Stephen G. Hammers is an Orange County litigation attorney and principal of Hammers PC in Newport Beach, California. Prior to opening Hammers PC, Mr. Hammers managed the litigation department of one of Orange County’s older business, trust and estate firms, representing local and international entrepreneurs and businesses in a wide assortment of legal matters. Mr. Hammers has 26 years experience in the areas of general business and real estate law and has tried cases to verdict in most State and Federal Courts of California. He represents national and local businesses, commercial developers and real estate professionals, but also champions the causes of individuals and small business owners. A significant number of Mr. Hammers’ business and real estate cases have been tried to juries, where he has enjoyed a 95% success rate. Some of these verdicts and awards may be reviewed here.
Mr. Hammers is an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County Bar Associations. He has lectured on business and real estate issues, including varied topics in commercial and residential real estate. He has been a guest speaker on the issues of Secured Transactions and Anti-Deficiency Legislation at the Southwestern Law School and has served as a volunteer Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Mr. Hammers is a member of the Loyola Law School Board of Directors and Loyola’s Juris Society.
Verdicts & Settlements
List of Recent Verdicts (Partial)
Client Homeowner/Developer v. Bhakta
Case No. 30-2012-00600613
Verdict (Judge Chaffee): In favor of Plaintiff, Represented by Mr. Hammers
Mr. Hammers represented a residential homeowner/developer with respect to a home remodel and use of an easement in Irvine, California. The Defendant neighbor had grown tired of construction activity by Mr. Hammers’ client in an easement area wherein the neighbor was the dominant tenement (had the right of use, but not ownership) and Mr. Hammers’ client was the servient landowner. During construction, the neighbor precluded use of the easement, claiming that the homeowner had exceeded the use permitted of the servient owner in the grant of easement. Mr. Hammers filed an application for a preliminary injunction requiring the neighbor to allow the homeowner access to the easement. Judge Moberly issued the injunction. Meanwhile, homeowner had also discovered multiple instances of water intrusion into the home, so Mr. Hammers also sought a mandatory and permanent injunction precluding wrongful discharge of surface waters in the easement area by the neighbor. The neighbor cross-complained for interference with his property rights and injury to real property. He sought hundreds of thousands in damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief therewith. After several days of testimony, the court found in favor of Mr. Hammers’ client, issuing permanent, mandatory and prohibitory injunctions in favor of the homeowner, as well as attorney’s fees. All claims on the neighbor’s cross-complaint were denied. The neighbor then appealed to the California Court of Appeal, Case No. G049734. Mr. Hammers again represented Plaintiff on the appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment in every respect on July 16, 2015, awarding costs of appeal to Mr. Hammers’ client.
Trust v. Briggs, Briggs Ventures, Inc.
Case No. 30-2010-00392622
Verdict (Judge Makino): In favor of Plaintiff Trust, Represented by Mr. Hammers
Mr. Hammers represented a Trust with regard to a series of coin transactions that resulted in a loss of $410,000.00. The manner in which the transactions were handled appeared fraudulent. Representatives of Briggs Ventures sold several rare coins to the Trust over a period of six months. Briggs also assisted the Trust in purchasing over a half million in gold bullion. After earning the trust and confidence of the trustee, the Briggs representatives offered to make a trade with the trustee. Briggs would provide a rare, numismatic, platinum coin, dated 1850, in exchange all the gold bullion and rare coins purchased by the Trust. Briggs claimed that the numismatic coin was worth more than $1 Million on the open market. To further encourage the Trust to complete the transaction, Briggs also offered to market the numismatic coin at a number of trade shows, and through various internet sites. Briggs failed to follow through on the promises to market the coin, and the Trust ended up selling the coin at public auction for only $120,000.00. At trial, the Court awarded Mr. Hammers’ client $410,000.00 in compensatory damages, $1 Million in punitive damages and $92,000.00 in prejudgment interest.
Commercial Owner v. Developer
JAMS Arbitration; Case No. 1200040344
Award: In favor of Petitioner, Represented by Mr. Hammers
Action on damages for $1.7 Million on a claim for breach of contract, and defense of a cross-claim seeking $7.5 Million in unjust enrichment damages and breach of fiduciary duty. Mr. Hammers represented the landowner, which had entered a “Master Agreement” and various related agreements with the Developer. Pursuant to the terms of the Master Agreement, developer was required to entitle and sell various portions of the owner’s property, consisting of hundreds of acres of undeveloped land near the San Francisco Bay. The Master Agreement provided for a division of sales proceeds in stages, with proceeds to be distributed to either the owner or the developer over a lengthy period of time. Developer had the right of assignment under these agreements, and did assign, various rights and obligations to third parties. The Master Agreement was amended three times in writing. Developer alleged it was also amended orally, and that these amendments changed the relationship between the parties. Over time, argued the developer, the parties became fiduciaries of one another, owing one another heightened obligations and duties. Owner argued that no such relationship arose between the parties, and that Developer should pay all sales proceeds owing under the Master Agreement. The Arbitrator agreed, and awarded the landowner $1.7 in damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs exceeding $500,000. All sums sought by Developer on its Cross-claims ($7.5 Million) were denied.
