Recent Firm News

Breaking Good

Chris Beeman and Ashley Meyers recently won a motion for Nonsuit in Napa County Superior Court. The case involved an allegation of negligent property management against our firm’s client, whose adult son was using and selling methamphetamines and was involved in burglarizing and then burning down the Plaintiffs’ vacation home in Napa.

Our client lived with her adult son at a home owned by her parents. Plaintiffs argued that the Defendant was acting as a property manager and that she had an obligation to investigate suspicions regarding her son’s drug use and possession of stolen property, which they allege was stored at her home where her son lived. Plaintiffs further contended that she had an obligation to either evict her son or to contact the police based on her suspicions. After the Plaintiffs’ case in chief, the Court rejected the Plaintiffs’ argument and granted the Motion for Nonsuit. The Court determined that no duty exists for property managers which would extend to crimes which occurred outside the managed property. The Court also found that, under the Rowland v. Christian factors, balancing the burden on the Defendant with the foreseeability of the injury, the burden on a parent to evict her adult child or to report him to the police was substantial and the act of residential burglary and arson were not adequately foreseeable to overcome that significant burden. Based on these factors, the Court determined that the Plaintiffs had not established the existence of a duty owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiffs, and dismissed their case.

Assumption of Risk

Ashley Meyers and Team Beeman obtained summary judgment in favor of the firm’s client, a snowboarder who collided with a skier in a “blind spot” on a ski run at Squaw Valley. The skier sustained severe orthopedic injuries, and alleged that the snowboarder was acting recklessly at the time of the collision. We successfully argued for the application of the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk and established that neither the snowboarder’s speed nor his trajectory increased the risks inherent in the sport.

Vucinich Throws a No-Hit Double Header!

After a four week jury trial, Founding Partner Jeff Vucinich obtained a defense verdict in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of an East Bay municipality. Plaintiff claimed that he was injured while riding his bicycle across a highway overpass and was struck from behind by a motor vehicle. The road had been designated by the municipality as a bicycle route. Plaintiff claimed that the roadway was a dangerous condition and that the designation of a bicycle route across the overpass contributed to the incident. As a result of the incident, plaintiff sustained a severe brain injury. Plaintiff presented past and future economic damages of nearly $4 million and requested a jury verdict of $14.5 million. The jury unanimously reached a verdict in favor of our client, and found the driver of the motor vehicle 100% at fault.

Later that same day, the firm was pleased to learn that Jeff Vucinich had prevailed in a court trial that took place a few months prior, also venued in Alameda County. In this case, the buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction entered into a contract for the purchase of a home in a local Bay Area city. When the sale fell through, the Buyers sued our clients, the Sellers, for breach of contract; breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; conversion; negligence; interference with tenants’ rights; and trespass. Through motion practice prior to trial, Jeff persuaded the judge to dismiss all of the plaintiffs’ claims except for breach of the implied covenant of good faith. At trial, Jeff used a combination of key documentary and oral evidence to argue that the Sellers did not act in “bad faith” in the performance of this contract. Jeff noted that the Buyers put on a compelling and sympathetic case and sought damages of over $875,000. The Court took the matter under submission and returned judgment in favor of the Sellers.

To top it off, Jeff also successfully obtained a dismissal by way of motion under the doctrine of qualified immunity for a local city Police Department that was sued for injuries caused by the accidental discharge of a weapon wherein the bullet struck an individual in the heart and remains lodged there to this date. The original demand in the case was $3,000,000. A motion to dismiss under the doctrine of qualified immunity was granted and recently upheld by the Federal Court of Appeals.

He is a Cy Young candidate

Talk the Talk

Clapp Moroney’s commitment to diversity and client service is reflected by its numerous multicultural and multi-lingual employees. Several Clapp Moroney employees are fluent in Spanish. Associates Kimia Sagarchi and Leyla Razavi are fluent in Farsi. We speak the languages of our clients!

