Recent Cases

CASES INVOLVING RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

In Re: Blodgett v. Perea, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-04-CV013158). Successfully prosecuted and obtained an arbitration award on behalf of a stepfather who helped his stepson purchase a residence. Stepfather paid the downpayment and took title with the stepson. Stepson was going to live in the property, make all payments, and eventually repay stepfather the downpayment plus half the appreciation. When he failed to do so, stepfather sued for partition and an accounting and was awarded the downpayment, half the appreciation, plus attorneys' fees against stepson, who claimed that stepfather's contribution was a gift, not an investment.

In Re: Morris v. Peecher, et al. (Alameda County Superior Court Case #RG04156682). Successfully settled an action by a widow against her loan broker for fraud. Seeking a refinance loan to avoid foreclosure, the widow was told by the loan broker that while she could not qualify for a loan, he could solve her problem if she would transfer title to him. He would then get a loan in his name, let her stay in the property and make the payments, and transfer the property back to her when she got a loan in her name. However, instead of transferring the title back to her, the loan broker borrowed money against the property instead. The parties agreed to settle by selling the property, and our client received her fair share of the proceeds.

In Re: Figueroa v. Etchison, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #CIV446706). Successfully settled an action by our client against her boyfriend of 10 years with whom she cohabited and purchased a large home in Burlingame. The settlement required the boyfriend to buy out our client's interest in the property and to release all claims to the Burlingame property and all other properties the client had acquired over the years in her own name.

In Re: Dalton, Corbin v. Century 21 Alpha, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV-011268). In a two-week jury trial, successfully prosecuted a nondisclosure case for buyers of residential real property. The sellers of the Morgan Hill property failed to disclose that it was on a septic system, and it was established at trial that the transfer disclosure statement was actually completed by sellers' agents. The jury found against the agents for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty, and the agents were held responsible for all of buyers' damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.

In Re: Westendorf v. Sani, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV-816608). In a two-week jury trial, successfully prosecuted a nondisclosure case against sellers of residential real property in Willow Glen. The sellers, two lawyers, failed to disclose mold at the property. The jury awarded buyers full damages and attorneys' fees.

In Re: Smith v. DiNapoli (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #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.

In Re: Cleckley v. Coldwell Banker, Bergeson, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV815421, consolidated with Case #1-03-CV815422). Prosecuted a fraud and rescission claim on behalf of homebuyers against sellers and their real estate agents for failure to disclose past landslides. The firm obtained a confidential settlement on the eve of trial.

In Re: Sayfie v. Franco (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-02-CV806533). Represented a buyer of a single-family home in San Jose against a real estate agent who acted as a dual agent in the transaction (representing both buyer and seller). The agent marketed and advertised the home as having four income-producing units, although he knew that due to zoning restrictions, the property was illegally zoned for the four rental units. The case settled for the full amount demanded - over $200,000 in lost income from the non-viable rental units.

In Re: Justus v. Le (binding arbitration). Represented a seller in a case against a buyer who backed out of a purchase contract for a single-family home in San Jose after removing all contingencies. The seller was awarded the deposit and his attorneys' fees, which were more than twice the deposit amount.

In Re: Gunsagar v. Kablanian (binding arbitration). Represented sellers who sued the buyers of their $15 million single-family home in Monte Sereno. After buyers' stock decreased significantly decreased, they tried to get out of the contract by claiming that sellers misrepresented the property's square footage (the house was approximately 14,000 square feet). Settled the case on the first day of arbitration, recovering the buyers' $390,000 deposit and winning all attorneys' fees.

In Re: Cargill v. Field, et al. (Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case #CV144428). Represented a young couple whose new house in the Santa Cruz Mountains was built on the wrong lot. After buying the next-door lot to gain title to the land under their house, their neighbors denied them access to the road and water pipes. We sued the neighbors, got their case thrown out of court, and obtained prescriptive easements for access and water.

In Re: Tabrizi v. Fung (binding arbitration). Represented a buyer of a high-end Los Gatos residence at arbitration, recovering his deposit and all attorney's fees. Buyer's offer was contingent on his approval of the property's condition; unless he removed the property condition contingency in writing, the purchase agreement would automatically be void. After inspections revealed mold/fungus in the crawlspace, buyer refused to remove the contingency. Sellers refused to sign the release of contract or return buyer's large deposit. The arbitrator found that since buyer did not remove the contingency in writing, the property condition was deemed unacceptable and the contract terminated automatically.

In Re: Michael Morter, et al. v. Thunderbird Realty, et al. (Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case #CV136523). Obtained an arbitration award in excess of $1 million, including attorneys' fees, arising out of a real estate broker's failure to advise and counsel a home buyer of landslide potential in a mountain property.

In Re: Bennette v. Cesari (binding arbitration). Represented homebuyers in fraud action against sellers (one of whom was a licensed agent) for blatant misrepresentation of neighborhood noise conditions. We rescinded the sale transaction, forcing sellers to take back the residence, and won all attorneys' fees. The case was cited in "Property Condition Disclosure Forms" by George Lefcoe in Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal (Summer 2004), pp. 206-07.

In Re: Morris v. Taulbee, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case CV799421). Represented buyers against a seller and a dual agent who failed to disclose drainage and flooding problems. Seller's earlier letter to a neighbor buying a property next door warning him of the problems proved that she was aware of the problems yet failed to disclose them. Obtained an $85,000 settlement for the buyers.

In Re: Vorgias v. Valencia, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 790204). In a complex action involving multiple owners of residential property losing money due to high interest rates, represented one owner who sued the other owners for specific performance. Negotiated a settlement whereby our client obtained full title to the property through a buyout and was able to refinance at lower rates.

In Re: Lopez, et al. v. Creative Builders, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV791853). Represented a homeowner suing her former contractor, whose substandard work resulting in the property being red-tagged. Homeowner had to hire another contractor to finish the job. Sued the original contractor for breach of the agreement for all money paid to the second contractor in excess of that provided for in the original contract. Obtained a favorable confidential settlement.

In Re: Wells v. Prion (mediation). Settled a dispute for a businesswoman who put the name of her significant other on title to her home, which she had owned for many years, without any written agreement or any financial contribution from him. When the two parted ways, he sued her for a half-interest in the property. At mediation, we negotiated a small buyout of his alleged interest and removed his name from title.

In Re: Wang v. Hwong (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV800410). Represented a couple who co-owned residential rental property in San Jose with a third party without any written ownership and/or management agreement. After a dispute, our clients sued for partition and an accounting. At mediation, we worked out a buyout of our clients' interest.

In Re: Binell v. Greenfield, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 788929). Settled a nondisclosure case against the sellers of residential property in the Lexington Basin. Sellers failed to disclose that they had improved the property in violation of local ordinances, despite knowing what the ordinances required. Buyers obtained a full settlement, including attorneys' fees.

In Re: Dunivin v. Nasmeh, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV787333). Represented sellers of residential real property in Saratoga. The buyer was a local real estate agent/developer. It was established in discovery that the buyer intended to defraud the sellers. The case settled for full value on the first day of trial.

In Re: Fuller v. John V. Pinto & Associates, Inc., et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV766530, consolidated with #CV767682). Defended a seller against a claim brought by real estate broker suing for a commission, establishing that the realtor had breached his fiduciary duty.

In Re: Haga v. Wallace (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV787408). Prevailed in a specific performance action, representing a buyer against a seller, obtaining a judgment and attorneys' fees for the buyer.

CASES INVOLVING COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS

In Re: 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.

In Re: Lewis v. Pico Ranch, Inc., et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #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.

In Re: Giljum v. Gengenbach, et al. (San Francisco County Superior Court Case #401991). Settled a dispute between relatives who co-owned a San Francisco apartment building. The family members, estranged for years, sued each other for partition and sale and for waste and mismanagement. The settlement agreement provided for sale of the property and fair division of the proceeds.

In Re: Montes v. Ledford (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV811608). Represented a buyer in an action for specific performance and breach of contract against the seller, who tried to terminate the purchase contract for a duplex in Gilroy. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the seller agreed to pay our client all lost profits and attorneys' fees to avoid exposure for punitive damages.

In Re: Chen v. Luu (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #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.

In Re: Zamani v. Simons (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #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.

In Re: Vidovich v. Home Depot (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV769940). Defended a developer-landowner against breach of contract claims by a national retailer. The settlement was confidential.

In Re: Lively v. Heydarian, et al. (El Dorado County Superior Court Case #PC20000236). Represented buyers of a mini-mart/gasoline station who discovered just after escrow closed that sellers had not disclosed that the property was contaminated by gasoline leaks and that they were under state and county orders to monitor the spreading contamination. Successfully rescinded the transaction, obtaining all monies our clients had put into the property.

In Re: West v. Prevedello, et al. (Sacramento County Superior Court Case 99 AS02644). Represented owners of an apartment complex in Sacramento who were sued for specific performance by the buyers, prevailing at trial.

In Re: SCS Development Co. v. Sorci-Sanchez, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 770427). Prevailed at trial in defense of land owners who were sued for specific performance and breach of contract by a home builder regarding the sale of 20 acres of prime residential property in south San Jose with a value spread of over $40 million.

In Re: Mavin Income Fund v. Chang (Sacramento County Superior Court Case #96-AS05978, California Court of Appeal Case #C031484). Represented a lender against a sophisticated apartment owner who allowed property (which served as loan security) to deteriorate, resulting in a judgment in excess of $2.1 million, affirmed on appeal.

