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Sweetwater Contractors Defend Meals, Gifts – Lawyers for two companies accused in a corruption probe at Sweetwater schools are arguing they should not have to give back construction contract proceeds because the meals, trips and tickets they used to ply officials were legally protected free speech.  The companies say that high-profile criminal cases brought by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis support their position.  Of the 18 officials and contractors who were charged or indicted, none pleaded guilty to a bribery charge — the most serious offense alleged.  Link to the full October 27, 2014 Union Tribune article.


Kristen Bush’s paper, “The Supply of Amicus Curiae Briefs in the Market for Information at the U.S. Supreme Court, “ was accepted for publication in Justice System Journal.  The paper is coauthored with Professor Tom Hansford, Associate Professor at the University of California, Merced.  Click here to view the full paper.


 City Amends Language In Local Coastal Program - Chula Vista City Council members have corrected and clarified the language in plans for the city’s bayfront project. The local coastal program was certified by the California Coastal Commission in August 2012 and adopted by the City Council the following month. The changes that were adopted July 22 prompted two people at the meeting to ask council members for even more clarifications. Link to the full July 31, 2014 Union Tribune article.


More than two years after a citizen lawsuit was filed asking for contractors to return millions of dollars paid by the Sweetwater Union High School District, the district itself has joined the effort, seeking $26 million.  The district asked a judge last week to skip a trial on the lawsuit and order return of the funds from the contractors — whose actions were the subject of a lengthy corruption probe — on the grounds that the initial contract awards were tainted and therefore invalid.  Link to the full May 28, 2014 Union Tribune article.


The California Coastal Commission recently ordered the undergrounding of larger transmission towers and lines in front of Inland Industries property as part of the approval of the SDG&E substation project. Inland Industries is the 3rd largest property owner on the Chula Vista bay front. Link to Attorney John Moot’s March 10, 2014 article, “Power play on Chula Vista’s bayfront” (San Diego Daily Transcript)


John Moot represents Inland Industries in proceedings currently before the California Public Utilities Commission in opposition to San Diego Gas & Electric’s application for a permit to construct a new electrical substation on the Chula Vista bay front. Link to February 23, 2013 Union Tribune article, “Dispute Over Power Lines Clouds Bayfront Plans”.


On October 17, 2012, Sarah Evans and John Schena were speakers at the San Diego Paralegal Association program “2012 Updates In Labor and Employment Law.” For the written materials from their presentation, click here.


“When I Was a New Lawyer”, featuring Dick Semerdjian, Chair-Elect, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association (read more)


On April 19, 2012, Dick Semerdjian was a speaker for the American Bar Association program, "Doing Business in the United States: What You Need To Know About Investing, Product Liability and Dispute Resolution" in Beijing, China. This event was sponsored by the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s International Law and Products Liability Law Committees and co-sponsored by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Beijing, China. Dick is the Chair Elect of the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section and will be sworn in as the Chair of ABA TIPS in August 2012. For Dick's presentation click here.


Brinker - Supreme Court Decision Lessons Burden On California Employers with Regard to Meal and Rest Periods.

The California Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the matter of Brinker v. Superior Court that will have employers across the state breathing a sigh of relief. 

The main issue before the Court was to determine whether the requirement that employers “provide” employees with meal and rest periods was intended simply to ensure that employers make such rest periods available to employees to use at their own option, or if there is actually an affirmative duty on the part of the employer to make sure that an employee takes all meal and rest periods and no work is performed during such times.  Click here to read more


On October 20, 2010, Jim Ballard successfully defended a real estate broker and its two agents against claims of negligence, non-disclosure and concealment. The case was tried to a jury in Vista over the course of five weeks. The Plaintiff demanded $1 million pre-trial and asked the jury for in excess of $3.5 million.


Jim Ballard successfully defended a client against claims of racial discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. Mr. Ballard successfully sought and received summary judgment which disposed of the case prior to getting to a jury.


Mechanic’s Lien Seminar

Kevin Cauley was the primary speaker for the April 23, 2009 Mechanic’s Lien Seminar presented by the American Subcontractor’s Association, San Diego Chapter. The seminar covered the basic issues involved with Mechanic’s Liens, Private and Public Stop Notices, and collection issues.


Construction Law Seminar

Kevin Cauley was the primary speaker for the March 20, 2009 Construction Law Seminar presented by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., San Diego Chapter. Seminar topics included Mechanic’s Liens, Stop Notices & Collections, Construction Contracts, Bidding Law, Change Orders, Contractors’ License Law, Litigation, Arbitration & Negotiation, Business Structure – Corporations, and more. 


Employers in California Beware - Law Makes Supervisory Sexual Harassment Training Mandatory!

