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Peter B. Gelblum

Partner - los angeles


Legal Expertise

Civil litigation before state and federal courts with an emphasis in probate and trust, real estate and general business litigation, unfair competition, trade secret, and other business torts. Substantial experience in court and jury trials, as well as resolving cases through alternative dispute resolution techniques including arbitration, mediation, and reference.

Representative Matters

  • Representing the record company plaintiffs in their copyright infringement actions against Napster, Aimster, KaZaA, Grokster and Morpheus. 
  • Represented trustees of trusts with assets of several hundred million dollars for heirs of Walt Disney in multiple related cases.
  • Represented the family of Fred Goldman in the wrongful death suit against O.J. Simpson (Mr. Gelblum handled the photographic expert witnesses and all of the punitive damage witnesses and evidence resulting in a punitive damage award of $25 million).
  • Successfully defended individual and corporate clients against a $5 million-plus claim for trade secret misappropriation and breach of fiduciary duty that arose when plaintiff's president left plaintiff's employ and joined the corporate defendant. Jury verdict for our client followed a three week trial in Riverside Superior Court. 
  • Obtained a judgment after trial surcharging the Executors of the Estate of Mark Hughes, founder of Herbalife, for breaches of fiduciary duty for their negligent and grossly negligent handling of creditor's claims.
  • Successfully defended trust department of national bank against breach of fiduciary duty claims brought by heirs of Burt Lancaster, and recovered all of trust's attorneys' fees from heirs. 
  • Lead counsel in a trial regarding the mental capacity of a client resulting in his recovering $15 million in real property.
  • Successfully represented a partner in a major west coast resort in a lengthy arbitration seeking over $10 million in partnership distributions. 
  • Litigated through appeal a case of first impression in California involving the use of derivative actions by beneficiaries of trusts holding corporate stock. 
  • Successfully represented Los Angeles City Ethics Commission in first appellate test of its investigative powers. 
  • Through injunction and settlement, successfully halted the "roll-up" of real estate partnerships worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 
  • Obtained a jury verdict resulting in distribution to clients of half of estate of Alberto Vargas, creator of the Vargas Girl, consisting of artwork and copyrights valued at over $10 million. 
  • Obtained jury verdict of almost $2 million, including punitive damages, for commercial tenant against landlord who had failed to allow tenant to open nightclub.

Honors & Awards

  • "Top 5% of lawyers in Southern California," Southern California Super Lawyers (2004-2015)
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America© in Litigation - Trusts and Estates (2013-2015)
  • AV® Preeminent™ Rating, Martindale-Hubbell

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

  • Chair, Santa Cruz Chapter ACLU
  • Board member, ACLU Northern California, as the Santa Cruz representative
  • Santa Cruz County Bar Association, Estate Planning Council
  • Former member, Board of Trustees, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2003-2008) 
  • Former Chair, Board of Directors, Mental Health Advocacy Services (1993-2008; President 2004-2008) 
  • Former member, Board of Directors, Inner City Law Center (1995-2008)
  • Former member, Board of Directors, Association of Business Trial Lawyers (1998-2002)

Other Career Experience

  • Actor, stage (New York City, Santa Cruz) and television (Los Angeles); and stage director (Philadelphia, Santa Cruz)




  • California, 1982
  • U.S. District Court
  •     Central District of California, 2002 
  •     Northern District of California, 2002 
  •     Southern District of California, 2002 
  •     District of Colorado, 2003
  •     Northern District of Texas, 2003
  • U.S. Court of Appeals,
  •     Ninth Circuit, 1988
  •     Federal Circuit, 2001
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2009


Southwestern Law School, J.D., 1982; summa cum laude

Editor-in-Chief, Law Review; First in Class

Wesleyan University, B.A., 1974

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