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 is co-lead counsel for over 30 counties and cities in Arizona, Missouri, Kansas and Maryland who are suing the opioid manufacturers and distributors for the societal and financial ills that these local governments suffered at the hands of those defendants.  As part of her work on these cases, she has successfully defeated defendants’ attempts to circumvent the clients’ choice of venue in their home state courts and send the cases to federal court. (Federal judge decides Prescott's lawsuit against opioid companies will be heard in Arizona, Arizona Republic, Aug. 7, 2019).  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.

In the business, entertainment, and intellectual property litigation arena, she most 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, at trial on a breach of contract action relating to a documentary film.  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.  Currently, she serves as lead Senior 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 studios. 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.

In the employment litigation arena, Cheryl represents employers and employees in all phases of employment-related litigation.  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. Among other employment matters, she currently represents the County of Orange in a collective action for purportedly unpaid overtime wages.  

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.
  • Obtaining complete and decisive victory in commercial tenant dispute shortly after being retained.
  • Litigating matter to a complete trial victory with an award of damages against multi-platinum rap artist, Lil Wayne.
  • Prevailing 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.
  • Defeating 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.
  • Obtaining an injunction and seizure order on behalf of National Football League Properties against purveyors of counterfeit NFL merchandise.
  • Serving as a temporary Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney in East Los Angeles.
  • Selection by and successful completion of the Traditional Trial Advocacy Project of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.