Jessica S. Pliner

Partner

Jessica Stuart Pliner is a partner in the San Francisco and Walnut Creek offices of Lewis Brisbois and is a member of the Labor & Employment Practice. A legal counselor to individuals and businesses throughout California and beyond, Jessica Pliner works on matters of employment, intellectual property (trade secrets, trademark and copyright), commercial litigation, trucking, product liability, and large-exposure tort litigation. Jessica’s practice includes defending employers in wrongful termination, breach of contract, ADA access, sexual assault and trade secret litigation as well as litigating cases under the FEHA, Title VII, and the Unruh Act for discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Jessica’s practice also includes defending her clients in contract actions and a wide array of tort actions including professional liability, product liability, and premises liability actions, including negligent security and third party criminal conduct cases.

Jessica meticulously develops and executes defense strategy, and defends all aspects of litigation from inception to resolution. With painstaking focus and well-analyzed evaluations of each matter, Jessica obtains outstanding results for her clients, including exploring all avenues for third party defense/indemnity. She has successfully first-chaired six jury trials and second-chaired many others. Jessica has obtained hundreds of favorable resolutions through summary judgment or settlement, both at the state and federal level. A former ADA, Jessica achieved guilty verdicts for each of the jury trials she handled for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Her diverse client list includes everyone from individual policy holders to Fortune 500 companies.

Before entering the legal world, Jessica gained insider music industry experience as a concert promoter, artist manager and owner/manager of an independent record label with a dozen domestic and international releases.

Jessica is active in the local community, including volunteering through bar associations and the Federal Pro Bono Project. She also served as an officer and a Director for the Marin County Bar Association for several years.

Publications

  • “Domestic Workers in California Will Not Receive OSHA Protections,” Lewis Brisbois Grindstone Employment Blog (October 14, 2020)
  • “Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Employers in FCRA and ADA Cases,” Lewis Brisbois Grindstone Employment Blog (May 5, 2020)
  • “Ignorance of Living Wage Requirement Can Constitute Willful Failure to Pay” Archer Norris Word on the Street Employment Law Blog (May 29, 2018)
  • “Ninth Circuit clarifies statute of limitations period for filing a Title VII suit” Archer Norris Word on the Street Employment Law Blog (May 14, 2018)
  • “A Debate Over Punctuation With Expensive Consequences” Archer Norris Word on the Street Employment Law Blog (April 6, 2017)
  • “New Law on Single User Restrooms in Effect March 1st!” Archer Norris Word on the Street Employment Law Blog (March 6, 2017)
  • “Proposed Legislation: The Right to Die and the Right to Try,” The Marin Lawyer (Volume 46, Issue 6, 2015).
  • “A Sound Business Decision: Hiring People with Disabilities,” The Marin Lawyer (Volume 45, Issue 12, 2014).
  • “Sanctions Alert: Attorneys Discover Lumps of Coal in Their Stockings,” The Marin Lawyer (Volume 43, Issue 1, 2012).
  • “California Supreme Court Decision in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc.,” The Marin Lawyer (Volume 42, Issue 9, 2011).

Presentations

  • Co-presenter; "How and When to Terminate Employees," November 17, 2020

Admissions

  • State Bar Admissions
    • California
  • State Supreme Courts
    • California Supreme Court
  • United States District Courts
    • United States District Court for the Central District of California
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of California
  • United States Bankruptcy Courts
    • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States Courts of Appeals
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Admissions

California

Supreme Court of California

United States District Court, Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California

United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Associations

  • Napa County Bar Association

Awards & Honors

Rising Star, Northern California Super Lawyers, 2016-2019

Education

Golden Gate University School of Law

Juris Doctor, 2008

University of California, Santa Barbara

Bachelor of Arts, 2004

Representative Matters

  • Negligent Security Summary Judgment – Prevailed on summary judgment motion on behalf of her retail and landowner clients in a negligent security case when the plaintiff had been shot by an assailant in her client’s parking lot.

  • Sexual Harassment Arbitration – During an arbitration of Plaintiff’s sexual harassment claims, an aggressive and effective defense was presented resulting in a very favorable settlement before the arbitration concluded.

  • Affirmative Defense Forces Nuisance Settlement – Jessica obtained an early inexpensive settlement for her client in a products liability action for the amount that would have been spent on a summary judgment motion based on the application of MICRA’s statute of limitations to the case, having researched the prior license held by the client at the time of manufacture.

  • FEHA Discrimination Summary Judgment - Prevailed on two summary judgment motions on behalf of firm clients in a contentious harassment, retaliation, and discrimination case only a month before trial. The court granted both motions, finding that the plaintiff’s claims failed against both of the defendants because they were neither joint employers nor integrated enterprises with the plaintiff’s actual employer, which would have subjected them to liability for the alleged Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) violations.

  • Dismissal in Premises Liability Case - Obtained a dismissal for her client in a premises liability case in Alameda County, in exchange for a waiver of costs. In this matter, the plaintiff alleged that she fell on the premises of a retail business, injuring herself. After a year of contentious litigation, the plaintiff agreed that she would likely be unable to establish liability against the retail client for her fall, and the case was dismissed.

  • Attorney’s Fees Reduction – Following acceptance of Code of Civil Procedure section 998 Offer in a disability discrimination and FCRA matter in San Francisco, the plaintiff applied for attorney’s fees pursuant to the settlement offer. Jessica opposed the application and the Court agreed that a negative multiplier had to be applied to the amount sought by the plaintiff’s attorneys as the case resolved for a modest settlement amount before the plaintiff took any discovery and the plaintiff was sanctioned multiple times as a result of the defendants’ discovery motions.

  • Labor Code Exception - Obtained summary judgment in client’s favor in suit brought by employee for catastrophic injuries that fell outside of the worker’s compensation exclusivity doctrine.
  • Catastrophic Injury - Obtained summary adjudication in client's favor that co-defendant had a duty to defend client in ongoing catastrophic injury case.
  • Personal Injury - Successfully fought for client against insurer who initially refused to defend and indemnify client in personal injury suit. Persuaded insurer to reimburse client for all of its fees expended and to settle the case on client's behalf, saving client approximately $300,000.
  • Award of Attorney's Fees - Obtained an award of nearly $150,000 for client after judgment in client's favor in copyright infringement matter in USDC Northern District of California court.
  • Copyright Litigation - Along with co-counsel, obtained judgment in favor of her broadcasting clients in a six figure copyright infringement suit brought by a software developer. The U.S. District Court agreed that the developer had granted an implied license, which barred his suit.
  • Award of Attorney's Fees - Obtained an award of $75,000 in attorney’s fee in Merced Superior Court.
  • Racial Discrimination - Defended retail client in a racial discrimination case filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiff alleged racial discrimination under Unruh and 42 U.S.C. 1981, intentional torts including false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as negligence. The jury found in favor of Jessica's client on all of the discrimination claims (which carry attorney's fees) and all of the intentional torts. The jury awarded damages for negligence in an amount less than the FRCP Rule 68 Offer of Judgment made by Jessica's client, entitling them to post-offer costs.
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