Although existing law makes sexual harassment unlawful and requires every employer to provide a workplace free of sexual and other forms of harassment, the law mandates certain sexual harassment training for all private and public sector employers with fifty or more employees. Click here to read more


Recent Developments in Employment Law

It has been a busy few months on the employment law scene with two lawsuits of note to pass your way and a recent Appellate case that will impact the way you handle employees out on medical leave and their subsequent re-employment. click here to read more


On August 19, 2008, Jim Ballard successfully defended Neopost, Inc. against claims of racial discrimination and wrongful termination. The case was tried to a jury in Oakland over the course of three weeks. The jury found in Neopost's favor on most causes of action and hung on others. After Plaintiff's pre-trial demand of $1.4 million and a claim to the jury in excess of $2 million the case ultimately settled for $100,001.


On June 17, 2008, Dick Semerdjian achieved settlement in the amount of $6.75 million on behalf of firm client, Dr. William Arterberry dba Farm ACW (“Farm”). A complaint was filed in San Diego Superior Court on January 2, 2007, against Defendant San Diego Gas & Electric (“SDG&E”) for breach of its utility duty of service under Public Utilities Code section 2106. Prior to the filing of the civil complaint, SDG&E’s alleged tariff issues were adjudicated before the California Public Utilities Commission, which ruled largely in the Farm’s favor. The civil suit in which Mr. Semerdjian achieved the large settlement included damages against SDG&E for increased electricity costs, lost profits and emotional distress. The parties conducted one full day and two half-days of mediation with mediator Justice Howard Wiener (Ret.), with settlement reached on the last day of mediation. Case settled for $6.75 million two weeks before trial.


On April 18, 2007, Jim Ballard successfully defended Neopost, Inc. against two claims of disability discrimination and one claim of failure to accommodate a disability by a former employee. The matter was tried to a jury for over three weeks in Alameda County Superior Court. The jury took less than two hours to return defense verdicts on all claims. This is Mr. Ballard's second successful defense of Neopost, Inc. against claims of discrimination


2007 Developments in Employment Law

by Jim R. Ballard

Two recent cases have further defined the Employer's role in dealing with disabled employees. In Wysinger, the Court confirmed that the duty to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled employee is separate and distinct from the employer's duty to engage in a good faith interactive process with the disabled employee to explore accommodations. The duty to engage in the interactive process exists even where there is no reasonable accommodation available and the employer can be held liable for its failure to so engage even where there is no finding of disability discrimination. My memo detailing the case and its application to employers is attached as a pdf document.

Wysinger Memo (.pdf)

In Green, the Supreme Court confirmed that the employee bears the burden of proof to show that he/she could perform a job's essential duties with or without reasonable accommodations. Previous to Green, there had been a split of authority as to whether the burden fell on the employer or the employee. This significantly eases the employer's burden of proof in a disability discrimination case as well as potentially signals a shift towards more rigorous standards in dealing with disability discrimination. My memo detailing the Green case is attached as pdf document as well.

Green Memo (.pdf)


On November 5, 2007, Jim Ballard received a judgment in excess of $6.3 million on behalf of 75 clients involved in failed land deal in Colorado. Factoring in settlements reached prior to the trial, Mr. Ballard recovered over $8 million for the defrauded clients. The lawsuit, a combination of contract and security claims, was the culmination of over two years of work investigating and prosecuting the claims.


On October 31, 2006, Jim Ballard obtained a $5.96 million jury verdict (later reduced to $2.4 million after post-trial motions) in a malicious prosecution action on behalf of his client, Dr. Sara Sukumar. The case was tried to a jury for over four weeks and resulted in one of the biggest verdicts for malicious prosecution in the history of San Diego County and one of the largest verdicts for the 2006 year. Jim also handled the appeal of the matter which resulted in the judgment being affirmed. Ultimately, after costs and interests were added to the judgment, Jim collected over $3 million for his client.


Dick Semerdjian installed as new chairman of the San Diego International Sports Council

[read article]


Dick Semerdjian Nominated The Daily Transcript's Top Influentials

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Dick Semerdjian named one of the San Diego Daily Transcript's Top 10 Attorneys for 2006.

[read more]


Keep It Cool: The Benefits of Professionalism and Civility in Discovery Practice; Trial Bar News, December 2015  Download

Discovery Lessons from the Southern District of California; Trial Bar News, November 2015  Download  

Evolving Responsibilities for Attorneys in ESI Discovery; Trial Bar News, October 2015  Download

Balancing Interests in the Disclosure of Employee Contact Information; Trial Bar News, August/September 2015  Download

Discoverability of Expert Consultants’ Work Product; Trial Bar News, June/July 2015  Download

How and When to Appeal an Adverse Discovery Ruling; Trial Bar News, May 2015

“Our Lips Aren’t Sealed” Discoverable Attorney-Client Communications; Trial Bar News, April 2015

Accessing Public Records Through Informal Discovery; Trial Bar News, February 2015  Download

Protecting the Attorney Client Privilege with Cumis Counsel; Trial Bar News, January 2015  Download

