Back to Back: Last week, on two successive days, ROCK attorneys Matt Malone and Jeff Cereghino settled two construction defect cases for two SOMA homeowners associations. The settlement amounts are confidential, however both cases involved complex ownership and insurance situations that are increasingly the norm.
In the first, ROCK forced the developer into arbitration, successfully opposed its motion to dismiss the entire case, and ultimately resolved the cases shortly before the scheduled arbitration. Many associations' governing documents have arbitration provisions, which the California Supreme Court has found to be enforceable. This case showed that these provisions, in some situations and if handled properly, may actually be beneficial to associations by allowing for earlier resolution without litigation.
In the second case, the developer went bankrupt, and had no viable insurance. ROCK brought claims against the successor to the foreclosing lender and the subcontractors. ROCK successfully opposed the lender's motion for summary judgment, in which it claimed it was not a "builder" under SB800. The case was hard fought, but by pushing for an early trial date, ROCK motivated the defendants to settle rather than face trial.
Construction Defect: San Francisco, 32 Units, Van Ness Ave. Partner Jeff Cereghino negotiated, as lead counsel, a $5,445,000 settlement for a six story condominium project in San Francisco. The settlement, at $170,000 per unit, is the largest per unit condominium settlement ever in Northern California. The claims included leaking windows, walls, balconies, walkways and roofs, among other claims. The settlement occurred shortly before trial, and after numerous depositions and motions. The settlement will allow the Association to repair the building and also recoup all expert costs and attorney fees.
Product Class Actions: Kitec Plumbing Systems. Partners Michael Ram and Jeff Cereghino are national lead class counsel in a multi-national class action involving claims concerning defective Kitec plumbing systems in more than 225,000 homes in the US and Canada. They negotiated a $125,000,000 settlement that provides a claim program assisting property owners in the repair of a defective Kitec plumbing system. The settlement was achieved after more than a year of negotiations, numerous depositions in various states, and detailed expert analysis of the failure mechanisms.
Automotive Class Action: Toyota RAV-4. Partners Jeff Cereghino and Mike Ram are class counsel in a national class action against Toyota Motor Company for defects in the transmission and electronic control modules in 235,000 RAV-4 vehicles manufactured in 2001-2003. Cereghino and Ram were instrumental in achieving a settlement with Toyota that provided a warranty extension and reimbursement of prior repairs for both past and present owners. To date Toyota has reimbursed owners almost $10,000,000 and provided repairs valued at $25,000,000.
Construction Defect: San Francisco 16 units. Partner Jeff Cereghino recently negotiated a $750,000 settlement for a 14-unit, four-story condominium project located on Third Street in San Francisco. The claims included leaks in windows, balconies and the roof. The settlement funds will allow the owners to fully repair their building, and pay for all attorney's fees and expert costs.
Public Records: Los Angeles Pensions. Partner Karl Olson represented the Los Angeles Times in a successful Public Records Act lawsuit winning access to the details of pensions paid to tens of thousands of Los Angeles County retirees. Olson's success in this case follows victories in similar Public Records Act cases brought on behalf of the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers.