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Hon.  Katherine

Hon. Katherine "Kate" Chilton (Ret.)

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Entertainment and Sports
Personal Injury Torts
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Katherine (Kate) Chilton (Ret.) is known for her experience with complex entertainment-related matters as an in-house entertainment attorney at Warner Bros. and Netflix, Inc., for more than 25 years. In addition to copyright and trademark infringement cases (in film, television and music), Judge Chilton handled interference cases, participation accounting matters, First Amendment disputes and commercial disputes. As head of content litigation at Netflix, she also undertook employment-related disputes and provided risk analyses for business and legal affairs. She was appointed by the governor to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2020, and after a short stint in criminal court, she was assigned to civil court and handled breach of contract, personal injury and employment matters. She has settled hundreds of matters as in-house counsel, both directly and with the assistance of mediators. Prior to serving on the bench and working in-house, Judge Chilton worked on commercial and entertainment litigation matters at the law firm Skadden Arps.

Judge Chilton’s approach to mediation involves allowing parties to express their concerns and fully explore their issues, as well as working closely with counsel to effectively and efficiently reach resolution. By focusing on the legal risks, identifying the issues of the stakeholders and inviting both sides to think about ways to solve the dispute in a positive manner, she drives the resolution process while demonstrating deep understanding gained from her experience presiding over complex matters and as an in-house counsel for multinational organizations.

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Represented parties involving a wide variety of actions alleging breach of contract or tort in commercial transactions
      • Presided over bench trial involving Unruh Act and access to business
      • Presided over bench trial involving breach of financing agreement with educational institution
      • Presided over cases involving disputes under the Americans with Disabilities Act/Unruh Act involving issues of access, damages and attorneys’ fees
      • Presided over lemon law cases and property disputes 
  • Employment
      • Presided over bench trial in case alleging violations of California Labor Code wage and hour laws, including waiting time penalties, failure to pay overtime, meal and rest breaks, and minimum wage claims
      • Directed litigation in interference lawsuit between two studios in which one studio hired other studio’s employees, who were under personal service contracts
      • Investigated and resolved claims involving talent accused of harassment and assault
  • Entertainment and Sports
      • Represented parties involving multiple copyright infringement lawsuits brought against one film, one of which resulted in defense verdict within 20 minutes
      • Represented parties involving more than 75 copyright infringement cases involving entire films, artwork within the films, music used in the films and characters within films
      • Represented parties involving implied contract lawsuits arising out of popular Netflix series
      • Represented parties involving high-profile case with famous producer/director suing for interference with contract, resulting in jury award of $80 million; entirely reversed on appeal
      • Represented parties involving action brought by three music publishers against popular daytime series for failure to license music
      • Represented parties involving class action brought against studio for failure to account properly for video revenue per contractual terms on movies produced prior to 1985
      • Represented parties involving trademark litigation arising out of third party using studio assets on merchandise without a license, contending fair use and public domain
      • Represented parties involving participation accounting cases involving claims of self-dealing, fraud, package sales and tax credits in the U.S. and Australia
      • Represented parties involving disputes relating to credits in films and series
      • Represented parties resolving hundreds of participation audits
      • Represented parties involving disputes arising out of reality programming and its contestants
      • Represented parties involving multiple cases with attempts to enjoin the release of television series and movies in the U.S., India and Brazil
      • Defended casting practices on reality show, based on First Amendment grounds
      • Represented parties involving defamation cases with docudramas and true crime series
      • Negotiated multimillion-dollar buyouts and settlements of participations
      • Represented parties involving music licensing disputes and music infringement claims
  • Personal Injury Torts
      • Presided over bench trials involving claims of negligence, assault and battery, and premises liability
      • Supervised more than 100 personal injury lawsuits arising out of incidents during filming or occurring on studio properties

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Judicial Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2023
  • Member, LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, 2022–2023
  • Member, LGBT-JPC Vetting Committee, California Judges Association, 2021–2023
  • Member, National LGBTQ Bar Association, 2019–2020

Speaking Engagements

  • “Unmasking AI’s Potential: Ethics and Excellence in Entertainment Law” (with Don Miller), Loeb & Loeb Annual MCLE Conference, October 2023
  • “Intellectual Property Litigation,” Intellectual Property Society, University of Iowa College of Law, 2019
  • Career Day, Girls Academic Leadership Academy, 2019

Selected Publications

  • “5 Years to Trial and Death Knell Orders” (Co-authored with Patrick Hammon), Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 2019

Background and Education

  • Los Angeles County Superior Court, 2020–2023
    • Judge, Civil Division, 2021–2023
    • Judge, Criminal Division, 2020–2021
  • Director, Content Litigation, Netflix, Inc., 2017–2020
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 1993–2017
    • Vice President and Senior Litigation Counsel, 1997–2017
    • Senior Litigation Counsel 1995–1997
    • Litigation Counsel 1993–1995
  • Associate; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; 1987–1993
  • Associate, Kirkland & Ellis, 1985–1987
  • J.D., with honors, University of Iowa School of Law, 1985
    • Associate Editor, Iowa Law Review
  • B.B.A., with high honors, Financial Economics and Marketing, University of Iowa, 1980


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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