In The News


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,


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!