Kenneth Gaines Photo
  • Bio
  • Credentials
  • Obituary

Kenneth S. Gaines

Memoriam, 1945-2023

Kenneth Gaines graduated from UCLA in 1966 with a B.S. in Business Administration. There, his studies focused on real estate and finance. He then obtained his J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. At Hastings, Kenneth was both a participant and a member of the Editorial Board of the Hastings Law Journal, a recipient of two scholarships and a Board of Directors merit grant for academic excellence, and the American Jurisprudence award for his coursework.

Since his admission to the California Bar in January 1971, Kenneth has specialized in several areas of complex litigation and transactional work. Kenneth devotes a substantial portion of his practice on issues related to real estate – both transactions and litigation – including residential, apartment houses, commercial, and industrial. Because of his vast expertise, he often consults with other attorneys, he has testified as an expert witness and he has served as special real estate counsel to bankruptcy trustees by appointment of the United States Bankruptcy Court. Kenneth has since retired and is no longer admitted to the state bar.

In the real estate arena, he has extensive knowledge of purchase and sale transactions; broker rights and liabilities; financing, including the rights of borrowers and lenders; foreclosures – both non-judicial and judicial, including rights to a deficiency judgment; landlord/tenant disputes; title issues, including title insurance litigation; neighbor disputes; problems with trees and shrubs; easements, enforcement of CC&R’s; homeowner’s associations; construction disputes; fraud relating to real estate transactions and has special expertise in the area of remedies.

Kenneth also focuses his efforts on class action matters, representing plaintiffs in the employment, privacy, and consumer contexts. Kenneth has been appointed class counsel by numerous California State and Federal Courts, representing classes ranging from several dozen to several million, members. Kenneth has recovered millions of dollars for employees and consumers.

From 1973 until 1978 he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Mid-Valley College of Law (since merged with University of San Fernando Valley) where he taught Real Property, Secured Real Estate Transactions, Modern Real Estate Transactions and Trusts.

Kenneth is also the author of How to Sell (and Buy) Your Home Without a Broker published by Coward, McCann and Geoghegian (G.P. Putnam & Sons). This work was described as “outstanding” by Money Magazine and “an absolute necessity for the novice” by Kirkus Reviews.

Kenneth has participated in countless mediations, both as the mediator and as the attorney for the parties. As a practicing attorney with an active litigation practice, he has personal, firsthand knowledge of the benefits, burdens, costs and expenses of litigating real estate disputes and therefore has a high degree of credibility in making recommendations and evaluations. While serving as a mediator, he is not reluctant to express his opinion as to probable outcomes if litigation is pursued and to suggest alternative measures of resolution.

Selected Representations

  • Represented consumers in a class action stemming from privacy law violations pursuant to California Penal Code section 632 (unlawful recording of telephone communications without notice) against one of the world’s largest satellite media companies.  Settled prior to class certification for $9.48 million.

  • Represented consumers in a class action stemming from violation of federal credit and debit card privacy laws (the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003) against a domestic airline.  Settled prior to class certification for $1.80 million.

  • Represented loan officer employees in a class, collective and representative action against nationwide mortgage lender for misclassification as outside salespersons and failure to pay overtime wages or fully reimburse expenses.  Settled for $3.5 million.

  • Represented pizza delivery driver employees in a class and representative action against large international pizza restaurant franchisee for failure to fully reimburse automobile-related expenses incurred in delivering pizzas with their personal automobiles.  Obtained class certification and settled just prior to trial for $3.5 million.

  • Represented multiple individual employees in a wage and hour action against a film producer for failure to pay overtime wages.  Settled shortly after filing on confidential terms.


  • U.S. District Courts for the Central, Eastern and Northern Districts of California

  • J.D. University of California, Hastings - Graduate School
  • B.A. University of California, Los Angeles - Undergraduate School

After spending much of 2023 in a painful and confusing battle against unrelenting cancer, our Dad, Kenneth Steven Gaines, succumbed to the disease early this morning, in the comfort of his bed and surrounded by his wife, Pamela Gaines, and us, his four children – Wendy Smith, Amy Gaines, Evan Gaines and Daniel Gaines. Our wonderful Dad was a man of gusto who lived by the mantra “if a little is good, a lot has got to be better.” And excess was his game - Dad dragged a willing Pamela all over the world many times over, taking hundreds of vacations to big, flashy cities and sleepy villages all over Europe (France was his favorite), Asia, Africa, India, and every continent - Yes, that includes Antarctica. His final dying sentiments may well have been a combination of disappointment — that the Europe trip he planned for late November would have to be cancelled — and relief — that his cherished frequent flyer miles would be refunded without penalty.

Our beautiful Dad was an accomplished lawyer and legal scholar, always ready to provide thoughtful and balanced guidance when we were sensible enough to turn to him, but wise enough to know that a heavy-handed approach may backfire. Consequently, Dad was gentle at the right times, but forthright when he knew it was what we needed. We all recall moments when he would preface a tough-but-necessary conversation with something along the lines of, “You need someone to tell you the truth, and that person is me.” We knew he was right, and we trusted him (most of the time, but that’s another story) because we knew he cared deeply and his only motivation was our long term growth and happiness.

