John S. Moot
John Moot is a commercial and business trial attorney with 34 years of experience in the practice of law. He has substantial courtroom experience and regularly prosecutes and defends cases in state and federal courts. Mr. Moot concentrates his practice in prosecuting and defending large, complex civil cases in a variety of different practice areas including construction and real estate, land use, breach of contracts, trade secret and fraud claims in business disputes. Mr. Moot represents governmental agencies as well as private parties doing business with the government.
In 2009 and 2010, Mr. Moot was selected by his peers as one of the top attorneys in San Diego by The San Diego Daily Transcript in the area real estate/construction litigation. He is recognized in the 2010-2017 editions of Super Lawyers in the Business Litigation category.
Mr. Moot has argued cases in California Supreme Court, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and the State Appellate Court, several of which have resulted in published opinions. In Sweetwater Union High School District v. Gilbane (2019) 6 Cal.5th 931 he successfully represented the school district in a large construction, anti-corruption case resulting in a unanimous opinion from the California Supreme Court in favor of the client. In Clark v. McCann (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 910 Mr. Moot represented a party in an election contest over a city council race decided by two votes. In Casey v. Overhead Door (1990) 74 Cal.App.3rd 1681, Mr. Moot obtained a precedent setting opinion in a construction defect case ultimately resolved by the California Supreme Court in Ass. v. Superior Court (citing Casey as “significant because of its similarity to the case before us.”)
Mr. Moot has a history of public service. He served six years on the Chula Vista City Council, two of those years as Deputy Mayor. He is a former member of the Chula Vista Planning Commission.
Mr. Moot currently serves on the Executive Committee of the South County Economic Development Council. Mr. Moot served as the past Chairman of the Center for Sustainable Energy and served on their Board of Directors for 13 years. While on the Board he was Chairman of the San Diego Regional Energy Policy Advisory Committee. Mr. Moot also served for 10 years on the Sharp Chula Vista Community Hospital Board.
Mr. Moot is a member of the University of San Diego’s Center for Public Interest Law Wall of Fame. He is a fourth generation attorney from Buffalo, New York, where his father, grandfather, and great grandfather were respected members of Buffalo’s legal community.
2019 United Consumers Action Network's (UCAN) Public Interest Lawyer Award
2015-2017, 2010-2013: Named a San Diego Super Lawyer in the practice area of Business Litigation.
Sweetwater Union High School Dist. v. Gilbane Building Co. (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 19
Clark v. McCann (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 910
Casey v. Overhead Door Corp. (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 112
United States v. Bogart (1986) 783 F.2d 1428
During the Utility Consumer Action Network’s 35th Anniversary Celebration, Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot was honored as a distinguished alumni of USD School of Law and USD’s Center for Public Interest Law for both his community involvement and legal work in the public interest. Along with John, UCAN also honored USD School of Law Professor Bob Fellmeth and California State Senator Ben Hueso, Chair of the Senate Energy Committee. SSCM was the Public Interest Law Champion sponsor for the 35th annual awards event.
On February 28th, the California Supreme Court published its opinion in the case argued by Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot late last year. In a unanimous 7-0 opinion the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the firm’s client and in the process set forth new precedent for the admissibility of evidence in civil pre-trial motions. Effectively overruling two, 30 year old cases, the Supreme Court held that the analysis presented and argued by Mr. Moot in reliance on authority from conflicting case law “is sound." The case settled with a multimillion-dollar verdict in favor of the firm’s client.1.23.19
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot recently won a long-standing property right dispute, overturning a City of Chula Vista Planning Commission decision to put in a car wash that would have negatively impacted the neighbors and nearby business owners with the traffic and noise of the proposed project. The Chula Vista City Council voted 4-1 to accept the appeal and deny the Conditional Use Permit much to the relief of the 82-year-old neighbor who first opposed the project. Congratulations, John! To view KUSI News recent coverage of the story click here.1.10.19
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot, after a three week land use trial, won a convincing verdict against the Metropolitan Transit Authority after a long battle over public access to an intercity bus terminal at the world’s busiest land port of entry in San Ysidro. The story has been followed by several news outlets including the San Diego Union Tribune which reported on the verdict. Congratulations, John! To view the San Diego Union Tribune article click here.12.5.18
Partner John Moot argues before the California Supreme Court. The case involves a civil anti-corruption suit he filed on behalf of a school district against contractors who obtained a lucrative contract to manage school construction bonds by wining and dining and giving elaborate gifts to board members. After the Supreme Court accepted the case for review and briefs were filed, Mr. Moot obtained a $7.5 million-dollar settlement for the school district. Even though the money has been paid and the settlement is final, the Supreme Court felt one of the legal issues in the case was so important it will still hear and decide if criminal grand jury testimony and the factual basis for criminal guilty pleas are admissible in a civil proceeding.7.17.18
