John R. Clifford: Lawyer with Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP

John R. Clifford


Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • e-Discovery
  • Employment & Labor
  • General Liability & Casualty
  • Insurance & Reinsurance Coverage
  • Product Liability
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Employee Benefits
Contact InfoTelephone: 619.881.3320
Fax: 619.321.6201
University California State University, Chico, B.A., with honors, 1982
Law SchoolUniversity of San Francisco School of Law, J.D., with honors, 1986
Admitted1986, California; U.S. District Court, Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Memberships & Affiliations

San Diego County Bar Association
International Association of Defense Counsel
Defense Research Institute, Past Board Member, 2007-2009
Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, Past President, 2007-2008
Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, Board Member, 2002-2003
San Diego Defense Lawyers, Past President, 2002-2003


John Clifford is an experienced trial attorney who has a diverse trial practice representing clients in employment disputes, construction accidents and complex civil litigation, as well as product liability, professional liability and general liability matters. He is known for his ability to deal effectively with sensitive issues, building trust and presenting a seamless defense.

John is a third-generation lawyer with more than 25 years of experience. One of ten siblings, he was exposed early to the legal paradigm and has developed a focused approach that enables him to quickly dissect a case and determine a highly effective strategy.

John is a past president of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (ADTA), an organization of exceptional defense trial attorneys in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. John is also the past president of San Diego Defense Lawyers (SDDL) and recently completed a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Defense Research Institute (DRI).

Awards & Distinctions

AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Rated by American Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell as a Top Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment, 2013
Selected for inclusion in San Diego Super Lawyers, 2007, 2009-2012, 2014-2015

Areas of Focus

Employment & Labor
John's employment practice includes representing clients in cases pending in both state and federal courts and before administrative agencies, including the EEOC, the DFEH and the NLRB. John is regularly called upon to provide guidance to clients with employment concerns in an effort to avoid litigation.

John's experience includes defending contractors and equipment manufacturers in construction accident lawsuits involving injured workers and wrongful death claims. He also represents owners, developers, manufacturers, contractors, and design professionals and their insurers in construction defect lawsuits.

John's transportation cases include the defense of high-exposure personal injury claims, long-haul trucking claims, and damage in transit and packaging claims.

General Liability / Premises
John's clients include insured and self-insured commercial businesses, restaurants, transportation companies, schools and public and private landlords. He defends against personal injury and property damage claims as well as security breaches. A significant part of John's practice is defending schools, religious institutions, and non-profit agencies against allegations of sexual misconduct by their employees. John understands the delicate balance in handling these potentially explosive matters.

Product Liability
John defends product liability cases brought against domestic and international corporations that manufacture or distribute consumer products, medical devices, construction and industrial equipment, recreational products, swimming pool products and household appliances. He makes it a point to know his clients and their operations and stays abreast of the latest government and industry compliance standards.

Professional Liability
Throughout his career, John has defended a variety of professionals, including real estate agents, insurance agents and medical professionals.


Additional Events

Moderator, “What Manufacturers/Insurers Look for in the Retention of Counsel in the United States and Europe,” 2007 Joint International Conference, London, England


Legal Insights Publishes Two Articles by Wilson Elser Partners

April 25, 2013

Wilson Elser Partners Named 2013 Top Lawyers in San Diego

March 18, 2013

San Diego Team Gets Dismissal in Action Involving Construction Defect

March 14, 2011 John R. Clifford and Allison L. Jones obtained a voluntary dismissal of a construction defect action involving a high rise condominium project in San Diego.

Clifford and Cumba Win Dismissal of Product Suit in Scooter Accident

March 4, 2011 John R. Clifford and Deborah A. Cumba obtained a dismissal with prejudice of a wrongful death product liability action at the outset of litigation. The product involved was a motorized scooter distributed by Wilson Elser's client.


Product Liability Newsletter

Circumstantial Evidence & Jurisdictional Defense

October 2011

The October issue of the Product Liability Newsletter highlights a California case in which the Court of Appeal overturned a decision that would require corporations to bring witnesses from other states or abroad for depositions or trials. Two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with jurisdictional defenses. Other articles cover the influence of circumstantial evidence on product defect and causation in a Connecticut case and the defense of “inherently dangerous products” in New York.

Product Liability Newsletter

December 2009

Comparative responsibility is not admissible to apportion liability for enhanced injury. Bartkowiak v. Regeneration Technologies, Inc.: Fourth Department affirms dismissal of plaintiff's complaint in bone implantation case. CPSC finds a strong association with imported Chinese drywall and toxic fumes. The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Bill S. 1606 of 2009. Hot liquid liability: decision on Starbucks Corporation's motion for summary judgment in Moltner v. Starbucks.

Reported CasesRepresentative Matters: Defended a commercial real estate developer/property owner in a claim alleging contaminated water involving more than 90 plaintiffs. Obtained a defense verdict for the client and recovered more than $900,000 on the indemnity claim for his client. Defended a non-profit social service agency in a claim alleging sexual misconduct regarding a developmentally disabled client by an employee. Resolved the claim professionally and with sensitivity. Defended more than a dozen claims of alleged sexual misconduct for a religious institution arising out of the amendment to California's statute of limitations in 2002. Successfully defended an optical lens manufacturer on a $27 million warranty claim involving an early generation cellular camera device. Represented a national tool manufacturer on multiple claims involving a plumbing tool, including successful defense of a class action lawsuit.

Documents by this lawyer on

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Fourth District Reverses Lower Court Ruling in Construction Defect Litigation
John R. Clifford,Edward P. Garson,Gregory D. Hagen,Ian A. Stewart, March 5, 2015
On January 22, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeals issued for publication its decision in McMillin Companies LLC v. American Safety Indemnity Company, 4th Dist. Div. 1, D063586.

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Office Information

John R. Clifford

655 West Broadway, Suite 900
San DiegoCA 92101-8484


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