Always on the hunt for a great adventure, our Dad was also partial to unconventional and oftentimes controversial conversations - he relentlessly sought thought partners who would engage in arguments for the sheer sport of partaking in challenging intellectual discourse. Dad was an insightful and loving man who willingly shared his vulnerabilities so that we, his children, could grow and benefit by proxy from his insecurities, hangups, and struggles. I can’t say his plan always worked - each of us has had struggles of our own from which he could not always protect us - although he certainly tried mightily. Reflecting on the gift of being his children, perhaps the greatest gift he gave us was one of perpetual love, enduring warmth, and constant merciful forgiveness.

Dad was brilliant. He could manipulate numbers faster than our fingers could operate a calculator, he had a seemingly photographic memory and could recite facts, statistics, every meal he ever ate on every vacation, and legal policy dating back from his time in elementary school and everything he learned since then. Just last week, I sent him a quick email asking him to list the five dimensions of management and, of course, despite living in fairly constant excruciating pain by that point, he responded almost immediately (If you’re curious, the list is: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and control. Nope, I have no idea where he got that, but I trust him implicitly. Update, Uncle Donny confirmed that he was right). He remembered and could recite street names, subway lines, and dates of things he did that one summer in New York City when he was 14. He read multiple newspapers every day, until mere hours before we lost him, and emailed each of us, including his older grandchildren, links to articles he thought we’d enjoy. He never lost his spark or his curiosity.

Dad was incredibly funny in an unpredictable and spontaneous way. We all grew up thinking our sense of humor could somehow be attributed to our genetic proximity to the New York immigrant Jewish community, as if that’s a thing that can even be transmitted (I think it is), but we learned as we got older that we were dealing with something quite distinct from even that brand of humor. We will spare you the details, but if you know any of us, now you know how we got this way.

Our Dad lived a life that probably appeared to be wildly conventional. He was a UCLA grad and a UC Hastings trained attorney who made a name and a living for himself in his field. But his success and influence did not corrupt him or lead him to shift his values away from the service and support of vulnerable, marginalized people. Our Dad was a lifelong progressive who never shied away from delving into the nuance and complexities of the controversial issues he loved exploring. He thrived on the pursuit of clarity within complex and difficult topics, and if you were anywhere near him, you’d better be prepared to engage. He was driven to learn from other people so he’d make every effort to draw people out and learn what they were thinking. Yet, he never wavered from what he knew was right - everyone must be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone. If you know our Dad, you would probably not be surprised to hear that he captured that general sentiment by declaring that he just hated everyone equally. Somehow that was a comfort to us because it revealed his struggles as a formerly awkward young boy who learned how to leverage his pain into a relatable and genuine aspect of his personality. He was so real.

Dad loved to talk. He made friends in restaurants, in elevators (awkward), in his neighborhood, with opposing counsel, on trains, airplanes, and at the gym. He loved to meet people, hear their stories, and share his own. He always had something to say, something more to learn, and something more to give.

Dad adored his grandchildren and invested in them deeply. He was excited about each of their passions and never ran out of ways to spark meaningful conversation with each of them. One recent conversation was started by asking one of our 16-year-olds, “Have you been following the Sam Bankman-Fried trial?” which, while on-brand for Dad, was somehow both bewilderingly unexpected and hilarious. He would be so intrigued today to know the outcome of the jury’s deliberation - guilty on all counts. As Dad grew older and more gentle (eventually entering his sweater phase), he showed his deep love for each of our children by adhering to the essential Grandfather rule - feed the children what they want, despite all feeble and unenthusiastic protests from their parents. That most recently included creamsicle milkshakes, licorice, and Werther’s Caramels. Fortunately for Del, their beloved dog, he applied the same rule to her. He was essentially their dealer and we all loved this about him.

Our family lives in an entirely authentic state so it was a well received conversation when I asked him how he wanted to be remembered. He responded, fairly instantly, that he wants people to remember that he was a good person who cared about other people and acted with integrity. This was the guidance he lovingly meted out for all of his children. Fully consistent with what we already know about him and his savage sense of self-deprecating humor, he would simply call himself an Equal Opportunity Asshole. In one of our last conversations with him the weekend before we lost him, when we knew what was happening but didn’t know how soon it would come, he lovingly opened the floor by asking me what questions I had left for him. At that moment, none of the other residual questions mattered. I only needed him to verify what he’d told me all along: He loved me, he’s loved me all this time, and he knew that I loved and cherished him. Our final months with Dad were filled with fear, so much fear, and boundless gratitude - for the gift of time we’ve already had, and the knowing that we had time to repair what had, at times, been left splintered and fractured over the course of many complicated and unpredictable life trajectories. In the first few weeks after his diagnosis, we lovingly exchanged apologies tumbled over hugs tumbled over more apologies. In those precious tender days before we lost him, the four of us and Pam had the most precious gift of all - the chance to say our final, gentle, loving goodbyes, to hold him in our arms, and kiss him.

Our Dad struggled to speak in his final hours, but he, miraculously, was able to conjure the vitality and emotional momentum to say final words to his precious, weeping grandchildren - “Goodnight, Honey. I love you.”

Dad, to you we say, with all our hearts, “Goodnight, Honey. We love you.”

Our precious Dad passed at 2:10 am on November 2, 2023.

His legacy lives on in his grandchildren; Sophie Shore, Madeline Gaines, Zoey Gaines, Oliver Gaines, Amelia Gaines, Kash Gaines, Duncan Smith and Griffin Smith.

Ready to Get Started?

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation

Call us at (866) 400-4450 or fill out an online form to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case and explore your options. 

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy