David B. Van Etten is a trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience. His practice focuses on the areas of employment law, commercial litigation, intellectual property disputes, product liability and toxic torts, and other personal injury matters. Mr. Van Etten has represented some of the country’s largest corporations including Principal Financial Group, Public Storage, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, Unocal, Boeing, Verizon Communications, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, Countrywide Funding, Aetna Insurance Company and Maritime Overseas Corporation. He has served as lead counsel in dozens of trials and arbitrations conducted in California and throughout the United States.
Mr. Van Etten is the recipient of the prestigious AV Preeminent® Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating, an indication that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence for ethical standards and legal ability. He has been selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer from 2004 to present.
Employment Litigation and Counseling
Mr. Van Etten has more than two decades of experience representing and counseling both employers and employees in an array of industries, including financial services, automotive manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation, healthcare, pharmaceutical and food and drug industries. He serves as counsel for employers and employees in employment investigations, litigation, arbitration and administrative matters before state and federal courts and agencies. His practice includes wage and hour class actions and single-plaintiff claims involving alleged wrongful termination, sexual harassment, employment discrimination, and discrimination charges before the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), unfair labor practice claims before the National Labor Relations Board, and wage claims before the California Labor Commissioner.
Mr. Van Etten advises clients on trademark and copyright matters and the establishment, acquisition, licensing and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the United States and abroad. In addition, he prosecutes and defends copyright and trademark infringement cases for clients in a variety of different contexts and industries.
Complex Commercial Litigation
Mr. Van Etten has extensive experience representing clients in complex commercial litigation including class actions, trade secrets claims, unfair business practice claims, shareholder, partnership and LLC member disputes, franchisee-franchisor disputes, banking, real property and insurance matters.
Product Liability, Toxic Tort and Other Personal Injury Litigation
Mr. Van Etten has represented the manufacturers of automobiles, heavy construction vehicles, and food processing equipment in the defense of products liability claims involving catastrophic injuries, including burn, spinal, and brain injuries. Mr. Van Etten also regularly handles high exposure personal injury cases outside the product liability context, including those involving exposure to toxic chemicals and mold, vehicular accidents, dog bite incidents and the dangerous condition of real property.
Mr. Van Etten has served as lead counsel in more than 50 jury trials, bench trials, and binding arbitrations in the areas of employment discrimination and wage claims, automotive products liability and other personal injury claims, breach of contract, business fraud and other business torts, lender liability, professional liability and real property disputes. He has obtained favorable decisions for his clients in the vast majority of these adjudicated matters.
State and Federal Courts in California and Illinois
- J.D., cum laude, Georgetown University Law Center, 1981
- B.A., summa cum laude, Loyola University Chicago, 1977
- McGuire Woods LLP, Los Angeles, California, 2006-2009
- Managing Partner, Los Angeles Office
- National Co-Chair, Labor & Employment Department
- Van Etten Suzumoto & Becket LLP, Los Angeles, California, 1996-2006
- Founder and Managing Partner
- Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, LLP, Los Angeles, California, 1991-1996
- Partner in Charge, Southern California Labor and Employment Group
- National Chair, Construction and Real Estate Litigation Group
- Recovered $2,400,000 for a high-ranking corporate executive against a national medical supply company in a wrongful termination “whistleblower” action.
- Recovered $2,000,000 for a former employee against a national home healthcare company in an age discrimination action.
- Recovered $2,000,000 for a family-owned manufacturing company against a national retail chain in a breach of contract action.
- Recovered $925,000 for an employee against a media company in a pregnancy discrimination action.
- Recovered $700,000 for a real estate broker against a national real estate firm in a wrongful termination action.
- Recovered $500,000 for an employee against a large defense contractor in an age discrimination action.
- Recovered $279,000 for an employee in a wage and hour dispute against a home healthcare company.
- Represented a food processing company against a race discrimination claim brought by a terminated employee. Following a two week jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the case was resolved for nuisance value by the employer during jury deliberations after the jury returned a note indicating that it was likely to return a defense verdict for the employer.
- Represented a publicly traded self-storage company against race and religious discrimination claims brought by a terminated employee. Following a two week jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the jury returned a defense verdict for the storage company.
- Represented a consumer products company in a breach of contract action. Following a seven day jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the jury returned a defense verdict for the company. (The plaintiff had sought $10 million.)
- Represented a consumer products manufacturer in a breach of contract action brought against it by a product distributor. Following a six day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the jury returned a defense verdict for the company. (The plaintiff had sought $12 million).
- Represented an international shipping company in a personal injury action brought by a seaman who was severely injured while serving on a container vessel and required double knee replacement surgery. Following a 10 day jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the jury returned a defense verdict for the shipping company.
- Represented an architecture company an architect in an architectural malpractice case involving the design of a multi-million dollar home. Following an eight day jury trial in Lake County (Illinois) Circuit Court, the jury returned a defense verdict.
- Represented a national tobacco company in a wrongful termination action brought against it by a terminated employee. Following several years of litigation, the employee voluntarily dismissed the case on the first day of trial in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
- Represented the managing member of a limited liability company against claims for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract. The plaintiffs (several other members of the LLC) sought $25 million in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages. Following a four-week jury trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the jury returned a defense verdict for the managing member.
- Represented a national retail chain against claims for false imprisonment and false arrest brought by an alleged shoplifter. Liability was admitted by the retail chain. Following a five day jury trial in Lake County (Illinois) Circuit Court, the jury returned a verdict for a fraction of the damages that had been sought by the customer. (The customer had sought substantial compensatory and punitive damages.)
- Represented the driver of an automobile who had collided with and severely injured a teenager driving a motorcycle. Following a six day trial in Lake County (Illinois) Circuit Court, the jury returned a defense verdict for the driver.
Honors & Awards
- Southern California Super Lawyer, 2004-2015
- AV Preeminent® Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating