Serious Personal Injury
Van v. van auto accident (Claim against city)
The firm represented several people injured in a van accident, along with family members of two people killed in the accident. A lawsuit was filed against the driver of the other van which collided head on with the van the firm’s clients and family members were riding in. The other van was unmarked and it was unknown if the driver was working at the time, because initially he was too was seriously injured to speak with. The firm went to the salvage yard where the both vans were being stored and while photographing the other driver’s van, discovered a small QRQ code on the exterior. When the QRQ code was scanned with the lawyer’s phone, it turned out to be an advertisement for a repair company. From that, the firm was able to track down the company that dispatched the driver of the van, which was on its way to a service call at the time of the accident. The company and their insurance carrier initially denied liability, saying the driver was an independent contractor, not their employee, and they were merely a service matching those needing appliance repairs, with repairmen. However, upon viewing the website of the company, it was clear there was a close connection between the company and the repairmen. The website referred to “our repairmen” and made representations about training. The insurance company changed its mind and paid out the limits of their policy in the amount of $100,000, a small amount in relation to the horrible and devastating injuries.
Next the firm made a claim against the city which owned and maintained the roadway where the accident occurred. The city denied the claim. However, we visited the scene with law enforcement, and other times with an engineer. The firm pointed out to the engineer that as you approach the scene of the accident from the other driver’s position and direction of travel, the view of what the driver would have seen created a deceptive and dangerous condition, not otherwise visible from other angles. Upon further investigation and based on the findings of the expert (including the accident history at the scene, and what appeared to be faint remnants of an prior accident memorial at the site), the firm was able to convince the city that their failure to maintain the shoulder area of the road had resulted in a condition which caused the other driver to over correct when he encountered the defect, and careen into the lane of the van carrying the firm’s clients and family members of clients, thereby causing the tragic accident. The city settled the case for nearly $11,000,000.
Private Loan Fraud
Loans in China, borrower flees to California
The firm’s client loaned a businessman in China 20 million rmb (over $3,000.000). The loans were confirmed by promissory notes. Shortly thereafter, the borrower fled China and settled in Southern California with his wife, and using his wife’s name or other businesses she formed, purchased several residential properties in affluent neighborhoods to lease out, while they lived in one. The borrower had also performed the same scam on others in China and several people were looking for him. The firm’s investigator located the defendant by posing, along with his secretary, as a couple interested in renting one of the houses listed on line for rent, remarkably using the name of the borrower’s wife. Once located, the firm quickly prepared a lawsuit and put a lis pendens (similar to a lien) on the properties. The defendants (which now included the borrower’s wife and her companies), filed a motion with the Court seeking to remove the lis pendens, claiming they were not lawful. After the firm, in its filing with the Court, explained the history of the loan transactions, and the travel patterns and real estate purchases of the defendants, the Motion to remove the lis pendens (so the defendants could quickly dispose of the properties) was denied. The defendants sought relief in the Appellate Court, but this was quickly refused. Although defendants now claimed they had no money, the firm’s lawyers demanded that the defendants deed all of the properties to the firm’s client to settle the case, and if they agreed, they could pick one (but not the most valuable) to retain as their residence. The defendants agreed, four (4) properties were deeded to the plaintiff, and the lawyers arranged to have the properties sold and the funds were distributed to the firm’s client.
Unfortunately, the firm has discovered the facts of this case are not unique and encountered a similar fact pattern again, but using the same methods as earlier, was able to settle the second case during the trial, with property being sold and an agreed sum paid to the firm’s client from the proceeds.
Presently the firm has a third similar matter that is still pending.
Impersonating a homeowner to get a loan secured by the real owner’s property
We have represented homeowners who, not having any mortgage on their property, become targets for criminal gangs who create IDs, pretend to be the homeowner, obtain a loan secured by the property, and then default on the loans after making a payment or two. The firm has protected the homeowner’s interest and title to the property, and has succeeded in getting the Deeds of Trust recorded against the properties to secure the fraudulent loans, removed. The FBI, familiar with the firm’s prior work, referred a similar matter to the firm, which was successfully resolved.
Class action against chain restaurant
Real Estate Dispute
The firm recently represented a husband and wife from Hong Kong in litigation with the wife’s brother concerning ownership interests in a residential rental property in the San Gabriel Valley. The property had been occupied by the wife’s brother for many years, and mysteriously the Hong Kong couple’s interest had been deeded away to the brother.
During the litigation the firm had the husband and wife’s interest restored, and they sought to have the property sold. The brother, who still resided in a portion of one of the structures on the property refused to sell and was collecting rents from the remainder of the property without sharing the rents with his sister and her husband. The resident brother did not contribute any of the down payment for the property when it was purchased several years earlier, although his sister believed he had. He obtained loans on the property, some of which were used for his personal expenses and travel. The sister had contributed significant sums over the years to the property.
At trial, the judge ruled in favor of the Hong Kong couple and ordered the property sold, and the return to them of the sums they had contributed, including the $90,000 down payment. The proceeds of the sale were to be split between the parties, with the mortgages to be paid from the resident brother’s share of the proceeds.
