Joseph P. Busch III

Joseph P. Busch III joined The Pitet Firm as “of counsel,” having retired from one of the country’s major law firms after 36 years of practice, 55 trials and arbitrations, and 20 appellate arguments. Mr. Busch has established an arbitration and mediation practice in his areas of expertise: securities, accountant liability, employee benefits (“ERISA”) and other complex business litigation. Mr. Busch will also be assisting the lawyers of Grobaty & Pitet in their active matters.

 

Mr. Busch’s litigation experience includes pretrial, trial and appellate court proceedings in individual, class and derivative actions in state and federal courts in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey, as well as California. Mr. Busch has been named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for employee benefits litigation since 2009 and additionally for his appellate work in 2013, and as a “litigation star” by Institutional Investor’s Benchmark Litigation Guide since 2010 for his trial and appellate work. Mr. Busch is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, all state and federal courts in the state of California, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, and has been admitted to practice pro hac vice in a number of other state and federal courts. He has also appeared before the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation on several occasions.

 

Mr. Busch received his bachelor of arts degree with highest honors from Claremont McKenna College in l970. A 1976 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law of the University of California (Berkeley), he was a member of the California Law Review. Mr. Busch served as an officer in the United States Navy in Vietnam between college and law school.

Representative Cases

  • Acosta v. Pacific Enterprises: assisted in preparation of appellate brief on behalf of defendants in successful defense of claim for breach of fiduciary duty. See 950 F.2d 611 (9th Cir. 1991).
  • Andrade v. The Parsons Corp.: represented company and its board of directors in class action challenging $570 million ESOP leveraged buyout. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the defendants. 12 Employee Benefits Cas. (BNA) 1954 (C.D. Cal. 1990). That judgment was later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. 1992 Pension Plan Guide (CCH) 23860R (9th Cir. 1992). (bench trial)(C.D. Cal.)
  • Bank One Arizona v KPMG: represented Big 5 accounting firm in action arising from purchase/sale of company and asserting common law claim for professional negligence. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff’s case. (jury trial)(Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona)
  • Bisbines v. KPMG Peat Marwick: represented Big 6 accounting firm in action arising from purchase/sale of company and asserting common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. (bench trial)(Orange County Superior Court)
  • Callaway Golf v Screen Actors’ Guild Health and Pension Plans: represented plan contributor in dispute over contributions to Taft-Hartley employee benefit plans. The action settled during a bench trial at the suggestion of the Court who indicated during the Plans’ presentation of evidence that he was prepared to find that the plan administrator had acted in an arbitrary and capricious fashion in interpreting the contribution requirements under the Plans and the applicable collective bargaining agreement. (bench trial)(S.D. Cal.).
  • Castillo v. Aerojet-General Corp.: represented plan sponsor in pre-REACT claim for recovery of surviving spouse benefits. The plaintiff had testified extensively before the Congress in support of REACT and her testimony was cited by the Senate Report on that statute. After a bench trial, judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. (Cal. Super. Ct, Orange County)
  • City of Torrance v. Deloitte & Touche: represented Big 6 accounting firm in action for professional negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. (jury trial)(Los Angeles County Superior Court).
  • Clay v. Sugar Foods Corp.: represented employer in action alleging wrongful termination and racially motivated termination. The action was dismissed by the district court on the ground of ERISA preemption. That decision was sustained by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an unreported decision. (C.D.Cal.)
  • Coates v. Hewlett-Packard Co.: represented plan sponsor in class action challenging removal of investment option for more senior participants. Motion to dismiss granted; affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in an unreported opinion. (N.D. Cal.), aff’d, 161 Fed. Appx. 719, 2006 WL 64128 (9th Cir. 2006).
  • Computer Associates International v. Computer Sciences Corp.: represented target of hostile tender offer. Tender offer withdrawn before court hearing on merits. (D. Nev. [Las Vegas]).
  • Crawford v. Farmer Bros. Co.: represented company in class action asserted by retirees after their medical benefits were changed as the result of changes to a collective bargaining agreement. The case settled after the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification was denied. (C.D. Cal.)
  • Cullerton v. Liever: represented major accounting firm in case alleging a breach of fiduciary duty and professional negligence relating to the handling of plan assets for a Taft-Hartley health plan. The trial court dismissed the action on the accounting firm’s motion for summary judgment. That decision was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. 1991 Pension Plan Guide (CCH) 23,833L (9th Cir. 1991). (D. Nev. [Las Vegas])
  • Curry v. ITT Educational Services, Inc.: represented plan sponsor in class action asserting breach of fiduciary duty in design of 401(k) plan. Motion to dismiss granted. (S.D. Ind.)
  • DeBeauchamp v. Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.: represented plan sponsor in action asserting breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA and RICO violations. Motion for summary judgment was granted just before trial. (W.D. Wash.)
  • Emeritus Corporation v ARV Assisted Living: represented plaintiff in enforcing rights under a “poison pill” in a hostile takeover. Judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff. (bench trial)(Orange County Superior Court)
  • Farley v. Hewlett-Packard Co.: represented plan sponsor in class action challenging amendments to profit sharing plan resulting from spin-off of subsidiary. Motion to dismiss granted. (N.D. Cal.)
