Ron Bushner heads a litigation team in the San Francisco office that handles a wide variety of cases. He has litigated cases throughout California in the state and federal systems, at both the trial and appellate levels. His practice focuses on catastrophic bodily injury and death cases under negligence and product liability theories, defense of employers in individual and class actions, professional liability cases, the full spectrum of marine-related claims and environmental contamination cases. Ron has made many presentations to industry groups ranging from the Surplus Lines Association of California to claims handlers for various insurers to local business associations.
Ron's approach to defense is to rely on the good judgment he has acquired over more than 30 years of practicing law. He assesses which strategy will lead to the most direct, cost-efficient path to resolution. Whenever possible, resolution is by settlement, and when necessary, by trial. Ron has tried many cases to verdict with favorable results for his clients. Earlier in his career, Ron was a member of the Oakland Police Department in the Patrol Division and a frequent instructor in its highly regarded training section.
Areas of Focus
General / Product Liability / Transportation
Ron has defended personal injury and death cases under general and products liability theories in a wide variety of transportation, construction and other industrial settings. Early in his career, when San Francisco and Oakland were still leading West Coast ports, Ron was principally a maritime attorney whose practice included defending bodily injury and death cases in blue water and brown water settings, defending a shipping conference in an antitrust case, prosecuting cargo claims, defending salvage cases, and handling collision cases. The maritime practice naturally expanded into truck and rail transportation matters that included defending a major northern California regional LTL carrier in an antitrust case, to handling bodily injury and death cases for trucking companies and railroad shippers, and to resolution of cargo-related claims. Ron's practice in the construction industry includes defending both general and subcontractors of many trades, particularly cranes, riggings and drilling companies, in the bodily injury and property damage/construction defect cases so prevalent in their industry.
With a growing number of regulations and laws on the books, Ron's clients encountered more and more employment-related claims. In response, his practice expanded to include defense of employers in discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination cases, as well as wage and hour and whistleblower cases as individual matters and, in several instances, as state and nationwide class actions.
Ron's practice includes professional liability defense ranging from traditional professionals (such as attorneys and real estate and insurance agents and brokers) to "new professionals" under miscellaneous professional liability policies. His client list includes lawyers, insurance agents and brokers, real estate agents and brokers, financial planners, plastic surgeons and dentists as well as businesses ranging from Internet services to landscaping and tree services to morticians to general and subcontractors in their roles as certifiers of equipment and personnel. In addition to handling professional liability cases at trial court level, Ron has defended trial court successes on appeal.
Litigation related to environmental contamination and toxins has grown at a rapid pace, as businesses come under greater scrutiny for their environmental practices and face potentially costly claims. Ron handles claims alleging ground water contamination from spills of MTBE, PCE, ethyl chloride and diesel oil, including contamination from underground storage tanks under both the California and federal environmental laws. Ron uses a well-developed and executed program of discovery that brings the majority of these cases to resolution during the pretrial stage, and he has tried CERCLA cases to judgment in the federal system.
Admiralty & Marine
After clerking in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Ron started his career at one of the leading maritime firms in San Francisco. Although the marine influence in Northern California has lessened over the years, at that time San Francisco/Oakland/Sacramento were important West Coast ports and ship repair was a significant industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the past 30 years, Ron has worked on the full spectrum of marine-related claims from salvage and collision and marine casualty to COGSA, DOHSA, the Jones Act and OPA.
The largest volume of work that has continued over time involves bodily injury cases that occur on or near the shore. In such cases Ron has defended ports (usually as a result of contractual indemnity obligations) from Crescent City near the Oregon border to San Diego and several in between, including Los Angeles and Long Beach. Ron has handled cases for marinas and other shore-side businesses with claims covered under marine policies.
When a case involves a plaintiff employed at a shoreline business or on a "brown water" vessel or platform (the so-called Twilight Zone), the civil action interacts with the federal (USL&H Act) and state compensation systems. This sometimes creates case management and insurance coverage issues due to the multiple jurisdictions involved in compensating the injury, but it also creates opportunities to provide innovative resolutions to cases with several participants.
Obtained Court of Appeals decision in one of the state's leading decisions on the application of the statute of limitations to legal malpractice claims.
Memberships & Affiliations
Association of Defense Counsel, Northern California
Professional Liability Underwriters Society (PLUS), Northern California Chapter Steering Committee
Awards & Distinctions
AV® Preeminent™ Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Rated by American Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell as a Top Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment, 2013
California Peace Officer Standards & Training (Basic and Intermediate Certificates)
Honorable Owen E. Woodruff, Jr., 1980-1981