Business Litigation Cases

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire’s award-winning team of San Diego business litigation attorneys handle a wide variety of complex business cases. Our practice includes business disputes, tortuous interference, breach of contract, fraud, fraudulent conveyance and bet-    the-company litigation.

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Our business litigation team has earned numerous awards and accolades for our creative and dynamic approach to resolving business disputes through verdict and/or settlement.

Below are our more notable cases. If you cannot find one similar to yours, please call as this list only represents a few of the business litigation cases we have handled.

Seymour/Lewis Development v. Otay Water District

A $2,000,000.00 settlement in a contaminated water case involving reclaimed sewage water piped into an industrial park. Seymour Lewis, a family company, developed a high class industrial plaza in the South Bay Eastlake community of San Diego in 2005. The plaza attracted quality tenants and was a good draw in Eastlake during 2005, 2006, and 2007. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2007, the tenants began to complain about water quality (we now know that the reason for the late discovery was that Otay Water completely eliminated the previous practice of diluting the reclaimed water by mixing potable water into its reclaimed water system). Otay Water was called multiple times to address the problem and insisted that there was no problem. Frustrated, Seymour Lewis sent the water out for testing at its own expense. The testing revealed that the water was reclaimed sewer water, containing many toxins and bacteria. The connection of Seymour Lewis’s potable water pipes to the Otay Water reclaimed water system appears to have occurred because, when Otay Water inspected the reclaimed water box on Harold Street in July 2005, they mistakenly determined that it should have been labeled as potable water. They ordered it changed to a potable water box and the Seymour Lewis contractor connected their potable pipes to that reclaimed water strictly due to the “potable water” label.

Fidel Barajas; Deborah Barajas; Jason Blade; Anna Blade; Gina Bressinger; James Butler; Robert Garcia; Linda Garcia; Paul Gomez; Allan Heller; Patricia Heller; Charles Peinado; Nancy Peinado; Rene Quintanilla; Karen Quintanilla; Individually, Plaintiffs, v. The Residences, a Mexican Entity, Defendant.

A $1,070,000.00 verdict in a Mexican real estate fraud case on behalf of 15 plaintiffs. The case involved lost deposits on condominiums when a development near Rosarito Beach in Baja lost financing. The victims had been told it was an American development by an experienced developer when in fact the developer had no experience in large scale developments and the escrow accounts were not protected, but were used to pay construction costs, salaries, sales commissions, and to repay a line of credit. By the time the bank pulled financing the purchasers’ deposits were depleted.

Manis et al v. Hassan Yarpezeshkan and Dr. Arthur Laffer

A $3,200,000.00 settlement after the Jury reached a verdict, but prior to the reading of the verdict. An interesting case of alleged fraud involving patents and high technology. Plaintiffs alleged that they were told that the company had already developed and held multiple patents for the holy grail of alternative energy storage – a battery-less power supply. In order to get the plaintiffs to invest in their company, they alleged that the defendant said that they had already marketed this new product to huge customers like Microsoft and ATT. Some months later the defendant introduced the plaintiffs to their “business advisor” and board member, Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, author of the Laffer Curve. After meeting such a celebrity the plaintiffs invested in the company. In reality, at the time the plaintiffs invested in the company, it had only one patent, only a prototype product, no customers, and in fact the plaintiffs were the only other investors beyond the founders of the company. Summary only available. Read more about this case in The San Diego Reader’s article.

La Jolla Alta Master Council v. City of San Diego

This complex case handled by partner Mickey McGuire was an inverse condemnation action with elements of land subsidence involving an improperly maintained storm drain system in a La Jolla Canyon that threatened the homeowners living in on and in the area of Alta La Jolla Drive. In a La Jolla neighborhood near Soledad Mountain Road, the City of San Diego created and operated a storm drainage system that incorporated property owned by Plaintiff. The operation of this storm drainage system by the City over several years created a massive ravine across Plaintiff’s property, threatening citizens, homes, and Alta La Jolla Drive, a public road. The homeowners brought an inverse condemnation action against the City to force repairs and prevent a landslide. After the verdict a settlement of $4,500,000.00 plus over $5,000,000.00 in repairs was reached for damage caused by the operation of its storm drain system.

State of California v. Anderprises, Inc.

Caltrans contended that the Andersons had never intended to develop the property and that the property was, at best, valued as a speculative investment that would probably always be open space.

Filmwest Productions v. Arizona Department of Commerce

An unusual case in Arizona involving denial of tax incentives for a movie picture production company. The Arizona Department of Commerce, in violation of Arizona law, denied our client the tax incentives they were entitled to even though our client met all the legal requirements and that the incentives were mandatory. A bench verdict for our clients. Lead attorney was partner Karen R. Frostrom.

Walter F. Sweeney v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Plan

Sweeney alleged that his chronic drug addiction and consequent inability to maintain the requisite mental state for employment was caused by the indiscriminate drug practices of the NFL. By Sweeney’s own account, team personnel with the Chargers and Redskins recommended and supplied to him a plethora of prescription strength controlled substances. The Court’s opinion noted the careful administration of amphetamines by trainers before Sunday games and important practice sessions followed by post contest barbiturates of various sorts, also administered by trainers, was Sweeney’s typical regimen for approximately the last 10 years of his football career. Plaintiff awarded $4,000 a month in benefits for the rest of his life, with retroactivity to 1976, the year he left football. Judge also awarded plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs. Case reversed on appeal.

