Michael E. Pappas


Mike has a broad range of experience counseling and representing clients in complex commercial disputes, including matters involving distribution, franchising, marketing, competition, trademarks, trade secrets, insurance coverage, fiduciary duties, real estate, creditors’ rights and general business law.  He has practiced in state and federal courts nationwide and tried several jury and bench trials and arbitrations to conclusion successfully.

Michael E. Pappas

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Distribution and Franchise
Mike has handled numerous domestic and international disputes between manufacturers and distributors over the scope, enforceability and termination of distribution, franchise and license agreements as well as price-fixing and claims of anti-competitive conduct.  He has counseled and represented such prominent brands as Dermalogica, Toddy, Red Bull North America, Inc., McDonald’s Corporation and Culligan International Company, as well as smaller manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, franchisors and franchisees. His work on behalf of Red Bull led to a published decision on the specificity of terms necessary to establish and enforce an oral distribution agreement.  Dominique Unterberger v. Red Bull North America, Inc., 162 Cal.App.4th 414 (2008).

Trade Secret
In the trade secret arena, Mike has counseled numerous companies and former employees in cases alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary information and unfair competition.  Mike was counsel in the seminal trade secret case, Whyte v. Schlage Lock Company, 101 Cal.App.4th 1443 (2002), which addressed the “inevitable disclosure doctrine” in trade secret law, and since that time has handled dozens of cases involving employee mobility and restraints.  Notable recent cases include representation of a major U.S. food distributor in litigation with its competitor, Sysco, involving the poaching of multiple sales people, and a medical device manufacturer’s acquisition of a competitor’s sales team.  

Mike was primary outside counsel for trademark enforcement nationwide for Red Bull North America, Inc., to prevent the passing-off of imitation energy drinks and currently represents Toddy, LLC in brand protection matters.  He previously represented Vans, Inc. in trademark litigation to protect its valuable Checkerboard and Diamond outsole design trademarks.

Commercial Litigation
Examples of Mike’s commercial litigation experience include the following:

  • Successful defense in arbitration of price fixing and antitrust claims by reseller against manufacturer.
  • Achieved arbitration award in excess of $1,000,000 in favor of partner improperly removed from ownership of successful mortgage bank.
  • Investigation and litigation against former officers and directors of failed financial institutions for breaches of fiduciary duty and negligence.
  • Successful defense at trial of consumer products manufacturer Salton, Inc., for breach of sponsorship agreement and fraud brought by the rock band Linkin Park.
  • Representation of fabric supplier in litigation of cases involving copyrights on fabric designs.
  • Jury verdict in favor of Allstate Insurance Company in insurance bad faith case arising out the Malibu firestorms.
  • Summary judgment on behalf of client in insurance bad faith case on eve of trial where severely brain-damaged plaintiff sought $35 million in damages.
  • Successful representation of international financial institution in litigation and work-out of troubled loan and real estate partnership interests in two major shopping malls.
  • Numerous cases between financial institutions and their borrowers involving all aspects of prejudgment remedies, litigation, foreclosure and restructuring of borrower relationships.

Before joining Lesnick Prince & Pappas LLP, Mike was a litigation partner with Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps, LLP and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (now Dentons).  From the Fall of 1998 through the Spring of 1999, Mike was a visiting professor of law at Beijing University in China, lecturing on United States law, legal ethics and professional responsibility.


  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D. 1987
  • UCLA, B.A. Communications Studies 1983


  • “California Unique, Not So Chic: Legal Issues Affecting Companies Doing Business in California” – Corporate Counsel – September 2010.

Community Service:

From 2006 – 2012, Mike was a member of the board of directors of CASA LA, an organization dedicated to the advancement of abused and neglected children in the Los Angeles County dependency court system.


Mike is regularly named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” for Business Litigation from 2004 to the present by Law & Politics Magazine after annual peer surveys of Southern California’s 65,000 lawyers.

Bar Admissions (current and previous):

  • California
  • U.S. District Court—Central, Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court—Colorado, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Illinois, Western District of New York, Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit