Recent News

“How to Protect Your Business from Staffing Company Wage and Hour Violations”

Businesses that utilize staffing companies should pay close attention to Assembly Bill 1897 (“AB 1897”), which took effect on January 1, 2015. The law imposes joint liability on both the staffing company and the business for the staffing company’s wage and hour violations and/or failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage.  Read the full article.

Questions? Contact Susan at

FSG obtains $23 million judgment in theft, misappropriation, and fraud case

IRVINE, CA, February 27, 2015 – Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. (“FSG”) today announced that it has obtained a $23 million final judgment in a California federal court against Utah-based, SilverLeaf Financial, its CEO Shane Baldwin, and related Baldwin controlled entities, for theft, misappropriation, and fraud.

Among other things, the complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in a pervasive scheme to defraud investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars through the sale of sham “participation interests” in loans secured by real estate, instead diverting those monies to themselves to facilitate a lavish lifestyle that included exotic cars, court-side professional basketball seats and private jets.

Characterizing the defendants’ conduct as deceptive and malicious, Judge Andrew Guilford levied over $11 million in punitive damages against the defendants to punish and deter future conduct in addition to the almost $12 million in compensatory damages. FSG also obtained a judgment quieting title to Silverleaf owned real estate worth millions of dollars, awarding title to those properties instead to FSG’s client.

“Friedman Stroffe & Gerard’s victory on behalf of Plaintiff, and the sizeable judgment awarded by the court, signals a clear judicial recognition of the centrally important role real estate plays in America’s economy and its intent to vigorously protect those who invest in it, in good faith, against the trickery and deceit of others” said FSG shareholder James D. Stroffe.  “As a firm specializing in sophisticated financial and real estate matters, our role is to protect our clients – through litigation, if necessary — against the predatory and deceitful business tactics of others, like those perpetrated by Mr. Baldwin and SilverLeaf Financial.”

FSG’s team on this case consisted of James Stroffe, Andrew Nelson, Jennifer Stroffe, and Sasan Behnood.

Tran joins FSG as Of Counsel

Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. is pleased to announce that William Q. Tran has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Tran’s practice focuses on all aspects of complex business and corporate litigation in federal and state courts.

Tran has represented and advised clients in a broad range of business matters and disputes, including contracts, real estate, consumer claims and class actions, partnership and corporate control disputes, intellectual property, trade secrets, employment, breach of fiduciary duty claims and other business torts. Strongly rooted in Orange County, Tran has acted as lead counsel or co-lead counsel to advise and manage litigation for a diverse spectrum of Orange County and other Southern California corporations and individuals, including public-traded corporations, technology companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs and investors, healthcare professionals, real estate developers, financial institutions and smaller, privately-held companies.

Tran is also committed to furthering the needs of the Vietnamese-American business community and connecting Vietnamese-American business decision-makers and entrepreneurs to the highest-caliber legal services. Tran recently served as the chapter president of the Vietnamese Strategic Ventures Network, a non-profit group dedicated to Vietnamese American entrepreneurs, technology companies and venture capitalists in Orange County. Early in his career, Tran also worked as a grant writer and youth counselor for the non-profit agency Vietnamese Community of Orange County, Inc., where he obtained over $600,000 in grant funding to target family and youth family, mental health and minority business development projects.

Tran received his B.A., Literature, from the University of California at Los Angeles, magna cum laude in 1995, and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (“Boalt Hall”) in 2000.


Chavez joins FSG as Associate

Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. is pleased to announce that Anthony S. Chavez has joined the firm as an Associate.  Chavez’s practice focuses on commercial litigation.

Chavez represents clients in state and federal court in connection with various business, commercial, and contractual matters.  Prior to joining FSG, Chavez was an associate attorney at a large firm in Los Angeles, California specializing in complex commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense. Chavez gained experience representing clients in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation including antitrust, unfair competition, breach of contract, and fraud.

Chavez received his B.A. degree from Stanford University in 2008 and J.D. from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law in 2012.

While in law school, Chavez served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Judge Kim Wardlaw at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California and a judicial extern to the Honorable Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich at the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, California.


Prominent business litigator Robert Adel joins FSG

Prominent business litigation attorney Robert E. Adel has joined Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C.  Adel most recently was a shareholder at the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig.   

Adel is another in the group of high-profile attorneys that could be called “big firm refugees,” those who have recently left large national law firms because their middle-market business clients have balked at the high hourly rates.  Smaller firms such as Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C., have substantially lower rates, so their clients can receive the same service and results at up to one-half the cost.  Adel’s clients have included Plasticolor Molded Products, Inc., Hologic Corp., Road Ready Registration, Inc., Chase Merritt and W.S. Dodge Oil, Inc. 

