We are experienced in handling appeals in both state and federal courts, and in appeals from trials, dispositive motions, and on writs. We are familiar with the standards of review utilized by the California Courts of Appeal and the Federal Circuit Courts, and shape our legal and factual arguments to hone in on what the appellate courts consider when deciding cases. We understand the differences between writing briefs to be submitted to busy trial judges and those submitted to a three-judge appellate panel.
As examples, we represented a glass manufacturer in a wrongful death suit filed by one of the preeminent toxic tort plaintiffs’ firms in California. After we obtained summary judgment in our client’s favor, we successfully defended the judgment on appeal. We represented a trucking company in an appeal in the state Court of Appeals after we obtained a defense judgment at trial, where the appellant challenged the right of a police officer to testify regarding his determined cause of the accident. We represented a captive insurer in a subrogation matter arising after the full policy limits were paid to settle a wrongful death action, where we obtained summary judgment for our client. The opposing insurer is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the legal basis of the summary judgment was improperly applied by the trial court.
In addition to brief writing, we excel at appellate level oral arguments, where attorneys are often challenged by simultaneous questions from Justices, including obscure references to historic precedent. We understand the value of preparation and practice for appellate oral arguments. We are comfortable with our experience and presentation styles, allowing us to focus on the precise facts and law at issue in each unique case.
We have substantial experience in state and federal court litigation, and regularly represent clients in jury and non-jury trials, arbitrations, and mediations. Our experience encompasses a wide range of business-related disputes, including those involving conflicting interpretations and breaches of contract, partnership and corporate dissolutions, commercial and residential real property, intellectual property, and other business related disputes including unfair competition, interference with business, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and conversion. We are experienced in the unique aspects of California’s Anti-Slapp (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statutes and have successfully brought and defended Anti-Slapp motions. Our trial experience allows us to streamline and focus discovery from its inception as we can anticipate and effectively gather and present the evidence needed on the disputed issues for trial. We utilize a team approach to litigation, drawing upon the abilities, insight, and experience of our attorneys. We are adept in handling mediations and arbitrations, and we recognize that sometimes our clients are better served by staying out of court. We regularly counsel our clients on ways to avoid litigation or to position themselves for success should litigation become necessary.
We represent clients in a variety of industries from entrepreneurs to large publicly held corporations. We have the capacity and expertise to handle large, multi-party complex litigation, and the flexibility to handle smaller cases in a cost effective manner. As examples, we represented, through trial, a small film production company and its owners sued by an international finance company after that finance company had undermined the advertisement of a film by unilaterally withholding pre-approved financing. After a 20+ day trial, we limited the judgment to the amount admittedly owed, and successfully defended the owners and related companies that were also at risk of an adverse judgment. We represented a warehouseman sued by a major apparel manufacturer seeking millions of dollars claiming the warehouse failed to properly or timely ship its goods to waiting retailers. We demonstrated that the apparel manufacturer breached the contract and caused much of its own damages, resulting in a favorable settlement for our client.
We represent land owners, commercial lessors and lessees, and real property sellers and buyers in a variety of disputes, including cancellations of purchase contracts, performance and interpretation of commercial leases, and boundary line and easement disputes. We are well versed in the interpretation of complex commercial contracts and the unwinding of a factual, emotionally laced history. We have represented neighboring land owners in a variety of boundary disputes, including those involving easements, destroyed landscaping, damage to trees/timber, and improperly placed fences, as well as related claims of nuisance and trespass. On the commercial side, as an example, we represented a business tenant in a shopping mall in a dispute with the landlord over its proposed relocation of the business. After a three-week jury trial, we obtained a favorable verdict on our negligent interference with business claim, and others. We recently represented a landowner who sold commercial real property only to have the buyer back out, claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic provided an excuse.
