Michael Wildermuth represents public and private corporations, limited liability companies, employers and individuals in complex business and commercial litigation matters. His clients operate in such industries as healthcare, insurance, biotech, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofits, and real estate. Whether preventing protracted litigation through obtaining summary judgment or using novel arguments to shut down competitive threats, Michael has experience defending individual and multiparty claims in federal and state courts as well as in alternative dispute resolution forums. Michael is also an expert in insurance coverage law. He advises individual and company policyholders and their advisors on policy acquisition and renewal, complex insurance issues triggered by mergers and acquisitions, and coverage disputes. Michael serves on the American Arbitration Association’s National Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators, where he handles commercial and insurance-coverage related matters.
Many litigators file cases or defend them blindly with no consideration of whether a lawsuit is the best, most cost effective way to resolve the problem, with the sole goal to collect high fees. Our litigation clients are in many instances also our clients for transactional work, so we approach litigation with a strategic plan. Along with my colleagues, I look for creative solutions before and during lawsuits to achieve the best outcome: allowing clients to return their focus back on their businesses.
Clients want to achieve the right result without fees that break the bank, while also ensuring they are included in the strategy decisions.
- Real Estate
- Food Industry
- Manufacturing & Distribution
A national coordinating counsel for a large franchisor client selected me (regional counsel) to lead the defense of the company in a complex fight with a prospective franchisee, which had the attention of the senior management at the company. We achieved the right result in court in California, that excluded the damage expenses for the company. In another dispute, my client’s insurance broker had previously told the client there was no coverage for the claim. I worked with firm shareholders to convince the client’s insurance company to fund a high, six-figure settlement of a threatened lawsuit and pay for the client’s legal fees.
I am always responsive to clients and prepare before meeting them to be respectful of their time. I have learned to say the hard things as well, which helps us come to the right decision, based on input from the client.
I enjoy helping clients rid themselves of the threats and distractions that litigation and insurance disputes can create. That means solving a problem or achieving a result that allows my client to focus on their businesses or lives.
- Represented franchisee of a health care business in the termination of its franchise agreement. Based on our arguments concerning a novel area of the law, successfully defended legal action to bar the franchisee from subsequently opening a competing business. Following intensive cross-examination of the franchisor’s principal in the resulting binding arbitration, the franchisor agreed to a very favorable settlement for our client that had not previously been available, saving our client hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Represented a widow who, after her husband’s unexpected death, had inherited a minority interest in a corporation and related limited liability company that owns and operates large farming properties in Ventura County. Under the threat of a derivative lawsuit, forced the recalcitrant majority owner to amend the governing agreements to require distributions and dividends, comply with financial honesty controls, and pay amounts previously owing the minority owner. Through our creative use of a modified mediation before a well-respected retired Ventura judge, the positive result was achieved without the expense of a protracted lawsuit.
- Defended a national company in a class lawsuit alleging false advertising and related claims, where the plaintiff used a novel theory of liability in an adverse venue. Negotiated a resolution that resulted in the capitulation of the plaintiff in the case such that the plaintiff class action attorneys abandoned the original seven figure claim.
- Successfully represented a large national plastics manufacturer in the defense of a multi-plaintiff complex litigation case. Achieved a favorable ruling on a bet-the-case motion for summary judgment in one case, which helped control the outcome of the remaining cases.
- Coordinated the defense for a contract manufacturer of a large, national company in connection with skin damage claims. Acted as supervising counsel for out-of-jurisdiction cases and otherwise obtained the dismissal of the case.
- Successfully represented a trustee against challenges made by the decedent’s children concerning the distribution of assets and collection of debts of the estate, including through ancillary litigation recovering other property for the estate.
- Obtained an order from the court of appeal affirming a ruling on demurrer involving a complicated real estate specific performance and quiet title case relating to access and parking easements for commercial property in Los Angeles.
- Successfully appealed a ruling by a Los Angeles trial judge denying the enforcement of a contractual binding arbitration clause in a commercial agreement. The court of appeal commented at oral argument that our briefing made the decision easy for the panel to overturn the trial court decision. In fighting the issue, the opposing party using a national law firm based in Chicago spent twice as much as our client.
- Litigated and resolved a national company’s claims for reimbursement for significant legal fees and settlement costs of a hotly-contested national class action lawsuit. Using creative arguments for coverage and with the aid of a nationally-recognized retired judge as mediator, we convinced the insurer to fund the reimbursement.
- Successfully pressed a national health care insurer faced with politically sensitive circumstances to provide substantial benefits for an insured diagnosed with autism, where the insurance company historically had not covered such benefits. To achieve this result, applied our extensive knowledge and experience in the insurance field to force the elevation of the claims from the claims department to the general counsel’s office.
- Convinced a national title insurance company to fund litigation for our client to correct a title defect that significantly impacted the value of the client’s property. Additionally, the insurer agreed to pay full rate for the insured’s selected counsel. Statistically, title insurance claims are uniformly denied.
Real Estate Litigation
- Successfully defended a commercial real estate developer in trial against claims to compel specific performance of a retail property purchase contract. Our motion for judgment after the plaintiff’s case in chief helped direct the remaining favorable outcome for the client.
- Achieved a favorable result for client in litigation between two wealthy property owners regarding easement and other boundary issues. Successful result accomplished in a binding arbitration before a well-know retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge, ending years of disagreement and creating a mechanism through a later-stipulated agreement to address any future disputes in a timely and cost effective way.
- Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center
- Board of trustees board member, 2015 – present
- Westlake Village Community Foundation
- Board of directors, 2002 – present
- Yoga Gives Back
- Member and supporter
- Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Board of directors, 2005-2007
- CPA Law Society of Ventura County
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- Certified Personal Trainer
Our litigators protect what our business clients and transactional attorneys have built together.