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  Robert S. Cooper
 
 


Recent Results:

Case Type: EMPLOYMENT LAW—SEVERANCE BENEFITS/SLANDER
Case Name: Manchenkov, Sosbee vs. Weir Services, Inc.
Case No.: BC372079
Court: Los Angeles County Superior Court, Hon. Michael L. Stern
JURY TRIAL: Length, six days—deliberation, one day; August 5, 2008
RSC Law Offices Client: Weir, North America

BRIEF SUMMARY: This action arose from the employment of plaintiffs Alexander B. Manchenkov and Hugh Sosbee by defendant Weir Services USA, Inc. Weir, an world-wide company which has its North American headquarters in Toronto, Canada, closed its Carson, Calif. pump repair facility in late 2006. At that time, each of the remaining employees in the Carson facility, including plaintiffs, were provided with severance pay pursuant to severance agreements. However, the company withheld severance payments to the Plaintiffs and reclassified their layoffs as “terminations for cause” when it learned that Plaintiffs had interfered with existing contracts in order to start up their own pump repair business.

The plaintiffs sued Weir for the severance monies totaling approximately $75,000 and for tort damages for slander. One plaintiff also brought a cause of action for slander based upon the claim that an employee of Weir’s customer Valero Energy, heard an executive of Weir indicate that Manchenkov had stolen property from Weir.  

SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS: Defendant offered $38,000 prior to trial in settlement.

RESULT: Defense verdict as to Plaintiff Sosbee’s severance claim, Defense verdict as to tort claim for slander, verdict of one-half severance ($30,000) to plaintiff Manchenkov.

Case Type: BUSINESS LITIGATION - Jury Verdict $1.2 mi. plus attorney fees
Case Name: California Construction Loan Corp. v. MGM Contractors, et. al.
Case No.: SC083892
Court: Los Angeles County, Beverly Hills Branch
JURY TRIAL: Length, five days, deliberation, 3 hours
RSC Law Offices Client: Plaintiff California Construction Loan Corp.

BRIEF SUMMARY: This matter arose out of a loan agreement entered into between the parties for the purpose of providing start-up funds to defendant, a drywall subcontractor in the construction industry. Plaintiff California Construction Loan Corporation was formed for the sole purpose of loaning start-up funds to defendants MGM Contractors and its owner Marshall Clayton. Loan documents including a loan agreement and promissory note in the amount of $500,000, were drafted by an Atlanta law firm.

The defendants executed all of the documents, however the drafting attorney from the Atlanta law firm testified that she never received executed loan documents from the plaintiff. The documents were signed during May 2005 when the defendant began its operations and began performing drywall work on various large subcontracts.

Between May and October 2005, plaintiff loaned approximately $900,000 to defendants. As stipulated by the agreement, the defendants were required to permit the plaintiff to review the financial information of MGM, to assure itself that the company was remaining viable. However, in December 2005, MGM’s owner refused to permit any further inspection of its financial records. At that time, plaintiff sent a demand letter demanding repayment in full of the loaned proceeds with interest. The defendants refused and indicated they had no agreement with the plaintiff regarding loaned funds.

RESULT: The Jury awarded plaintiff California Construction Loan Corp. a total of approximately $1.1 million, including $500,000 in damages for breach of contract, $400,000 in damages for fraud, $123,041 in contractual interest. The Court later awarded approximately $175,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Case Type: CIVIL RIGHTS—Dismissal of Action upheld by 9th Cir. Ct. of Appeals
Case Name: Yoonessi v. Gynecological Oncology Group, Dr. Philip DiSaia, et al.
Case No.: CV-04-01884; 9th Cir. Case No. 05-55345
Court: United States District Court, Central Dist. of California; 9th Cir. Ct. of App.
RSC Law Offices Client: Union Bank of California

BRIEF SUMMARY: Plaintiff Yoonessi sued the Gynecological Oncology Institute , a Maryland based non-profit organization and its chairman, Philip DiSaia, M.D., and scores of other defendants stemming from the fact that his medical licenses were revoked in New York and California, alleging civil rights, libel, anti-trust and other allegations. As against the GOG, plaintiff alleged that defendants withheld information later disclosed in its textbook that would have supported the cancer regimen that led to plaintiff’s medical licenses.