We represent business partners, members of limited liability companies, and shareholders of corporations large and small in internal financial disputes, dissolution actions and related claims, and purchase and sale transactions. We recognize the legal and human issues that arise in these cases, which often involve the ending of a long-time business relationship between former friends and colleagues. For example, we tried a case to dissolve a family owned business after the remaining partners, two brothers, could no longer work together. Our client was awarded the majority of the partnership’s assets, and achieved his goals. We have represented attorneys and other professionals in situations where a party has been ousted from a partnership or corporation, focusing on ensuring our clients’ recovery of their fair share of the revenues and other benefits to which they were entitled. We have long-term relationships with forensic accountants who assist us in unraveling the often complex or hidden finances of privately held companies.
Our intellectual property litigation practice focuses primarily on trademark and trade dress matters. We are well versed in Lanham Act claims as well as the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and common law claims. We handle cases involving allegations of trademark violation, trademark dilution, trade dress violation, theft of trade secrets, Business & Professions Code violations, and other related claims. We are familiar with motions for restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, which are often utilized in these cases. Additionally, we have successfully defended an online seller of industrial equipment and freight brokers, among others, in claims alleging the improper use of trade secrets for the purpose of employee and customer solicitation and unfair competition.
We have experience in handling all types of business transactions for clients in a variety of industries, including logistics and transportation, retailers, entertainment, real property development, gas and oil, alternative energy, and finance companies. We provide advice and guidance through all stages of transactions from inception and preliminary negotiations, through drafting and finalization of agreements, and registrations where required.
We have extensive experience with the preparation of transportation agreements, service contracts, purchase and sale agreements including escrow and title insurance, joint venture agreements, partnership and share buy-out agreements, warehouse agreements, real property and equipment lease agreements, and the formation and enforcement of gasoline franchise agreements for wholesaler relationships with independent retailers, and vendor contracts. As an example, we represented a member of a limited liability motor carrier in the contentious buy-out of his long-time co-member, and in the entity’s subsequent re-structuring. We also have experience in business acquisitions and asset based financing and secured transactions from the borrower’s side, including loan documentation, working with lenders, drafting of security and lien instruments, and title review.
We represent developers, general contractors, and subcontractors in commercial and residential construction litigation. We are skilled and experienced at coordinating defense efforts among similarly situated defendants in larger cases. We handle suits by individual and corporate owners and investors, homeowner associations, governmental entities involving projects ranging from multi-phased apartment and condominium developments, to single-family homes, to publically owned facilities.
We have long-established relationships with a team of expert consultants who are all individually accomplished in their fields, and also work with one another regularly, making discovery coordination, liability analysis, and development of litigation strategy more effective and less costly. Similarly, our familiarity with the insurance industry’s operations and procedures, along with our pre-existing relationships with many insurers, allows us to avoid many of the logistical complications that arise when a loss potentially triggers multiple policies. We are also intimately familiar with all aspects of the contractual indemnity structure within the construction industry and its relationship with insurance obligations.
For example, we represented a general contractor sued for allegedly faulty construction of a day-care center involving numerous sub-contractors. We successfully utilized indemnity provisions and our experts to reduce the plaintiff’s alleged damages significantly and to increase the offers of payment by the responsible sub-contractors to achieve a favorable settlement. In another example, we represented a subcontractor in a multi-party defect case brought by the owner of a large shopping center. On the eve of trial, all of the other subcontractors settled for at or near policy limits, but we held firm in our position, asserting factual defenses and legal doctrines including superior equities, and secured a settlement for just a small fraction of the policy.
We are regularly hired to address pre-litigation construction disputes, and have an excellent track record in resolving such matters without suit being filed. We also counsel our construction industry clients about various non-litigation or pre-litigation issues, including risk management, indemnity agreement options, and applicable environmental regulations and standards.
We are experienced in handling the variety of claims and disputes that arise out of employment relationships, and the termination of those relationships. These disputes often require the involvement of co-employees and former employees, which can lead to a divisive and emotionally charged workplace. We are sensitive to these concerns and work with our clients to minimize the impact of employment disputes on their businesses, and to reduce the possibility of internal and external damage to our clients, and to their reputation.
