach of contract. A collection agency brought the case in Sonoma County Superior Court on behalf of bankrupt Broadlink. After deliberating for three and a half hours, the jury returned a defense verdict on all counts in favor of the firm's clients, iTouch and MRV.
Wu, et al. v. Magnus Sunhill Group LLC, et al.: Most recently, in 2013, Mr. Ellis was lead trial lawyer in a month-long trial against his real estate developer client Magnus, and certain of its current and former Managers. Plaintiffs claimed that Magnus and its managers (who Mr. Ellis did not represent) used fraudulent breaches of fiduciary duty to extract funds from Plaintiff as seed money for a mixed-use commercial center in Monterey Park, California. Plaintiffs requested compensatory damages from the jury of approximately $3 million, an additional amount of non-economic damages for humiliation, and punitive damages. The jury awarded Plaintiffs just $1 million against all defendants jointly and severally, and punitive damages against the defendant managers but not against Magnus. The total award as to Magnus was well below Plaintiffs final pre-trial offer, and only slightly higher than Magnus' C.C.P. Section 998 offer-to-compromise.
Accolades and Recognitions
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America's Trial Lawyer Honorary Society.
California Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer magazine in 2006
Top 20 lawyers under 40 by the Daily Journal in 2006
?Rising Star? by Los Angeles magazine in 2004 and 2005
?Super Lawyer? by Los Angeles magazine in each year from 2007 to 2014
?Who's Who in Black Los Angeles?
Speaking Engagements and Publications
Speaker, American Conference Institute -- Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Cosmetics; February 20-21, 2014, New York, New York
Speaker, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation -- Expert Witnesses: Maximizing Their Effectiveness; February 26, 2014, Berkeley, California
Closing Arguments: 10 Keys to a Powerful Summation, American Bar Association Section of Litigation Young Advocates E-Newsletter, Dennis Ellis and Adam Reich, Fall 2013, Vol. 4 No. 1
The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (H.R. 2359): Implications for the Cosmetics Industry, Dennis Ellis, May 2012
Standing Requirements in California UCL Cases Brought in Federal Court in the Wake of Tobacco II and Kwikset, Dennis Ellis, Stay Current, February 21, 2012 (Republished in The Recorder, March 16, 2012)
Bifurcated Discovery in Class Actions: An Effective Strategy to Prevent the Continuation of the Unmeritorious Lawsuit, Dennis Ellis, Stay Current, June 27, 2011 (Republished in BNA Class Action Litigation Report, Dennis S. Ellis, Sean D. Unger & Katherine F. Murray)
Retailers in California Face New Scrutiny of Credit Card Transactions in Light of Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., 51 Cal. 4th 524, Dennis Ellis, Stay Current, March 2011
Kwikset Corp. v. Superior Court Clarifies UCL Standing Requirements, Dennis Ellis, Stay Current, February 2011
?A Product Liability Claim By Any Other Name Remains A Product Liability Claim: California Courts Should Not Permit Plaintiffs To Recast A Product Liability Claim In The Terms Of Fraud,? 25 Whittier L. Rev. 441 (2003)
Professional and Community Involvement
Member, Board of Visitors of Howard University School of Law
Howard University School of Law, J.D., 1995 (cum laude)
California State University Fullerton, B.A., 1990