Lafayette & Kumagai LLP is a boutique litigation firm located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Established in 1994, the firm has earned a reputation for excellence with a proven track record of successfully representing its clients in all aspects of litigation. The firm takes pride in the recognition it receives from clients and the legal community for its litigation and trial skills. Lafayette & Kumagai has extensive experience in both state and federal courts throughout California, and has a distinguished record for motion practice, jury trials and appeals. Lafayette & Kumagai is one of few minority-owned firms to argue before the United States Supreme Court. Clients trust the firm’s handling of high-profile cases with media exposure.
Lafayette & Kumagai received the 2011 Minority-Owned Law Firm Client Service Award, presented by the California Minority Counsel Program for outstanding client service. The firm has been listed in “Litigation Kings” for 2012 and in “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies?” for 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, in Corporate Counsel magazine’s annual report on the law firms most used by the Fortune 100. Our recent victories include: -obtaining a defense verdict in a constructive discharge trial; -obtaining a defense verdict in a high profile whistleblower trial; -obtaining a defense verdict in a sexual harassment and retaliation trial involving three plaintiffs; -obtaining a nonsuit in an age discrimination/termination trial, in Contra Costa County Superior Court; -obtaining a Judgment as a Matter of Law before Judge Charles Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in a disability discrimination and failure to accommodate case; -defeating two Motions for Class Certification, thereby successfully resolving two major wage and hour class actions; -prevailing in a number of Motions for Summary Judgment, including two age discrimination cases brought on behalf of attorneys against the legal departments of two of our corporate clients; and -successfully representing the client on appeal in one such age discrimination case, resulting in a published opinion, Reeves v. MV Transportation, Inc., 186 Cal.App.4th 666 (2010).
The firm’s practice also includes successful representation of clients in mediation, arbitration, other ADR procedures and hearings before administrative agencies.
Lafayette & Kumagai’s clients include Fortune 500 companies and governmental entities. The firm’s relationships with clients are longstanding and built upon a foundation of trust through open and honest communication and outstanding results. The firm’s attorneys closely monitor the management of cases from their commencement and continuously re-evaluate them throughout the litigation process. The goal is to find the best solution for a successful outcome. Lafayette & Kumagai places a high priority on superior work product and creative resolutions to cases at the earliest possible stage.
Gary Lafayette is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of California at Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall). He interned with Justice Frank Newman of the California Supreme Court, and after graduating from law school in 1979, commenced his practice with the law firm of Pettit & Martin. He worked with the firm of Feldman, Waldman & Kline before joining, as a partner, the firm of Alexander, Millner & McGee, predecessor to McGee, Lafayette, Willis & Greene.
Mr. Lafayette has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and currently serves as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of California Lawyer magazine and the Executive Committee of the National Employment Law Council. He was a lawyer-representative to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and is a past member of the San Francisco Inns of Court, the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the San Francisco Bar Association and the U.S. District Court Northern Magistrate Review Committee. In his years of practice, he has tried, and prevailed, on a number of complex and document-intensive cases. In the past five years, he has narrowed the scope of his practice to emphasize labor and employment, commercial litigation and environmental matters.
Called a “big gun” and “high profile” by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Recorder, Mr. Lafayette is often sought to handle extremely complicated and sensitive matters, and to take over cases from other firms, particularly cases that appear headed for trial. He has handled a number of high profile and high exposure cases for Fortune 500 companies as well as institutional and public entity clients that include Viacom, Inc., California Governor Jerry Brown and the San Francisco Housing Authority. In 2002, Mr. Lafayette received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award and the Charles Houston Bar Association’s Clinton W. White Advocacy Award. He was featured in the American Bar Association Journal showcasing the talents of minority lawyers (“Distinction with a Difference,” ABA Journal, April 2003). Mr. Lafayette has been selected as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America and has also been recognized in the Northern California Super Lawyers® list for 2004, 2006-2012, and 2014-2015. A highly regarded trial attorney, Mr. Lafayette has tried in excess of thirty cases to verdict. Eighteen of his cases have resulted in published opinions, including a significant Supreme Court housing case, HUD v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125 (2002).
Mr. Lafayette is admitted to practice before all courts of the State of California, the United States District Court, Northern, Eastern and Central Districts, the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
HUD v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125 (2002)
Embury v. King, 179 Fed. Appx. 409 (9th Cir. 2006)
Embury v. King, 361 F.3d 562 (9th Cir. 2004)
Lifescan, Inc. v. Premier Diabetic Services, Inc., 363 F.3d 1010 (9th Cir. 2004)
U.S. ex rel. Honeywell, Inc. v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 83 Fed.Appx. 181 (9th Cir. 2003)
Rucker v. Davis, 304 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2002)
Rucker v. Davis, 237 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2001)
Rucker v. Davis, 203 F.3d 627 (9th Cir. 2000)
In re Unicom Corp., 21 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 1994)
In re Berr (Berr v. FDIC), 172 BR 299 (9th Cir. BAP 1994)
Embury v. King, 191 F.Supp.2d 1071 (2001)
Honeywell v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 164 F.Supp.2d 1130 (2001)
Kaiser Permanente Employees Pension Benefit Plan v. Bertozzi, 849 F.Supp. 692 (1994)
Reeves v. MV Transportation, Inc., 186 Cal.App.4th 666 (2010)
Cerna v. City of Oakland, 161 Cal.App.4th 1340 (2008)
Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 59 Cal.App.4th 110 (1997)
Donohue v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 16 Cal.App.4th 658 (1993)
Donohue v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 281 Cal.Rptr. 446 (1991)
Co-author, “Bench Trials,” in California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, 3rd ed., ed. Linda Compton et al., (Berkeley, CA: CEB, 1994)
Co-author, Recent Developments in Arbitration of Employment Discrimination Disputes, National Employment Law Council, 1998.