Counterfeit Goods/Trademark Infringement
The firm has handled a number of cases involving the alleged sale of counterfeit products including phone cases, shoes, jeans, designer scarves, jewelry, hand bags, sun glasses, etc. We have represented both the alleged unauthorized seller and the trademark holder, so we understand the arguments both sides should make.
All cases have been resolved in a manner satisfactory to the clients. In the situation where representation has been of the alleged infringer, settlements have included a cessation of sales, disclosure of the source of supply, and on occasion, the payment of a small amount of money, but cases have also resolved without the payment of any money.
Where our representation was of the trademark holder, we have obtained injunctive relief preventing the further sale of the infringing products, as well as monetary compensation.
The firm recently represented a woman who was sued by someone who was owed nearly $400,000 by her husband, from whom she had separated. The husband had deeded his interest in the family home to her four years prior to the loan from the plaintiff.
The transfer had earlier been determined to be a “fraudulent transfer” by the appellate court in unrelated litigation in 2001 involving a bank. The plaintiff relied on that earlier judicial determination of fraudulent transfer, and argued it applied to the later loan as well. The firm’s motion for summary judgment in favor of its client was granted, and the wife’s home was saved from efforts to use it to satisfy the debt of her now ex-husband.
In another matter, the firm represented a woman in China who loaned a businessman there over $3,000,000. The businessman and his wife fled to California and purchased several homes, and leased them out. Once the businessman and his wife were located, by a private detective posing as a potential tenant in one of the luxury properties purchased with the client’s funds, a lawsuit was brought against him and his wife alleging several claims, including fraudulent conveyance because the businessman transferred the client’s money he borrowed to his wife and another company, who then purchased the properties.
A lien (lis pendens) was placed on the properties which the defendant sought to have removed and lost. The case was settled when the defendants agreed to transfer 5 properties to the firm’s client to be sold, with the agreement, that the defendant could have the proceeds from one of the properties. Had the firm not been able to force the transfer of the properties to its client, she likely would never have recovered any money.
The firm recently settled another case in a similar manner. The defendant borrowed several million dollars from the firm’s client and fled to California, just like in the case above. The defendant denied borrowing money from the client, however in deposition the defendant acknowledged that he borrowed the money but was not sure how much. The firm negotiated a settlement with the agreement that a property alleged to have been purchased with the client’s funds would be sold and the client paid the agreed amount. The property was sold within a few months and the client was paid.
Wrongful Death Defense
A liquor store owner was sued by the family of a man who was shot and killed by the store owner as he tried to rob the store. Relying on a law that provides that a lawsuit cannot be brought by someone who was injured while committing a felony, the firm argued that the statute should include claims by heirs of a decedent killed while committing a felony. The court agreed, and summary judgment was granted in favor of the firm’s client. Mr. Gross then sued the lawyer who had filed the lawsuit against the liquor store owner and obtained a settlement wherein the plaintiff’s lawyer paid the defendant money for suing him.
In another wrongful death claim, the firm defended a man whose ex-girlfriend was accidentally killed as he pulled away from her house while retrieving his belongings. Initially the police investigated the matter as a possible homicide but concluded that no crime had occurred. Shortly thereafter, the firm’s client was sued by the two children of the decedent for wrongful death.
The firm’s client was driving a company vehicle at the time of the accident, although he was on a personal errand, and the firm demanded that the employer’s insurance defend him and pay any damages. Evidence was uncovered that the employer placed the client in a position that he had to have the company car due to an early work schedule the following morning. As a result, the insurance company agreed to pay all continuing legal fees of the firm during the case, as well as reimburse the client for fees he had spent earlier, and settled the case at a mediation, paying 100 percent of the settlement amount.
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards
We have successfully enforced arbitration awards in the United States based on awards issued by arbitrators in China. Pursuant to a treaty, foreign arbitration awards are enforceable in the United States upon application to a state or federal Court, and a hearing following briefing.
We have obtained enforcement and collection for Chinese manufacturers who won significant sums against U.S. companies doing business with them, but were unable to collect. Through the efforts of the firm, these awards were entered as judgments in California and collected or settlement obtained prior to entry.
The firm was contacted by a gentleman who, following release from prison, was turned over to immigration authorities based on an “immigration hold” since he had been ordered deported to South Korea.
An immigration hold is when someone remains in custody following release from jail or prison because they don’t have lawful status in the U.S. or are the subject of a deportation order. The firm was contacted by the detainee’s sister. The firm traveled several hours to meet the client in custody and during the interview became suspicious of the client’s background and questioned the sister further. It was revealed that the sister was actually the mother of the client.
Further follow up with the mother revealed the truth about the family history. The father of the client was a U.S. citizen, a fact that the mother had never told her son. Therefore, the client was a U.S. citizen as a result of being born to a U.S. citizen and was entitled to remain in the U.S.
The firm represented a 50 percent owner of a corporation which was a wholesale seller of frozen seafood that distributed its products throughout the United States. The firm’s client voluntarily left the company based on the promise that he would be paid for his interest in the company. After he left, his former partner refused to pay him and started a new company with a similar name and continued to do the same business from the same location. He contended the firm’s client abandoned the company. The case proceeded to trial, and the firm’s client was awarded over $2.7 million.