Representative Trial Experience—Energy
Lead trial counsel for a major California oil and gas producer in a four-day combined mandate and takings trial to avoid a regulatory taking of oil and gas operations valued in excess of $1 billion. The decision of the court was to invalidate, on constitutional and other grounds, Monterey County Measure Z, a voter-approved ballot measure designed to end oil and gas production in Monterey County. (2017)
Lead trial counsel for the private equity owners of a 400 MW power plant in a years-long contract and regulatory dispute over who will bear hundreds of millions of dollars in costs imposed by California’s landmark greenhouse gas legislation, AB 32. The litigation included a five-day arbitration before a panel of three arbitrators, subsequent trial and appellate court litigation in which the courts twice vacated adverse decisions, and advocacy before the California Air Resources Board and California Public Utilities Commission. See Panoche Energy Center, LLC v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 1 Cal. App. 5th 68 (2016). Ultimately the matter was resolved favorably before the California Air Resources Control Board.
Representative Trial Experience—Real Estate
Lead trial counsel on behalf of a developer to defend California Environmental Quality Act litigation filed to challenge the City of Berkeley’s approval of the downtown Berkeley Plaza project, an 18-story mixed-use building with 302 apartment units, 20,000 square feet of cinema space, 10,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space, and 170 parking spaces. Successfully defended the two lawsuits challenging the project, including trial, within ten months. (2016)
Lead trial counsel for the developer of a 50-acre mixed-use project in a six-week bench trial against a municipality in a breach of contract/inverse condemnation action to recover over $1 million incurred by the developer to install storm water infrastructure improvements benefiting the municipality. (2014)
Representative Trial Experience—Commercial Disputes
Acted as lead U.S. counsel for Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain), B.S.C., and its senior executives in a global dispute involving interrelated legal proceedings in Bahrain, New Zealand and California. Obtained the dismissal of a $62 million lender liability lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleging breach of fiduciary duties and concealment claims relating to the plaintiff’s entering into a Sharia law-compliant commercial financing transaction, the enforcement of which in Bahrain resulted in a $3.4 million judgment issued by the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, a commercial tribunal established by decree of the King of Bahrain in partnership with the American Arbitration Association. Employing an often-misunderstood aspect of California law, obtained a significant attorneys’ fee award in favor of Manatt’s defendant clients that was upheld on appeal in the Ninth Circuit (Teece v. Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain) B.S.C., 667 Fed. Appx. 931 (2017)).
Led a team of Manatt attorneys representing the former owners of D&D Tire, a regional tire retailer and distributor, in litigating a major M&A dispute venued in Reno, Nevada, ultimately to a settlement on the brink of trial. The sale of the D&D Tire business closed in 2008, just before the onset of the global economic crisis, with millions of dollars of the purchase price deferred, subject to post-closing performance under an earn-out agreement. Despite D&D Tire hitting all the requisite earnings milestones, Purcell refused to pay the balance of the purchase price, claiming that the value of D&D’s business had eroded since the deal closed. After more than two years of arbitration conducted by the accounting firm Grant Thornton and a host of depositions across the United States and in Mexico, the matter was resolved on terms favorable to Manatt’s clients. (2011)
Represented actor Robin Williams’ trustees in resolving the highly publicized probate court dispute concerning the authority of the trustees, the disposition of Mr. Williams’ personal residence and his bequests of tangible personal property to his children. Under intense media scrutiny, negotiated a settlement confirming the trustees’ authority, addressing the personal residence and confirming the trustees’ decisions regarding Mr. Williams’ tangible personal property. (2015)
Notable Experience—Real Estate and Environmental
Provided sophisticated litigation expertise to a buyer in the $64 million acquisition of a city block in downtown San Jose, California, including the obsolete Valley Title office building, through a complex off-market transaction. For more than 70 years, the site had been owned by a California general partnership, with fee title held and controlled by the majority partner in an entity outside the partnership, essentially rendering the site unmarketable. The owner’s partners were deeply engaged in fiercely contested litigation and arbitration against each other, the partnership’s accountants and the court-appointed receiver for the seller/partnership, with allegations of fraud and theft of partnership profits among many other claims. Managed difficult negotiations between the parties to the pending litigation, brokered and documented a settlement to enable a timely closing, and coordinated the issuance of a court order discharging the receiver concurrent with the partnership interest and real estate closings. (2018)
Successfully represented the owner of a remote, aging 40-unit residential housing development in a complex series of disputes initiated when the state water board issued water code violation citations. Consequently, the county ordered the tenants to vacate the property and sued the owner, alleging additional code violations and nuisance conditions at the property. The mortgage lender then commenced foreclosure proceedings, and a group of the tenants sued the owner. The matters were resolved by negotiating the settlement of the administrative enforcement actions, the settlement of lawsuits and the lender foreclosure, and the sale of the property to a buyer that intends to restore the property to open space. (2018)
In a representation spanning two decades for an industrial real estate owner/investor, led the resolution of a complex environmental matter concerning significant environmental contamination caused by former tenants. The primary litigation was a 12-party federal court CERCLA litigation to resolve cleanup cost liability for extensive chlorinated solvent contamination in groundwater, soil and air at our client’s warehouse site, a case that ultimately required over 75 days of deposition. Negotiated with EPA to avoid listing of the property as a federal Superfund site, negotiated numerous cleanup orders with a local regulatory agency, negotiated forgiveness of secured debt against the property and temporarily eliminated the client’s property tax liability. Addressed claims of neighboring property owners arising from environmental contamination concerns. Successfully pursued insurance recovery litigation against multiple carriers. Ultimately worked to settle the cost recovery litigation by generating a multimillion-dollar fund from the potentially responsible parties and their insurers, leading to the negotiation of a guaranteed remediation contract backed by environmental insurance to effectuate the cleanup of the site. After the environmental engineering firm subsequently defaulted, obtained a court-issued affirmative preliminary injunction ordering the environmental engineering firm to continue remediation under its guaranteed contract. After decades of ownership, a series of difficult and expensive litigations, and constant dealings with environmental regulators, negotiated and closed the sale of the client’s site on favorable terms to a REIT specializing in industrial properties, with no impairment to value due to the ongoing contamination and with multiple layers of environmental insurance to protect our client/seller. (2015)
Teece v. Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain) B.S.C., 667 Fed.Appx. 931 (9th Cir. 2016).
Panoche Energy Center, LLC v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 1 Cal.App.5th 68 (2016).
Fleur du Lac Estates Assn. v. Mansouri, 205 Cal.App.4th 249 (2012).
Mansouri v. Superior Court (Fleur du Lac Estates Assn.), 181 Cal.App.4th 633 (2010).
Markstein v. Countryside I, L.L.C., 77 P.3d 389; 2003 WY 122 (Sup. Ct. WY 2003).