Overview

Ronald R. Rossi

Shareholder
Location:
San Jose, California
Phone:
408-780-0358
Fax:
408-261-4292
Email:

Ron has served on many California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) committees and has represented the National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.).  He taught real estate law and advanced real estate law at the junior college level and continuing education courses for attorneys.  He also teaches Real Estate Sales Transactions at a local law school.

The San Jose Mercury News published Ron's bi-weekly "Real Law" columns from 1995-2005.  In his column, Ron offered insight and advice about both common and unusual issues and situations in the Bay Area real estate market that often led buyers, sellers, and agents into litigation.

NOTABLE LITIGATION

2720 Uridias Ranch LLC v. Rosemary Delta, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 108CV125828.  Represented a successful bidder at the foreclosure sale of a leasehold interest as landlord of a San Jose hotel who discovered after purchase that a network of other subleases and deeds of trust held by a few individuals’ LLCs and shell companies compromised and encumbered the interest he thought he was acquiring.  This complex transaction led to multiple suits and settlements, including an action against the client’s broker for his breach of fiduciary duty in encouraging the client to bid at the sale while concealing the conditions of title, and the amount, nature, and status of existing liens against the property. 

Allergy & Asthma Associates v. Cox (non-litigation).  Represented medical practice with regard to building owner’s refusal to improve building conditions or cooperate in releasing our clients from long-term lease obligation based on unacceptable conditions.

Alpha Factors v. CA-Pruneyard, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 108CV105170.  Represented a real estate brokerage in a case for rescission based on fraud against its landlord in an office building.  During lease negotiations, the  landlord agreed that the tenant would have the 24/7 access to the building it needed in order to conduct its business.  After execution of the lease, the landlord unreasonably restricted building access, interfering with the business’ successful operation.

Austin v. Leading Luxury Estates, Inc., Placer County Superior Court Case No. T-CV-0000839.  At arbitration, represented a developer in a lawsuit brought by a wealthy dotcom purchaser of a $12 million house in Tahoe City that had  issues arising out of low tides and boat access via the property’s dock.  Obtained a confidential settlement for our client.

Blefari, et al., v. Waters Fund Management, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 107CV078155.  Represented multiple investors in LLCs formed to buy and develop properties whose investments were threatened due to mismanagement of the LLCs.  Through the appointment of a receiver, the investors’ losses were recouped in a confidential mid-seven-figure settlement with the LLCs’ insurance company.

Boales v. Boales, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 105CV036541.  Represented a client who invested money in a Saratoga property in exchange for a one-half interest in that property, the other half belonging to two family members.  Once the property increased in value, the family members refused to honor the client’s 50% interest, claiming his investment was instead “a loan.”  A suit for partition resulted in a  judgment for the client against the family members. 

Caruso v. Raissi, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 107CV097410.  Represented an architect in litigation against a commercial client who refused to pay for three design projects.  Obtained a settlement in which all outstanding balances due were arranged to be paid and remaining project work structured for completion.

City of Cupertino v. Blue Pheasant, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 104CV026233.  Settled a lease renewal dispute between tenant restaurant owner and landlord, City of Cupertino, over a provision in the lease requiring that the restaurant shut down before 11:00 p.m. daily, which would cost the business $300K annually. 

Cupertino Partners VI v. Alliance Title (non-litigation).  Represented a seller of a shopping center in an easement and right-of-way dispute and obtained a settlement requiring that corrected title insurance policies be recorded to reflect the true nature and extent of the easement and right of way.

De Anza v. Chen, Santa Clara Superior Court Case No. 109CV159716.  Represented the owner and landlord of a building in which a commercial tenant claimed to be operating a learning center, which instead proved to be a daycare center, requiring different licensing.  The tenant first attempted to get out of its lease of two units in the building by promising to find a replacement tenant, but then instead simply moved its business down the street, breaking its leases.  Negotiated a settlement for the landlord compensating him for lost income caused by the tenant’s abandonment.   

DeMattei, et al., in re: 506 University Avenue (non-litigation).  Assisted a major building contractor in a buyout of its partners’ interests with regard to the purchase and development of a Los Gatos property.

Floria v. Cal State Mortgage, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 102CV810367.  Represented a client who invested in a deed of trust for a lot in Beverly Hills, which went through foreclosure when the borrower ceased making payments.  The client then learned the property was virtually worthless, as the appraiser had appraised the wrong lot, and his mid-six-figure investment was lost.  Obtained a confidential settlement for the client.