We also assist clients in avoiding potential employee lawsuits by providing guidance on establishing employment policies and termination procedures, maintaining personnel files, complying with sexual harassment training requirements, furnishing written memoranda to document company policy violations, and preparing internal company manuals and employee handbooks.
We defend harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims in a variety of situations, including wrongful and constructive discharge, whistleblower, and retaliatory demotions and terminations. As examples, we defended a recruiting company that had been sued for sexual harassment by a former employee claiming the owner of the company touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances. We demonstrated through effective cross-examination of the plaintiff and by the testimony of key co-employees that in fact the plaintiff was the aggressor, and that no harassment had occurred. In addition to a defense judgment, we obtained an award of fees against the plaintiff for our client. In other cases, we have defended clients in cases brought by male plaintiffs claiming to have been sexually harassed by both male and female supervisors, discrimination cases where plaintiffs demanded unreasonable accommodations, and retaliation cases where plaintiffs claimed their employment was terminated in response to viable complaints.
We represent employers in complex wage and hour cases, alleging failure to provide meal and rest breaks, failure to pay overtime, wage statement violations, piece-rate violations, reimbursement claims, and retaliation for complaints about such alleged violations. We are familiar with the multitude of Labor Codes that control the details of employee compensation, and how to present the facts and our client’s documents most favorably. Most of these cases resolve through mediation and negotiation, where we work to obtain a beneficial business resolution for our clients, even in situations where violations had occurred.
We regularly represent employers in class action cases alleging wage and hour violations, and workplace policy violations. We have defended a number of motor carriers in class action cases alleging the misclassification of driver employees as independent contractors along with alleged wage and hour violations. We are experienced in eliminating claims based on federal preemption of California meal and rest break laws as well as overtime laws for interstate drivers. We understand the intricacies of opposing class certification motions and the complex settlements required for these cases.
In addition to defending cases brought in the Superior Court, we represent clients before the California Labor Commissioner, the Department of Fair Labor and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
We have a broad, well-established, and multi-faceted environmental law practice, focusing on environmental litigation involving soil and groundwater contamination, as well as stormwater litigation, enforcement actions, and regulatory compliance issues. We also regularly counsel clients regarding their obligations under environmental laws and regulations, as well as their means to minimize exposure to potential liabilities or enforcement actions.
We have extensive experience litigating environmental contamination and clean-up actions. We have defended matters arising out of Superfund sites as well as other contaminated properties. We have defended cost recovery claims arising under CERCLA, RCRA, HSAA, OPA, and other environmental statutes and have pursued such claims against Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). We have handled cases involving numerous contaminants, including PCE, TCE, DCE, Perchlorate, PCBs, and other Volatile Organic Compounds, along with petroleum hydrocarbons, nutrients, and heavy metals. We also have extensive experience litigating CEQA matters relating to the permitting of large scale development projects.
In particular, we specialize in defending environmental liability claims brought against municipalities and other public entities. Recently, we successfully defended a South Bay city against a multimillion dollar sewage spill claim. After several weeks of a jury trial, the plaintiff settled the matter for the amount offered before trial, which was a small fraction of their original demand.
We represent private entities, including metal and auto recyclers, trucking companies, manufacturers, construction companies, wineries, and other operations facing enforcement actions brought by federal, state, local regulatory agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). We have represented a broad variety of clients, ranging from Northern California wineries to Southern California auto and scrap metal recyclers, and have represented and defended clients in enforcement actions brought by local agencies, as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency, with many of California's Regional Water Quality Control Boards in between. We also have significant experience representing municipalities and other entities in Clean Water Act claims brought by citizen’s groups.
Firm members have provided testimony regarding proposed amendments to California’s Industrial General Permit. At a California Bar Association Environmental Conference, our partners participated in a panel discussion of the issue of numeric effluent limits on stormwater dischargers, representing the interests of the regulated industrial communities. Firm members have also appeared before to the California State Water Resources Control Board and given testimony on behalf of industry members subject to California's stormwater regulations, arguing in favor of a more practical, financially feasible approach to stormwater regulation, and against the imposition of unworkable and unachievable numeric effluent limitations.