  • Hewlett-Packard Co. Employee Benefits Organization cases: has represented Hewlett-Packard and the Hewlett-Packard Employee Benefits Organization in over a dozen cases around the country. Reported decisions on behalf of Hewlett-Packard include: Chuck v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 455 F.3d 1026 (9th Cir. 2006); LaMantia v. Voluntary Plan Administrators, Inc., 401 F.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 2005); Riffey v. Hewlett-Packard Co. Disability Plan, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21847 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2007); Carter v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3249 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 17, 2007); Tabatabai v. Hewlett-Packard Co. Disability Plan, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66110 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2006); Moore v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4437 (D. Pa. Apr. 6, 2000); and Guthrie v. Hewlett-Packard Co. Employee Benefits Org., 773 F.Supp. 1414 (D. Colo. 1991).
  • Holmes v. The Foxboro Co.: represented plan sponsor in action asserting estoppel against plan sponsor for early retirement program and retiree benefits. (C.D. Cal.)
  • In Re Apollo Group Securities Litigation: represented issuer and senior executives in securities class action; conducted the cross-examination of plaintiff’s damages expert at trial that served as the basis for the trial court’s decision to grant defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law. 2008 Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 94,798, 2008 WL 3072731 (D. Az. 2008). The matter settled after the Ninth Circuit reversed in an unreported decision.
  • In re MCM Children’s Trust: represented petitioner/beneficiary in action involving breach of trust, accounting and tracing issues. Judgment was entered in favor of petitioner on liability issues after trial; settlement on damages issues exceeded $10 million. (bench trial)(Los Angeles County Superior Court)
  • In re Royal Inns Securities Litigation: represented Big 6 accounting firm in class action asserting alleged violations of federal and state securities laws. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the defense. The matter settled after the Ninth Circuit ordered a new trial. (jury trial) (S.D. Cal.)
  • In Re Safety-Kleen Bondholders Securities Litigation: represented Big 4 accounting firm in class action asserting alleged violations of federal securities laws. The matter settled after the jury was empanelled, but before opening statements. (D.S.C.)
  • In re Williams Securities Litigation: participated in representation of issuer and senior executives in securities class action; conducted deposition of plaintiff’s damages expert that served as the basis for the court granting defendants’ motions for summary judgment. 496 F.Supp.2d 1195 (N.D. Okla. 2007), aff’d, 558 F.3d 1130 (10th Cir. 2009).
  • Koopman v. Western Digital Corp.: represented plan sponsor in class action asserting breach of fiduciary duty in amendment to severance plan prior to reduction in force. Motion to dismiss granted. (C.D. Cal.)
  • Koppel v. KPMG Peat Marwick: represented Big 6 accounting firm in action asserting alleged violations of federal and state securities laws. The trial was “trifurcated.” Judgment was entered in favor of Peat Marwick on the federal securities claims at the liability phase. The matter settled before the trial of the affirmative defenses on the state law claims. (bench trial)(W.D. Wash.)
  • Lyell v. Farmers Group Pension Plan: represented pension plan and plan sponsor in class action asserting breach of fiduciary duty in calculation of credited service. The matter settled after the plaintiff class was reduced from over 6,000 participants to 96 members. (D. Ariz.)
  • Madison Capital, Inc.v. Deloitte & Touche: represented Big 6 accounting firm in action arising from purchase/sale of insurance company and asserting common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Judgment was entered in favor of the defendants at the liability phase of the trial. (jury trial)(Orange County Superior Court)
  • McFarland v. Memorex Corp.: represented company and its board of directors in class action asserting alleged violations of federal and state securities laws. The matter settled after four weeks of trial. (jury trial)(N.D. Cal.)
  • Newhall v. Schag: represented petitioner/beneficiary in action involving breach of trust, accounting and tracing issues. Judgment in the amount of $10.1 million was entered in favor of petitioner after trial. (bench trial)(Orange County Superior Court)
  • Pacific Airmotive Corp. v. First Interstate Bank: represented plaintiff plan sponsor in action against financial institution for mishandling of pension plan assets. The trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground of ERISA preemption. The matter settled after the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s dismissal. 178 Cal.App.3d 1130, 224 Cal.Rptr. 233 (2nd Dist. 1986). This is one of the few reported decisions where ERISA preemption was found not to apply.
  • Phelan v. First California Savings: represented Big 6 accounting firm in action asserting violations of federal and state securities laws in acquisition of savings and loan association. The defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted. (C.D. Cal.)
  • Scher v. Soderstrom: represented plaintiff trust beneficiary in action for breach of fiduciary duty. In a bifurcated trial, the trial court awarded damages amounting to $3 million on the first phase of the case. The matter ultimately settled on all phases of the action for an amount in the mid-eight figures. (bench trial)(Los Angeles County Superior Court).
  • Stewart v. Internal Revenue Service: represented creditor against I.R.S. in having tax lien removed from assets over which she had a priority security interest. Judgment in favor of plaintiff with recovery of attorneys fees. (bench trial)(C.D. Cal. – Judge Stotler)
  • Toronto Dominion Bank v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP: represented Big 4 accounting firm in action asserting professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation under state law. The matter settled after a summary jury trial in which the defendant prevailed. (Georgia State Court)
  • Ziegler v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co.: represented life insurer in action asserting breach of fiduciary duty and dissipation of plan assets. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. That decision was sustained by the Ninth Circuit on appeal. 916 F.2d 548 (9th Cir. 1990).

