Practice Areas & Industries: Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP


Business and Complex Litigation Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Hill Farrer & Burrill LLP has substantial experience in complex and difficult business disputes and litigation. We have been asked to step in to take massive cases to trial after other firms have started, and in some cases, completed discovery. These cases, often involving thousands of exhibits and weeks of trial, are often "bet the company" cases. We have a great track record in the trial and pre-trial resolution of such disputes.

Representative Matters

  • Represented a general contractor in a dispute with a project owner and its lender on a significant construction project in West Los Angeles. The project involved renovation and construction of an apartment tower and an adjacent mixed use building, and the lender sought to foreclose on the property. On behalf of his general contractor client, Mr. Porter mounted an attack against the construction lender on the issue of lien priority, asserting that the contractor’s mechanics lien was perfected before the construction lender recorded its lien. He ultimately filed a motion for judgment to establish the contractor’s mechanics’ lien priority. Throughout the case, Mr. Porter took on the lead role of coordinating a unified approach to the litigation, working with the numerous sub-contractor attorneys in an effort to control the litigation so as to maximize efficiencies for the contractors, and avoid unnecessary discovery and expense. While the motion for summary judgment was still spending, Mr. Porter negotiated a $1.3 million settlement for his general contractor client, with the settlement proceeds paid to the client and its subcontractors out of escrow in the sale of the building.
  • In re Heritage Bond Litigation 546 F.3d 667 (9th Cir 2008): Represented trust company in the defense of multiple class actions and individual cases, in federal and state courts, alleging claims on different theories arising out of defaulted municipal bonds, including cases consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, in which actual damages in excess of $150 million were alleged. Appeal involved the scope of bar orders issued by the trial court.
  • Represented founder and large shareholder of manufacturing company in the defense of securities litigation arising out of a “going private” transaction.
  • Represented trust company in the defense of multiple consolidated class actions and related individual actions, in California and Montana state courts, alleging claims on a number of different theories arising out of defaults on certain trusts, in which actual damages in excess of $125 million were alleged.
  • Obtained $3.5 million judgment in favor of a Pediatric Oncologist following a week-long binding arbitration on the physician’s claims against her former medical partnership and its managing partner for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. The judgment included an award of $400,000 in punitive damages.
  • Following 3-week jury trial obtained judgment in favor of former President of a national Bank, who had been sued by the Bank for $18 million based on charges he violated U.S. Banking Regulations “Q” and “Z.”  Client obtained defense verdict on the Bank’s claim and a $2.5 million verdict in his favor on the cross-complaint filed on his behalf against the Bank for its failure to indemnify him with regard to prior proceeding instituted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Represented insured party in lawsuit against insurer and subcontractor involving insurer’s bad faith denial of insurance coverage and subcontractor’s negligence and breach of indemnification agreement. Lawsuit also included insured’s claims for business interference arising out of its client’s termination of service agreement due to insurer’s and subcontractor’s failure to pay out damage caused to aerospace plant facilities by subcontractor.  After mediation and subsequent settlement discussions, obtained favorable settlement.
  • Represented major chemical distributor in several complex litigation cases alleging claims for strict products liability, breach of implied warranty, and negligence. After protracted litigation, successfully negotiated settlements involving nominal monetary amounts when damages alleged by the Plaintiffs for toxic exposure to chemicals exceeded millions of dollars in each case.
  • In trifurcated trials on behalf of a water district against its joint venture partner in a 99 year power generation project, obtained successful decision in first trial preventing application of the statute of limitations, allowing client to seek contract damages for past 65 years of contract performance. In the second phase trial, successfully established liability under the contract for various types of damages. In the damages and accounting phase of trial, obtained judgment in favor of client. After successfully defending the appeal, client received $26 million.
  • Represented defendant banking institution in class action suit brought by beneficiaries of structured settlement trusts who alleged that the bank had allowed more than $100 million in trust assets to be improperly transferred.  Was a member of the team that obtained a favorable resolution on behalf of the bank.
  • Served as lead counsel for plaintiff manufacturer of stainless steel products that were sold to the United States Government for military purposes in an action against a competitor for intentional interference with contract and related business torts. Tried the case to a successful verdict in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and prevailed on the subsequent appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
  • Served as lead counsel for defendant national railroad in a breach of contract and declaratory relief claim relating to a public agency’s rights to operate commuter trains on rail lines owned by the railroad. The potential exposure to the railroad exceeded $100 million. Obtained a defense verdict for the railroad in arbitration which included the recovery of $581,000 in fees and costs.