In Re: Khan (United States District Court Case #C94-4339 FMS, appeal of Case #91-56128-MM, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California). Represented purchasers of commercial real property against a claim by the seller who carried back part of the purchase price. The property was sold at a foreclosure sale, and the seller sought a personal judgment against the buyers. The Trial Court's finding that the seller was a purchase money vendor and our clients were protected by California's anti-deficiency law was affirmed on appeal.

BUSINESS LITIGATION

In Re: Nvidia Corporation, Inc. v. Extreme Networks, Inc. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-01-CV-803483). RHRC defended a multinational software company in a lease dispute. The settlement was confidential.

In Re: Tam v. Prestige Realty, et al. (Alameda County Superior Court Case #RG03080609). Arbitrated a case against sellers who tried to perform a "commissiondectomy" on the listing broker (refusing to pay the broker for services). The broker had an exclusive listing agreement and diligently marketed the property. Sellers, unbeknownst to the broker, entered into a purchase contract with one prospective buyer directly, cheating the broker of her commission. The broker sued for her full commission plus attorney's fees. After two days of arbitration, sellers realized they were losing the case and agreed to a mutually satisfactory settlement.

In Re: Mimosa Capital Partners v. Scott (mediation). Represented purchasers of a funeral home business who were defrauded by the seller regarding the business relationships, income, and expenses. Through mediation, we succeeded in reducing the original purchase price by 50% and securing financing terms more favorable to our clients.

In Re: Assadi-Jozani v. Prevedello, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 794028). On the eve of trial, the firm obtained a confidential settlement for a commercial landlord whose tenant attempted to claim that his rent payments were actually mortgage payments due to a series of oral representations.

In Re: Zaccor, et al. v. Marguerit (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV771883). Represented business owners whose bookkeeper embezzled nearly $1 million from half a dozen business and personal accounts over a 15-year period. Using a forensic accountant to trace the embezzled money, we collected $200,000 from the former employee.

In Re: Overland Development v. Gilroy Presbyterian Church (binding arbitration). Represented a developer in an action against a church for breach of contract and specific performance on a land sale agreement. The case resulted in an award in excess of $1 million.

In Re: Mullin v. Benaron, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #CIV 431399). Settled case in mid-arbitration in favor of sellers of residential real property, who were sued by their buyer for failing to disclose foundation issues. After the buyer's deposition was taken, he settled for a complete walkaway.

In Re: Kennedy v. Nakai, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #413396). Represented an elderly Japanese couple in a legal malpractice action. When a developer wanted to buy their small nursery in Palo Alto for residential purposes, they hired an inexperienced attorney who failed to advise them how to evaluate the prospective buyer and what terms and conditions should be included in the purchase agreement. When buyer failed to perform on time, our clients wanted to cancel the deal, and buyer sued them. After settling that action in our clients' favor, we sued their former attorney; his insurance company paid the policy limits and reimbursed our clients for all damages they incurred.

In Re: The Ridgecrest Group, Inc. v. Aghili (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #415942). Represented a group of plaintiffs relating to a breach of partnership agreement claim relating to the purchase, development, and construction of residential property in Menlo Park. The Court awarded plaintiffs in excess of $200,000.

In Re: Ward v. Fox, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #413014). Defended a multi-million-dollar mortgage loan company in an action brought by a former principal who sued for alleged breach of an employment agreement. The mortgage loan business cross-complained for breach of promissory notes signed in its favor by the former principal. Successfully negotiated a resolution of the disputes.

In Re: Dowd v. Flagstar Corporation, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 769441). Defended a corporation owning over 3,000 restaurants against a property owner and landlord who was trying to terminate one restaurant's lease, prevailing at trial and obtaining all the corporation's attorneys' fees from the property owner.

CONSTRUCTION DEFECT LITIGATION

In Re: Jonathan v. Prawat (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-01-CV800177). Defended a homeowner in an action by a contractor seeking $400,000 arising out of a construction contract. The firm cross-complained against the contractor, seeking damages for fraud, and won a judgment including attorneys' fees in excess of $900,000.

In Re: Hogue v. Myer, et al. (binding arbitration). Prosecuted a case for buyers who discovered that their high-end home in the Los Gatos Foothills had non-disclosed defects which would cost at least $150,000 to repair. Obtained a judgment in the buyers' favor for the difference between what they paid for the property and its actual worth its true condition.

In Re: Hewell & Sheedy v. Fayram (binding arbitration). Represented a builder and obtained all damages sought against a homeowner who failed to pay for change orders in a home remodeling project.

TAX ASSESSMENT APPEALS

In Re: Spieker v. County of Santa Clara Tax Assessor's Appeals. Obtained a settlement from the County Assessor reducing valuation of property by approximately $700,000.

PRO BONO WORK

In Re: Anderson, et al. v. Manseau, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV701628). Provided pro bono representation in an action to secure a bicyclist/equestrian/walking trail, which resulted in securing a trail administered by the MidPeninsula Open Space District.