LATEST RESULTS SHORT OF TRIAL

While trial has proven to be a very successful avenue to victory for our firm and our clients, it is by no means our only route, nor should it be.  Consider the following:

 

 In cases involving business and commercial disputes

 

We were appointed special counsel by the United States Bankruptcy Court in a Chapter 11 reorg of a public company to unwind the rescission of a reverse merger and sue for monetary damages in excess of $40 million and continuing.  We maintained an action against the acquiring entity and certain former officers and directors.  The result:  After we proved at trial that the rescission of the merger was indeed fraudulently procured, and while an appeal was pending on other related issues, we reached a decidedly favorable settlement of the entire action to the considerable benefit of our client’s shareholders and other creditors--an unqualified success!

 

We were retained by an Estate to pursue an action for breach of a shareholder’s agreement and corporate fraud against a public internet company and its founder, chairman, CEO and majority owner.  In excess of 10 million shares of the company were at stake.  The result:  The matter proceeded to trial, however during the trial we were able to reach a very favorable settlement with the defendants, including the issuance of shares to our clients and the cancellation of other improperly issued shares, for a total net benefit to shareholders of approximately $50 million.

 

We represented the COO and the Controller of an American subsidiary of a publicly traded Japanese electronics company who were sued by the parent company for a litany of alleged corporate transgressions.  We launched a vigorous defense and numerous counterclaims on behalf of our wrongfully sued clients.  The result:  On the eve of trial the matter was settled with the payment of no sums by nor on behalf of our clients, and instead our clients were paid and made almost entirely whole.  Justice prevailed! 

 

We were retained to represent a development stage internet logistics outsourcing company and certain of its officers and directors in their pursuit of certain investors who breached various Subscription Agreements obligating them to invest significant capital in the company.  The result:  After marathon litigation the matter was ultimately settled in our client’s obvious favor for a solid seven-figure sum. 

 

We represented a textile manufacturer in an action against its insurance broker for professional negligence occurring during its procurement of property and casualty coverage for our client.  As a result of such errors and omissions, our client had sustained a substantial non-covered theft loss.  The result:  Although the matter was aggressively defended by the broker, we were eventually successful in recovering for our client virtually all of its losses.

 

Three foreign, government-owned banks filed separate lawsuits in California seeking to collect the full $1.5 million value on bills of exchange issued by the banks and accepted by our client.  The banks demanded full payment at the inception of litigation.  Thereafter, we vigorously defended our client, and raised novel arguments to challenge the banks' claims of holder in due course status.  The result:  We were able to negotiate settlements with the banks which extinguished over 80% of our client’s debt.

 

Our client was the owner and sole beneficiary of a large life insurance policy which was obtained by him to secure a lease obligation undertaken by the purchases of a business owned by our client.   When the purchaser of the business died, his estate sued to establish ownership of the policy, claiming that the policy secured the purchase of the business, rather than the lease, and that application of the policy proceeds to the business purchase obligation would extinguish the purchase obligation, and extinguish a real property deed of trust securing that purchase obligation. The result:  After obtaining for our client a release of the bulk of the policy proceeds that had been frozen by the acts of the purchaser, we obtained a dismissal, with prejudice, of the petition filed by the purchaser in probate court, and thereafter successfully demurred to the complaint subsequently filed by the purchaser in superior court.

 

 

In cases involving primary and excess insurance coverage

 

Our firm represented an insurance company in a dispute over coverage for property damage arising from defective can lids sold to canners of fruits and vegetables.  After an unsuccessful trial by another firm, our firm was brought in to file an appeal of the trial court's ruling on issues of coverage concerning the timing of an occurrence and the trigger of coverage for property damage under a Comprehensive General Liability policy of insurance.  The result: The trial court was reversed on appeal and judgment was entered in our client's favor in accordance with the appellate court's decision.  Our client was then reimbursed by its insured and another insurance company for approximately $1 million dollars for defense and indemnity payments previously advanced in the underlying litigation.

                                                                                                                       

After a judgment in excess of $9 million dollars had been entered against a developer, the developer's insurance carrier retained our firm to represent it at a series of post-judgment mediations, and, if necessary, to file a declaratory relief action concerning the many complex coverage issues involved in the underlying construction defect claim.  Initially, the mediator and all involved parties demanded our client's policy limits of $5 million dollars, nothing less would do.  Numerous mediation sessions followed.  The result: We were able to convince the parties and the mediator that our client's policy was not the target policy responsible for coverage, but that a previous year's policy was instead.  A settlement was then reached whereby our client paid less than 10% of the initial demand. 

