Congratulations to John Schena who recently prevailed at arbitration representing a corporate client that was accused of breach of contract by a Fortune 500 company. John was able to show the claimant had not established that it had performed its contractual obligations such that it could pursue damages. Additionally, John was able to prove that the liquidated damage clause in the contract was an unenforceable penalty under California law. The win is a huge victory for our client who avoided multiple years of penalties and damages that were being sought and can now return its focus on work instead of litigation.
Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2022 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 13th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Hannah Theophil as an associate on the firm's litigation team. Hannah will be representing individuals and businesses in corporate disputes, personal injury, and construction matters.
Prior to joining Schwartz Semerdjian, Hannah practiced at an insurance defense firm focusing on construction defect and personal injury matters. She attended Northeastern University School of Law in Boston where she received her Juris Doctor with a concentration in Business and Commercial Law. In her free time, Hannah loves painting, practicing yoga, and she's learning to surf. Welcome to the team, Hannah!
Our firm is honored to be working as outside counsel with the office of San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. This week, Elliott along with attorneys Dick Semerdjian and John Schena, took legal action to void the city’s lease-to-own agreements for the 101 Ash Street and Civic Center Plaza buildings and recoup more than $44 million from the sellers. The lawsuit also seeks monetary and punitive damages from a local commercial real estate broker, as well as a judicial declaration that the contracts are void and the city is entitled to reimbursement of $24 million paid in rent for 101 Ash Street and $20 million paid in rent for Civic Center Plaza. Click here for City Attorney Mara Elliott's recent press release regarding this case.
Kristen Bush was granted summary judgment on behalf of a client-facing race discrimination and retaliation claims. Kristen submitted evidence to the court that no unlawful discrimination or retaliation occurred and prevailed without the need for a full-blown trial. Well done on a complete defense, Kristen!
John Schena recently prevailed at arbitration in a matter where a minority shareholder demanded millions of dollars and involuntary dissolution of a company with nearly $50 million in annual revenue. John represented the company and was able to prove the majority shareholder did not breach his fiduciary obligations, distributions of retained earnings to the shareholders were not necessary, and that the minority shareholder had unclean hands that prevented him from properly seeking relief. Thanks to John’s efforts in litigation and Ross Schwartz’s efforts in advising the company, our client is able to keep more than 40 people employed. Kudos to John and Ross!
Dick Semerdjian has been selected the 2021-2022 Chairman of the San Diego Sports Association. The organization is composed of San Diego’s leading sports influencers, champions and supporters who celebrate and support local athletic achievement and youth development through sports. Dick has been involved with various San Diego based sports organizations for the better of 35 years, starting back from the Greater San Diego Sports Association, the San Diego International Sports Council, the San Diego Sports Alliance and the UCSD Triton Athletic Board. The San Diego Sports Association reaches more than 75,000 people a year through awards programs and community outreach initiatives in San Diego. It also supports the Hall of Champions at Petco Park, high school, club and all professional sports in San Diego County.
We are proud to announce the promotion of attorney Kristen Bush to partner. As the firm’s newest partner, Kristen will continue to handle business and commercial litigation, construction litigation and employment litigation.
“Kristen is a longtime attorney with a tremendous track record of client victories, and we are thrilled to be part of this important leadership step in her career,” said SSCE Managing Partner Ross Schwartz. “Kristen’s unique background has flourished over the years and we look forward to continuing to offer her expertise to our clients.”
Kristen Bush specializes in commercial litigation representing individuals and businesses in contract disputes, professional liability, insurance coverage, construction defect, and other business torts. As an experienced litigator representing both plaintiffs and defendants, Kristen focuses on efficient and effective resolution of legal disputes to achieve clients’ goals.
Kristen is dedicated to promoting ethics and professionalism in the field while honing her litigation and leadership skills. She was selected to join the American Bar Association's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Leadership Academy - an honor that only 25 attorneys nationwide receive. In 2021, she was selected as a Super Lawyer, Rising Star in Business Litigation - a peer-reviewed recognition granted to no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state.
Prior to joining Schwartz Semerdjian, Kristen gained experience as a Judicial Extern for a United States District Judge of the Southern District of California. During law school, Kristen was an Executive Editor of the San Diego Law Review and a Law School Councilor on the Graduate Student Council. Kristen is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law and the University of California, Merced.
Kristen and her husband enjoy taking their two young children on camping adventures and cheering on the San Diego Gulls Hockey team.
Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Evans seeks litigation associate attorney with 5-7 years of solid civil litigation experience. Exceptional academic credentials and writing skills required. Compensation commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package including medical, dental, and 401k. Please submit cover letter and resume to Administrator, email@example.com.
