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Why We're Good

Experience. Personal Attention. Hands on Approach.


Our attorneys have been serving clients in court for over a combined 50 years and have a long track record of success.

Personal Attention:

We offer our clients the depth of experience of a large law firm with the personal service of a small firm.

Hands on Approach

We believe that legal problems are dealt with most efficiently when the same lawyers manage the case from beginning to end.

No matter which of our practice areas your issue involves, your case will not be passed around from lawyer to lawyer, from paralegal to secretary. It will be dealt with by the same attorneys from start to finish.

You can take our word for it or hear from others.

Vista Consultants, Laguna Beach, CA
REO World, Newport Beach, CA
Tresor Development, Laguna Beach, CA
Horst Architects, Laguna Beach, CA
Hon. Judge James Gray (Ret.), Newport Beach, CA
Marshall Ininns Design Group, Laguna Beach, CA
Casa Resorts, Christopher Keller
Elderly Housing Development Operations Corporation – Patricia Kohnke, Miami, Fla
The Shopoff Group, Irvine CA

Respect from Peers, Gratitude from Clients

Our firm is AV-rated* under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system. Our lawyers have experience assisting clients with issues in the areas of business litigation and real estate law, and are adept at handling issues from unfair competition disputes to land use matters and interfacing with local planning commissions.

View our case results:

Design and Construction Defect - Earthquake Damage (Residential): We obtained a $6,028,534.04 settlement for homeowners in Los Angeles County whose homes were damages by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Theories against the developer, general contractor and structural engineer included the fact that information developed from the Sylmar earthquake was available but not used in the design and layout of these hillside lots, leading to failure of foundations spanning transition lines between cut and fill soil masses. Many of these homes broke in two during the earthquake. Simple changes in the subsurface design could have been made at modest additional expense.

Defective Design and Construction (72 Unit Senior Housing Facility) - We negotiated a settlement of $4,257,382.14 in a case against architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors for a senior housing structure the city of Bell, California. The structure had serious water damage due to window, deck and roof problems. There were also serious problems involving a structural concrete elevated slab that served as the floor of an expansive atrium area.

Construction Defect (Hotel) - In a construction defect case, we recovered $1,517,792 for a hotel client for damages arising from negligently constructed exterior decking. This hotel, consisting of eight separate buildings located in the Disneyland area, featured exterior access to all guest rooms. The second and third floor rooms were accessed by wood framed balcony walkways. The surfaces of the walkways were coated with a polymer and sand material. The absence of slope on the decks, coupled with the negligent application of the polymer and sand mixture, allowed water to accumulate on the deck surfaces and abnormally rapid degradation of the topping material.

Insurance Bad Faith - In a case for bad faith and breach of contract against an California liability insurance company, we obtained a $1,000,000 settlement for a construction contractor based on the insurer's failure to defend under a liability insurance policy. Our clients, a contractor and his wife in their early sixties, were sued for alleged defective construction of a home. The insurer initially defended the action, but withdrew the defense on the eve of trial. The trial was continued, and the insureds paid for their own defense depleting their savings and requiring them to borrow money from their children. After several months, the insurer again agreed to defend, but threatened to sue the insured to recover all money spent in defense after the case was concluded. The insurer refused to reimburse the insureds the money they paid out of pocket to provide their own defense.

Breach of Contract - Commercial Real Estate - We obtained an arbitration award of $920,000 arising out of our client's sale of commercial real estate to a buyer who failed to perform. The buyer sued to recover back deposits made toward the purchase, citing defects in the property allegedly revealed during due diligence. The claimed defects were not timely raised, nor were they ever substantiated. Our client retained all deposits and recovered $65,030.25 in attorney's fees and costs under the contract.

Personal Injury Defense - Workers Compensation - Insurance Broker Malpractice: After falling head first from an 18' ladder, an employee of our painting contractor client suffered a traumatic head injury resulting in permanent severe disability. The workers compensation carrier for the contractor rescinded to policy issued to the contractor based on fraud in the application. We settled the workers compensation case against our client for a structure of $758,100, and recovered $830,000 from the insurance broker who placed the policy, and who was responsible for the fraud leading to the rescission.

Construction Defect - Earth Movement - Single Family Residence: We negotiated an $856,000 settlement for damage to a large home in South Orange County caused by earth movement. The house is located in a gated community in San Juan Capistrano. It was constructed on expansive soil typical of the area. The depth of the soil under the house varied from 2' to 16'. Recovery was against the site developer, grading contractor and soils engineer.

