William H. Staples

Bill Staples is known for his courtroom command and credibility. He is a veteran defense litigation generalist. He is a member of the firm’s litigation group and resolves complex disputes and achieves numerous defense verdicts and cost-effective settlements. He represents businesses, employers, manufacturers and their insurance carriers.

Veteran Defense Litigator For the past three decades, his practice emphasis has included product liability, construction defects and disputes, employment and commercial litigation, premises liability, toxic torts and catastrophic injuries. Elevator and escalator injuries are a special practice focus.
Representative achievements include minimizing a $360 million product liability class action for a national window manufacturer and prevailing before the Supreme Court of California on a housing discrimination claim.

Focus on Excellence Earns One in a Million Distinction Bill positions cases to refute plaintiffs and achieve early resolution, managing the critical investigation process and expert teams. He presents compelling evidence before judges and juries and in alternative dispute resolution forums, often achieving favorable results in cases with unsympathetic defendants and challenging fact patterns.

Bill has been a member of the executive council of Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, a selective professional network of highly respected attorneys viewed as “one in a million.” He also served as national membership chair from 2009-2016. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Lawyers (ABOTA). Bill has attained an A-V rating, the highest rating available, from Martindale-Hubbell and has been identified as one of San Francisco’s Top Rated Lawyers™.

Bill Staples’s published decisions include:
Construction – Hearns Pacific Corporation v. Second Generation Roofing (2016) Ca.App.1st: The Court of Appeal deemed Hearns’ insurer a real party in interest and liability for subcontractor’s attorney fees and costs could not be avoided. Bill’s client, Second Generation Roofing, obtained a judgment for attorney fees and costs from the general contractor and its insurer.
Construction – David Madden v. Summit View, Inc. (2008) 165 Ca.App.4th 1267: Successfully resolved claims of negligence made against a general contractor when an electrician fell from a patio at a construction site. The trial court granted the general contractor’s motion for summary judgment under the Privett-Toland doctrine. The Court of Appeal affirmed.
Library – Arntz Builders v. City of Berkeley (2008) 166 Ca.App.4th 276: Achieved a favorable result for a case in which a general contractor sued the City of Berkeley for work on a library, seeking progress payments, retention and compensation for delays, changes in work and extra work. When the case was brought before the Court of Appeals, the initial decision to rule against our client was reversed.
Insurance – Safeco Insurance Company of America v. Superior Court (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 782: Favorably resolved a case in which our client, an insurance company, was ordered to pay a $500,000 stipulated judgment entered into by its insureds without its consent.
Unfair Competition (insurance declaratory relief action) – Tigera Group v. Commerce and Industry Insurance Company (1991) 753 F.Supp. 858: On summary judgment, the Court held in favor of Bill’s client that the term “unfair competition” as used in the advertising injury provision of the comprehensive general liability policy did not incorporate California’s statutory definition of unfair competition and did not afford coverage to claims by the insured’s distributors, who were not competitors.
Retirement Community – Walnut Creek Manor v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission (1991) 54 Cal.3d 704: Represented the owners of a large apartment complex for the “active elderly” in a racial discrimination matter brought before the Fair Employment and Housing Commission. Resulted in having portions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act with regard to allowable damages declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court.
Public Roadway– Lois Elizabeth Dowell v. County of Contra Costa (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 896: Successfully defended a wrongful death action against Contra Costa County alleging a dangerous condition of a public roadway. Upheld by the Court of Appeal based upon plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Government Tort Claims statutes.
Doctor (Petition for Writ of Mandate) – David James Allen v. Superior Court (1984) 151 Cal.App.3d 447: Trial court ordered an expert physician to produce his financial records showing his income from performing independent medical examinations and testifying for the defense for the past five years. Court of Appeals reversed and ordered the trial court to allow only a less intrusive inquiry.

Product Liability
Windows – Defended a products liability class action where plaintiff alleged defective design and manufacturing claims against a window maker. Lawsuit involved 80,000 potential homes and millions of windows. Structured a favorable settlement with a nominal cash payout and an extended warranty.
Instructional Machinery – Achieved successful settlement in the defense of a manufacturer of a tin finishing machine at a steel plant. The clients faced claims of liability in connection with an accident involving the severing of an arm.
Snow Thrower – Obtained a defense verdict for a national retailer in a defective design claim involving injuries the plaintiff alleged after he tried to unclog a running snow- throwing machine by sticking his down the exhaust shoot.

Business and Construction Litigation
Construction – Defended a general contractor using a failure of good faith argument against the plaintiff, a bonding company. Bill shifted the burden for over $3.5 million of construction costs from the contractor back to its bonding company.
Shopping Center – Defended claims of waterproofing defects against a general contractor who built a multilevel, retail center in Emeryville. Assertive handling of the plaintiff’s allegations led to a favorable settlement for our client.
Apartment Complex – Favorably resolved claims made against a contractor concerning responsibility for construction defects in breezeways and stairways of an apartment complex.
Public Housing – Trial defense of a contractor of a 98-unit housing project who was kicked off the job by the owner due to delay and alleged poor construction. Bill reduced the contractor’s liability in multiple suits with the city and surety company.

Catastrophic Injury and Wrongful Death
Motorcycle – Obtained a favorable settlement in a wrongful death claim made against our client, the driver of an 18-wheeler, involving a motorcyclist’s fatal accident.
Diver –Defended a public entity in a complex multimillion-dollar lawsuit resulting from a catastrophic swimming pool injury that rendered a diver quadriplegic.
Water-skier – Achieved a defense verdict in a trial involving injury claims made against a competitive water-skier teaching a friend to water-ski jump.
Fishing Injury – Jury defense verdict for a defendant who was alleged to have supplied defective eyeglass lenses shattered after being hit by a fishing lure.
Jackhammer Injury – Eliminated liability for our client, an electrical contractor, in a wrongful death claim connected to a jackhammer-related accident. While defending his client, Bill was able to assign liability to the U.S. Navy.

Housing Discrimination
Racial Discrimination – Appeared before the Supreme Court of California defending a racial discrimination housing matter. Our attorneys declared a portion of the Government Code unconstitutional and protected our client from thousands of dollars of potential damage claims.

Employment Litigation
Discrimination and Wrongful Termination – Achieved a defense verdict for an employer against claims of wrongful termination, sexual discrimination and defamation by a pregnant and unwed employee.

Vertical Transportation
Elevator – Defended an elevator maintenance company in a complex injury and negligence case involving an infant’s death on Christmas Eve in an older elevator. We successfully reduced our client’s liability to a nominal amount.

Bill can be contacted at Clapp, Moroney’s East Bay/Central Valley Office or at wstaples@clappmoroney.com