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Puzder represented Carl Karcher, the founder of the Carl's Jr. quick-service restaurant chain, while practicing law in St. Louis. Karcher was under investigation into insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC filed suit saying that Karcher had told several relatives to sell their stock ahead of a poor earnings report. In July 1989, Karcher paid $664,000 to settle the case. Puzder organized a transaction in which Karcher would sell a stake in his company to William P. Foley, the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Financial. In 1991, Karcher asked Puzder to move to Orange County, California and become his personal attorney and Puzder did so. Puzder has been credited with resolving Karcher's financial dilemma, allowing Karcher to avoid bankruptcy and retain a significant ownership interest in the company he founded, CKE Restaurants, Inc. (CKE). Puzder was a partner in the Costa Mesa-based law firm Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard from September 1991 to March 1994 and a shareholder in Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth from March 1994 to 1995.