We mourn the loss of our friend and retired partner Pete Benzian, who passed away peacefully on February 25 after a short fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 81. Pete was an integral part of the early growth and expansion of the firm throughout his 35-year tenure, and he will be dearly missed.
Peter H. Benzian retired from the partnership in November 2005. Resident in the firm's San Diego office, Mr. Benzian moved to the San Diego office from the Los Angeles office in 1984 to provide additional support for the San Diego office's burgeoning securities litigation practice. He is a past chairman of the San Diego office Litigation Department.
His practice emphasized securities-related actions and other complex business disputes involving antitrust, contract and intellectual property matters. Mr. Benzian has represented numerous companies, directors and officers, accountants and investment banking firms in civil class action and derivative litigations, SEC investigations and SEC enforcement actions, and has represented companies and individual officers and directors in various types of state and federal criminal investigations involving securities, antitrust, environmental and government contract matters. He is among the relatively few lawyers who have actually tried three securities class actions to verdict or judgment. He represented Tosco Corporation in the successful defense of a consumer class action antitrust suit against Tosco and other major gasoline suppliers that was affirmed by the California Supreme Court in Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield, et al. , 25 Cal.4th 826 (2001). He has also tried several criminal matters to verdict. He has also represented several Fortune 500 companies in federal grand jury investigations involving government contracting and False Claims Act issues.
His and the San Diego office's clients have included Capitol Industries, Inc., National Semiconductor, Sempra, Wawanesa Insurance Co., Aztar Casino, Grand Casino, Ameristar Casino, Oak Industries, Rohr, The Signal Companies, Inc., Kaypro, Ciba Vision, General Electric Capital Corporation, Ernst & Whinney, Drexel Burnham, Bear Stearns, Jenny Craig, Inc., Tosco, Teledyne and The Price Companies.
At the time of his retirement, Mr. Benzian was a member of the American, California and San Diego Bar Associations. He was a member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and has served on the faculty at numerous NITA courses. He was also a member of the Board of Governors and a past President of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers of San Diego, a director and past President of the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program and a master in the William Enright Chapter of the American Inns of Court. He also serves as Director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, was a member and former Director of Friends of the Schindler House, and a former member and Director of Public Counsel, the public interest law firm of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations.