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Ogletree Deakins, Female Lawyer Tell Court Sex Bias Suit Dropped

Feb. 1, 2020, 1:06 PM

Ogletree Deakins and a female attorney who in 2018 hit the firm with a proposed $300 million sex bias class action told the Central District of California she has agreed to dismiss her remaining claims.

The firm and Dawn Knepper informed the court of their agreement to end the case in a joint stipulation filed Friday. Terms of the apparent settlement weren’t disclosed and counsel for the parties weren’t immediately available for comment.

Knepper, a nonequity shareholder in the Orange County, Calif., office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC, sued in January 2018, alleging male shareholders dominate the firm’s decision-making “at every level.” That results in female attorneys being marginalized and denied due credit for their work and business development as well as equal training and opportunities to build their practice, the lawsuit alleged. Ogletree responded by saying it would treat Knepper’s allegations “very seriously,” but that both equity and nonequity female shareholders in California had been paid more on average in the prior four years than male shareholders.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and transferred to the Central District of California in January 2019. Central District Judge James V. Selna, ruled on March 27 that Knepper had to arbitrate her sex bias claims individually under an agreement she had signed that included a class action waiver. Selna stayed Knepper’s class claim under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, which was exempted from arbitration under state law.

The parties told Selna in their joint stipulation that Knepper agreed to drop her PAGA claim as well as all of her other remaining claims and that the case should be closed.

Sanford Heisler Sharp and Desai Law Firm represent Knepper. Paul Hastings LLP represents Ogletree.

The case is Knepper v. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., C.D. Cal., No. 8:19-cv-00060, stipulation of dismissal 1/31/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carmen Castro-Pagan at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com and Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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