Dick A. Semerdjian
Dick Semerdjian is a founding partner of Schwartz Semerdjian and heads up the firm’s litigation department.
Dick’s clients range from Fortune 100 and 500 publically traded companies to small businesses and individuals. Dick is also experienced in both plaintiff and defense side work which lends to his unique ability to formulate creative and effective legal and resolution strategies in even the most complex of litigation matters.
Over the span of his over 34 year career, Dick has been recognized regularly by judges and local attorneys as one of the top civil litigation attorneys in the San Diego and Southern California legal communities. In 2020, Dick was recognized by his peers in the San Diego Super Lawyers as one of the top 50 attorneys in San Diego County. Dick’s charisma and superior lawyering skills have also lead him to hold many prestigious positions in the legal world including, Chair of the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Co-Chair of the State Courts subsection of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, Director and Instructor for the American Board of Trial Advocates/American Bar Association National Trial Academy located at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on the American Jury Project and membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates American Civil Roundtable. Dick is a Master of the William B. Enright American Inn of Court.
In August 2016, Dick received the James K. Carroll Leadership Award from the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section which honors members who have shown outstanding leadership qualities and service to the section. Dick Is licensed to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, and in the Federal Courts Southern, Northern, Central and Eastern Districts of California.
Outside of work, Dick is an avid sports fan (following the San Diego Padres, Gulls, Seals and PAC-12 Football) and on the Executive Committee of the San Diego Sports Association, a founding member and Co-Chair of the San Diego Sports Alliance and Past Chair of the San Diego International Sports Council and University of California San Diego Athletic Board. Dick is currently an Executive Committee Member of the San Diego Sports Association. He loves to play golf.
Schwartz Semerdjian Wins Defamation Ruling Favors Former City Council Members, Client Developer
In what is expected to be a landmark decision, a state appeals court agreed with a local judge who handed victories to two former city council members and a Schwartz Semerdjian developer client in their defamation cases against a former Solana Beach City Council candidate and his campaign manager.
The 4th District Court of Appeal and San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis each now have ruled that former Solana Beach City Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols and developer/client Joseph Balla were maliciously defamed by former Solana Beach City Council candidate Edward Siegel and his campaign manager, Brian Hall.
Hall wrote malicious emails and letters under fake names and sent them to numerous local news outlets, some of whom published the letters online and in print, and also sent them to elected officials throughout the county, public agencies and others.
"Defendant Edward Siegel was an unsuccessful candidate for the Solana Beach City Council in 2016," the Court of Appeal wrote in its January 6 ruling. "During and after the City Council campaign, Siegel's campaign manager, defendant Brian Hall, sent a letter to the editor, distributed emails to local government and media, and posted Facebook messages about City Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols, and their relationship with local developer Joseph Balla. Primarily using a fictional person he created, 'Andrew Jones,' Hall asserted or implied that Heebner and Nichols lobbied for the North County Transit District (NCTD) to select Balla for a Solana Beach train station project in exchange for Balla giving them design work on the project and directing a charitable donation to a nature conservancy they supported."
The court continued: "Hall appealed, contending the trial court erred by denying his motions...In essence, his position is that his publications were political opinions about a conflict of interest and not actionable. We disagree. Although political speech is appropriately accorded wide latitude, especially in election campaigns, calculated or reckless falsehoods can still amount to defamation even in that context. The record reflects that at the time of the publications, Hall knew or at least consciously disregarded the fact that Heebner and Nichols had no role in the NCTD selection process and the NCTD had no agreement with Balla." As the court indicated, the case stems from letters to the editor and a series of emails and social media posts that circulated publicly during and after Siegel's failed city coucil bid. The communications were drafted by Hall but published under fake names.
Partner Dick Semerdjian, attorney for Balla, said: "Judge Lewis saw those letters for what they were - blatant and malicious attempts to smear my client. Defamation cases are not easily won but in this case the evidence was overwhelming. I expect this case will be cited for years to come in courtrooms across the state in cases which involve reckless and untrue statements guised as 'polital speech' in election campaigns."
Click here to continue reading the Court of Appeal ruling.8.20.20
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2021 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 12th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!8.15.19
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2020 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 11th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!4.16.19
Schwartz Semerdjian partners Ross Schwartz and Dick Semerdjian are co- guest lecturers at the University of San Diego School of Law Negotiations Class. Ross will address the topic of business and transactional negotiations from the perspective of a practicing business attorney while Dick will focus on the topic of the techniques required to effectively and ethically negotiate the settlement of lawsuits from the perspective of a trial attorney.3.22.19
Schwartz Semerdjian partners Dick Semerdjian and John Schena have been named 2019 San Diego Super Lawyers, both in the practice area of Business Litigation. John was previously named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for 2016-2018. This is the 13th straight year that Dick has been recognized by Super Lawyers.
Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in San Diego via a patented multi-phase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The San Diego lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in San Diego Super Lawyers Top Lists.
