Connie M. Fickel is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Lewis Brisbois and is co-chair of the firm’s Professional Liability Practice and chair of the firm’s Securities Litigation & FINRA Practice. Ms. Fickel represents investment advisors, registered representatives, accountants, actuaries, ERISA fiduciaries, lawyers, and insurance agents and brokers. Ms. Fickel has tried cases to verdict and decision in state and federal courts, as well as in FINRA arbitration. She has successfully defended claims involving a variety of alternative investments, annuities, options, and other investment products and strategies. Ms. Fickel has also successfully defended cases across the country involving insurance agents and brokers in cases involving negligence, breach of contract, and misrepresentation with respect to the procurement of various insurance products. She also represents clients in civil and administrative enforcement actions.
Ms. Fickel also regularly defends cases across the country concerning a variety of welfare benefits plans that were deemed to be abusive tax shelters by the IRS, and which resulted in subsequent fraud and other related claims against the designers and promoters of the plans for failing to predict the future tax treatment of the plans. She also regularly represents clients in complex business litigation, including matters involving real estate, partnership disputes, construction contracts, a variety of employment matters, and consumer class action defense.
Having earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, Ms. Fickel has a strong understanding of financial products and complex business matters. She understands her clients’ businesses and can tailor case handling based on the client’s business and strategic considerations, as well as their risk tolerance. Ms. Fickel also works closely with her clients to provide a business oriented approach to address litigation-related client concerns, including implementing custom metric driven evaluative processes and facilitating communication of timely strategic considerations from within the business to the litigation team.
Primary Area(s) of Practice
- Professional Liability
- Accountants Errors & Omissions
- Securities Litigation & FINRA
- Complex Business & Commercial Litigation
- Legal Malpractice Defense
- COVID-19: Commercial & Contractual Litigation Disputes
- State Bar of California
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Professional Liability Underwriting Society
Awards & Honors
- Named a Rising Star by Southern California Super Lawyers®, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015
- Top Women Attorneys, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015
- Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, 2005
Pepperdine University School of Law
Juris Doctor, 2000
Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management
Masters of Business Administration, 1999
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, minor in German, 1996
- Obtained jury verdict finding no liability against insurance agent for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and concealment, and holding Plaintiff 99% responsible for the $400,000 in damages that the jury assessed in case alleging that the insurance agent misled Plaintiff into cancelling a term rider on a large life insurance policy. As we obtained a more favorable result than the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment that we made earlier in the case, we are entitled to our post-offer costs as well.
- Obtained Respondent’s award in $5 Million FINRA arbitration involving alternative investments, including REITS, TICS, oil and gas limited partnership, and premium financed insurance policy. Steinlauf v. Neuville, FINRA Arbitration No. 13-00415.
- Obtained dismissal of legal malpractice claim brought as an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy against the arbitrator who had ruled against plaintiff in a complex matter involving a series of real proper transactions/real estate partnerships.
- Won Motion to Dismiss fraud and negligence based claims in Indiana State Court related to Welfare Benefits Plans formed under Internal Revenue Code sections 419(e) and 79. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants knowingly promoted and sold plans that were not in compliance with IRS Rules and Regulations, and which had been heavily scrutinized by the IRS for years. Based thereupon, Plaintiffs sought recovery of all back taxes, interest, and penalties paid when the IRS found the plans to be abusive tax shelters and denied the plans’ qualifications and the deductions taken in connection therewith.
- Won Summary Judgment Motion on agent-broker negligence claim related to the alleged failure to obtain insurance on the proper building at Plaintiff’s winery. The case was successfully bifurcated as to a release entered into between Plaintiffs and the insurance carrier, and Ms. Fickel successfully argued that the release applied to both the insurance agent, as well as the subject matter of Plaintiff’s claims against the agent.
- First chaired a federal jury trial defending the subsidiary of one of the nation’s largest financial institutions in a case involving claims of professional liability related to the administration of a profit-sharing plan.
- Successfully bifurcated all aspects of litigation of a complex professional negligence action involving the administration and investment advice given with respect to a defined benefit plan.
- Obtained a walk-away settlement in a professional negligence case involving a defined benefits plan wherein Plaintiffs stipulated that the allegations contained in their complaint were false.
- Obtained a dismissal of a multi-million dollar variable annuity securities fraud case at the pleadings stage.
- Obtained a dismissal at the pleadings stage of a significant portion of litigation against third party administrator and insurance broker relating to a 419(e) Single Employer Welfare Benefit Plan.
- Defended against consumer class action and other complex business litigation matters, including successfully resolving a consumer class action for alleged violations of consumer privacy related laws. Possible exposure in the case was approximately $850 million; however, Ms. Fickel was able to resolve the case for under $250,000, or roughly 0.02% of the original damage exposure.
- Managed highly contentious multi-million dollar litigation concerning partnership dispute between two major real estate developers.
- Represented a real estate developer in litigation concerning a national homebuilder’s failure to complete the purchase of a $26 million dollar property, Ms. Fickel defeated the homebuilder’s motion for a right to attach a $4 million dollar deposit held by the developer, convincing the Court that the homebuilder could not show a likelihood of success at the time of trial.
- Drafted a significant opposition to a demurrer on technical federal preemption issues, presented in a case concerning a high-profile train crash.
- Obtained a settlement of approximately $850,000 on the eve of trial for a landlord in an action against its former tenant that breached its lease and damaged the property while removing its business equipment. The settlement amount was approximately 90% of the amount that her client was seeking at trial.
- Obtained a $375,000 jury verdict in favor of tenant against landlord who refused to allow tenant’s exercise of option to extend lease of a commercial space, causing significant damage to the client’s business. Ms. Fickel sat second chair at trial.
- Successfully defended registered representative supervisor in FINRA disciplinary investigation concerning supervisory issues, compensation, and termination of affiliated registered representative who engaged in OBA and PST activities.
- Won case on demurrer (no leave to amend) against insurance agent who allegedly failed to prevent fraud in change if beneficiary form, and who was later alleged to have participated on the forgery.
- Won case on demurrer (no leave to amend) against insurance agent who allegedly failed to procure requested insurance by failing to elicit name of proper entity on application.
- Successfully defended state bar complaint against attorney who allegedly failed to competently assist client with immigration matter.
- Obtained voluntary dismissal of case against securities broker-dealer after prevailing on demurrer, where broker-dealer allegedly failed to uncover fraudulent change of beneficiary on IRA account where account holder was allegedly incompetent.
- Obtained numerous settlements on behalf of financial institution in disputes between and among alleged beneficiaries of a variety of products, without the need to file interpleader actions.
- Settled nationwide class action for alleged TCPA violation against insurance agents via a contribution of 1/100th of the potential exposure.