Congratulations to John Schena and Kristen Bush who recently prevailed at arbitration defending a claim brought by a business broker against a local business who refused to succumb to pressure and sell its assets at a reduced price. John and Kristen were able to prove that the brokerage firm breached its fiduciary obligations and as such no damages were awarded. Instead, the broker was ordered to pay the client's attorney's fees expended in having to defend the litigation. We are thrilled to have complete defense on the books. Well done, John and Kristen!
Partner Sarah Evans is chair of nonprofit Friends of Balboa Park, and has been at the helm of merger discussions with the Balboa Park Conservancy for many months. The two organizations are slated to merge effective July 1 to leverage each organization’s strengths, combine resources and expertise, as well as enhance support for Balboa Park through fundraising, advocacy, projects and programs. Sarah was quoted in today's UT discussing the topic, read more.
We are thrilled to count another victory for our client - an individual terminated from his position and accused of breaching his fiduciary duties and misappropriation trade secrets. SSCE maintained he was wrongfully terminated to avoid paying contractual severance, and attorneys Ross Schwartz and John Schena aggressively litigated the client's claims. They successfully transferred the action from Nevada to California and pursued novel legal theories until the matter resolved in our client's favor for more than $4.5 million in a non-confidential settlement. Congratulations to our team for another job well done advocating for a client!
Partner Sarah Evans will be a panelist on Strafford Webinars, "Discovery Requests in Employment Litigation" on January 21st. This CLE webinar will guide employment litigators in drafting discovery requests that are likely to survive heightened judicial scrutiny under Rule 26(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The panel will also discuss strategies for objecting to discovery requests that are overly burdensome in a specific manner and producing documents and electronically stored information (ESI) in a timely manner as required by amended Rule 34(b).
Attorneys Kevin Cauley and Kristen Bush are presenting the Associated Subcontractors Alliance annual legal update on January 13th. They will highlight recent cases and 2021 laws likely to impact the construction industry, new licensing requirements related to remodeling contrators and renewals, new laws related to public works projects, employer responsibilities relating to COVID-19, changes to family leave and pay data report requirements.
Schwartz Semerdjian Wins Defamation Ruling Favors Former City Council Members, Client Developer
In what is expected to be a landmark decision, a state appeals court agreed with a local judge who handed victories to two former city council members and a Schwartz Semerdjian developer client in their defamation cases against a former Solana Beach City Council candidate and his campaign manager.
The 4th District Court of Appeal and San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis each now have ruled that former Solana Beach City Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols and developer/client Joseph Balla were maliciously defamed by former Solana Beach City Council candidate Edward Siegel and his campaign manager, Brian Hall.
Hall wrote malicious emails and letters under fake names and sent them to numerous local news outlets, some of whom published the letters online and in print, and also sent them to elected officials throughout the county, public agencies and others.
"Defendant Edward Siegel was an unsuccessful candidate for the Solana Beach City Council in 2016," the Court of Appeal wrote in its January 6 ruling. "During and after the City Council campaign, Siegel's campaign manager, defendant Brian Hall, sent a letter to the editor, distributed emails to local government and media, and posted Facebook messages about City Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols, and their relationship with local developer Joseph Balla. Primarily using a fictional person he created, 'Andrew Jones,' Hall asserted or implied that Heebner and Nichols lobbied for the North County Transit District (NCTD) to select Balla for a Solana Beach train station project in exchange for Balla giving them design work on the project and directing a charitable donation to a nature conservancy they supported."
The court continued: "Hall appealed, contending the trial court erred by denying his motions...In essence, his position is that his publications were political opinions about a conflict of interest and not actionable. We disagree. Although political speech is appropriately accorded wide latitude, especially in election campaigns, calculated or reckless falsehoods can still amount to defamation even in that context. The record reflects that at the time of the publications, Hall knew or at least consciously disregarded the fact that Heebner and Nichols had no role in the NCTD selection process and the NCTD had no agreement with Balla." As the court indicated, the case stems from letters to the editor and a series of emails and social media posts that circulated publicly during and after Siegel's failed city coucil bid. The communications were drafted by Hall but published under fake names.
Partner Dick Semerdjian, attorney for Balla, said: "Judge Lewis saw those letters for what they were - blatant and malicious attempts to smear my client. Defamation cases are not easily won but in this case the evidence was overwhelming. I expect this case will be cited for years to come in courtrooms across the state in cases which involve reckless and untrue statements guised as 'polital speech' in election campaigns."
Click here to continue reading the Court of Appeal ruling.
We are excited to announce the newest member of our team, Kayla Kuhn. She is an associate on the firm's litigaton team, representing individuals and businesses in personal injury, employment, and business matters.
Prior to joining Schwartz Semerdjian, Kayla worked on both the plaintiff and defense side of cases. She previously praticed at a civil litigation firm where she represented businesses and individuals in a wide array of cases from premises liability to insurance bad faith.
Kayla attended the University of San Diego School of Law where she received her Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Civil Litigation. Welcome, Kayla!