Past case results

Many of our cases involve high-end single-family residences built by well-known Builders, Architects, and Developers that have procured confidentiality clauses in the settlement agreements. To preserve those obligations, we offer case profiles.

Tiburon Single Family Home: Remodeled by an Owner Builder with the services of an Architect and General Contractor. The home had sold twice previously without any plan/code departure or leak manifestation disclosures. Our clients were the third downstream buyers and they experienced immediate water intrusion. Though the active construction had taken place years before, we assembled a team of real estate standard of care and building envelope and code experts and achieved a settlement of $250,000, to which all the prior sellers personally contributed.

Tiburon Single Family Home: New construction with envelope and window failures, drainage issues, and mold. As a result of our strategic positioning, the Developer was exposed to pay for defects that had not yet manifested in damage as well as for those that had, loss of use, and for the fees and costs incurred. Though this case involved seven parties and numerous levels of insurance, it resolved quickly with a $1.5 million settlement.

Novato Single Family Home: Owner /Builder/Seller artfully staged a structurally dangerous home, sold it at the top of the market and then fled the country. Positioning the case to focus on the only viable involved professional resulted in a settlement ($160,000) that allowed the new Owners to achieve repairs and recover their fees. (The defendant has since become a client.)

Novato Single Family Home: New Construction by developer using a series of shell LLCs. Our clients came to us after their prior counsel had engaged in several years of and incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and costs in mainstream civil litigation and discovery procedures. We took over the case, moved it into the Special Master arena, switched to a builder-side vetted consultant to eliminate distracting disputes about the Owner’s prior consultant’s experience and bias. Though several insurers and party entities filed bankruptcy in the interim, a settlement of $800,000 was achieved within four months of our takeover, allowing the client to repair the home and recover all of our, and most of the predecessor attorney firm’s, fees.

West Marin Single Family Home: The Seller’s remodel was attractive, but within months proved seriously defective, with leaks throughout, and serious site and septic issues. Our team of real estate disclosure, engineering, and construction experts pinpointed the cause and targeted the actual and likely future damage with a paucity of project documents. A Special Master process was promptly triggered, and a settlement of $449,500 was achieved, with the Seller contributing out of pocket money to the resolution.

Pacific Heights New Construction: Several hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on specialty windows that leaked. No insurance existed and a settlement of $625,000 was paid by the manufacturer.

Pacific Heights Defense of Owner Builder: Our firm procured immediate inspection and claim verification rights which proved critical since the new Owners were immediately remodeling. Because carriers were balking, we pulled in coverage specialists, procured the clients an insurance-funded defense, and aided the clients in selecting vetted insurance defense counsel who achieved a prompt confidential settlement.

Mill Valley New Construction: Defense of General Contractor. Architect Owners hired our client to build to their particular, high maintenance specifications, then sold the home without disclosing them. When the new Owners sued, their focus was on our builder. Gaps in coverage for the unique elements of the claim were surmounted and the case was settled using Architect and insurance dollars. Our client ultimately recovered his defense fees and over $100,000 in unpaid building expenses.

Healdsburg New Construction: Defense of General Contractor against Subcontractors breach of contract and lien suit. Our General Contractor client discovered the roofing Subcontractor had omitted a fire protection element, terminated the subcontract, hired a new roofer, and at his own cost, made the project compliant with Wildland Interface Codes. The terminated Subcontractor sued for its lost profits. We prevailed on that claim at arbitration. (The Contractor’s client has since hired him to build several additional projects, including wineries.)

Oakland New Construction: Defense of Architect. Architect involved in early phase conceptual drawings was added to a lawsuit just before trial. No insurance money was available to provide a defense. A prompt and nominal settlement to avoid trial expenses and license issues was achieved.

Oakland Commercial Remodel Defects: Our clients remodeled an older building to house their business and provide commercial rental spaces. The very well-known General Contractor charged for both its defective work and finish elements that were not as specified and then sued to collect on its lien. Our team of construction forensic accountants and building defect experts supported the Owners’ cross claim against the Architect and the Builder. The Contractor recovered nothing on its lien and instead paid the Owners $290,750. The resulting CSLB and bond complaint against the General Contractor resulted in loss of its license.

Mill Valley New Single Family Residence: In very high end neighborhood, began degrading within 18 months of completion. A well-known Developer, its shell LLC, their partner Realtor, and their Contractor paid a settlement of $600,000, allowing our clients to repair and remodel the home and to recover their fees and costs in full.

Mill Valley Defense of Contractor: Against Owner defect claim. Owner’s attorney and our office utilized a neutral expert. A significantly reduced repair cost and settlement was achieved within two months of the claim. No litigation was filed, and no claim on the builder’s bond, license or insurance policy was made.

Modesto Commercial Project: Our client’s remodel of a car showroom was mandated by the manufacturer to meet trade dress standards, and no payment was forthcoming when the standards were breached. The Subcontractor sued on its mechanics’ lien, and we tried the case to a verdict in Stanislaus County. The Owner prevailed on the lien, recovered costs to correct to meet the trade dress standards, and recovered indemnification for all the fees and expenses from the General Contractor.

Oakland: An uninsured Developer failed to protect adjoining property and caused damage. Asset searches belied the Developer’s claim to judgment-proof status and the case tried to a successful and collected verdict.

Unincorporated Marin County: Single family residence foundation collapsed as a result of offsite water diversion through adjacent cable company conduit lines. Though the cable company was sold and there were several related obstacles in the numerous insurance policies during the case, a $665,000 settlement exceeding repair and litigation expenses was achieved.

Sleepy Hollow: Our Client’s concerns about ridges in the floor led to our suggestion to further investigate. Our experts revealed the new house just purchased was actually a bad remodel that incorporated slabs from a prior horse stable, and that the only appropriate repair would be a tear down. The Developer fled the Country. Use of claw back statutes allowed us to recapture prior pay-outs to limited partners and that, with subcontractor insurance contributions on the eve of trial, procured $890,000 in settlement funds, which exceeded the purchase price of the home.

Confidential Marin Municipality: Municipal underground pipes that had not been revealed on any Title report or map failed and caused the Clients’ rear yard to become a sinkhole. Recent ordinances had imposed pipe maintenance duties on all property owners it traversed. A private mediation was held and the Municipality agreed to pay to repair the pipe and restore the site.

San Francisco Defense of Owners of Single Family Residence: Against their Contractor’s lien claim. Contractor’s bill was not paid due to contract omissions and defects. We asserted a cross claim on behalf of the Owner and achieved a settlement that paid fees and repairs. The Contractor recovered nothing.

San Francisco Defense of Non-Profit against Contractor’s Mechanic’s Lien: After procuring the contracts and change orders and getting our consultant’s evaluation of overcharges, the Contractor withdrew the claim and paid back $25,000.

San Francisco Defense of Non-Profit against Tenant Un-inhabitability Complaint: (Filed in response to eviction for change in use of residential property). After property inspection and witness interviews, the case settled in mediation with adjustments to the tenant’s departure deadline and a nominal payment to the tenants group representing the tenant.

Novato Defense of Church against Architect’s Breach of Remodeling Contract Suit: We procured a defense judgment against the Architect for the Church and recovered all fees and arbitration expenses.

Antioch Representation of Commercial/Industrial Client against Delayed General Contractor: Achieved termination of contract, retention of all materials and warehouse building on order, with no lost profit pay outs to General Contractor. Developer client contracted with new firm and completed the project in three months.