Legal Writings and Lectures

  • Comment, Victim Rights in Stolen Property in California, 64 CALIF. L. REV. 1018 (1976)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Ass’n, ERISA Basics: What You Need to Know (June 27, 1992)
  • California Workers’ Compensation Institute, Workers’ Compensation and ERISA (December 1, 1992)
  • Kidder Peabody & Co. Seminar, Fiduciary Responsibility Issues and Liability Under ERISA (July 27, 1993)
  • Western Pension & Benefits Conference, Most Recent Developments in ERISA Litigation (October 26, 1993)
  • Price Waterhouse Seminar, Overview of Auditor Exposure under Federal Securities Laws (November 6, 1993)
  • Manning Riddell Ins. Serv., Inc., and American Intern’l Group, Defense Strategies in Accountant Liability Cases – When to Litigate and When to Settle (September 15, 1995)
  • PaineWebber Seminar, Fiduciary Responsibility Issues and Liability under ERISA (June 7, 1995; February 29, 1996; May 6, 1997)

OTHER ACTIVITIES

  • Boards of Directors: St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal School (1989 to 1996; president, 1994-1996); Libros y Artes de San Juan Capistrano (1990 to 1994); Orange County Public Law Center (1991 to 1993).
  • Member: California State Bar, American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association.

Contact Information

Direct Line: (949) 502-7755

Email: jbusch@grobatypitet.com

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