RESULT: The case was dismissed pursuant to a Motion to Dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6); the dismissal was upheld by the 9th Cir. Court of Appeals.

Case Type: MARITIME-CARGO-TRANSPORTATION - VERDICT/SETTLEMENT $465,000
Case Name: Patagonia Clothing, Inc. v. Dedola International, Inc., et al.
Case No.: 03-5797 WJR(RZx)
Court: United States District Court, Central District, Hon. William J. Rea
BENCH TRIAL: Length, five days (6/10/05)
RSC Law Offices Client: Patagonia Clothing Co.

BRIEF SUMMARY: Plaintiff Patagonia Clothing Co., a manufacturer specializing in outdoor clothing with worldwide sales and distribution, brought this lawsuit based upon a loss of a shipment of its nylon woven jackets with a market value of more than $1 million. The shipment of jackets was being shipped from Shanghai, where they were manufactured, to Reno Nevada at the time of the loss. The cargo arrived by ship at the Port of Long Beach in May, 2002. The sealed container loaded with the jackets was then trucked to the warehouse of defendant Golden State Logistics, then loaded onto a trailer owned by JB Logistics and taken to JB Logistics’ yard, where it remained overnight on May 17, 2002. The trailer was discovered stolen from JB Logistics’ yard on the morning of May 18, 2002. The cargo was never recovered.

The case settled with respect to all defendants except Dedola prior to trial. Plaintiff Patagonia contended that in addition to the liability of the trucking company, JB, defendant Dedola was strictly liable for the lost shipment under the Carmack Amendment (49 U.S.C. 14706) because it acted as an inland freight forwarder under federal transportation statutes. Alternatively, Dedola was liable under state common law theories of bailment and negligence. Dedola contended it was not liable under the Carmack Amendment since it did not function as a Part 49 freight forwarder or motor carrier, nor was it liable under common law theories. Instead, Dedola contended it was merely acting incidentally to its role as a Non-Vessel Ocean Common Carrier (NVOCC) in arranging for the inland transportation.

VERDICT/JUDGEMENT:
Dedola International: $190,000 (after one week bench trial);
GSL transportation: $25,000 (first day of trial)
JB Logistics: $250,000 (prior to trial)

Case Type: FINANCIAL INSTITUTION NEGLIGENCE
Case Name: Guillen v. Guillen, Union Bank of California VCV VSO37051
Case No.: VCV VSO37051
Court: San Bernardino County Superior Court
JURY TRIAL:
RSC Law Offices Client: Union Bank of California

BRIEF SUMMARY: This lawsuit stemmed from a dispute regarding ownership of two residential properties that were purportedly deeded from Plaintiff Mary Guillen to her son Julian Guillen. Plaintiff alleged that a notary for Union Bank’s predecessor (High Desert Bank) negligently notarized the signatures on two grant deeds pertaining to the real properties and notarizing two blank grant deeds. Plaintiff alleged the bank’s negligence caused her to lose her ownership rights in two residential properties.

RESULT: On the eve of jury trial, with a motion for summary judgment pending on behalf of Union Bank, plaintiff dismissed the bank for a nuisance settlement in the amount of less than $10,000.

Case Type: WRONGFUL TERMINATION/PUBLIC POLICY/HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION
Case Name: James v. Northwest Pipe Company
Case No.: VCV
Court: San Bernardino County Superior Court
RSC Law Offices Client: Northwest Pipe Company

BRIEF SUMMARY: This lawsuit stemmed from the employment of plaintiff by Defendant Northwest Pipe Company during 1998-2003. Plaintiff was employed as a welder for the company when he took Family (FMLA) Leave which stemmed from his anxiety and depression over the criminal sentencing relating to the death of his son who was killed in a drive-by shooting. Plaintiff was terminated after he failed to return to employment, even when his family leave was extended beyond the legally required time periods. He was also subsequently offered his job back, but refused to take it and sued the company for wrongful termination.

RESULT: Case was settled at mediation with a motion for summary judgment pending on behalf of Northwest Pipe Company-- plaintiff dismissed the company for a nuisance settlement amount substantially less than the amount of damages claimed.