Top Trial Advocates and Masters in Trial

Clapp Moroney has more practicing members of The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) San Francisco Chapter than any other firm that specializes in civil litigation defense. ABOTA is an esteemed, nomination-only trial lawyers’ group comprised of members who have extensive trial experience and great reputations for ethics and civility. Jeff Vucinich, Ted Scheley, and Chris Scheley are all members, and Chris Beeman is the President of the San Francisco chapter. All of our named partners who practice outside the Construction Defect arena are proud to be part of this great group of seasoned trial lawyers.

Efficient and Effective

Partner Paul Sheng and his associate Mary Kate O’Neill recently obtained a voluntary dismissal with prejudice on behalf of a restaurant owner defendant in a premises liability case filed in San Francisco County Superior Court. The Plaintiff alleged that she suffered severe injuries to her hamstring and knee, including a three-tendon proximal hamstring rupture after she fell while walking across a polished concrete surface. The injury required surgical repair, and Plaintiff claimed over $70,000 in lost income and earning capacity. Paul’s team filed a concise Motion for Summary Judgment demonstrating that the floor was not a dangerous condition. The day before the arbitration hearing, Plaintiff dismissed the case in exchange for a waiver of costs.

Associate prevails for Association

Associate Ashley Meyers, a member of Team Beeman, obtained a dismissal at the pleadings stage on behalf of a homeowners association in a case filed in Alameda County. Plaintiff, a former member of the HOA, sued alleging negligence, breach of contract and elder abuse based on the restrictions placed upon his use and renovation of his condominium. The court sustained our demurrer without leave to amend, agreeing with our argument that Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to support a cause of action. The case was dismissed within three months of our firm entering an appearance, and before protracted and costly discovery commenced.

Civil Rights Trial Victory

In a very challenging and highly charged climate given the publicity surrounding Ferguson and other high profile police brutality incidents, founding partner Jeff Vucinich still obtained a defense verdict in United States District Court in San Francisco on behalf of two police officers and a Peninsula municipality. Plaintiff claimed the officers used excessive force in apprehending and injuring him. Defendants presented evidence that appropriate police methods and tactics were implemented at the time of the arrest and that the officers acted appropriately. The jury unanimously reached a verdict in favor of the defendants, awarding no damages.

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

Chris Beeman and Ash Mohindru recently obtained a judgment in favor of the defense at the conclusion of a four week trial in Alameda County Superior Court. The case involved allegations of defamation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Plaintiff was an HOA property management company and its owner, who alleged that statements made by the defendant damaged their reputations and caused the loss of a valuable contract. The statements were generally critiques of the property management company’s work performance, and our defense was that the communications were constitutionally privileged and substantially true. Plaintiff asked the Court to award $5,000,000 in damages.

At trial, the operative cross-complaint was ultimately depleted by way of several consecutive, successful dispositive motions. On the eve of trial, it was discovered that the Property Manager’s corporate status was suspended, and a motion to dismiss was granted as to that entity. The statute of limitations barred many of the alleged defamatory statements and a motion in limine on that issue was granted, which substantially narrowed the massive universe of potential, actionable statements.

Thereafter, trial commenced on the claims by the owner against the remaining defendant. At the close of the plaintiff’s case in chief, two motions for judgment were filed and, ultimately, granted in favor of our client. The Court found that the statements were constitutionally privileged because they were regarding a matter of public interest and made without malice.

International Win

Following a deadly bus crash in Mexico that left 3 dead and 1 severely injured, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against various defendants in San Francisco, including the bus company.  When all other potential deep pockets were tapped, Plaintiffs’ counsel sued our client, a grocery store in Napa, claiming that the passengers had purchased their bus tickets from the store.  The legal theory pursued was that our client’s market and the bus company were a joint venture.  Partner Chris Beeman and associate Christine ‘Missy’ Reinhardt immediately filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the grocery store, arguing that no agency or other relationship existed.  On the date their opposition was due, Plaintiffs counsel agreed to dismiss the matter for a waiver of costs.