Mike Terhar heads Rose Walker's Southern California office. With more than 30 years of litigation experience, his litigation work is as diverse as Southern California itself — from aviation litigation, to product and premises liability cases, to sports and recreation accident suits. Mike has handled numerous cases in the movie industry — most notably his defense of director John Landis in wrongful death lawsuits related to the filming of the "Twilight Zone" movie in 1983. And, at one point in his career, Mike even defended the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, in an auto accident case.
Mike’s aviation practice has included the defense of multiple airlines, airports, airport security companies and aircraft component makers, fixed base operators, A&P mechanics, overhaul facilities, and private pilots. He has defended non-aviation manufacturers in all manner of product liability cases including ladders, scaffolds, fire suppression systems, alarms, automobile components, manufacturers and maintainers of pool and spa equipment and surgical equipment. In the course of doing so he has handled cases all over the western United States including not only California, but Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Utah.
In the field of sports and leisure accidents he has defended the American Youth Soccer Organization, the American Softball Association, Coast Soccer League, USA Hockey, USA Gymnastics, Boys and Girls Clubs and numerous other youth sports leagues, summer camps, martial arts academies, equestrian facilities in personal injury and wrongful death cases and has been a guest lecturer before some of these organizations on these issues as well as express waiver and release agreements and primary assumption of risk
Complex civil litigation, including:
- aviation-accident cases, representing airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports and aviation-related businesses
- representation of major entertainment industry companies, producers and individuals in a variety of claims
- wrongful death and personal injuries involving product and premises liability
- general liability
- Defended the helicopter pilot/aerial stunt coordinator in an accident during the filming of the movie “XXX” in which a helicopter and motorcycle stunt man collided off a jump and the rider sued the helicopter operator; obtained summary judgment for the pilot and his company based upon co-employee defense.
- Handled lawsuits arising from personal injury accidents during production of the films, “Kindergarten Cop,” “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man,” “Repo Man,” “Mom and Dad Save the World,” “Tommy,” “Showtime,” as well as various TV shows including those produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, and local TV shows.
- Represented assistant managers and managers in class action wage and hour case against California movie chain resulting in settlement in favor of both classes.
- Defended a fixed-base operator who rented an aircraft to a pilot who crashed on takeoff, resulting in four fatalities; plaintiffs alleged the operator did not require a checkout ride.
- Obtained an 8-minute defense verdict in product liability trial in Oregon.
- Non-suit granted to airline in passenger injury claim at close of plaintiff’s case.
- Won defense verdict for a fixed-base operator who sold an aircraft that subsequently sustained engine failure; plaintiff had stopped payments and brought suit for personal injuries, alleging negligent maintenance, breach of warranty and product liability.
- Defended the general contractor in a crane accident at a commercial “tilt up” construction site that resulted in serious injuries to a subcontractor’s employee.
- Defended a vacuum pumping truck company in a toxic spill in Santa Barbara resulting in toxic fumes drifting into downtown closing all businesses; there was a personal injury class and a business interruption class; eventual dismissal on procedural grounds with no payments to either putative class or the attorneys.
- Defended an auto race promoter in a traffic accident arising from the closure of city streets in preparation for a race; plaintiff driver claimed brain damage and loss of legal career.
- Won a defense verdict for a sports arena in a parking lot accident prior to a basketball game in which a pedestrian was struck by a driver.
- Obtained seven-figure settlement for plaintiff electrician was burned in flash/short of temporary power panel at construction site.
- State Bar of California
- American Bar Association (Litigation, Law Practice Management, and Air and Space Law Divisions)
- Defense Research Institute (Product Liability Committee and Sports Law Special Litigation Group)
- Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
- Litigation Counsel of America (Founding Fellow)
Admitted to Practice
- All courts in the state of California
- U.S. District Courts for the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California
- U.S. Supreme Court
Loyola Law School Los Angeles, J.D., 1979; University of Washington, B.A., 1975
Publications and Speeches
- Guest speaker at the annual seminar of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
- Has spoken on the legal system, primary assumption of risk and waiver and release agreements, to various sports organizations
- AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating
- Recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer (2006-2011)
- Volunteer arbitrator and settlement officer for the Los Angeles Superior Court since 1994