Case Type: OSHA CITATION APPEAL—Citation Dismissed after Trial
Case Name: Matter of Appeal of Vector Resources, Inc.
Case No.: 05-R4D1-1022 and 1023
Court: Occupational Safety and health Appeals Bd.—State of CA
Administrative Trial: Dec. 1, 2006
RSC Law Offices Client: Vector Resources, Inc.

BRIEF SUMMARY: The employer was cited as a result of an industrial accident in which an employee fell from a ladder and sustained injury. The OSHA Board contended that the worker was not properly tied off at the time of the accident, that the employer failed to report a serious injury in a timely fashion and failed to provide proper safety instruction pursuant to 8 CCR 0342(a), 1509, and 1675(j). The employer argued at trial that pursuant to Labor Code section 6317, the case was absolutely barred by the 6 months statute of limitations and that none of the alleged violations had merit, as the company rigorously adheres to training and safety precautions.

RESULT: All citations dismissed

Case Type: CONSTRUCTION DISPUTE--Binding Arbitration—CSLB
Case Name: Morales v. Integrity Home Remodelers
Case No.: AS2008-784
Court: Contractors State License Board, Los Angeles
RSC Law Offices Client: Integrity Home Remodelers

BRIEF SUMMARY: Claimant property owner contracted with defendant Integrity Home Remodelers to perform construction of a block retaining wall, as well as various concrete slabs, new stairs and landscape flower beds. A dispute arose regarding the requirements for permitting of the work and workmanship. Some of the block wall was ordered to be torn out by the city and had to be rebuilt and some of the work was not completed before the parties dispute became irreconcilable. The CSLB expert report issued prior to binding arbitration found after inspection of the residence that contractor should be required to pay approximately $30,000 for the cost of completion and remediation of the work.

RESULT: After hearing at CSLB binding arbitration, the arbitrator reduced contractor’s liability to $5,230, less than contractor had offered to resolve the matter.

Case Type: CALIFORNIA LABOR COMMISSIONER—WAGE CLAIM
Case Name: Martinez v. Dehganyar
Case No.: 05-49185
Court: California Labor Commissioner, Long Beach, CA
RSC Law Offices Client: Defendant Dehganyar

BRIEF SUMMARY:Claimant performed extensive construction and handyman work at defendant’s residence over a lengthy period of time. Claimant asserted he was owed $56,750 in wages.

RESULT: Case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction after initial hearing.

Case Type: CALIFORNIA LABOR COMMISSIONER—WAGE CLAIM
Case Name: M. Herzog v. Hyman Hendler & Sons, Inc.
Case No.: 06-80779 RM
Court: California Labor Commissioner, Los Angeles, CA
JURY TRIAL:
RSC Law Offices Client: Defendant Hyman Hendler & Sons

BRIEF SUMMARY: Employer Hyman Hendler & Sons, Inc. is a 90-year old supplier and distributor of specialty fabric for retail establishments, originally based in New York. Employee was a commission-based sales person who voluntarily quit her employment. Employee received a monthly draw against commissions and was normally paid commissions based upon the agreed percentage rate for a given product line or customer. Commissions were normally paid based upon the value of goods actually shipped, not based on the value of goods sold to customers, since goods were often not ultimately shipped due to inventory or other issues even though the customer agreed to purchase. The employee was entitled to commissions accrued at the time of the separation of her employment as well as periodic payments when goods previously sold were later shipped to the customer.

RESULT: Settled during Labor Commission hearing for $4,637.18, representing approximately $2,000 in additional wages with no payment of penalties.

Case Type: CALIFORNIA LABOR COMMISSIONER—WAGE CLAIM
Case Name: Neyra v. DCON Design Plus Construction
Case No.: 06-87058 PG
Court: California Labor Commissioner, Los Angeles, CA
RSC Law Offices Client: Defendant DCON Design Plus Construction

BRIEF SUMMARY: Claimant alleged that Employer DCON had failed to pay wages due and as well as Overtime and penalties for failure to provide Meal and Rest breaks totaling approximately $24,000.

RESULT: Claim Settled during Labor Commission hearing for approximately $2500 wages (half the wages sought) with no penalties or overtime.