Nicholas Labs., LLC v. Chen, 199 Cal. App. 4th 1240 (2011)

Nicholas Labs sued its former employee, Christopher Chen, for breach of contract, conversion, negligence, money had and received, unjust enrichment, etc., after discovering that, while employed by Nicholas Labs, Chen had engaged in a business that made him a competitor of Nicholas Labs and that Chen had diverted business opportunities away from Nicholas Labs, stolen personal property of the company and misused company credit cards. Chen responded with a cross-complaint in which he claimed he had incurred and would continue to incur damages, including attorney’s fees and costs, in defending himself against Nicholas Labs’ claims. Chen invoked the indemnity provisions of Cal. Labor Code § 2802 and Cal. Corp. Code § 317 as the basis for his cross-complaint. On the eve of trial, the parties filed a stipulation in which Nicholas Labs dismissed its complaint without prejudice and Chen submitted his cross-complaint (in which he sought $90,000 in attorney’s fees) to be determined by the trial court exclusive of a jury and without the presentation of live testimony. The trial court rejected Chen’s claim for indemnity, holding that Section 2802 is applicable to third-party claims against an employee and not claims by an employer against its own employee. The Court of Appeal affirmed and further held that Chen was not entitled to indemnity under the Corporations Code because Nicholas Labs is an LLC and not a corporation. See also CDF Firefighters v. Maldonado, 200 Cal.App.4th 158 (2011) (union member was entitled to recover his attorney’s fees as prevailing party in breach of contract action prosecuted against him by union).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.