Defective Construction (70 Unit Senior Housing Facility): The claim, involving water damage due to problems with windows and storefront glass systems, was resolved for $740,000. The structure is located in downtown Los Angeles.

Architectural Negligence (Concert Hall) - We obtained a $680,000 settlement in an architectural malpractice case by our client, a concert venue, based on faulty design of interior space. The concert venue was a two-tiered design, allowing the stage to be viewed from a surrounding balcony above, and from the stage level floor below. There was a problem viewing from the upper tier, in that unless patrons were at the outer edge, the view of the stage was blocked by the structure of the balcony. The balcony had to be reconfigured to allow the stage to be viewed from above.

Construction Defect - Defective Design and Construction - Site Drainage and Water Damage: We recovered $178,190.83 for homeowners in Riverside County on a claim involving defective site drainage.

Construction Defect - Defective Site Drainage (Residential) - In a construction defect case, we recovered $515,000 for clients for damages arising out of civil engineering, construction and site drainage problems.

Unfair Competition (Libel. Trade Libel) - Pharmaceutical Wholesaler - In an unfair competition case arising out of the distribution of human blood fractions, our client, a pharmaceutical wholesaler, received a settlement of $500,000 in a case against a competitor. The competitor contacted the customers of our client, a newcomer to the business, and accused our client of violating several laws dealing with the wholesale marketing of prescription drugs. The claims were not true. There was no evidence of actual lost sales, but based on the statements made, damages were presumed.

Construction Defect - Defective Design - Soils: We obtained a $450,000 settlement in a case against a developer, grading contractor, soils engineer and concrete contractor for damage to a tract home in Walnut, California damaged due to differential settlement of the soil under the house.

Construction Defect - Defective Design - Soils and Foundation - We obtained a $235,000 settlement in a case against a grading contractor, developer and general contractor on a custom home in San Juan Capistrano, California damaged by differential settlement of soil under the house.

Insurance Bad Faith: We negotiated a $400,000 settlement for our client on an assigned claim against an insurance company. The insurance company backed out of settlement negotiations immediately before a global settlement was reached with other defendants and cross defendants. Our client had offered to settle the claim with the insured plumbing sub contractor for $50,000. The insurer withdrew based on exclusion in the policy. After proving up a judgment against the plumber, we sued the insurer for bad faith. During depositions of underwriters, we learned that the exclusion relied upon was not intended by the insurer to apply in the manner asserted by the claims department, and that there was in fact coverage for the claim. Title Insurance (Commercial): In an action against a title insurance company, we obtained settlement for our client of $386,000 principal payment, plus $33,000 in interest and reimbursement of $7,500 in attorney's fees. The case involved a title company failing to discover a recorded zoning restriction which rendered a portion of a large parcel undevelopable. The title company compensated the insured for the difference in value of the parcels as of the date of the purchase.

Insurance Bad Faith - Jury Verdict: We obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $273,000 for an insurance company's bad faith failure to defend its insured HOA on a cross complaint filed by the developer alleging negligent maintenance contributing to defects. The construction defect action was initiated by the HOA. They were sued for allegedly failing to properly maintain the property, causing or contributing to the damage. The Court found that a duty to defend existed, and the case went to the jury on the issue of breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing.

Breach of Contract - Failure to Pay Commission to Salesman: We obtained a settlement of $95,000 for a commission sales person in the construction field. Our client left the employ of the manufacturer after sales were made and booked, but before the contracted goods were installed and payment was received. The manufacturer failed to pay, stating that our client was no longer "employed' by the company. We took the position that the agreement and course of dealing, the commissions were earned when the sales were booked, and the fact that our client was no longer selling for the company was irrelevant.

Real Estate Broker - Fraud (Commercial Real Estate) - In a commercial real estate matter claiming fraud against our client, we defended our client in trial brought by an unsuccessful buyer if a commercial property. The plaintiff claimed damages of $4,000,000, and demanded that amount in settlement. Our clients offered $400,000 to settle the case, which was rejected by plaintiff. We tried the case to a verdict of $95,000.

Architectural Negligence and Breach of Contract - Defense (Residential) - We defended an architect against a $120,000 negligence, breach of contract and misrepresentation claim. In arbitration under AIA form B-151, we obtained a defense award in favor of our client, and an attorney's fee award of $26,142.91 under the "resulting cost" provision of the contract.