Ahmad, et al. v. Foodmaker, Inc.; Hamburger Patty Cases (Foodmaker v. Vons)

$58,000,000.00 settlement in the Jack In The Box food poisoning case on behalf of Foodmaker Corp, the parent corporation of Jack In The Box.

County of San Diego v. RanchoVista Del Mar (De La Fuente)

A $55,000,000.00 verdict at the first trial which was the largest condemnation verdict in the history of the state at that time. Ordered on appeal for retrial, the case eventually settled for $40,000,000.00.

U.S.A./Colunga v. Hercules, Inc., et al.

The largest settlement ($55,000,000) in the history of the False Claims Act where the Government did not intervene in the action, and was larger than all the prior such settlements combined. This Qui Tam action filed in the U.S. District Court in Utah involved an action in the name of the U.S. Government for damages arising from the falsification of manufacturing and inspection records on nine solid fuel motor rocket systems [Trident I, C-4; Trident II, C-5; Titan IV, Delta, Pershing II, Sram, MX – Peacekeeper; Pegasus, and ICBM] over a ten year period.

Border Business Park v. City of San Diego

A breach of contract and inverse condemnation action against the city of San Diego resulting in a $94,500,000.00 jury verdict. Post verdict the judge granted fees and interest bringing the result for our client to above $136,000,000.00

Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Diego v. Ahmad Mesdaq (SDSC Case No. GIC 829293)(condemnation), consolidated with Ahmad Mesdaq v. Centre City Development Corporation (SDSC Case No. 828361)(inverse condemnation)

A $7,785,131.83 jury verdict for an inverse condemnation case involving an Afghan refugee who owned the Gran Havana Cigar Company in the Gas Lamp district of San Diego. After a rags-to-riches success story following Ahmad Mesdaq’s family’s fleeing Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the City of San Diego at the behest of developers condemned his business. A complicated case involving consolidated actions, the City actually allowed the developers to pay for the attorneys used to enforce the condemnation action. A fascinating and relevant case that illustrates just how far local government will go to pacify big money developers in the light of the recent Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling.

Sarka Southern, Ph.D. v. Regents of the University of California

A $1,502,106.00 jury verdict in a Third Party Beneficiary/Breach of Contract trial. Our client was Dr. Sarka Southern, Phd. A Czech immigrant, Dr. Southern was accepted at UCSD as a post-doctoral fellow in microbiology. After raising two children and studying fishing stress on dolphins and whales she realized that the stress factors she discovered could be useful in the detection and treatment of HIV/AIDS. After presenting her theories to UCSD they agreed to assign her a mentor so that she could receive a short-term developmental grant related to research leading to a NIMH Re-entry grant intended to help scientists who had been away from academia. Inexplicably, on May 9, 2004 Ð only four months after the grant award Ð Dr. Ellis returned the money to the NIH and informed Dr. Southern that he had done so. The given reason was that he had determined that her project was not feasible. For a month, Dr. Southern worked to reinstate the grant or find an explanation. Then, on June 10, 2004, the dean of the medical school informed Dr. Southern that neither he nor anyone else at UCSD intended to provide any further assistance. Dr. Southern was left with a year and a half of her work wasted.

North San Diego Transit Development Board v. Bivin, et al. and related cases North San Diego Transit Development Board v. Pribil, North San Diego Transit Development Board v. Buffone; and North San Diego Transit Development Board v. Cline

A $1,187,250.00 eminent domain settlement on behalf of 26 San Marcos area homeowners. The Walnut Hills area of San Marcos is a rustic community with a country lifestyle. The North County Transit District wanted to expand rail service in the area, running a diesel train past their homes every six minutes and offered them an insulting total of $34,000.00 for ruining their rustic way of life.

People of the State of California v. Grigory Zubkis and Rimma Zubkis, et al.

$2,750,000.00 plus interest totalling $2,790,711.00 settlement for an eminent domain case involving the taking of a private residence for road expansion.

Morton J. Carlile and Morton J. Carlile Insurance Agency, Inc. V. Farmers Group, Inc., et al.

A $328,000.00 jury verdict in a Breach of Contract, Breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing suit brought by an insurance agent against Farmers Insurance. Lead attorney was partner Mickey McGuire with former associate James Atkins.

Mary Lynn and Warren Reichelt v. California Department of Transportation

An $89,000.00 price differential settlement on a writ of mandamus action resolving an issue where our client was relocated to an inferior neighborhood by CalTrans. Lead attorney partner Vincent J. Bartolotta with associate Karen Frostrom.

The County of San Diego v. National Quarries, Inc.

Plaintiff County of San Diego alleged that National Quarries was operating in excess of its vested rights and that its operations must be reduced.

Nastich v. City of Escondido

An inverse condemnation case involving a road expansion that caused flooding and toxic mold contamination, The case eventually settled for $525,000. Lead attorney was Vincent J. Bartolotta, Jr with partner Karen R. Frostrom.

A condemnation case against CalTrans involving just compensation and damages to property that diminished its fair market value. Lead attorney Vincent J. Bartolotta, Jr with partner Karen R. Frostrom.

Passante v. Upper Deck

$33,000,000.00 – Verdict. Fraud/Breach of Contract action by Upper Deck Baseball Card Company.

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