 

Plaintiff, a major furniture manufacturer and retailer, had sued our client, an international insurance carrier, for declaratory relief and breach of contract, seeking insurance coverage for numerous environmental contamination sites throughout the country.  In our opinion, our client had rightfully denied any coverage.  Instead of sitting back in our easy chairs, we set on a course of conducting  streamline  investigation  and  discovery  with  dismissal  as  our  only  destination. The result: The court granted our motion for summary judgment, dismissing our client from the subject litigation.

 

The providers of blood to persons with hemophilia were found to have permitted their blood supply to become tainted with the HIV (AIDS) virus.  Claims and suits were asserted against the suppliers for contraction of AIDS, and AIDS related diseases, based on alleged negligence in the preparation and dissemination of the blood.  Our firm represented an insurance company in disputes over coverage for the claims asserted against the suppliers.  After conducting certain early, focused, and thus very meaningful and effective discovery, we were able to negotiate a stay of the coverage litigation to allow all parties to direct their efforts towards resolution without otherwise certain continued, protracted litigation.  The result: We were able to settle our client out of the coverage disputes with a substantial reduction off of the total policy limits, and thus eliminate continuing expenses of the underlying defense as well as the coverage litigation.

 

 

In cases involving premises, auto, and trucker liability

 

Plaintiff, an experienced electrician, was in a "cherry-picker" some 35 feet above ground servicing an electric sign, when he sustained an electrical shock and fell to the ground.  Plaintiff sustained massive injuries to his legs and to his head, and incurred in excess of half a million dollars in medical bills.  We represented an electrician who had worked on the premises on prior occasions.  After conducting thorough and appropriate discovery, and establishing to our satisfaction the non-negligence of our client, we filed a  Motion  for  summary   judgment.  The result:  Plaintiff's counsel agreed to dismiss our client, with prejudice, while the motion was still pending.

 

In a wrongful death action brought by six plaintiffs, which arose out of a truck vs. pedestrian accident, we represented the driver of the truck and his employer.  Plaintiffs made a settlement demand of $1 million.  Through formal discovery and through investigation  into the public records of sister states and Indian Nations, we determined that four of the plaintiffs were not proper heirs of the decedent, and we thereafter prepared and filed a motion for summary judgment against them.  The result:  We prevailed on our motion for summary judgment, thus obtaining dismissals as to four of the six plaintiffs.  We were also able to demonstrate that a government agency was negligent in its failure to properly maintain certain street lights, and that such was a substantial factor in the accident.  This resulted in a settlement with the remaining two plaintiffs for costs of defense.

 

A charter bus carrying approximately 45 passengers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas off-roaded while en route, travelled for a considerable distance over the desert floor, became airborne, and impacted an unfortunately placed embankment, all at freeway speeds.  The injuries were devastating to many of the passengers and, not surprisingly, all of them filed suit.  We were retained to defend the bus company and its driver.  For many reasons it became obvious that we should admit the liability of our clients, but pursue the comparative negligence of the bus manufacturer, based on its incorporation of certain defective “T-bolts” in its seat attachment system, which we argued caused the catastrophic failure of many of the bus seats, and thus many of the significant passenger injuries.  The result: We were successful in saving a significant portion of the $5 million policy otherwise available to the bus company, even though numerous of the individual passenger suits were eventually tried to juries in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

 

Plaintiff, a young college coed, was severely brain damaged when her car hit a truck tire on a local freeway, and then rearended, at high speed, our client's big rig truck, which had almost hit the same tire and had then pulled off to the side of the roadway to check for damage.  The impact  occurred  before  our  client's  driver  had  placed the appropriate reflectors as required by law.  Our client was thus sued.  We made a motion for summary judgment.  The result: Our motion was denied - but it was an obvious close call for the court.  We were then able to negotiate an extremely favorable settlement with plaintiff, despite the fact that a prominent plaintiff's attorney had been substituted in to try the case against us.

 

In a wrongful death action brought by the surviving daughter of a once famous L.A. artist, our client was the owner of the apartment building where decedent had perished in a tragic fire.  It was alleged that our client's failure to install a smoke detector in decedent's apartment was the sole cause of death.  With targeted discovery efforts and well-qualified experts, we were able to establish that plaintiff accidentally started the fire himself, and that the fire was of such a nature that a smoke detector would not have saved his life.  The result: The case settled for costs of defense.

 

In a wrongful death action brought by the spouse and child of the decedent (the sole support for the family), arising out of a truck vs. auto accident in which the truck driver was subsequently convicted of second degree murder (he was under the influence of methamphetamines), we represented the trucking company.  In addition to seeking the typical wrongful death damages, plaintiffs also claimed the right to punitive damages against the trucking company, based on its alleged negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent entrustment, and made a multi-million dollar settlement demand.  While we believed that we  could ultimately defeat the punitive damages claim at trial, we were aware of certain potentially troubling facts that, if discovered by plaintiffs, would certainly give them a fighting chance.  We thus immediately undertook to eliminate the punitive damages claim via the law and motion route before any formal discovery commenced, and we also sought early mediation.  The result: Our early law and motion efforts eliminated the trucking company’s punitive damages exposure, and the similarly early mediation resulted in a settlement significantly below not only plaintiffs’ demand but also what the mediator believed plaintiffs’ “bottom line” to be.  Otherwise significant litigation costs and expenses were also avoided.  

