Varun Behl is a litigation associate at Hueston Hennigan LLP. His practice focuses on high-stakes business disputes, class action defense, and white collar defense. Mr. Behl has experience litigating cases at all stages, from pretrial through appeal. He has written briefs, conducted witness interviews, led discovery efforts, and prepared experts for deposition and examination at trial.
Among his matters, Mr. Behl currently represents the State Bar of California in multiple lawsuits filed by former high-ranking employees. The wide-ranging suits implicate California statutes, constitutional principles, and tort, employment, and contract law. Hueston Hennigan has secured early victories at the pleading stage in several of these actions. (See “Ex-Calif. Bar Chief’s Firing Suit Gutted By Arbitrator,” Law360; “Calif. State Bar Ditches $15m Whistleblower Suit, For Now,” Law360.)
Prior to joining Hueston Hennigan, Mr. Behl was an associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Mr Behl earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif. While in law school, Mr. Behl interned in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and was an Articles Editor of the Michigan Law Review. Mr. Behl earned his B.A. in economics, with honors, at the University of Chicago.
- Dunn v. State Bar of California et al.: Hueston Hennigan represents the State Bar and its former president in a high-profile and unprecedented lawsuit filed by former State Senator and State Bar Executive Director Joseph Dunn. Mr. Dunn alleges that the State Bar and Mr. Holden retaliated against him and terminated his employment because he blew the whistle on ethical violations within the organization. After successfully transferring the case to arbitration, Hueston Hennigan secured an early victory when the arbitrator sustained the State Bar and Mr. Holden’s demurrer in its entirety to all five of Mr. Dunn’s causes of action, including Labor Code § 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Intentional Interference with Contract, and Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. With respect to the Labor Code § 1102.5 claim, the arbitrator held that Mr. Dunn failed to plead facts sufficient to show he had reasonable cause to believe the alleged wrongdoing he reported violated the law. The matter is ongoing.
- Oehler v. State Bar of California et al.: Hueston Hennigan represents the State Bar and several of its former executive officers in a $15 million retaliation lawsuit brought by Sonja Oehler, a former assistant to the State Bar’s then-Executive Director Joseph Dunn. Ms. Oehler alleges she was terminated for blowing the whistle and helping Mr. Dunn blow the whistle on various improprieties within the State Bar. Hueston Hennigan substantially narrowed Ms. Oehler’s case when the superior court sustained the State Bar’s demurrer in its entirety to Ms. Oehler’s causes of action for Wrongful Termination (Retaliation), Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Fraud. Following the court’s ruling, Ms. Oehler filed an amended complaint asserting claims for Labor Code § 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation and Interference with Prospective Economic Relations. The State Bar has filed a demurrer and Anti-SLAPP motion to strike both claims. The motions are pending.
- Noonen v. State Bar of California et al.: Hueston Hennigan represents the State Bar and its former Chief Trial Counsel in a whistleblower retaliation suit brought by its former Managing Director of Investigations, John Noonen. Mr. Noonen asserts claims for Labor Code § 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation, Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Defamation, and Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage based on allegations that he was terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle on alleged improprieties by the State Bar’s then-Chief Trial Counsel. Hueston Hennigan is actively challenging Mr. Noonen’s complaint and has filed a demurrer and Anti-SLAPP motion. The motions are pending.