Adel is recognized as being in a small group nationwide of elite litigators with particular expertise in mergers and acquisitions litigation, involving working capital adjustments, earn-outs, representations and warranties in stock and asset purchase agreements, and related disputes. He has over 20 years’ experience in business litigation, including securities and consumer class actions, construction defects, product liability, professional negligence, fiduciary duties, unfair competition, and disputes involving mergers & acquisitions, real estate purchase and sale transactions, and partnerships. 

Adel received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara, summa cum laude, and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall).  He is a member of the State Bar of California, Litigation Section; Orange County Bar Association, Business Litigation Section, Mandatory Fee Arbitration Committee; Opus Connect (Co-Chair of Orange County mergers & acquisitions chapter); and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. 

“We are very excited to have such an exceptional litigator as Rob Adel join our firm,” says James D. Stroffe, managing shareholder. “Rob is well known throughout the legal community for his effective litigation skills across a broad range of matters.  He will be a tremendous asset in serving FSG’s clients.”


Andy Nelson speaks to architects, engineers, and designers on dispute avoidance

FSG co-sponsored Development One, Inc.’s 6th Annual Change Order Prevention Seminar, which was held November 12, 2014 in Tustin. The purpose of the annual seminar is to share best practices, from the design team perspective, to reduce contractor-driven change orders on construction projects. One of four presenters, Andy Nelson discussed “strategies to avoid or minimize disputes through effective communication.”

Link to Development One’s Facebook page recapping the event:

Questions? Contact Andrew Nelson at

FSG represents action sports apparel company Brixton in investment deal

Brixton, an Oceanside-based lifestyle apparel company, has announced a partnership with investment firm Altamont Capital Partners to support the company’s continued growth and development.  Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. partner Bryan Friedman and associate Jennifer Stroffe represented Brixton in all legal aspects of the transaction.   Financial terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.


Jennifer Stroffe Discusses Impact of New Office Leasing Trends

FSG attorney Jennifer Stroffe was recently featured in an article discussing “creative office” spaces in Orange County.  In the article, “Should You Model Your Office After a Skateboard Company’s?”, she points out that action sports companies have been some of the first to push to fully integrated creative offices.  This trend is being driven by the culture and purpose of these companies — to recruit and retain top talent, to promote creativity and cutting edge product, and promote work/life balance. Read the full article.

Also see: “Creative Office is … What?” for a brief overview of the panel discussion, highlights and photos at

Questions? Contact Jennifer Stroffe at

“Orange County Office of the Future” Seminar a Smashing Success

Over 250 people attended the Orange County Office of the Future” seminar last week,co-hosted by Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. at The gen2 Building in Irvine.

The seminar featured leading national and local figures in real estate, offering insights into one of real estate’s hottest topics. Speakers included Friedman Stroffe & Gerard’s Jennifer Stroffe and top real estate professionals from Prudential Real Estate Investors, PIMCO, Hulu, IA Interior Architects, Tangram Interiors, Bixby Land Company and more.

All over Orange County, many tenants are redefining the term “office.”  It’s not just tech tenants in Silicon Valley who are demanding the creative office space now—here in Orange County all types of tenants want in. 

But what is “creative office space”? The panelists grappled with the question, and while there is no single answer, part of it is meeting tenant expectations for open floor plans and amenities such as break out rooms and game rooms to promote collaboration. Another part is owners and developers taking the initiative to offer features tenants might not realize they want—until they experience them. Outdoor space that integrates with indoor space is one example of what may be an important amenity that tenants themselves may not even know they want until they see or experience it.

Panelists also addressed questions such as: What creative tenants most signify this evolution and is it creative office right for every business? How is new technology impacting the demand for creative office?  What do employers need to know in designing their offices in order to attract and retain top talent? What are developers/owners providing to entice tenants to their portfolios?

The commercial real estate industry will continue to deal with this exciting and challenging design issue.  If you have any questions regarding topics addressed at this event or other leasing or real estate concerns, contact Jennifer Stroffe.

“New Law Requires Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave for California Employees” article by Susan Arduengo

Action Sports employers need to be aware of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (the “Act”), signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 10, 2014, which entitles employees working in California to a minimum of 3 paid sick days per year. Current state law does not require paid sick leave for employees, although many employers have traditionally provided this benefit to full-time employees.  Read the full article.

Questions? Contact Susan at