Press Release

Cooley Secures Complete Trial Victory for High-Profile Client

Plaintiffs Sought $272 Million in Damages Against Successful San Diego Business Leader and Philanthropist
March 22, 2012

San Diego, Calif. — March 22, 2012 — A team of Cooley trial lawyers led by partners Steven M. Strauss and Patrick P. Gunn secured a complete defense win late yesterday for client Ernest Rady, a prominent San Diego business leader and philanthropist. Mr. Rady faced a lawsuit filed in 2009 by several family members seeking $272 million in damages over a purported contract to buy out their shares in American Assets, Inc., a family-owned corporation. The jury returned a complete defense verdict late yesterday afternoon following less than a day's deliberations and a two-week trial before the Honorable John S. Meyer, San Diego Superior Court.

Nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Rady founded American Assets, Inc., a successful real estate conglomerate and leading developer and acquirer of commercial real estate assets (retail, office and industrial) and for-rent apartment communities. Mr. Rady also founded Westcorp, a NYSE Euronext-traded financial services holding company headquartered in Irvine, Calif.  As its chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Rady grew the company to combined assets of more than $1.7 billion. In 2006, Wachovia Corporation acquired Westcorp in a billion-dollar transaction.

The eight plaintiffs – including several of Mr. Rady's nieces and nephews – claimed that Mr. Rady offered to buy out their shares in the company and later reneged on his offer. The jury found the plaintiffs' story was not credible and that Mr. Rady did not enter into a contract.

"We could not be more pleased to have secured this victory for our client, Ernest Rady, who so eloquently stated that this trial win is about not allowing greed to overcome gratitude," said Strauss, who has never lost a jury trial in 30 years of practice. "On behalf of Mr. Rady, we thank the jury for their verdict. He very much looks forward to resuming his business and philanthropic endeavors now that this matter is behind him."

In 2006, Mr. Rady and American Assets donated $60 million in support of Children's Hospital, at the time the second-largest naming gift to any hospital in the United States.

The Cooley team includes partners Steve Strauss and Patrick Gunn, special counsel Dennis Crovella, senior associate Summer Wynn, associate Megan Donohue and paralegal Jonathan Phillips.

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Cooley's 650 attorneys have an entrepreneurial spirit and deep, substantive experience, and are committed to solving clients' most challenging legal matters. From small companies with big ideas to international enterprises with diverse legal needs, Cooley has the breadth of legal resources to enable companies of all sizes to seize opportunities in today's global marketplace. The firm represents clients across a broad array of dynamic industry sectors, including technology, life sciences, venture capital, clean energy, real estate and retail.

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