Charles Dunn Company v. Kymm Trust
Case No. 73-115-00065-07 BRBA, AAA Arbitration, Panel of Three
Award: In Favor of Charles Dunn Company, Represented by Mr. Hammers,
Action on a listing contract involving sale of a $10,500,000.00 building in Westminster, CA on Goldenwest Circle. The Kymm Trust retained Charles Dunn Company (“Dunn”), Mr. Hammers’ client, to list and sell the Property. Dunn’s agent entered an exclusive listing agreement with the Kymms, who were sophisticated real estate owners and developers. The listing was for four months and required purchase by either of two named buyers. The Dunn agent brought one of those two buyers to the Kymms for the purchase, with an offer of $10,400,000.00. The Kymms then stated that they wanted the agent to find a 1031 tax exchange property (an “upleg”), although that requirement was not set forth in the Listing Agreement with Dunn. The Dunn agent therefore entered a separate Listing Agreement with the Kymm Trust, as a “buyer’s agent,” and began searching for an upleg property. Although several properties were identified to the Kymms, they never settled on any. Neither of the listing agreements resulted in a sale. The Dunn agent requested that the Kymms pay the commission on the first listing, which was $416,000.00. The Kymms declined, claiming that the Dunn agent had misrepresented the potential purchase price of the upleg property, and had taken other action in breach of his fiduciary duty. Dunn then filed the Demand for Arbitration with AAA. The Arbitration Panel awarded Dunn the entire commission, as well as all attorneys’ fees and costs. Total award issued was $461,290.50.
Chicago Title Company v. Alpine-Rivera, LLC, H. Wayne Klekamp, Inc., Destiny-Phoenix, et.al. 05CC02630
Verdict (Judge), in favor of defendant H. Wayne Klekamp, Inc., represented by Stephen Hammers
Interpleader action involving an $11 Million contract for the sale of property located in Texas, California and Arizona. Buyer H. Wayne Klekamp, Inc., an Ohio corporation, represented by Mr. Hammers, claimed breach of warranty during escrow, alleging high nitrate levels in the water at the property in Arizona. Buyer alleged that it discovered the claim after expiration of its due diligence period under the purchase contract. Seller, represented by the New York and Los Angeles offices of Steptoe & Johnson, claimed that buyer had notice of the claim before it signed the contract. It alleged further that the purported breach was not material and/or buyer failed to cooperate with seller’s right to bond off the issue under the purchase agreement. Seller claimed that a fix of the problem was available for less than $90K, a relatively small sum in light of the total purchase price of the properties. Chicago Title deposited buyer’s earnest monies into court (interpleaded the funds) and buyer and seller went to trial over entitlement to the funds. Testimony was taken from a number of witnesses, including buyer, seller, seller’s counsel and officials of the County of Maricopa (AZ) and City of Goodyear. The trial court found in favor of buyer H. Wayne Klekamp, Inc., directing that all interpleaded funds be returned to buyer. Seller appealed, Fourth Circuit Case No. G039158. Buyer Klekamp, represented by Mr. Hammers, also prevailed on appeal.
E&R Liquor Partnership Dispute (Sabbagh v. Isak and Hachicho) KC045449
Verdict (Jury): in favor of defendant, represented by Stephen Hammers
Mr. Hammers represented defendants in a partnership dissolution and breach of contract matter, involving real estate and a liquor business. Plaintiff alleged he was wrongfully ousted from the partnership and denied hundreds of thousands in net profit. He alleged further that defendants had engaged in the sale of counterfeit merchandise. After the jury found for defendants, Court awarded defendants cancellation of partnership documents and all attorneys’ fees and costs. Plaintiff appealed. Defendants prevailed on appeal and were again awarded costs on appeal.
Ventura Tarzana, LLC v. Computer Palace, Inc., Shamolian LC066533
Verdict (Judge): in favor of plaintiff, represented by Stephen Hammers
Mr. Hammers represented plaintiff in breach of contract action for sums owing on a commercial lease by defendant Computer Palace. Computer Palace alleged fraudulent CAM charges by plaintiff and its management company. Court found in favor of plaintiff on all claims and awarded plaintiff all attorneys’ fees and costs.
Lee v. Isak KC043708
Verdict (Jury): in favor of defendant, represented by Stephen Hammers
Mr. Hammers represented defendant buyer of real estate. Plaintiff alleged fraud, breach of contract, rescission and elder abuse in defendant’s purchase of commercial property. Plaintiff, a business man and senior citizen, alleged primarily that defendant had wrongfully withheld funds owing on the contract. Plaintiff sought approximately $500,000 in consequential damages, as well as additional punitive damages. Jury found in defendant’s favor on all claims. Court subsequently found in defendant’s favor on cross-action for wrongful dishonor of check, and awarded defendant attorneys’ fees and costs.
Developer v. Estate of Cojerean BC270041
Verdict (Jury): in favor of Plaintiff/Cross-defendant, represented by Stephen HammersMr. Hammers represented plaintiff/cross-defendant real estate developer, in an action for breach of contract. Plaintiff purchased vacant land in 1985 and gave seller Cojerean a note for $450,000. Plaintiff paid down a portion of the note in 1992. Cojerean died in 1996 and his Estate began accepting payments on remainder of note. Plaintiff had no records demonstrating the principal reduction, so Estate demanded full amount of the note. Plaintiff sued for breach of contract and Estate counter-claimed for fraud and negligence, with damages exceeding one million. Plaintiff prevailed on all claims, including defendant’s counter-claims, and obtained reduction of the note and award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Defendants appealed (B179001). Plaintiff prevailed on the appeal and again was awarded all his costs and fees
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