Kelly A. Knight strives to maintain mastery of cutting-edge issues in the law to bring to bear a high level of competence in the subject matter. He utilizes a multitude of strategies and facilitative and evaluative approaches to help bring closure to parties engaged in civil disputes.
Years ago, Mr. Knight was asked by multiple community leaders to mediate a high-profile employment dispute. Numerous workers were engaged in disputes with a well-known community establishment, with proceedings pending in multiple venues. The situation was attracting press attention and threatened the life of the business. Mr. Knight helped bring the parties together, settle their disputes, and establish a pathway forward, saving both the business and the employees’ jobs. The seed for Mr. Knight’s mediation practice was planted.
Before becoming a mediator, Mr. Knight was a practicing attorney for many years. He has been involved in headline-grabbing lawsuits and trials. Mr. Knight was selected in 2009 through 2017 for inclusion in the Super Lawyers—Southern California Rising Stars list. He was also selected in 2015 (its inaugural year) through 2017 to the Up-and-Coming 100: Southern California Rising Stars List. Mr. Knight was selected to the 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers list, and he has received a 10/10 Avvo rating.
Mr. Knight began his career in an elite Century City litigation boutique, where he was involved in high-profile and hotly contested litigation matters, including BHE Group Inc. v. MTS Products, a case involving international electronics manufacturers against their California distributors and sales agents. After years of litigation involving parties and witnesses in several different countries and involving one of the largest retail-sales corporations in the world, the case resulted in a verdict of $46 million on claims of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary after a two-month jury trial.
Mr. Knight went on to start his own firm representing employees whose rights have been violated and people who have been injured as a result of the negligence of others. He has vindicated the rights of employees who have been wrongfully terminated, illegally harassed, and wrongfully denied medical leave. He has recovered unpaid wages and other relief for employees who have been victims of wage theft and exploitation by their employers. He has obtained multiple six- and seven-figure confidential settlements for employees and injured victims.
In early-2014, Mr. Knight was co-trial counsel in the matter Kuwahara v. Asahi Gakuen, a gender- and national-origin discrimination and harassment case brought on behalf of a part-time Japanese American schoolteacher against prominent Japanese-language school Asahi Gakuen. After prevailing at trial, the final judgment after attorney’s fees, costs, and interest totaled approximately $3.4 million.
In late-2014, Mr. Knight joined The deRubertis Law Firm, APC, as shareholder. The deRubertis Law Firm is a top-flight plaintiffs’ firm that has secured numerous jury verdicts and has been lead appellate counsel on many groundbreaking employment-law matters, including being lead counsel before the California Supreme Court in the seminal cases of Roby v. McKesson Corp., 47 Cal. 4th 686 (2009), the landmark employment case establishing that non-personnel-conduct evidence constituting harassment can also be used to support a discrimination claim; Lonicki v. Sutter Health Central, 43 Cal. 4th 201 (2008), establishing that an employee can be eligible for statutory medical leave from one job despite an ability to work at another similar job; Harris v. City of Santa Monica, 56 Cal. 4th 203 (2013), refuting but-for causation as a causal-nexus standard in Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) cases and concluding that a mixed-motive defense is not a complete bar to liability in wrongful-termination cases; and Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District, 61 Cal. 4th 97 (2015), holding that a prevailing employer-defendant in a FEHA case must prove that the action was frivolous in order to recover even ordinary costs against a FEHA employee-plaintiff.
In 2016, Mr. Knight was part of the appellate team that secured the published opinion Soria v. Univision Radio Los Angeles, Inc., 5 Cal. App. 5th 570 (2016), holding that a physical condition that does not by itself currently limit a major life activity may still constitute a protected disability under the FEHA when the mitigating measures themselves (e.g., doctor visits) may limit the employee’s ability to adhere to the employer’s work schedule.
In 2016, Mr. Knight obtained a rare non-confidential public-entity employment settlement of $1,500,000 in the matter Schilling v. City of Manhattan Beach, a gender-harassment and whistleblower-retaliation case.
Mr. Knight has handled a wide array of matters including but not limited to employment (discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage-and-hour, class action, PAGA, and more), personal injury (from soft tissue all the way up to catastrophic injury, traumatic brain injury, and wrongful death), medical malpractice, insurance bad faith, breach of contract, fraud, legal malpractice, and more.
Prior to joining the bar, Mr. Knight served as a law clerk for the Los Angeles Office of County Counsel and as a State Bar certified law clerk for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, where he secured a verdict for the People of the State of California in a felony jury trial.
During law school, Mr. Knight was elected President of the USC Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and was accepted into the USC Hale Moot Court Honors Program. Mr. Knight was the recipient of the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Scholarship from the Korean American Bar Association of Southern California and the Lee Gum Low Presidential Scholarship for leadership excellence from the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association.
Before law school, Mr. Knight was an insurance adjuster at a national insurance carrier.
Mr. Knight is able to leverage his experience as a practicing civil attorney in his mediation practice. He has not only been in the shoes of the attorneys on both sides of the v, but he also knows firsthand the common frustrations of attorneys and clients with the mediation experience. He began his mediation practice with a commitment to excellence based on those experiences.
In addition to his private mediation practice, Mr. Knight also serves as a Mandatory Settlement Conference officer for the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where he mediates numerous eve-of-trial MSCs in downtown Los Angeles, and he is a member of the Mediation Panel of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Mr. Knight is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.A., economics, with distinction) and the University of Southern California (J.D.). In addition to his prior mediation experience, he received formal training program through the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, the nation's premiere professional mediation-training program. Among other professional organizations and sections, he is a member of the Korean American Bar Association of Southern California, the Japanese American Bar Association, the Southern California Mediation Association, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Section.