We have extensive experience defending personal injury claims as both private counsel and as insurance defense counsel. Our lawyers have been defending and otherwise addressing claims on behalf of insurance companies literally for decades. We handle bodily injury, property damage and/or personal injury tort claims arising from various activities, ranging from motorcycle racing to cheerleading, from pest control to hair care, from company picnics to medical transportation. We regularly defend claims involving all types of injuries from catastrophic injuries to simple slip and falls.
For example, we obtained summary judgment for a public utility sued for allegedly causing a traffic accident that left a high school senior with significant brain damage, eliminating a multi-million dollar claim. We also defended a large school district sued for alleged child abuse of an autistic child, obtaining an 11-1 jury verdict by establishing that the alleged physical assault did not actually happen.
We represent commercial, residential, public, and private property owners in numerous types of Premises Liability cases. We have successfully handled claims arising in apartment buildings and condominiums, single family homes, factories, retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, construction sites, theaters, and recreational areas. We have defended wrongful death and traumatic brain injury cases, severe burns and toxic exposure cases, and dozens of orthopedic injuries, and all manner of alleged related damages.
For example, we successfully defended a local restaurant sued by a customer who had been shot on the restaurant premises as a bystander during a gang killing. We obtained a full dismissal with prejudice for a waiver of costs, after convincing the plaintiff and his counsel that the case lacked merit. We obtained a favorable settlement for a general contractor in a case brought by an inspector who stepped into an open trench on the property demonstrating that the condition was open and obvious, among other defenses.
Our Habitability practice includes defense of various landlord/tenant disputes, including those basing their claims on mold contamination, vermin and insect infestation (including bedbugs), lead paint, asbestos, carbon monoxide, and various alleged code violations. We have expertise in defending claims brought against apartment building owners, home-owners and condominium-owner associations (HOAs and COAs). We are also well-versed in the laws and regulations impacting mobile homes and mobile home park operators, and we have extensive experience defending claims brought under the California Mobile Home Residency Law (MRL). We have also handled multi-unit, multi-plaintiff habitability claims arising in Section 8/Government Assisted housing.
We specialize in defending companies whose products or operations have been alleged to have caused harm to workers and other individuals exposed to alleged toxins. We defend companies (and often multiple companies at one time) sued by plaintiffs alleging numerous diseases and conditions, including various forms of cancer such as Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL), Multiple Myeloma, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL); various forms of lung disease including Bronchiolitis Obliterans (stemming from exposure to Diacetyl and/or other chemicals), Lung Cancer, Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Systemic Vasculitis, and Asthma as well as numerous other maladies such as heart, kidney, and liver disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, and immunological disorders. We have defended cases brought by plaintiffs alleging exposure to various harmful chemicals and/or other toxins, including Benzene, Toluene, Diacetyl, Asbestos, Metal Dust, Silica, Toxic Mold, Formaldehyde, Acetone, N-Propyl Bromide, Xylene and many others.
For instance, we recently defended a glass manufacturer in a wrongful death action claiming that its products exposed plaintiffs’ decedent to silica dust and other alleged toxins, leading to his death from lung disease. We successfully argued on summary judgment that our client's products could not, and did not, cause the illness and death, since there was no evidence that the products had been cut or otherwise manipulated so as to cause a release of dangerous particulates. Without exposure, the court concluded, there could be no causation, and therefore summary judgment was warranted. Plaintiff appealed the decision, and the our defense team drafted a successful Appellate Brief. The Second District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and affirmed the judgment unanimously, as well as awarded costs.
We defend cases on behalf of manufacturers and distributors involving claims of bodily injury and property damage based on alleged manufacturing defects, design defects, failures to warn, contamination, and spoilage. We have relationships with top experts and consultants in medicine, toxicology, engineering, industrial hygiene, manufacturing, management, transportation, and environmental sciences, which not only allow us to defend such cases, but also to advise clients on how to avoid such claims in the future. We are also well versed in the contractual and equitable indemnity issues inherent in such cases, and are comfortable addressing such issues as part of our defense efforts, including communication and negotiation with co-defendants and their indemnitors.