“The Art of Persuasion: Influencing Juries,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms Annual Meeting, September 2014
“Technology in the Courtroom,” Alameda County Bar Association 5th Annual Labor & Employment Symposium, September 2014
“What’s the Story? Winning Strategies for Employment Cases,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2014
“California Dreamin’: How to Avoid the California Litigation Lottery,” Macy’s, Inc., October 2013
“Benefits & Liabilities of Conducting Background Checks on Employees & Candidates,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms Annual Meeting, September 2013
“Dos and Don’ts for Newer Attorneys,” Bar Association of San Francisco CLE Program, July 2013
“The New Gold Rush: California’s Latest Wave of Laws Favoring Employees,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2013 “So You’ve Been Sued: What Next?,” County Counsels’ Association of California Employment Law Fall 2011 Study Section Conference, November 2011
“Conducting a Corporate Investigation,” Litigation Counsel of America Fall Conference, October 2011
“Jury Selection in a Diverse and Changing Environment,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms Annual Meeting, September 2011
“Conducting a Corporate Investigation,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms Annual Meeting, October 2010
“Winning the Certification Battle: Analyzing Recent Rulings, Certification and Decertification Grounds to Craft a Strategy for Current and Future Cases,” American Conference Institute’s 10th Advanced Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions, September 2010
“Preferred Vendor Lists,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms 2010 March Business Meeting, March 2010
“Trial Demonstrations: Direct and Cross of Expert Witnesses,” Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Law Section, October 2009
“Wage & Hour Class Action Panel,” National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms Annual Meeting, October 2009
“Change You Can Believe In: Employment Rights During the Obama Years,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2009
“How to Avoid (and if Necessary) Litigate a Retaliation Claim,” National Bar Association Labor & Employment Law CLE Conference, March 2009
“Maximizing Minority Law Firm Profitability: Strategies and Business Models,” California Minority Counsel Program Annual Business Conference, October 2008
“Trends in Wage and Hour Class Actions,” Minority Corporate Counsel Association 7th Annual CLE Expo, March 2008
“Ethics” and “Advanced Litigation Trial Skills II – Mock Trial & Clinic,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, May 2007
“Advanced Trial Skills II – Judge, Jury and Using Technology,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, May 2006
“Evidence in Employment Cases: Comparator Evidence, Stray Remarks, me Too Evidence, Rule 35 Medical Exams, Prior Sexual Conduct, and Related Admissibility Issues,” American Bar Association Section of Labor & Employment Law: National Conference on Equal Employment Opportunity Law, March 2006
“Diversity’s Impact on Employment Litigation,” American Bar Association Annual Meeting – Section of Labor & Employment Law, August 2005
“The Latest Word on ‘E-Discovery Issues,’” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2005
“Courtroom Technology Panel – Litigation and Other Databases and Other Tools and Developments, How to Preserve Technological Information for Appeal,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2004
“Technology – New Tools for Changing Times” and “Litigation Techniques – Nuts and Bolts,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2003
“3 Ounces of Prevention – Workplace Violence,” California Minority Council Program – Employment Law Roundtable, September 2001
“21st Century Discovery – Electronic Evidence,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2001
“Debunking Junk: Daubert in Action,” U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judicial Conference, April 2001
“A Roundtable – Brainstorming the Difficult Cases,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 2000
“Trends in the Northern District Docket and Jury Pool,” U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judicial Conference, April 1999
“Resolving Disputes – Finding the Settlement Bridge,” National Employment Law Council Annual Conference, April 1998
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Lafayette & Kumagai LLP
APPELLATE PRACTICE: BANKRUPTCY: BUSINESS: CITY, COUNTY & LOCAL GOVERNMENT: CIVIL TRIAL: CONSTITUTIONAL: CONTRACT: ENTERTAINMENT: ENVIRONMENTAL: FRANCHISE: INSURANCE:Bad Faith INSURANCE:Coverage INSURANCE:Extra Contractual Liability INSURANCE:Premises INSURANCE:Product Liability LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:ADA (litigation) LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Agency Investigations LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Arbitration LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Class Actions LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:ERISA (litigation) LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:FMLA (litigation) LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Harassment / Discrimination / Retaliation LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Internal Investigations LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Title VII LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Wage & Hour (litigation) LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT:Whistle Blowing LITIGATION: PRODUCT LIABILITY LITIGATION: TORT: CLASSACTION LITIGATION:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit U.S. District Court, Central District of California U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California U.S. District Court, Northern District of California U.S. District Court, Southern District of California U.S. Supreme Court