Hazin v. Frit San Jose, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 108CV107710.  Represented a tenant operating an ice-cream store in the Santana Row Shopping Center involved in a lease-renewal dispute with the landlord.  Obtained a settlement agreement extending the lease and allowing the tenant’s business to continue operating in the space.

Krach v. Tut, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case No. CV139016.  Represented buyers of a multi-million-dollar Santa Cruz property and obtained a judgment against the sellers in a breach-of-contract action against the sellers.  Sellers were four family members holding power of attorney for each other.  One family member signed the purchase contract with our clients, then claimed that all family members were required to sign the contract.  They then attempted to sell the property to another buyer for a higher purchase price.

Page Mill Properties v. Luzon, San Mateo Superior Court Case No. CIV457866.  Represented a broker who entered into commission agreements with a developer’s LLC formed to acquire unlisted properties in East Palo Alto for eventual high-rises and condominium conversions.  After our client fulfilled his part of the deal and brought the developer nearly 40 properties, the LLC refused to pay the agreed-upon commissions, breached the agreement, and fired our client.  After two years of complex litigation, the parties reached a confidential settlement resolving the property acquisition and unpaid commission issues.

Reboul v. Valley of California, San Francisco County Superior Court Case No. CGC-07-464270. Represented one of two beneficiaries of a trust in an action against real estate brokers for breach of fiduciary duty and other claims.  The brokers induced the unsophisticated trustee to invest in three unsuitable and unprofitable commercial properties and advised him to pay more than fair market value for the buildings.  Obtained a confidential settlement compensating the beneficiaries for assets lost as a result of the brokers’ conduct.

James H. Baron, as Receiver v. Fire Insurance Exchange, et al.  (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case # 1-03-CV-817085, Court of Appeal, Sixth District Case #  H029830).  Successfully represented a Court-ordered Receiver in a case against a major insurer for its failure to pay complete coverage on a fire insurance policy.  The insurance company's adjuster had referred the Receiver to a contractor allegedly on its approved contractor's list.  The Receiver hired the contractor to perform the fire damage repairs on the insurance carrier's recommendation.  The contractor walked off the job, absconding with a portion of the insurance benefits which had been paid.  The carrier then refused to pay further policy benefits and denied further coverage, refusing to pay even the policy benefits it had agreed were owing forcing the Receiver to hire a new contractor funded by Receiver certificates.  After a two-week jury trial, the jury awarded damages plus $1.5 million in punitive damages.  After the Receiver then successfully moved for an award of attorney's fees, a total judgment of $2.1 million was entered against the insurance company.  The award was successfully affirmed on appeal in a published decision.

Blickman Turkus v. M-F Downtown Sunnyvale, LLC (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 1-03-CV-814344).  Successfully defended major developer, Mozart Development Company, against commission claim purportedly earned for procuring a commercial tenant who, after signing a written Lease, two years later refused to occupy the premises or pay rent.  The developer was able to defeat the commission claim by convincing the Trial Court, in two separate Summary Adjudication Motions, that the term rent commencement in the Commission Agreement with the broker constituted a condition precedent of payment of the commission and required actual payments of rent by the tenant which had never been paid. 

Hartzheim v. Valley Land (binding arbitration): Our client, a commercial tenant in an Auto Mall, exercised its option to extend the term of the lease.  The lease provided for a certain method of calculation as to the rent during the option period.  A dispute arose between the parties as to the fair market value of rent.  After a 2-day binding arbitration, our clients secured a rental rate in accordance with the evidence presented by our office and significantly less than that proposed by the landlord. 

Aguiar v. Walker, et al. (Santa Clara Superior Court Case No. 1-04-CV-012791).  Successfully defended a claim made by a co-owner in a home that the parties purchased together back in 1986.  After 20 years of co-owning the property together, the one co-owner claimed that the other co-owner was a mortgage foreclosure consultant as defined by Civil Code 2945 et seq. and that she should now be entitled to void the original purchase and now become the sole owner of the property.  On the eve of trial, RHRC successfully obtained the rarely awarded terminating sanctions which eviscerated nearly the entirety of plaintiff's complaint leaving her with only a small breach of contract claim.  After trial, plaintiff lost her breach of contract claim and the defendant/clients prevailed on their counter claims for partition and breach of contract in addition to being awarded prevailing party attorney's fees.    

