Sanford Heisler Sharp has successfully tried employment, civil rights, and other public interest cases before juries, courts, and arbitrators. We have the resources to try the most complex matters against some of the largest institutions in the U.S. More than half of our attorneys have hands-on trial and arbitration experience gained in courtrooms across the U.S., and we have won landmark victories for victims of discrimination and civil rights violations.
The firm’s trial victories include:
- Prevailing in a gender discrimination class action trial against pharmaceutical giant Novartis on behalf of a group of female representatives. A jury returned a $250 million verdict, the largest gender discrimination award in U.S. history.
- Securing nearly $13 million in compensatory and punitive damages and additional injunctive relief for twenty-two young women across the U.S. after a 99-day bench trial in their case against operators of the website GirlsdoPorn.com.
- Achieving an arbitration award of $8.3 million (including $650,000 in punitive damages and $500,000 in emotional distress damages) in Chen v. Wu, an individual case involving claims of breach of contract, promissory fraud, retaliation, and wrongful termination brought against Silicon Valley semiconductor company InnoGrit Corporation, its parent company Shanghai InnoGrit Technologies Co., Ltd., and InnoGrit CEO Dr. Zining Wu.
- Currently representing over 5,000 aggrieved employees who worked in California as Oracle sales employees in Abrishamcar v. Oracle America, Inc. Following two multi-week trials in 2019, the court found that Oracle violated the California Labor Code in multiple ways. The parties are currently engaged in discovery to determine the number and extent of violations. Adjudication is expected in 2022.
- Winning a $1.25 million jury verdict for a female junior faculty member at Columbia University who alleged that senior university and business school leadership allowed a senior tenured professor to sexually harass and obstruct her work. The trial was one of the first its kind during the #MeToo movement.
- Securing a $3,356,250 jury verdict for Coach Beth Burns in her case against the San Diego State University. Coach Burns alleged that the University terminated her contract because of her repeated concerns relating to gender equity between the institution’s male and female athletic programs. This verdict led to a milestone settlement in the fight for gender equity in women’s college athletics.
Our Trial Practice Group is led by Ed Chapin, a veteran litigator who has taken more than 100 case to trial in federal and state courts. Most recently, Ed served as lead trial counsel for the 99-day bench trial in Does v. GirlsDoPorn.com. He was also lead counsel in the Burns v. San Diego State University matter. In 2017 and 2021, Mr. Chapin was selected as Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. Mr. Chapin was a finalist in 2015 as Trial Lawyer of the Year for California and served on the National Board of Directors of American Board of Trial Advocates for over two decades.
Chairman David Sanford served as lead counsel and won a $253 million gender discrimination verdict on behalf of 7,000 women in Velez v. Novartis after a six-week trial. He also won extensive class-wide relief against Qualcomm in a $23.5 million settlement that TopVerdict.com named one of the top settlements in California in 2016. The National Law Journal inducted Mr. Sanford to the Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2015, and Law360 recognized him as a Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar in 2014 and 2018. Benchmark Litigation named David Labor & Employment Attorney of the Year for 2021.
During his time on the bench, Co-Vice Chairman Kevin Sharp, formerly Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, conducted 75 trials and 60 contested evidentiary hearings concerning complex, multi-party commercial litigation, a variety of class action matters, ERISA disputes, copyright and patent litigation, criminal prosecutions, and claims of constitutional and civil rights violations.
Over his 40-plus-year career, Vince McKnight has tried over 75 cases to verdict, including in the context of products liability, medical malpractice, the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, employment discrimination, and constitutional tort claims under §1981 and §1983 involving, among other things, police misconduct. He also served for many years on the Board of Governors for the Metropolitan Trial Lawyers Association.
In addition, the firm has attorneys who served as state and federal prosecutors involved in trying criminal matters to verdict.
As a firm, Sanford Heisler Sharp has been consistently recognized by national legal media as a preeminent employment and human rights litigation firm. In 2021, the National Law Journal Elite Trial Lawyers recognized Sanford Heisler Sharp as both Employment Rights Firm of the Year and Human Rights Firm of the Year. And in 2019 and 2021, Benchmark Litigation chose the firm Labor & Employment Firm of the Year for both 2020 and 2021.