We have special expertise in ADA cases brought under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (applicable to commercial public accommodations), and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code Section 51, et seq. We counsel clients on compliance with applicable accessibility guidelines and California’s state requirements for accessibility compliance set forth in the California Building Code. We have worked closely with CASp inspectors to review and assess clients’ business locations, and to identify and remedy potential compliance shortfalls in advance of litigation. We also have extensive experience defending clients in ADA cases, both in state and federal court, with the goal of achieving cost-effective settlements in the early stages to minimize fees wherever possible.
Beyond representing motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, and warehouses in federal and state court civil actions, we are deeply involved in the transportation community through our memberships and leadership roles in the California Trucking Association, Transportation Lawyers Association, and Transportation Intermediaries Association, to name just a few. Our industry expertise allows us to recognize the key issues in dispute and provide sage advice and efficient analysis to our clients. We are also familiar with intermodal operations at the ports within California, including environmental issues, and the requirements for access and common agreements such as the UIIA.
We have handled claims for damaged, lost, or stolen freight, and for damages caused by delayed delivery involving diverse commodities such as computer equipment, lumber, novelty gifts, seafood and other food products, high voltage electrical equipment, and household goods. We regularly remove cases to federal court, where we have obtained summary judgments eliminating claims using the Carmack Amendment, and other industry specific laws. We are adept at utilizing the shipping documents and any prior course of dealing to establish limitations on liability. Because of our broad experience with the industry, we are able to piece together the sometimes incomplete shipping documents and decipher the obscure insurance coverage issues that often arise in these cases.
We successfully represent motor carriers in personal injury and wrongful death cases, starting at the scene of an accident with our 24-hour, immediate response team (which coordinates the investigations), through negotiations, discovery, trial, and appeals. For example, after a three-week jury trial in the Santa Monica Superior Court, we obtained a defense verdict for a motor carrier and its driver in a wrongful death case arising from a bicycle v. tractor-trailer accident. We have obtained numerous favorable settlements in cases involving traumatic brain injuries, permanent disabilities, and injuries of all kinds. We understand the propensity of juries to be sympathetic towards plaintiffs in these cases, especially when plaintiff’s attorneys employ “reptile” tactics. We have developed strategies to balance the equities and head off the anticipated trial tactics. Our experience and relationship with experts in the industry assists us in defending trucking companies and related entities effectively and economically.
We understand the complex business of a warehouse, including its inventory management and fulfillment obligations, and the handling of e-commerce and consumer deliveries. We are familiar with the multitude of factual scenarios arising in these cases, and the effective use of the applicable laws, indemnity provisions, and insurance. As examples, we represented a warehouseman sued by a major apparel manufacturer seeking multiple millions of dollars claiming the warehouse failed to properly or timely ship the goods to waiting retailers. We showed, through targeted discovery and effective legal argument, that it was the apparel manufacturer that breached the agreement and caused much of its own damages, resulting in a favorable settlement for our client. We regularly represent warehouses in enforcing liens through public and private sales, including successfully defending the lien and the right to sell in emergency litigation brought by the customer seeking restraining orders and injunctions.
We regularly advise companies and prepare the necessary business documents for the transportation industry, including equipment lease agreements, the terms and conditions for transport under bills of lading, broker-carrier agreements, shipper-motor carrier agreements, and sub-haul or independent contractor agreements. In doing so, we use our understanding of insurance coverage and indemnity provisions to assist our clients in minimizing the inevitable risks of doing business in the transportation industry.
We also assist companies in the transportation industry in protecting the necessary licenses and permits to operate in California. We monitor the policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation, and the California Highway Patrol in conducting BIT Inspections and protect companies that fail such inspections in actions brought by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. We are experienced in protecting clients in actions based upon California's unfair competition statutes brought by District Attorneys in conjunction with unsatisfactory BIT ratings, in violation actions brought by CARB, and in criminal actions based upon serious vehicle code violations.