Partner Dick Semerdjian will present to members of the Associated Subcontractors Alliance a workshop on "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace." Remember, California companies with 50 employees or more are required by law to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors, and all attendees tomorrow will receive a written proof of completion. Regardless of a company's size, it is more important than ever for employers to educate personnel about work place conduct and sexual harassment.9.5.18
Schwartz Semerdjian is proud to announce a recent victory in the appellate court for client Ace Parking Management, Inc. in Los Angeles. Ace Parking was sued by a former model after she was injured walking under a parking gate arm. Schwartz Semerdjian partners Dick Semerdjian and Sierra Spitzer worked diligently on the case, and hope the ruling discourages future frivolous law suits against long-time client Ace Parking. The decision was featured in Law360, click here for the full article. Congratulations to our team for their expert counsel!8.15.18
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2019 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 10th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!5.10.18
Schwartz Semerdjian will host the 2018 Spring Planning Meeting of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the American Judicial System. Welcome to San Diego! Partner Dick Semerdjian is Co-Chair of the State Courts subsection of the ABA Standing Committee on the American Judicial System.4.14.18
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian will participate as an instructor at the 2018 Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section/American Board of Trial Advocates (TIPS/ABOTA) National Trial Academy at The National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, hosted by the American Bar Association.2.15.18
Partners Ross Schwartz and Dick Semerdjian will be co-guest lecturers at the University of San Diego School of Law Negotiations Class on February 15. Ross will be addressing the topic of business and transactional negotiations from the perspective of a practicing business attorney while Dick will be focusing on the topic of the techniques required to effectively and ethically negotiate the settlement of lawsuits from the perspective of a trial attorney.2.1.18
Honored with recognition from the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot LLP has been named a top tier law firm in two practice areas for the eighth annual U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings. Well-known for its work on large, complex matters where an entire business may be at risk, Schwartz Semerdjian was chosen as an exceptional firm in San Diego for tort and labor and employment litigation.
A firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S., to be eligible for a ranking. Founding Partner Dick Semerdjian was named in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.11.29.17
Schwartz Semerdjian partner and trial attorney Dick Semerdjian will join Richard D. Huffman Associate Justice, Fourth District, Division One of the California Court of Appeal, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Lewis and Certified Appellate Specialist David Niddrie of Niddrie Addams Fuller LLP on a panel of speakers sponsored by the Civil Litigation and Appellate Practices Sections of the San Diego County Bar Association in CLE program entitled: “Trial Practice that Impacts Appellate Review”. The program will take place at the San Diego County Bar Association Conference Center (located at 401 West Street Suite 120 San Diego CA) on November 29, 2017 from 5-7pm. Click here for event info and registration.
In this program, the panel will help identify common mistakes and learn how to avoid them during trial, and share information on what needs to be included in trial proceedings in order to properly preserve the record. The emphasis of the panel will be to have attorneys learn trial practices that maintain the record and protect your client when it comes to appellate review.11.21.17
Schwartz Semerdjian recently added an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) win to its portfolio with a client in Hillcrest. Residents in the area for more than 40 years, were sued by a developer when they reported disregard of appropriate permitting practices for a neighboring property. The developer sued them for losses after the property failed to sell, and they retained SSCM attorneys Dick Semerdjian, Mark Bale and Alison Adelman because the clients believed the lawsuit was a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” an impermissible attempt to chill their free speech and petition.
After extensive briefing and oral argument, the Court granted the anti-SLAPP motion, and the victory will result in the dismissal of five causes of action against firm’s clients, to their great relief and the reimbursement of the attorney’s fees and costs they spent relative to hiring the firm to defend them. For more information concerning the California anti-SLAPP statute, contact us at (619) 236-8818.104.22.168
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2018 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 9th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!5.8.17
Founding partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected to the National Judicial College’s Board of Visitors. For more than 50 years, The National Judicial College (NJC) located on the campus of the University of Nevada Reno has remained the national leader in judicial education. The first to offer programs to judges nationwide, the NJC continues to work with the judiciary to improve productivity, challenge current perceptions of justice and inspire judges to achieve judicial excellence. The College serves as the one place where judges from across the nation and around the world can meet to improve the delivery of justice and advance the rule of law through a disciplined process of professional study and collegial dialogue. By offering an average of 100 courses/programs annually with more than 8,000 judges attending from all 50 states, U.S. territories and more than 150 countries, the NJC seeks to further its mission of education, innovation and advancing justice.
The NJC’s Board of Visitors is a nationally recognized and select group of individuals charged with furthering the quality of education offered by the NJC. They are renowned professionals who bring a cross-section of perspectives to improve the administration of justice through education. Members also serve as goodwill ambassadors of the NJC by enhancing awareness of the College and assisting with fundraising efforts.
In addition to his involvement with the National Judicial College, Dick is the current Chair of the State Court sub-Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the American Justice System, and past-Chair of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) and ABA Commission on the American Jury. He is on the board and faculty of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)/TIPS National Trial Academy which is named the country’s top “boot camp for lawyers” and takes place annually at the NJC. Some of the country’s top trial attorneys serve as faculty for the academy, mentoring attorneys new to the profession and trial work. In addition to other learning exercises, the academy features a mock trial in the NJC’s Model Courtroom.
