Dennis S. Ellis is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and his practice concentrates on consumer class actions, unfair competition (Section 17200), business torts, product liability defense, environmental law, and breach of contract actions. He has worked for a diverse group of clients, including major retail chains, petroleum, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing companies, and internationally-known celebrities. Mr. Ellis is the author of several articles that have appeared in various legal publications, including a law review article entitled “A Product Liability Claim By Any Other Name Remains A Product Liability Claim: California Courts Should Not Permit Plaintiffs To Recast A Product Liability Claim In The Terms Of Fraud,” 25 Whittier L. Rev. 441 (2003). He also wrote a practitioner’s treatise entitled Enforcement of Judgments: A Practitioner’s Guide to Recovery, published by ALM Media LLC in July 2016.
Before studying law, Mr. Ellis was one of 18 individuals selected from a nationwide pool of over 350 applicants to work for the California State Assembly as a Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellow. After completing the year-long Fellowship program, he was hired as a legislative aide to Assemblywoman Carol Bentley. As Assemblywoman Bentley’s chief legislative advisor, Mr. Ellis briefed the Assemblywoman on pending legislation and was responsible for drafting many of the bills she introduced.
Mr. Ellis graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 1990, where he was a scholarship student-athlete and starting offensive lineman on the Titan football team. He graduated cum laude from Howard University School of Law in 1995. While there, Mr. Ellis was first runner-up in the Charles H. Houston Moot Court Competition, a member of the National Moot Court Team, and a member of the Howard Law Journal.
Mr. Ellis has successfully represented clients in these matters:
- Pacific Gas and Electric Company v. Jeff Alexander: Mr. Ellis was the lead attorney for PG&E in this three-month trial in Kern County which resulted in a complete defense verdict on claims against PG&E. This case was initiated by PG&E, when it sought and obtained an injunction against an excavator who it claimed caused two “dig-ins” to its natural gas pipeline. The excavator in that case filed a cross-complaint alleging negligence on the part of PG&E and defamation. The cross-complainant was represented at trial by two prominent plaintiffs’ firms, who sought $1.2 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. At the close of the case, the jury returned a complete defense verdict for PG&E on all of the claims.
- Consumer Class Action Defense: Mr. Ellis has a thriving practice representing consumer packaged goods companies across the country. He has successfully defended such cases by obtaining motions to dismiss at the pleading stage and denial of motions for class certification.
- New World TMT Limited v. PrediWave Corporation, et al.: Mr. Ellis was lead attorney in the case which resulted in what is believed to be the largest judgment ever obtained by a Chinese firm in a U.S. court. In New World, Mr. Ellis led a team of attorneys who successfully brought a motion for terminating sanctions against PrediWave Corporation, eight PrediWave-related companies, and their CEO, Jianping “Tony” Qu. In its order, the court struck all the defendants’ answers and cross-claims, and ordered that default be entered against them and in favor of Mr. Ellis’ client, New World. A default hearing to prove compensatory and punitive damages resulted in a total judgment in excess of $2.8 billion.
- Pacific Coin Management v. BR Telephony Partners, L.P., et al.: Mr. Ellis was part of a trial team that obtained a $97.2 million jury verdict on behalf of their client in this lawsuit involving claims of unfair competition and other related claims regarding the alleged failure to disclose material information in an investment solicitation.
- Broadlink Communications, Inc. v. MRV Communications, Inc.: Mr. Ellis was the lead trial lawyer in the Broadlink case, assisted only by a junior associate, where they represented iTouch Communications, Inc. (“iTouch”), a division of MRV Communications, Inc. (“MRV”), in a case of breach of contract for sale of goods. A collection agency brought the case in Sonoma County Superior Court on behalf of bankrupt Broadlink. After deliberating for three and a half hours, the jury returned a defense verdict on all counts in favor of Mr. Ellis’ clients, iTouch and MRV.
- Mr. Ellis was the lead trial lawyer in a three-month long trial handling the opening, closing, and direct and cross-examination of all the major witnesses. This case involved a $16 million lawsuit filed by a Santa Barbara-based preventative medical scanning company. The jury concluded that the company’s demise was due to a downward industry trend in the full-body scanning market and its own poor management decisions, rather than the company’s claims of malfunctioning equipment manufactured by Mr. Ellis’ client, a major healthcare company.
- Confidential JAMS Arbitration: Mr. Ellis served as lead counsel for Claimant in an environmental case, where Claimant alleged Respondents failed to pay their agreed portion of response costs related to an enforcement action brought by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. At the conclusion of the arbitration, the panel of three retired judges ordered Respondents to pay their full portion of response costs in the amount of $2,045,279.40 and an additional $651,638.81 in prejudgment interest. The panel also found that Claimant was the prevailing party and entitled to attorneys’ fees in excess of $2,000,000.
Accolades and Recognitions
- Member, International Association of Defense Counsel
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America’s Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
- Selected to the Lawdragon “500 Leading Litigators in America” list (October 2022)
- Selected to the Lawdragon “500 Leading Lawyers in America” list (February 2022)
- Recognized in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Leaders of Influence Minority Attorneys” special issue (2016, 2022)
- Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers list (2007-2023)
- John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles; Legacy of Leadership Award (2016)
- Named “California Lawyer of the Year” by California Lawyer magazine (2006)
- Named as one of the “Top 20 Lawyers under 40” by the Daily Journal (2006)
- Included in “Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles”
Professional and Community Involvement
- Former General Counsel and Member, Board of Directors, Zeitgeist Community Learning Center, a community-based after school program for students grades three through five, in South Central Los Angeles
- Member, Board of Visitors, Howard University School of Law
- Howard University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1995
- California State University, Fullerton, B.A., 1990