Sarah Erickson André is a litigator who represents clients facing business disputes all over the world. Sarah focuses in representing clients in high-profile appeals, art restitution claims, and in prominent class action cases.
What do you focus on?
I focus my practice on three main areas:
I enjoy the challenge of creating a strategy for a case on appeal – this can be the difference between winning and losing for a client. I review trial court records and make assessments based on both current and emerging legal principles to craft arguments likely to be successful on appeal. I was recently involved in a precedent-setting win for a financial services client facing a putative student loan class action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Art and Cultural Institutions Litigation
My experience involves artworks and cultural property allegedly confiscated or lost during times of conflict. Several of the matters I have handled have shaped the state of the law today and helped define the parameters of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1602, et al. (“FSIA”). I am part of the team that won a decisive victory, as the district court recognized that Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation of Madrid, Spain, is the rightful owner of a masterpiece. I also represent the Republic of Hungary in a case of first impression in an action challenging Hungary’s possession of more than forty artworks.
General Commercial Litigation
I represent clients in complex commercial litigation matters in all industries. I have secured favorable results defending clients against a wide variety of claims, including: breach of contract, copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
What do you see on the horizon?
I have been closely monitoring the federal courts as they wrestle with the scope, parameters and application of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Some circuits have defined the Act’s scope broadly, while others are cautious in the face of conflicting principles of customary international law.
Federal Court Clerkships
- Judge Harry Pregerson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2004-2007
- Judge Gary A. Feess, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, 2002-2003
Notable Federal Court Contested Cases
- Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, 05-cv-03459 JFW (Ex); 06-56325, 06-56406, 12-56159, 15-55550, 15-55951, 15-55977 (9th Cir.); 10-786 (S. Ct.): Counsel to the world-renowned Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation; successfully refuted challenge to Foundation’s ownership and possession of important artwork by Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. Drafted petition for a writ of certiorari on client’s behalf challenging jurisdiction under the FSIA. After the Supreme Court called for the views of the Solicitor General, met with the Deputy Solicitor General and members of the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Following the meeting, the Office of the Solicitor General recommended that the Kingdom of Spain be dismissed. On remand to the district court, prevailed on a motion to dismiss on the ground that a newly-enacted California statute, which expanded the statute of limited to permit plaintiffs’ claims, was preempted by the federal government’s foreign affairs power. On remand to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the district court granted the Foundation’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that jurisdiction could exist. Ruling on cross motions for summary judgment, the district court adjudicated plaintiffs’ claims on the merits. The court granted the Foundation’s motion, denying the claimants’ motion, as the plaintiffs’ claims are governed by Spanish law and, under Spanish law, the Foundation is the clear owner of the property.
- De Csepel v. Republic of Hungary, et al., 10-1261 (D.D.C.); 11-7096, 11-8031, 16-7042 (D.C. Cir.): Representation of Hungary and four Hungarian cultural institutions in international art dispute involving state, federal, and international law, including issues of first impression under the FSIA. Drafted motion to dismiss that was granted, in part, dismissing significant number of subject artworks. Following parties’ cross-appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the district court granted, in part, Hungary’s motion to dismiss, recognizing that the court could not take jurisdiction over Hungary or the museums under the FSIA’s commercial activity exception. The district court’s finding that it can take jurisdiction under a different exception is currently under review by the appellate court.
- Timothy O. v. Paso Robles Unified School District., 14-55800 (9th Cir): Filed amicus brief on behalf of Learning Rights Law Center, in support of appellants child and parents. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court ruling, which had ruled in the school district’s favor. The appellate court recognized that by relying on a regional center assessment, instead of conducting its own assessment, the school district failed to properly assess the child and never developed an appropriate individualized education program (“IEP”). As a direct consequence, the education and development of that student suffered. This decision is a decisive win for parents and guardians on the issue of a school district’s duty to assess for learning disabilities, including autism.
- Meyer v. University of Oklahoma, et al., 13-cv-03128-CM (S.D.N.Y.); 14-2044 (2d Cir.); 15-00403-HE (W.D. Okla.): Counsel to the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Foundation in an action brought by French citizen asserting ownership of Camille Pissarro’s Shepherdess Bringing in the Sheep (1886). Succeeded in getting the action dismissed on a motion dismiss. Following review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York transferred the action to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, with the admonition that the case should not have been brought in New York. Prior to filing a new motion to dismiss, the parties settled. The settlement agreement acknowledged the good faith of the parties. The agreement provides that the painting will remain on permanent public display, rotating between the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Oklahoma and a museum in France.
- Goodness Films, LLC, et al v. TV One, LLC, et al., 12-cv-8688 GW (JEMx): Counsel for TV One, a leading TV network targeting the African-American community with over 38 million cable subscribers, in a copyright dispute before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Drafted successful opposition to contested Motion for Preliminary Injunction, allowing for on-schedule premiere and airing of the new TV One’s series Belle’s. Drafted motion for summary judgment, which the district court granted.
- Aycock v. Terminal One Group Association LP, et al., 12-cv-3173 (S.D.N.Y.): Engaged to represent Terminal One in Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”) challenge to relocation of sculpture. After arbitration hearing, resolution brokered that allowed for the relocation of artwork within the terminal while providing for modernization of terminal facilities.
- Skilstaf v. CVS Caremark Corp., et al, 10-15338 (9th Cir.) Lead brief drafter, writing on behalf of seven law firms, in representation of appellees (national retail pharmacies) in action alleging conspiracy to inflate prescription prices. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed district court’s decision dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint.
- Estate of I. Korhumel v. Estate of I.K., et al., 11-5557 (N.D. Il.). Represented plaintiff in international art dispute implicating state, federal, and international law. Lawsuit subsequently settled favorably.
- Dunbar v. Seger-Thomschitz, 08-711 (E.D. La.); 09-30717 (5th Cir.) Represented plaintiff Louisiana citizen in international art dispute implicating state, federal, and international law. Prevailed before the district court on extensive summary judgment motion authored by Sarah. Decision affirmed by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
- AIRescue Int’l Inc. v. Bluebird Med. Enters. LLC, 09-cv-07789-AHM (MANx) (C.D. Cal.) Assisted in representing plaintiff, an emergency air medical services provider, in trademark infringement and unfair competition suit. Lawsuit subsequently settled favorably.
- Huntington Learning Center v. ReachLocal, Inc., 09-cv-06762-CAS (Ex) (C.D. Cal.) Assisted in representing plaintiff education services provider in copyright and trademark infringement, and unfair competition suit. Lawsuit subsequently settled favorably.
- Contender Partners, LLC v. Azteca Int’l Corp., 08-cv-02026-MMM (JTLx) (C.D. Cal.) Successfully opposed motion for preliminary injunction in copyright infringement action brought by television producer.
- Housing Authority of City of Los Angeles v. HUD, 08-cv-7763-AHM (MANx) (C.D. Cal.) Lead associate in federal court lawsuit successfully brought by HACLA against HUD. Authored innovative complaint under the Administrative Procedures Act and Equal Protection Clause along with motion for expedited discovery that led to granting of federal court temporary injunction against HUD and setting of trial date on substantive claim. After expedited discovery, including depositions of high ranking HUD officials, HACLA’s federal contract was reinstated, saving the City of Los Angeles approximately 200 jobs and multiple millions in contract revenue.
- Former Appellate Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference (2011-2014)
- Co-author of The Appellate Lawyer Representatives’ Guide to Practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, updated September 2016. Click here to read more.
- Co-author of chapter on appellate motion practice, published by ALM in 2011 as part of appellate treatise, Appellate Practice in Federal and State Courts. Click here to read a review from the American Bar Association.