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The Construction practice group represents a depth of litigation, trial and appellate experience, as well as ADR experience. We are committed to using the most appropriate means to provide cost-effective resolution of our clients' conflicts.

We defend developers, owners, general contractors, and subcontractors in claims and lawsuits involving single- and multi-family residential properties and commercial properties. We have handled a wide range of claims, including Construction Defect, Breach of Contract, Mechanics' Liens, Stop Notices, Delay Claims, Contractual Indemnity, accidents, and others.

Representative Matters

  • Obtained defense verdict in construction defect/crane operator negligence case involving a commercial warehouse (mattress factory). Plaintiffs sought $1.345 million, claiming that defendant's operation of its 150 ton crane on the mattress factory warehouse floor caused/contributed to substantial damage to the concrete floor. Defense argued that there was no negligence on the part of the crane operator. Jury agreed and awarded defense verdict.
  • Successfully defended a multi-million dollar construction defect/mold case and recovered $100,000 in costs for our client.
  • In large, multi-family residential construction defect cases, we have repeatedly succeeded in having cases dismissed, based on "other insurance" provisions of Insurance Code Section 1063.1, et. seq.
  • We have repeatedly recovered all monies owed our contractor clients via mechanics' liens and stop notice suits, including attorney's fees.
  • On multiple occasions, we have obtained complete defense judgments in favor of our contractor and manufacturer clients for multi-party construction lawsuits.
  • Successfully tendered the defense and negotiated the reimbursement of virtually all attorney's fees and cost of a construction defect lawsuit on behalf of our client, who was the developer of an office building but had hired a general contractor pursuant to a design-build contract to build it. The general contractor was responsible for the construction and design of the office building, including the design to protect against any flooding of the building. This design-build contract also included an indemnity provision. To successfully pursue the tender of defense, we had to overcome the argument that the developer was already obtaining a defense of the matter through its CGL insurer.


Liability Issues: New Patterns in Lawsuits Against Appraisers

This seminar was presented by Steve Dollar to the Appraisal Institute in Pleasanton, CA, in September, 2011. The seminar includes a review of the current status of litigation against appraisers, including the substantial increase in suits filed by the FDIC arising from real estate loans issued by IndyMac, WaMu and Downey Savings. The seminar also includes:

  • Overview of types of lawsuits being filed
  • Typical plaintiff's claims
  • Legal theories asserted against appraisers and defenses that can be raised in response
  • Analysis of statutory and case law that applies to both liability and damages in these cases
  • How to avoid mistakes and minimize the risk of being sued
  • Practices that can assist in the defense attorney's defense of claims against appraisers
  • Overview of litigation process and insurance issues that commonly arise.

Trial Preparation: Will Extrapolation Work?

This seminar was presented to the Western Construction Consultants Association in January, 2011. The panel included Geoff Wood, an attorney in the firm's Oakland office, as well as a data management expert, a trial exhibit expert, and another defense attorney. The panel discussed how an expert can be prepared to present extrapolation evidence, and the legal basis for extrapolation evidence (Evidence Code 801-804). The panel also addressed how to store and access such data, and how such documents, diagrams and demonstrative evidence are prepared for use in the courtroom.

Expedited Jury Trials: The Why, When and How of the New California Law

Effective January 1, 2011, California has enacted statutes for Expedited Jury Trials (EJT). Sharon Hightower, assistant managing partner of Ericksen Arbuthnot's San Jose office, has prepared a seminar to explain this new statute to attorneys, clients and insurance carriers. She will explain what types of cases are best suited for EJT and how cases are selected for this alternative trial option. Her presentation includes the following topics:
  • Background of the new law
  • Pre-trial procedures
  • Rules
  • Selection process for cases
  • Trial procedures:
    • Admissibility of evidence
    • Voir dire
    • Challenges
    • Required deadlines

For more information about EJT, see "California Offers a New Trial Option."

OCIP (Owner Controlled Insurance Programs) Seminar

This seminar provides information about policies for insurers, their insured clients and defense counsel. The presentation focuses on the critical points of defending construction defect actions arising out of work on projects subject to OCIP or "wrap" policies with burning limits, and the potential traps and strategies for defending these claims.

Stearman Costs Seminar

Our seminar on Stearman v. Centex Homes [(2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 611] surveys: (a) the types of costs that plaintiffs who succeed at trial may potentially recover from defendants as part of the damages award; (b) the impact of Stearman damages on the calculus of whether to settle or try the case; (c) potential settlement offers in light of claimed Stearman damages; and (d) the types of documents that must be obtained from plaintiffs in order to evaluate which investigative costs may be subject to recovery under Stearman.