Plaintiff Personal Injury - Auto Accident: Our client was injured when her car was rear ended at an intersection on coast highway. She did not report the claim to the negligent driver's insurer for nearly one year. At the time of the accident, she was scheduled for shoulder surgery, which took place a few months after the accident. It was during the rehabilitation of the shoulder after surgery that she began noticing the pain specifically attributable to the accident. She was examined and it was determined that she had a disc injury attributable to the accident. The insurer offered $13,000 to settle the case. The client had surgery to correct the disc and nerve problems. On the eve of trial, the insurer offered the policy limit of the driver's $100,000 policy.

Mold - Plaintiff Personal Injury (Rental Apartment) - We represented a couple in their seventies who rented an apartment in Orange County. Their unit was situated in a shady area, in a lower elevation of the complex. They also enjoyed running the air conditioner and leaving the windows closed. Mold developed in the apartment. It would be cleaned by the apartment maintenance people every few months. After several months, our clients developed symptoms. Medical tests revealed sensitivity to the mold that grew in the apartment. We negotiated a $190,400 settlement to compensate them for their injuries and personal property damage.

Variance for Encroachment due to Construction Mistake - Obtained a variance from a southern California city for a 1 foot encroachment in a side yard setback based on a construction mistake. In this case, the plans and site plan showed the proper location of the structure, but the contractor built the home one foot too far to the North. The error was not discovered until the house was near completion. The city issued a "red tag" and demanded the house be partially demolished and reconstructed so it did not encroach.

Neighbor Encroachment: We obtained an order reestablishing a lot line after 30 year encroachment by a neighbor. The reestablishment of the fence line resulted in a 10% increase of the useable lot area for our client. Relocation of the fence line was resisted by the encroaching neighbor on the theories that she had acquired a prescriptive easement, that the boundary was relocated on the theory of "agreed boundary", and that she had acquired title by adverse possession. It was determined that there was no "prescriptive easement". An easement is a right to "use' someone else's property for a specific purpose. The encroaching neighbor simply fenced the true owner out of his property, using the extra land for nothing other than to expand her yard. There was no "agreed boundary" because there was neither a mistake as to where the true boundary was, nor an agreement as to where it should be relocated. Finally, there was no adverse possession in that the encroaching land owner never paid taxes on the area in dispute.

Yacht Fraud - Plaintiff Verdict: A jury awarded $67,000 verdict against a southern California yacht broker and consignor, and punitive damages of $10,000 against the consignor of a power boat offered for sale through the broker and purchased by our client. The yacht, a gleaming 32' Fountain was purchased used by our client. After several problems with the boat, he contacted us. We discovered that the boat had previously sunk. Nothing about the problem was mentioned in the marketing materials at the time of sale.

Action Against Homeowners Association for Failure to Enforce CC&R's - We obtained a jury verdict of $99,781 and costs of $11,804.30 against a Southern California Homeowners Association for failing to require compliance with the tree trimming and view provisions set for the in the CC&Rs.

Construction Defect - Jury Trial: We obtained a jury verdict of $71,498.82 for property damage, and costs and attorneys fees of $150,000 in a lawsuit for construction defects in a Laguna Beach home.

Zoning and Land Use - Signage and Right to Display Nationally Prominent Brand: We successfully represented the predominant coffee seller in the country in an administrative matter in which their right to display their sign and brand was sharply limited. The Company has a distinctive brand with raised metallic block letters. These were said to be inconsistent with the City's aesthetic preference wooden signs with wooden letters. Arguing the value and importance placed on developing and promoting brands, we were able to convince the planning commission of the importance to businesses of displaying their brands in a manner consistent with the style they developed. The City should not displace a company's brand solely to accommodate the City's aesthetic. We were able to work with the City and the client's architect to preserve the display of the brand and logo in the large storefront street side window.

Zoning and Land Use - Opposed Amendment to General Plan: We worked on behalf of business owners in the City of Orange to salvage a valuable zoning designation that the City had determined to change through amendment of the General Plan. Through the hearing process, we were able to convince the planners, the planning commission and ultimately the City Council that the existing zoning for this small cul de sac should be retained. The City agreed and carved our clients' development out of the more restrictive zoning change.