 

We represented a franchisee owner of a popular restaurant in a suit brought by a patron who was severely beaten by alleged gang members in the restaurant parking lot. Plaintiff alleged that our client was liable to him for not providing armed security, surveillance cameras, and/or no loitering signs at the restaurant. Plaintiff further alleged a pattern and history of violence at this location. The result: Motion for Summary Judgment granted. The Court found that there was no proximate cause between the lack of the allegedly necessary security measures and the attack on plaintiff. 

In cases involving construction defects

 

Plaintiff, represented by one of the premier plaintiffs' law firms in Los Angeles, severely injured his shoulder in a construction accident.  Our client, the general contractor, was alleged to have created a dangerous condition on the property.  We filed an appropriate Cross-complaint against the two subcontractors that worked in the area where the accident occurred.  From the outset, although the subcontracts contained no specific indemnity provisions we maintained that they nonetheless required not only full indemnification, but also payment of our defense costs as well.  The result:  We negotiated a settlement whereby the carriers for the two subcontractors indirectly funded the entire settlement to plaintiff, and we recovered our client's costs of defense as well.                                                                                  

 

In an express/equitable indemnity action by the developer/general contractor against our client, the stucco subcontractor, developer claimed the involved subcontract contained a Type I indemnity agreement requiring full indemnity and defense under the terms thereof.  We maintained from the start that the subject agreement was not a Type I, but rather was a Type II, or perhaps even a Type III indemnity agreement.  As such, we argued that under the facts and circumstances of this case the plaintiff had no right to collect against us for much, if any, of the monies it sought.  Through appropriate pre-trial motions we obtained a ruling that the indemnity agreement was not a Type I, and, moreover, that the developer was barred from pursuing any equitable indemnity by virtue of the existence of the express indemnity agreement.  The result: We negotiated a very favorable settlement involving no contribution towards plaintiff's significant costs of defense.

 

In a case alleging the negligent construction of a million dollar home, we represented the general contractor, who was also the framer.  Plaintiff's demand for settlement was $675,000.00. We fought for, and obtained, a discovery stay and early mediations.  The result: The case settled for a small fraction of plaintiff's demand and, despite the lack of any express indemnity agreement by and between our client and its subcontractors, we received substantial reimbursement of indemnity monies and defense costs from the involved subcontractors.

 

In cases involving libel/slander/defamation

 

We were retained to defend a political consultant sued for libel by a City Councilman following the creation and dissemination of certain election mailers directed against the councilman.  After confirming to our satisfaction that the mailers were within the rubric of Constitutionally protected political speech, we sought dismissal of the case via an anti-SLAPP motion.  The result:  Our motion was granted, the case was dismissed, with prejudice, and our client was awarded all of his attorneys fees and costs of suit.

 

We were retained to defend a Southern doctor sued for libel by an L.A. lawyer following the doctor’s anonymous posting of various messages respecting the lawyer on an internet message board.  After investigation we were convinced that our client’s messages were Constitutionally protected free speech in the nature of non-malicious opinion, parody and rhetorical hyperbole.  As such, we sought to have the case dismissed but the Trial Court thought otherwise.  We then sought review by the Court of Appeal.  The result:  In one of the first cases of its kind, the appellate justices unanimously reversed the Trial Court, granted our motion, dismissed the case against our client, and awarded our client his attorneys fees and costs of suit. 

 

We were retained at the last minute to represent of former member of a condominium homeowners’ association board of directors sued for defamation in a verified complaint arising out of her duties as a board member.  Before filing a verified answer to the complaint we provided a copy to plaintiff’s counsel for her review, informing her that if she were to immediately dismiss the complaint we would waive costs.  Otherwise, we would seek attorneys’ fees and costs.  The result:  After reviewing our answer plaintiff’s counsel filed a dismissal of the complaint.

 

We were retained to represent a member of a homeowner’s association sued for defamation by former members of the HOA’s board of directors for her actions in a recall election of certain members of the board.  After confirming our client’s actions were within the rubric of Constitutionally-protected political speech, we sought dismissal of the case by an anti-SLAPP motion.  The result:  Our motion was granted, the case was dismissed, with prejudice, and our client was awarded his attorneys fees and costs of suit.

In cases involving products liability

 

Several tenants in a commercial high rise building in West Los Angeles sustained approximately $10 million in damages as a result of a bursting water supply standpipe.  The insurers of those tenants paid the tenants for their losses, and pursued subrogation actions against the general contractor and subcontractors who built the water supply system, and several companies who manufactured certain component parts of the system.  We represented a target defendant  -  a  manufacturer of  the  pressure  reducing valves that were  installed  throughout the  building.   We  were  able to show  that the damages were not caused by our valves, but were instead caused by defects in certain other components of the water supply system.  The result: We obtained the complete dismissal of our client, with prejudice, solely in exchange for a waiver of costs.

 

We represented the manufacturer of a rooftop skylight allegedly responsible for a three-story fall by three teenaged girls, resulting in medical specials alone in excess of half a million dollars.  After establishing that these very serious injuries were caused solely by the plaintiffs' misuse of the skylight, we prepared and filed a motion for summary judgment.  The result:  Plaintiffs' counsel agreed to dismiss our client, with prejudice, while the motion was still pending.

 

Plaintiff, a teenaged male, while staring at a "black light" bulb in his room, sustained a severely lacerated cornea when the bulb exploded.  Plaintiff's injury required three surgeries, and plaintiff claimed he would need two additional surgeries in the future.   Moreover, it was uncertain if plaintiff would ever regain sight in one eye.  Plaintiff made a settlement demand of $1 million.  We   represented  the  wholesaler  of  the   light  bulb,  who  was   the  target  defendant  since the manufacturer was a Korean corporation who could not be located nor served. We were eventually successful in establishing and  arguing  misuse  of  the  product  by  plaintiff and/or his  family.   The result:  At mediation, we were able to settle the claim for $20,000.

 

Plaintiff severed his major hand in a piece of industrial machinery.  Our client, an electrical contractor, installed and serviced this particular piece of equipment.  Plaintiff claimed we did so negligently, causing the machine to malfunction.  Our defense approach was two tiered.  The first focused on the absence of any breach of any duty of care owed to the plaintiff; and the second focused on plaintiff's own conduct in placing his hand into a machine, under a cutting blade, without first confirming that the machine was in fact off.  We threatened a motion for summary judgment.  The result: The matter was settled for costs of defense.

 

Plaintiff was rendered a complete paraplegic as a result of a farming accident involving a "fertilizer spreader".  After the accident, the "spreader" was partially disassembled and repaired by the workers' comp insurer of plaintiff's employer, before plaintiff had the opportunity to inspect it.  Plaintiff sued the comp carrier directly for spoliation of evidence.  We were retained to represent the carrier.  We moved for summary judgment, over vehement opposition from plaintiff's counsel, who argued that the fact that our client had inspected the "spreader" with knowledge that it had been involved in an accident imposed a duty to maintain it for the plaintiff's  benefit.  The  result:  Our motion for summary judgment was granted.

 

In cases involving employment discrimination, harassment and

wrongful termination

 

Our firm was retained to defend a major developer of single-family homes in an action brought by one of the developer's former employees for breach of contract and wrongful termination.  Plaintiff claimed well over $250,000.00 in compensatory damages alone as a result of the alleged wrongful conduct.  We immediately undertook to build an ironclad defense which we believed would free our client from this litigation long before trial.  The result:  After deposing plaintiff as well as certain of plaintiff's alleged supporting witnesses, we were able to obtain a summary judgment in our client's favor and thus a dismissal of plaintiff's action in its entirety. 

 

Defense counsel for a prominent entertainment public relations firm had been unsuccessful in obtaining insurance coverage for a employment discrimination/same sex harassment case.  The counsel, a major Los Angeles law firm, requested that his client retain our firm to pursue the coverage action.  They did so and we did so.  The result:  Within four months of our involvement, the involved carriers accepted the defense of the underlying action, reimbursed the client's defense costs, and contributed to the settlement of the harassment action.

 

Our client, a grocery store chain, had been sued by a former employee for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.  The previous counsel had not been able to obtain insurance coverage for the litigation from any of the store's carriers.  After receiving the insurance carriers' denial and incurring significant attorney fees in defense of the action, the store retained our firm to defend it in a declaratory relief action filed by one of the store's carriers.  The result:  After successfully  defending  against  the carrier's summary judgment motion, our firm, via mediation, negotiated  a settlement  of  both  the  coverage  and  harassment  actions  whereby  the  store's insurance carriers not only funded the settlement of the harassment action, but also obtained reimbursement of all attorney fees and defense costs incurred by the client in the litigation.

 

Our client, the parent company of four national, family-style restaurant chains, was sued by a former manager for sexual harassment, negligent supervision and negligent retention, including FEHA and Title VII claims.  The former employee sought significant compensatory and punitive damages, and at the outset the law and facts did not look favorable for us.  The result:  After certain necessarily thorough investigation and discovery, including a marathon deposition of the plaintiff wherein she was impeached on numerous significant points, this potentially explosive matter properly settled for nuisance value only.

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