Litigation—whether it involves a purchase and sale contract, partnership agreement, commercial lease, property insurance policy, property tax assessment, design-build contract or title documents—is part of the real estate landscape. Typically beginning with a transaction of some sort, many factors, from boundary disputes to zoning denials, loan defaults to construction disagreements, may then lead to a situation requiring litigation. The complexities and financial risks involved require experienced professionals who understand sophisticated deal, financing and ownership structures, as well as the unique rules and regulations that apply to real estate, to help clients achieve the most favorable outcomes.
A multidisciplinary approach
Real estate litigation is a true “subject matter” practice where having access to know-how in many different disciplines is key to resolving disputes. Our team harnesses the power of our leading real estate and land use group—as well as top lawyers from related practices, as needed—to provide clients with seamlessly integrated counsel.
Tough when tough is called for
We understand that our approach reflects as much on our client's business as it does on us. By starting with a goal of achieving win-win solutions, we embody our client's business philosophy. And rest assured, when a tougher stance is required, we do tough as well as any firm. We know how and when to turn up the heat, leading to effective resolutions.
When an existing development implodes, we can manage all the real estate issues involved as well as construction disputes with laid-off contractors and unions, the environmental impact of the unfinished property, bankruptcy proceedings, insurance claims and investor payouts.
Covering the full spectrum
With our broad scope of experience, we can assemble a team to suit your specific needs and achieve your unique goals. The matters we have handled for clients are as varied as the properties, developments, transactions and financings that make up the field of real estate. The common ground is that for all our clients, we focus on an effective strategy that often means moving more capital into a project, limiting losses on a distressed project or collecting what is owed to our client. We create the most effective and efficient strategies for successfully resolving your real estate-related conflicts.
Who we work with
Our clients are diverse, ambitious and savvy. We work with some of the most successful people and firms in the U.S. and beyond: lenders, investors, developers, contractors, not-for-profits and entrepreneurs.
What we do
We've litigated a wide range of issues, including eminent domain, inverse condemnation, land use, construction defects, co-owner and partnership disputes, commercial evictions, homeowner conflicts, environmental issues, title insurance, zoning, planning, foreclosure, bankruptcy, fraud, property damage and insurance claim denial.
Our services include:
- Representation of lenders
- Bankruptcy and financial restructuring
- Construction disputes
- Environmental and toxic torts
- Land use
- Eminent domain
Our real estate litigation experience includes:
- Representation of lenders. We represent numerous banks and lenders, ranging from regional banks (especially in California) providing mortgage financing to large multinationals with portfolio assets. The matters often involve complex lender, guarantor and title issues. We deal with a wide array of distressed assets, including representing syndicators of low-income tax credits. For example, we secured summary judgment on behalf of Central Pacific Bank in a complex stop-notice case involving a failed residential development in Sacramento. The case centered on whether the stop notice was timely under a statutory deadline, and involved a set of highly complex factual and legal issues, including statutory interpretation and potentially conflicting case law.
- Bankruptcy and financial restructuring. We have advised lenders, investors and borrowers on litigation involving problem loans as well as pre- and post-bankruptcy matters, including foreclosure, lien enforcement proceedings and fraudulent conveyances.
- Construction disputes. When disputes arise between contractors, subcontractors, and public and private owners regarding construction, public works, infrastructure and transportation projects, our litigators work to bring them to a successful resolution.
- Environmental and toxic torts. We have counseled plaintiffs and defendants in numerous environmental contamination cases involving the disposal of hazardous waste, cleanup of contaminated properties, cost allocation, toxic torts, eminent domain actions, on- and off-site disposal practices, and potential liability to or from adjacent property owners.
- Land use. We advise and represent clients on the full range of land use, planning, zoning and environmental matters affecting real property development, including litigating many high-profile disputes involving large commercial and residential projects.
- In Yamagiwa v. City of Half Moon Bay, our land use and environmental litigators proved to the court that wetlands were caused by trapped water from a storm drain improperly built by the city itself. After we secured a jury verdict of $36.8 million, we agreed to settle the case for $18 million because payment of the full judgment would have bankrupted the city.
- On behalf of an international retail chain, after a successful outcome at trial, we successfully negotiated the settlement of six additional cases alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, allowing the client to begin construction of the stores years earlier than would have otherwise been permitted.
- We prevailed in a lawsuit alleging violations of CEQA and California zoning and planning laws on behalf of our client, the real party in interest, in connection with a proposed major retail chain store in the city of Lancaster.
- We prevailed in a summary judgment motion against the state of Nevada, invalidating a statute that effectively prohibited development of 2,400 acres. We then negotiated a settlement with Clark County that set the framework for approval of a master-planned development of the site.
- Eminent domain. We have extensive experience at both the trial and appellate levels in the litigation of eminent domain cases. On behalf of our clients, we have evaluated the public purpose for the forced acquisition of private property and taken appropriate steps to ensure adequate and just landowner compensation. We have also helped governments acquire property within reasonable budgets for large infrastructure, utility and redevelopment projects. We have represented property owners in many landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, including:
- Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 535 U.S. 302 (whether a land use moratorium is a taking of property must be decided on a case-by-case basis)
- City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687 (right to Seventh Amendment jury trial and Fifth Amendment compensation for regulatory taking)
- Preseault v. ICC, 494 U.S. 1 (federal "rails to trails" statute valid under Commerce Clause; however, compensation may be sought in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims under just compensation guarantee)
- First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v. County of Los Angeles, 482 U.S. 304 (1987) (Constitution requires just compensation for regulatory taking of property)
- Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. 255 (ripeness rules for regulatory taking cases)
- Orange County Transportation Authority v. OC Mills (litigation against OCTA for acquiring parking lot and a mall's lost revenue)