Auto Accident - Personal Injury and Property Damage: Our clients, a couple in their 90s were involved in a collision with a drunk driver. Injuries were minor, but the car was totaled. All parties were insured by the same insurance company. That insurance company demanded that the auto property damage claim of $18,000 be paid by our clients' auto policy. When it came time to settle the lawsuit, which involved claims for both personal injury and property damage, the insurance company (under the liability policy issued to the drunk driver) demanded an offset for the property damage previously paid. We successfully argued that the insurer was not entitled to an offset. The money was paid under the policy issued to the plaintiff. Furthermore, the insurer was not entitled to recover under a theory of subrogation, because subrogation is not available against a company's own insured.

Zoning and Land Use: An historic hotel in Laguna Beach was prohibited by the city from serving food and beverages on a picturesque, open air rooftop deck. The city attempted to close the property by limiting the use though the use of the Conditional Use Permit process. The Conditional Use Permit application for use of the Roof Top deck was rejected unanimously by the city's Planning Commission. We were able to reverse that decision at the City Council level, assisting our client in garnering a unanimous approval of the requested use. This is one of the most popular locales in Laguna Beach.

Zoning and Land Use - Allocation of Redevelopment Fees: We represent a homeowners association owning property adjacent to a Santa Ana commercial redevelopment area. The redevelopment area creates impacts on the neighborhood including noise and traffic. We negotiated a settlement that required a portion of all redevelopment fees paid by developers be allocated to our clients to construct soundproofing walls around the entire development, for the maintenance of those walls, and for general beautification around the neighborhood.

Construction Defect-Commercial Office Building: We negotiated a settlement totaling over $580,000 in a case against the general contractor and subcontractors who had constructed a small office building owned by our client in Mission Viejo California. The structure suffered significant water damage due to faulty installation of window, improper installation of sheet metal around HVAC penetrations on the roof, and improper, and ineffective installation of waterproofing at the subterranean parking garage.

Construction Contract-Extra Work and Delay Claims: In that same case, we successfully defended the building owner, at arbitration, against claims totaling nearly $1,000,000 for extra compensation and delay damages asserted by the general contractor. The general contractor claimed that defects in the plans and owner inefficiency in responding to requests for information caused a project planned for one year to be extended an additional 18 months. We presented evidence that the general contractor poorly sequenced the job resulting in much of the delay and that, in any event, the general contractor failed to follow the procedures in its own contract form necessary to make a claim for delay and extra compensation.

Construction Defect-Residential decks: We negotiated a settlement on behalf of our clients in excess of $120,000 in a case brought by our clients arising from defects in the construction of exterior decks on their hillside home located in Laguna Beach, California. Our clients purchased the home, which had been rebuilt after the Laguna Beach fires, only to discover that the waterproofing of the decks had been improperly installed such that the structural components of the deck had become so dry rotted as to render the decks unsafe and unusable, diminishing our clients' ability to enjoy the ocean views from their property. The settlement we achieved allowed our clients to repair their decks so that they could once again be enjoyed.

Premises Liability Defense: We successfully defended a homeowner, at trial, against a claim for personal injuries suffered by the plaintiff while walking on the sidewalk in front of our client's home. The plaintiff claimed that our client had allowed plants from her yard to grow into the sidewalk creating a trip hazard. Plaintiff claimed that, as a result, she suffered damages in excess of $200,000. After four days of trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense in under an hour.

Boating Accident Defense: We successfully defended our client, the owner of a personal watercraft, against a claim for property damage and personal injuries after his guest, while riding the watercraft, collided with a brand new boat owned by the plaintiff. While we recognized the potential for a verdict against us, and recommended that monies be offered to settle the case, when the plaintiff refused our offer, we successfully obtained a unanimous jury verdict in our client's favor after five days of trial.

Premises Liability Defense: We obtained a jury verdict on behalf of our client after a seven day jury trial in which the plaintiff claimed she suffered a broken ankle after tripping on a concealed sprinkler riser on our client's property. We were able to present evidence that the plaintiff did not trip on the sprinkler at all and likely tripped while loading rocks from our client's property into her van. While plaintiff claimed damages in excess of $300,000, we were able to achieve a unanimous defense verdict for our client.

Whether you need help in forming a business, resolving a business dispute or would like assistance with your home or business property, a knowledgeable lawyer at Nokes & Quinn can answer your questions and help you seek positive results.

*CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Ratings fall into two categories — legal ability and general ethical standards.