Nvidia Corporation, Inc. v. Extreme Networks, Inc. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 1-01-CV-803483). RHRC defended a multinational software company in a lease dispute. The settlement was confidential.

Stout v. Ince, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 1-05-CV-049665, and subsequent binding arbitration). Prosecuted a rescission claim on behalf of property buyers against the seller of a vacant lot in Morgan Hill for violations of the Subdivision Map Act, Government Code Sec. 6649.32(a) and for mutual mistake of fact.  Specifically, after the buyers and seller closed escrow on the purchase agreement for the 2 1/2 acre parcel of land, and despite diligent investigation by the buyers before the close, it became evident that the lot had been created from a prior subdivision without the necessary approvals. The buyers  only discovered the violation as a result of engineering work they commissioned so that they could apply for and obtain building site approval.  After the violation was discovered, the County of Santa Clara, Planning Office, confirmed that the parcels were illegally divided and that Plaintiffs would be unable to obtain building site approval.  Following a two-day binding arbitration on their claims, the firm obtained a full rescission, damages and attorneys fees for the buyers in an amount in excess of $730,000.00.

Prevedello v. Marcus & Millichap (binding arbitration). Prosecuted an action by an apartment building owner against a large commercial broker for breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the sale of two apartment buildings in Sacramento. After the owner received an interim award of $1.5 million plus attorneys' fees, the parties reached a confidential settlement.

Chen v. Luu (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. CV761041). Defended a shopping center owner against a class action suit by 165 tenants seeking damages in excess of $20 million. The case settled for nuisance value after two weeks of trial.

Lewis v. Pico Ranch, Inc., et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 1-02-CV812971). Represented a purchaser of commercial property in San Jose who sued the seller for fraud and concealment for failing to disclose that the tenant was going out of business and rescinding its long-term lease. Sellers fraudulently concealed the tenant's letter to sellers advising them of its shutdown. After a two-week trial, the court tentatively ruled that the principals were liable for fraud and damages in excess of $1 million. Sellers agreed to settle for the full amount plus all attorneys' fees before the Court rendered its final opinion.

Zamani v. Simons (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. CV780611). Represented a business seller in an action against a shopping center landlord for unreasonably refusing to consent to a lease assignment. The firm obtained a jury trial award of $90,000 for general damages and a punitive damages award of $400,000, which was successfully upheld on appeal.

Smith v. DiNapoli (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 1-03-CV009914). Represented seller of high-end residential property suitable for subdividing against the real estate broker who acted as a dual agent in the transaction (representing both buyer and seller). The agent failed to properly prepare the contract providing seller would be paid additional compensation upon approval of the lot split. Seller recovered almost $1 million from the broker.

PERSONAL

While in law school, Ron sold real estate part-time and managed several apartment complexes in Santa Clara and San Mateo Valley. After receiving his degree, Ron went into the United States Army as a captain, defending court-martial cases for two years. Ron is married and has three adult children. He has lived in Saratoga for the last 25 years. His hobbies include skiing, weight lifting, running, and backpacking.

Areas of Practice

  • Real Estate
  • Business Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. District Court
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Central District of California

Education

  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California - 1968
  • San Jose State University
    • M.A. - 2009
    • Major: History
  • San Jose State University - 1965

Published Works

  • "Real Law" Column, San Jose Mercury News (Nationally Syndicated)
  • Financing Real Estate, (Contributing Editor), California (Canfield Press)
  • Real Estate Remedies, (Contributing Author), Continuing Education of the Bar course outline
  • Former Columnist, San Jose Business Journal (1992-1995)

Classes/Seminars

  • Real Estate Transactions, Lincoln Law School, 2001 - Present
  • "Advanced Property Management", Foothill and DeAnza Colleges
  • "Advanced Real Estate Law", Foothill and DeAnza Colleges
  • "Real Estate Syndications", Foothill and DeAnza Colleges
  • Lecturer, "Real Estate Remedies", University of California, Berkeley
  • Lecturer, "Representing Parties to Real Property Sales Transactions", University of California, Berkeley
  • Lecturer, "Preliminary Title Reports, Title Policies, and Closing Procedures", University of California, Berkeley

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of California
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association
  • Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers' Association
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court, Judge Pro Tem Program
  • Department of Real Estate Committee on Dual Agency
  • Department of Real Estate Sub-Committee on Dual Agency Disclosure Forms, Former Chairman
  • Housing Industry Foundation, Board Member
  • California Associations of Realtors, Committees: Legal Affairs, Dual Agency, Legal Action Fund