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot was presented with a City of Chula Vista proclamation from Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The proclamation, on the 20th anniversary of the Sleep Train Amphitheater, honors John for his vision because he was on the Chula Vista City Council when the project was approved in 1998. It was the first project of its kind in San Diego County. Congratulations, John!1.3.18
Schwartz Semerdjian partner and former Chula Vista Councilman, John Moot, was recently quoted on Chula Vista’s bid to be a potential site for Amazon’s new corporate headquarters. Even if Chula Vista is not selected, as Mr. Moot points, the site is an incredible certainty for a high tech hub in the San Diego region. Click here to view the Voice of San Diego article.11.30.17
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot won an important land use ruling protecting the rights of a private property owner and the traveling public for client Grand Central West at the world’s busiest port of entry, the San Ysidro Border Crossing. For more information about this ruling, click here to view the Voice of San Diego article.10.23.17
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot, who has a land use practice, represents the property owner, Grand Central West, in a dispute with the Metropolitan Transit District at the San Ysidro Border Crossing. Click here to read the Voice of San Diego article regarding the case.2.27.17
Partners Dick Semerdjian, Kevin Cauley & John Moot have been selected as Top Lawyers in San Diego by Martindale Hubbell. The 2017 Top Lawyers List will be published in the March 2017 issue of San Diego Magazine. Lawyers featured in the Top Lawyers List have been selected by their peers as providing the highest level of professional excellence. Congratulations, Dick, Kevin & John!2.13.17
Partner John Moot recently settled a civil anti-corruption case obtaining $8,250,000 for the Sweetwater Union High School District. The case was pending a decision in the California Supreme Court at the time of the settlement. Click here for the full Union Tribune article.1.23.17
Partners Dick Semerdjian and John Moot have been named 2017 San Diego Super Lawyers. Dick has been recognized in the practice area of Employment Litigation Defense. This is the 10th consecutive year that Dick has been recognized by Super Lawyers. John Moot has been recognized in the practice area of Business Litigation. This is the 7th year John has been recognized by Super Lawyers. Congratulations, Dick & John!9.30.16
Schwartz Semerdjian partners John Moot and Sarah Evans will join a variety of firm clients and contacts at the South County Economic Development Council's 26th Annual Economic Summit at the San Diego Convention Center. For the past several years, Schwartz Semerdjian has sponsored a table at the summit, which brings together border region political and economic leaders to discuss common issues and celebrate award-winning work in San Diego's South Bay.7.15.16
Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot is representing client Grand Central West in a civil case to preserve access to transportation services at the US-Mexico Border crossing, a case featured in the Union Tribune's Watchdog Report. The Metropolitan Transit System claims there is an illegal doorway that trespasses on its land, however, Moot argues that "it's not about a door, it's more about protecting and advancing the private arrangement they've made with this new entity." Link to the June 18, 2016 UT Watchdog Report.6.8.16
A civil anti-corruption case being handled by Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot is headed to the California Supreme Court. The lawsuit seeks the return of 26 million to the Sweetwater Union High School District from contractors who lavished expensive meals, theater, and sports tickets to obtain the contracts. A District Attorney investigation resulted in guilty pleas from several of the former Board members and the issue to be decided by the Supreme Court is whether testimony from the criminal grand jury and guilty pleas can be used in the civil case. Link to July 8, 2016 Star News article.3.2.16
Schwartz Semerdjian client Sweetwater Union High School District Prevails in Contractors' Appeal on ‘Free Speech’ Gifts Ruling - California's Fourth District Court of Appeals recently published its opinion in the Sweetwater Union High School District's case handled by Schwartz Semerdjian attorneys John Moot, Sarah Evans and Kristen Bush. As is described in the attached article from the Union-Tribune, "Jersey Boys" tickets, lavish meals, and free trips were among the gifts lavished on Sweetwater officials by contractors, who contend that the entertainment was a form of free speech. The San Diego appeals court disagreed, and the ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal affirmed a decision by San Diego Superior Court Judge Sturgeon in December 2014, in a case filed by Sweetwater Union High School District against construction contractors Gilbane and The Seville Group. The district is trying to recover millions of dollars it paid to the companies for a series of school building projects. Link to published opinion of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal. Link to the full March 2, 2016 Union Tribune article.10.27.14
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.7.31.14
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.5.28.14
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.3.13.14
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 SDG&E substation project. Inland Industries is the 3rd largest property owner on the Chula Vista bay front. Link to John Moot’s March 10, 2014 article, “Power play on Chula Vista’s bayfront” (San Diego Daily Transcript)2.23.13
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”