Robert Matsuishi has experience in complex business matters involving trade secret misappropriation, non-competition agreements, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, securities fraud, corporate governance violations, and real property disputes, including landlord-tenant disputes.

He also has extensive experience litigating labor and employment matters, with a focus on wrongful termination claims, discrimination, harassment, accommodation, and retaliation claims, alleged violations of medical and family leave laws, whistleblower retaliation claims under the California Labor Code, the False Claims Act, and the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act/NDAA, and alleged violations of federal, state, and local wage-and-hour laws. The scope of these matters has varied from single-plaintiff cases to high-stakes class actions and representative Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) actions. Robert also regularly counsels clients in employment law matters, including revising employee handbooks, policies, and agreements, assisting with onboarding, termination, discipline, and severance issues, responding to regulatory investigations, securing employee civil restraining orders, and evicting terminated employees from employer-paid housing.

Robert is intimately familiar with the variety and differences in the procedural rules of federal and California courts, as well as in AAA, JAMS, FINRA, and CSLB arbitration. Over the course of 14 years, he has also developed a deep understanding of the unique customs, practices, and needs of clients in the facilities services, technology, financial services, defense, real estate, hospitality, and consumer products industries.


Before joining Payne & Fears, Robert was an associate in the Los Angeles offices of two national law firms, where he represented major broker-dealers, investment advisers, and investment managers in securities, real property, and corporate governance disputes.

In law school, Robert served as an Articles Editor for the Environmental Law & Policy Annual Review and served as an intern for the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army, where he assisted senior policymakers to implement and enforce the rules of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also served as an extern for the Tennessee Attorney General where he obtained civil litigation experience defending the state’s child services, housing, and public health agencies.

Outside the office, Robert enjoys rough-housing with his two young children, wine tasting and collecting, exploring the up-and-coming Orange County culinary scene, evaluating personal investments, honing his poker skills, and attempting (thus far, unsuccessfully) to get back to a single-digit golf handicap. 

Robert is fluent in Japanese.

Representative Matters

  • Secured judgment for possession and compensatory damages against a holdover commercial tenant in an unlawful detainer action. TFN Architectural Signage v. CMI Precision Machining.
  • Secured judgment for possession and compensatory damages against a commercial tenant in an unlawful detainer action. Kitts v. Lauree.
  • Successfully defended a cannabis company against two attempts to secure a pre-trial writ of attachment and a plaintiff’s summary judgment motion. Magee v. UMBRLA.
  • Obtained pre-trial summary adjudication of disability and age discrimination, retaliation, accommodation, and CFRA retaliation claims against a recreational diving training organization. Wucherpfenning v. PADI.
  • Secured pre-trial dismissal of an age-based harassment and emotional distress claims against two senior executives of a national energy service company. Birdsell v. ABM.
  • Secured judgment for possession, full compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs against a holdover commercial tenant in an unlawful detainer action. Sparks Enterprises v. Mehr Investments.
  • Secured pre-trial dismissal of a business consultant’s breach of employment contract, contractual interference, and promissory estoppel claims against a nationwide print and digital media company. Keen Consulting v. New Media Investment Group.
  • Secured pre-trial dismissal of all claims against aerospace defense contractor accused of breaching a contracting services agreement. Phoenix Mechanical v. SpaceX.
  • A former manager of Robert’s client voluntarily resigned after he was accused of wrongdoing, and sued the company for unpaid severance, bonuses, and pay raises. The Payne & Fears trial team secured a complete victory for the client following a four-week jury trial in Orange County. Antonov v. Farheap Solutions.
  • A former student of Robert’s client alleged that the school was negligent when it hired and retained a professor who allegedly assaulted the plaintiff. Following extensive oral arguments, the Los Angeles County Superior Court granted Robert’s pre-trial motion for summary judgment and the claims against his client were dismissed. Justices Willhite, Epstein, and Collins of the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment for Robert’s client in full. Jackson v. Corinthian Colleges.
  • Robert served as second-chair trial counsel for a prominent family trust’s breach of fiduciary duty action against a municipal bond arbitrage fund and its managers. The resulting $4.8 million verdict for Robert’s clients was named as a “Top Ten Verdict of 2011” by the Daily Journal. Hasso Serrano Family Trust v. Rockwater.
  • Plaintiff homeowners alleged that Robert’s client was part of an ongoing conspiracy of mortgage lenders that used fraudulent underwriting practices to sell luxury condominiums in Las Vegas. The Federal District Court granted Robert’s pre-trial motion to dismiss and the claims against his client were dismissed. Taddeo v. Meridian.
  • Plaintiff investors alleged that Robert’s client, a large international broker-dealer, failed to properly supervise an employee who converted $1 million in investor funds. Following one week of trial, Robert successfully negotiated the voluntary dismissal of the claims against his client without any monetary contribution. DMB Partners v. Advantage Capital.
  • Alleging fraud and elder abuse, plaintiff attempted to invalidate a charitable remainder trust that was established by the plaintiff’s late father with the assistance of Robert’s client. The Sacramento County Superior Court granted Robert’s pre-trial motion for summary judgment and the claims against his client were dismissed. Bender v. APIS.
  • Robert negotiated a favorable settlement for his client, a Los Angeles-based footwear importer, in the client’s $10 million breach of contract action against the designer and distributor of the Ed Hardy fashion label. Ng v. Phillip Simon Development.