Unclean Hands Not a Hands Down Defense; Trial Bar News, November 2014 

Depositions and Civility; Trial Bar News, October 2014

Do Not LOL – Text Messages are a Serious Matter When It Comes to E-Discovery; Trial Bar News, September 2014

Finding Purpose – A Look at the Discoverability of Incident Reports; Trial Bar News, August 2014

Effective Use of Section 2019.210 Trade Secret Statements in Discovery;  Trial Bar News, July 2014

Spoliation Remedies; Trial Bar News, May 2014

To Retain or Not to Retain (Experts); Trial Bar News, April 2014

Streamlining the Process – New Rules Increase Appeal of Arbitration; Trial Bar News, March 2014

Ex Parte Communication with Former Employees; Trial Bar News, February 2014

Getting Ahead of the Document Game;  Trial Bar News, January 2014

You Get What You Give; Trial Bar News, December 2013

Who Pays for Discovery?; Trial Bar News, November 2013

Challenging Third Party Deposition Subpoenas; Trial Bar News, October 2013

Employers’ Ability to Limit Employees’ Online Activities Curtailed; Trial Bar News, August/September 2013 Download

Forecasting the Impact of Cloud-Computing on e-Discovery; Trial Bar News, June/July 2013 Download

Speculation and the Inadequate Document Production; Trial Bar News, May 2013 Download

United Tripartite: the Attorney-Client Relationship between Insurer, Insured & Counsel; Trial Bar News, April 2013 Download

The Application of Attorney-Client Privilege; Trial Bar News, February 2103 Download

Expert Testimony or “Smelly Cat”; Trial Bar News, January 2013 Download

Discovering a Plaintiff’s Current Personnel File; Trial Bar News, December 2012 Download

“No Harm, No Foul”; Trial Bar News, November 2012 Download

Court Does Not Abuse Its Discretion; Trial Bar News, October 2012 Download

Employing Discovery to Continue a Summary Judgment Hearing; Trial Bar News, August/September 2012 Download

Beware - The Appealability of a Discovery Order; Trial Bar News, June/July 2012 Download

The Attorney Work Product Doctrine and Unintended Waiver; Trial Bar News, April 2012 Download

Court Does Not Abuse Its Discretion in Refusing to Hold-Camera Document Inspection Prior to Imposing Discovery Sanctions; Trial Bar News, March 2012 Download

Addressing the Disorganized Production; Trial Bar News, February 2012 Download

Egregious Discovery Misconduct Warrants Court’s Entering of Order of Default Against the Offending Party; Trial Bar News, January 2012 Download

The Role of Pitchess Discovery in Non-Criminal Actions; Trial Bar News, November 2011 Download

An Attorney’s Communications to Another Attorney Regarding A Legal Opinion of an Ongoing Case is Protected By the Attorney-Client Privilege; Trial Bar News, October 2011 Download

The Validity of an Entity’s Right to Privacy; Trial Bar News, June 2011 Download

To Google or Not To Google – What employers are entitled to discover and consider in employment hiring decisions; Trial Bar News, May 2011 Download

The Limits of Trial Court’s Discretion Under Civil Code Section 1717; Trial Bar News, April 2011 Download

Emails Between Attorneys and Clients Not Always Protected By Privilege; Trial Bar News, March 2011 Download

Unjustified Objections to Interrogatories About Responses to Previous Interrogatories Merit Sanctions; Trial Bar News, February 2011 Download

Deposition Subpoena Is Valid Even Though Not Accompanied by an Executed Affidavit or Declaration; Trial Bar News, October 2010 Download

Discovery Sanctions Are Only for the Past Costs Incurred; Trial Bar News, September 2010 Download

Keeping Discovery Within the Scope of a Forum Non Conveniens Motion; Trial Bar News, July 2010

Does Section 473 Include an In-House Counsel Who Is Also a Corporate Officer?; Trial Bar News, June 2010

Failure to Comply With Discovery May Cost More Than Just Sanctions; Trial Bar News, April 2010

Attorney Work-Product Privilege Does Not Extend to Written and Recorded Witness Statements; Trial Bar News, March 2010

Privileged Means Privileged; Trial Bar News, January 2010

Preventing the Apex Deposition; Trial Bar News, December 2009

Think Before You Object – The Appellate Court Affirms a Sanctions Award; Trial Bar News, November 2009

Answering Questions About Discovery in California From Your Out-of-State Contacts Just Got Easier; Trial Bar News, June 2009

Rules Regarding Discovery Sanctions and Motions to Withdraw or Amend an Admission; Trial Bar News, May 2009

Attorney-Client Privilege Limits Corporate Director's "Absolute Right;" Trial Bar News, February 2009. Download (.pdf)

A Mechanics' Lien: What's In It For You?, by Kevin T. Cauley
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Discovery Cut Off Motions; Trial Bar News, October 2008
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Terminating Sanctions; Trial Bar News, August/September 2008 Download (.pdf)

Discovery Issues; Trial Bar News, July 2008
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