Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles
David M. deRubertis —Consumer Attorneys Member of the Month

When CAALA members speak to law school students about why they chose to be a plaintiffs’ attorney, invariably one of the primary reasons was the chance to get into the courtroom right away.

The predominant message is that “If you want to try cases at a young age, you have a much better chance if you choose the p  laintiffs’ bar.”

One of the best examples of this theory is CAALA member David M. deRubertis.

DeRubertis is the principal in The deRubertis Law Firm, a small firm focusing on employee rights litigation and trial work. The three-attorney firm is based in Woodland Hills but handles cases throughout California.

After graduating magna cum laude from UCLA and summa cum laude from Loyola Law School, deRubertis immediately opened his own practice.

This wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone who knew him, since David had long dreamed of being a trial lawyer and first began working for other lawyers at age sixteen.

David became a CAALA member in February of 2001, only a few months after he was admitted to the bar.

A look at a list of his courtroom accomplishments reveals a resume that belies the fact he has only been practicing for barely half a decade.

Since founding his firm, deRubertis has recovered many millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for his clients, and while he handles a wide variety of employment-related matters, he particularly focuses on disability discrimination/reasonable accommodation and family/medical leave matters.

Some of his significant cases include co-counseling the case of Roby v. McKessonHBOC (the largest employment verdict in the nation for 2004 and then the largest single plaintiff disability discrimination verdict in California history); lead counsel in Vargas and Hofmeister v. City of San Diego (reportedly the largest pre-trial settlement of a non-class action employment case by the city of San Diego; co-authoring the Amicus brief on behalf of the California Employment Lawyers Association in the punitive damages case of Johnson v. Ford (2005); lead appellate counsel in the pending case of Lonicki v. Sutter (the first case brought under California’s family and medical leave law to reach the California Supreme Court; and Butler v. The Vons Companies, Inc. (2006) (published decision reversing summary judgment.).

Not bad for someone who is well under 40 years of age and has been in practice for less than 10 years.

While his firm’s emphasis is on the intellectual aspects of the practice of law, deRubertis believes that “no trait better defines the firm than its down-to-earth, pragmatic style that lay jurors will understand and clients unfamiliar with the legal process will appreciate.”

One group that appreciates deRubertis’ advice and counsel are the members of CAALA’s List Serve. David is a regular contributor whose advice is frequently solicited by other members. Whether it’s a defense of the intellect of juries, or a personal opinion about an expert witness or defense attorney, deRubertis is always willing to offer words of encouragement, congratulations and advice.

David was the recipient of congratulations from many of his List Serve mates in September, after they learned that he had earned a favorable verdict for his client in a case that deRubertis says he is “especially proud of.”

The case of Denenberg v. Cal-Trans was a complicated retaliation and failure to accommodate case that he stepped into as lead trial counsel just days before trial began. One of deRubertis’ List Serve mates described the case as “a sexual orientation harassment case that turned into retaliation that then turned into a failure to accommodate when the plaintiff suffered stress from retaliation for sexual orientation.

David deliberately kept his damage request low because the plaintiffs’ main goal was to get his job back along with his promotion and pension.

Many of David’s fellow CAALA members commented about how difficult it is to win a case against Cal-Trans in San Diego.

Although deRubertis’ intellect is evident when reading the articles he writes or listening to him speak at continuing legal education seminars., there’s no denying that he is also passionate about the work he does on behalf of his clients who have been wronged by their employers.

All you have to do is look at the “footer message” that appears on David’s e-mails. It’s a quote that reads: “Imagine if the government took David’s sling away and gave it to Goliath. Now you understand tort reform.”

Because of his passion, his intellect, his accomplishments and his willingness to help his fellow CAALA members, David M. deRubertis has been selected as CAALA’s Member of the Month.

--Stuart Zanville