For more information about the NJC – visit www.judges.org2.27.17
Partners Dick Semerdjian, Kevin Cauley & John Moot have been selected as Top Lawyers in San Diego by Martindale Hubbell. The 2017 Top Lawyers List will be published in the March 2017 issue of San Diego Magazine. Lawyers featured in the Top Lawyers List have been selected by their peers as providing the highest level of professional excellence. Congratulations, Dick, Kevin & John!1.23.17
Partners Dick Semerdjian and John Moot have been named 2017 San Diego Super Lawyers. Dick has been recognized in the practice area of Employment Litigation Defense. This is the 10th consecutive year that Dick has been recognized by Super Lawyers. John Moot has been recognized in the practice area of Business Litigation. This is the 7th year John has been recognized by Super Lawyers. Congratulations, Dick & John!1.19.17
Partner Dick Semerdjian will be in Santa Rosa, California to conduct sexual harassment prevention training for Columbia Distributing. A reminder that all California employers with 50 or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors in California within six months of hire or promotion and every two years thereafter.12.1.16
Congratulations to Dick Semerdjian on being recognized as a "Lawyer of the Year" award recipient in the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©! Dick received the highest ratings this year from his attorney peers and judges in the area of personal injury defense work in San Diego County, making him the only attorney in San Diego to receive the "Lawyer of the Year" award in this practice area.
Dick was also recognized again as a “Best Lawyer” in 2017 in his practice area of Labor and Employment Law.
Best Lawyers® is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Awards are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers and judges confidentially evaluate their peers. Best Lawyers peer-reviewed listings are published in almost 70 countries around the world.
Schwartz Semerdjian is proud to congratulate founding partner Dick Semerdjian as the 2016 recipient of the James K. Carroll Leadership Award from the Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association (ABA). This annual award honors a TIPS member who, like James K. Carroll, has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in service to TIPS. Dick has been an active member of the ABA and TIPS since 1986, serving as TIPS Chair during the 2012-2013 bar year. In 2014-2015, Dick was appointed the Chair of the ABA Commission on the American Jury. This year, Dick is the Co-Chair of the ABA/TIPS Leadership Academy. The James K. Carroll Award will be presented to Dick at the TIPS Leadership Dinner, on August 6, 2016, at the annual ABA meeting in San Francisco. Congratulations, Dick!7.26.16
On June 21, 2016, founding partner Dick Semerdjian was appointed by American Bar Association (ABA) President-Elect Linda Klein as the Chair of the Standing Committee of the American Judicial System Subcommittee on State Courts. Dick's term will commence in August 2016 after adjournment of the ABA annual meeting in San Francisco. We are very proud to have Dick representing Schwartz Semerdjian and our industry at the national level. Congratulations, Dick!1.4.16
Schwartz Semerdjian will sponsor a February 4, 2016 seminar and reception for corporate counsel and litigation managers as part of the American Bar Association (ABA) Mid-Year Conference in San Diego (Feb. 3 - Feb. 9, 2016). This corporate counsel-focused program will include separate and distinct presentations on cutting edge issues that keep companies and clients up at night. This unique program is planned and presented by five ABA committees - Corporate Counsel, Employment Litigation, Products Liability, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law, and Self-Insurers and Risk Managers Committees - and will feature leading San Diego based corporate counsel and trial lawyers from each of these disciplines. Dick Semerdjian will be the moderator of the Employment Litigation program. Click here for the event flyer on our website.8.1.12
On April 19, 2012, Dick Semerdjian was a speaker for the American Bar Association program, "Doing Business in the United States: What You Need To Know About Investing, Product Liability and Dispute Resolution" in Beijing, China. This event was sponsored by the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s International Law and Products Liability Law Committees and co-sponsored by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Beijing, China. Dick is the Chair Elect of the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section and will be sworn in as the Chair of ABA TIPS in August 2012. For Dick's presentation click here.6.17.08
On June 17, 2008, Dick Semerdjian achieved settlement in the amount of $6.75 million on behalf of firm client, Dr. William Arterberry dba Farm ACW (“Farm”). A complaint was filed in San Diego Superior Court on January 2, 2007, against Defendant San Diego Gas & Electric (“SDG&E”) for breach of its utility duty of service under Public Utilities Code section 2106. Prior to the filing of the civil complaint, SDG&E’s alleged tariff issues were adjudicated before the California Public Utilities Commission, which ruled largely in the Farm’s favor. The civil suit in which Mr. Semerdjian achieved the large settlement included damages against SDG&E for increased electricity costs, lost profits and emotional distress. The parties conducted one full day and two half-days of mediation with mediator Justice Howard Wiener (Ret.), with settlement reached on the last day of mediation. Case settled for $6.75 million two weeks before trial.