George Soneff is a partner in the Los Angeles office and leads the real estate litigation practice. He has over 30 years' experience in complex litigation in state and federal courts, and administrative tribunals. He has an extensive background handling real property litigation, including real estate development and valuation, land use restrictions and governmental regulation of property rights, eminent domain/inverse condemnation, ownership disputes, construction-related claims, water rights, and insurance. His clients have included major real estate developers, utilities, energy companies, banks, and individuals from a variety of industries. George has:
- Achieved large verdicts and settlements for property owners in eminent domain trials. His verdicts include a $43.2 million award in Domenigoni v. Metropolitan Water District (at the time, the largest award in the history of Riverside County), a $21.9 million award in LAUSD v. 3434 So. Grand Ave., and the valuation phase of a $55.1 million verdict in People ex rel. Dept. of Transportation v. Southern California Edison Co. He has obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements in other cases over the years, as well as settlements which resulted in conveyance of property rights and alteration of development restrictions.
- Represented utilities in municipalization litigation, including litigation involving the jurisdiction of Local Agency Formation Commissions and the California Public Utilities Commission, competing public use claims, and valuation of utility assets. Experience includes defense of efforts to municipalize operations owned by PG&E, Golden State Water Co., and California Water Service Co.
- Served as lead counsel in the investigation and litigation of widely-publicized cases involving performance of medium- and high-rise steel frame buildings in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, resulting in large settlements and impacting changes to building codes regarding seismic safety. He has also achieved success in construction-related cases involving compliance with prevailing wage laws, state contractors licensing laws, and engineering malpractice actions.
- Prosecuted and defended inverse condemnation for physical damage, and regulatory takings which impose development restrictions in violation of investment-backed expectations. Cases include challenges to slow growth ordinances and general plan and zoning provisions, damages involving earth movement and flood control, and impacts from highway and railroad operations.
- Prosecuted and defended litigation involving California Coastal Commission action regulating development, as well as enforcement actions involving alleged Coastal Act violations. Cases include actions against the California Coastal Commission establishing limits on the Commission's power over local government exercise of police powers, successful defense of approval for $600 million coastal project in Orange County, determination of environmentally sensitive habitat, and standards for approval of Local Coastal Programs.
- Prosecuted and defended cases involving alleged fraudulent real estate transactions, violation of non-circumvention agreements, breach of covenants, overburdening of easements, rescission and reformation, valuation of mineral rights, and partnership disputes.
- Obtained substantial recoveries for insurance proceeds due under commercial general liability and property insurance policies, including business interruption environmental liability claims. Cases include litigation over damage to major industrial facilities and liabilities associated with catastrophic incidents such as trail derailment and pipeline explosion.
Clients he has represented include Pacific Gas & Electric Co., The Regents of the University of California, Bank of the West, California Water Service Co., Golden State Water Co., Liberty Utilities,, California-American Water, Northrop Grumman, AMB Property Corp., Headlands Reserve LLC, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, International Technology Corporation, Lehman Brothers, Legacy Partners, Caruso Affiliated, KB Home, Syncon Homes, Hearthside Homes, Rhodes Homes, Regency Outdoor Advertising, Southern California Edison, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority,, St. John's Hospital and Peabody Western Coal Company.
George frequently lectures on California Coastal Act litigation and a broad range of real property and insurance matters.