Professional Details

Cheryl Priest Ainsworth

Senior Attorney

Cheryl Priest Ainsworth is an experienced litigator and trial attorney. Her experience ranges from representing individuals to family run companies, as well as multi-billion-dollar national corporations, and taking on big banks and rap stars. Cheryl’s practice focuses on business, employment, entertainment, intellectual property, and real estate disputes, among others. She represents plaintiffs and defendants in diverse industries including film, music, professional sports, apparel, warehousing and distribution, commercial real estate, and technology. Cheryl also serves on the Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team.

BUSINESS AND ENTERTAINMENT

In the business and entertainment arena, she recently obtained a decisive and near-immediate victory in a commercial real estate dispute upon briefing and oral argument (Orange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2018-00975963). As first-chair trial counsel, she defeated one of the world’s largest banks in a negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and promissory estoppel case at trial (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 565631).  While representing one of Michael Jackson’s former managers in a music royalties dispute, she defeated a potentially case-ending Motion for Summary Adjudication brought by the Michael Jackson Estate – a victory that paved the way to a successful resolution for the client. She also served on the trial team that defeated multi-platinum-selling rapper, Lil Wayne, on a breach of contract action relating to a documentary film. She has served as lead attorney on several cases, involving, among other matters, representing shareholders and directors in corporate breach of fiduciary duty matters, representing tech companies in trade secret, data theft, and defamation actions relating to competitors’ claims, and representing an advertising company in business disputes relating to its sound studios.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

In the intellectual property arena, she has litigated trademark and trade dress claims for fashion houses and consumer goods companies, as well as copyright claims for jewelry and accessories companies, among others. And early in her career, she successfully obtained an ex parte injunction and seizure order against counterfeit merchandise purveyors on behalf of National Football League Properties in advance of Super Bowl XXXIX. 

LABOR & EMPLOYMENT

Cheryl helps lead the Labor & Employment department of the Firm. Cheryl represents employers and employees in all phases of employment-related litigation, though she also provides non-litigation advice.  She has litigated and advised on a broad range of employment issues related to recruiting, hiring, employee relations, discipline and terminations, internal investigations, accommodations, restrictive covenants, trade secrets, and defamation.  She has prosecuted and defended claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.  She regularly negotiates separation and severance agreements, as well as advises on employment contracts.  

HIGH-IMPACT COMPLEX LITIGATION

Since 2019, she has also taken on high-impact litigation, leading a team of lawyers in representing almost 40 cities and counties in Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, and Missouri in cases against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies for harms arising from the opioid crisis. She fought to keep these cases in their local state courts, successfully fought off dozens of motions to dismiss, and currently represents the Arizona local governments in front of the Arizona Supreme Court. 

She has achieved national recognition for her participation in developing strategy for her clients, as well as helping coalitions of parties to leverage their collective negotiation power, all while also being a key figure at the negotiation table with several state Attorneys General across the country. 

She has also taken the lead in representing the firm’s government clients as an ex officio member of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors for In re Insys Therapeutics, Inc. (Case No. 19-11292), the company’s bankruptcy arising out of the its alleged role in fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic.  Similarly, she also serves, as part of a coalition of local governments across the nation, on the group’s ex officio team to the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors for In re Purdue Pharma L.P. (Case No. 19-23649), another bankruptcy case arising out of the same opioid crisis.

Cheryl is regularly brought into cases on the eve of trial to prepare the case for trial and to brief and argue critical motions that shape the conduct of the trial and admission of evidence. And when appropriate, she guides clients to a successful, non-trial resolution of disputes.

BACKGROUND

Originally from England, Cheryl moved to the United States when she was two years old. Growing up between Florida and California, Cheryl graduated first in her class and Order of the Coif from the University of Florida College of Law. She served as Senior Symposium Editor of the Florida Law Review, which published her article, ‘Civil Procedure: The Right to Sue Under Section 1983,’ 55 Fla. L. Rev. 753 (2003). Cheryl also attended graduate school at the top-rated University of Florida College of Journalism, where she served as a features reporter for news/sports radio station, WRUF (now an ESPN affiliate). Her undergraduate degree, also from the University of Florida, is in Political Science, a subject about which she remains passionate – almost as passionate as she is about the Florida Gators.

She began her legal career in Florida, serving as a business and employment litigator at Holland & Knight in Tampa, Florida. In 2007, she left Holland & Knight and Florida to join Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office, where she worked on some of the largest cases in the nation. Having fallen in love with Southern California, she has remained here since 2007.

Representative Matters

  • Defeated Wells Fargo at trial as first-chair trial counsel.
  • Obtained complete and decisive victory in commercial tenant dispute shortly after being retained.
  • Litigated matter to a complete trial victory with an award of damages against multi-platinum rap artist, Lil Wayne.
  • Prevailed over two large international firms on two dispositive motions for a warehousing and distribution company in a multi-million-dollar case involving business torts, breach of contract, unfair competition, defamation, and misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Defeated a Motion for Summary Adjudication brought by the Michael Jackson Estate against her client, Michael Jackson’s former manager, in a music royalties dispute, a result which resulted in a favorable resolution of claims.
  • Negotiated favorable confidential executive separation agreements on behalf of several individual clients.
  • Successfully moved to compel arbitration on behalf of a tech company in its dispute with a competitor.
  • Convinced a leading technology reviewer/blogger to take down damaging material regarding a tech company client.
  • Fended off a claim of employment discrimination threatened against a prestigious country club.
  • Obtained an injunction and seizure order on behalf of National Football League Properties against purveyors of counterfeit NFL merchandise.
  • Served as a temporary Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney in East Los Angeles.
  • Selected for and successfully completed the Traditional Trial Advocacy Project of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

News

  • Theodora Oringher Attorneys Named to 2021 Southern California Super Lawyers List Read more >
  • TO Joins Briefing Urging Opioid MDL Judge to Reject “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach to Common Benefit Fees; Judge Agrees Read more >
  • Theodora Oringher Attorneys Named To 2020 Southern California Super Lawyers List Read more >
  • Ohio settlement could pave way for Arizona entities in opioid litigation Read more >
  • Our View: Carroll County right to want ‘our own case, our own judge, our own trial,’ in opioids suit Read more >
  • Carroll County refiles suit against opioid manufacturers, hoping to keep case in state court Read more >
  • City to consider hiring attorneys to sue over opioid crisis Read more >
  • Proposed Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Settlement Creates Uncertainty in Md. Read more >
  • Carroll County drops opioid lawsuit but plans to refile — with aim to keep it out of federal court Read more >
  • Jeff Reeves Quoted in Statement on Verdict in Oklahoma Opioid Lawsuit Read more >
  • Federal judge decides Prescott's lawsuit against opioid companies will be heard in Arizona Read more >
  • Millions of Pills Flooded Towns, Arizona Republic Read more >
  • La Paz County sues opioid manufacturers and distributors in Arizona court Read more >
  • Commissioners inch toward filing lawsuit vs. opioid kingpins, www.richmond-news.com Read more >
  • Apache County Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Apache County, County Attorney's Office Read more >
  • California’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma is one of many following a big settlement Read more >
  • Prescott Sues Opioid Companies; Case Will Not Join Class Action Suit, Knau.org Read more >
  • Prescott Sues Manufacturers, Distributors Over Opioid Crisis, KTAR.com Read more >
  • City of Prescott Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers & Distributors, Prescottenews.com Read more >
  • Prescott Sues Pharmaceutical Companies for Damages Created by Opioid Crisis, dcourier.com Read more >
  • Prescott City Council Hires Law Firms for Possible Opioid Suit, Knau.org Read more >
  • Prescott Council to Vote on Potential Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers, PrescottNews.com Read more >