Radco v. Diamond Walnut
Radco is an Arizona corporation that supplied building materials to a subcontractor which was later used at a construction site owned by Diamond Walnut in Stockton California. The subcontractor did not pay and Radco wanted to file a mechanics lien on the project. Unfortunately, unfamiliar with California law, Radco had not served the required 20 day preliminary notice required as a pre-condition to getting a lien. During my conversation with the client, the client suggested that the subcontractor may have been insolvent when it ordered product from Radco. I researched the law and noted that under the U.C.C. when a person purchases goods on credit while insolvent the other party can demand return of the product and when that demand is made the demanding party obtains “constructive possession” of the product. Therefore, I demanded return of the product getting “constructive possession” of the product although it never physically left the warehouse at the job site. After I had obtained “constructive possession” I then served a 20-day notice and then sent a letter releasing the product although again it never left the warehouse. Diamond Walnut, the owner of the project laughed and ignored my demand and paid the subcontractor. I pursued Diamond Walnut and set a precedent in California by grafting the U.C.C. onto the California mechanics Lien Law. As a result diamond Walnut was required to pay twice for the same product.
Lender v. Debtor
I represented a small business investment company that loaned money to a company. The company used the money to purchase a vast amount of equipment for its manufacturing facility. The company defaulted on the loan. Because the principals of the company were likely to a abscond with the assets if I gave them notice and commenced a long repossession proceeding, I chose a different route. Under the U.C.C. a creditor can use “and self-help repossession” so long as it does not breach the peace. I have prepared a Notice of Repossession on legal size paper and had my signature notarized. The notice specifically stated the code section that allowed self-help repossession. I then hired a videographer a flatbed truck a forklift and went to the site. Enroute to the site I stopped at the police department and asked for an officer to accompany me so that the debtor would not breach the peace. The police officer said he would come to make sure I did not breach the peace. We approached the factory from the service entrance, the videographer the policeman and myself. I presented the notice of repossession instructed the videographer to get everybody on video and told the individual I spoke to that he did not cooperate I would be going after him personally. He pointed out all the collateral of the belong to my client. We used our forklift to load the equipment onto the flatbed truck until our forklift ran out of gas. At that time we used the company’s forklift that had been identified as collateral to pick up our forklift and put it on the truck. It took us about an hour to load all of the equipment. After I returned to my office I received a telephone call from the attorney who represented the company. He asked quote is a true all they had to do was say “No” and the police officer would have turned us a way to avoid a breach of the peace. I said that is correct. He said congratulations on your “Sting”.
Beckman Coulter v. Flextronics
We represented Beckman Coulter in a $2 million breach of contract claim against Flextronics. During the course of discovery we uncovered a $300,000 fraud. We went to trial and seven weeks into a three-month jury trial I amended the complaint to add two additional causes of action because I had already elicited testimony in the trial supporting our claim of liability. These two new causes of action were for two separate acts of unfair competition actually titled “economic duress”. The jury unanimously awarded $2 million for the breach of contract claim, $300,000 for the fraud plus $1.25 million in punitive damages. On the claims added during the course of the trial the jury awarded $180 million in punitive damages on the 3rd cause of action and $750 million on the last cause of action. The verdict was in excess of $934 million which remains the largest jury verdict or judgment of any sort in Orange County history. It was the 2nd largest verdict in the United States in 2003.
Neria v. The City of Dana Point
We represented two women that were hit by an uninsured, hit-and-run drunk driver while they were jogging in the bicycle lane in Dana Point. The driver was sentenced to four years in prison. The women were severely injured and rendered quadriplegic. They interviewed several law firms that declined the case because the driver had no assets and they concluded that there was no viable defendant that could pay a judgment. I met with the women and viewed the scene of the accident and concluded that The City of Dana Point itself should have liability. I pointed out that the bicycle lane was wider than a typical bicycle lane and did not have all of the appropriate markings to indicate that it was in fact a bicycle lane and not a driving lane. The City argued that there was no defect in the bicycle lane and the clear liability should belong to the driver. After numerous expert depositions and depositions of the City officials, I was able to show that the City had been advised of this problem with the roadway and did nothing to correct it. I argued that all it had to do was get a bucket of paint and a stencil and print “Bike Lane” where appropriate and the accident could have been avoided. I demanded $50 million in settlement. The city offered $30 million to settle the case. Although that would have been the highest person injury settlement in the history of the United States, I rejected it. On the first day of trial the City agreed to my demand. That $50 million settlement remains the largest reported personal injury settlement in the history of the United States.
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