Silicon Valley - View of Downtown

Case Studies

Business Litigation

*Litigation partner, Christopher Ashworth and Sr. attorney Kathryn Barrett obtained a favorable settlement during a trial on a case involving a struggle among members and managers for corporate control of a limited liability company. Five days into trial and after prevailing on a preliminary injunction, Silicon Valley Law Group obtained a very favorable settlement on behalf of their client. The client, an LLC, was controlled by several member/managers including a minority member who possess and was attempting to employ certain minority rights thought by other managers to be detrimental to the company. The client company sued to remove the member's minority rights and to remove the member/manager from the board of managers of the company. The minority member and manager cross complained claiming $300 million in damages. During the litigation, Silicon Valley Law group prevailed on multiple applications for temporary restraining orders and on several preliminary injunction motions involving control of the entity. Trial commenced and five days into the trial, the parties settled. The client company was no longer saddled with minority rights in favor of the defendant. In addition, the defendant was removed as a manager of the client company.

*Christopher Ashworth obtained a favorable settlement of an action for payment of a client's substantial consulting fees. The settlement was negotiated after Silicon Valley Law Group filed a motion for summary judgment against the defendant company.

*Silicon Valley Law Group's client, FTD, and Teleflora operate competing networks for ordering flowers by wire, a service which allows a customer to order and pay for flowers at one shop and have them delivered by another shop that belongs to the same network. Teleflora filed suit alleging copyright infringement, violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and misappropriation of trade secrets, tortuous interference with contract, and unfair competition, all under California law. Teleflora sought a preliminary injunction based on the copyright and trade secrets claims. The U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California said Teleflora is not entitled to an injunction based on trade secret misappropriation. Further the preliminary injunction with respect to FTD's use of the WSI program was denied, as the court found little threat of irreparable harm to Teleflora.

*Silicon Valley Law Group's (SVLG) Business Litigation Department achieved an outstanding settlement for its client in a residential real estate case. The client purchased a multi-million dollar home from the plaintiff, with contingencies regarding a lot split of the property. When the contingencies were not met, the seller sued the client. SVLG cross-complained against the high-end realtor, who represented both parties in the purchase and sale of the property, alleging they had illegally drafted non-form contracts in the transaction. The case went to judicial mediation. The client was ordered to pay nothing toward the settlement. The realtor's Errors & Omissions carrier funded the entire settlement for $950,000. The plaintiff got substantially less than she had asked for, and the client got the original property at issue for the price of his attorneys' fees.

Printable version of this case study. (PDF document)


IP Litigation

*Attorneys Kathryn Barrett and Dawn Sweatt obtained a prompt dismissal of a lawsuit against their client that alleged misappropriate of trade secrets. The dismissal was filed after Silicon Valley Law Group successfully defended the plaintiff company's motion for preliminary injunction.

*Sr. attorney Kathryn Barrett obtained an immediate dismissal of a trade secret lawsuit against her client company, one day after it was filed. The plaintiff company gave notice of a next -day application for a temporary restraining order that would effectively have put Silicon Valley Law Group's client out of business pending a hearing on a preliminary injunction. The matter was investigated and documents were drafted opposing the Plaintiff's application for a temporary restraining order. Before the application for the temporary restraining order was heard by the judge, Silicon Valley Law Group negotiated a dismissal of its clients from the lawsuit.


Employment Litigation

*Sr. attorney Kathryn Barrett, successfully defended Client Company against claims of race discrimination and retaliation in violation of FEHA. The former employee claimed that his termination was motivated by racial prejudice and that he was retaliated against for having complained to the company about asserted violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Ms. Barrett, after deposing the former employee, filed a motion for summary judgment and/or summary adjudication on all claims, which was granted in its entirety. Judgment was entered in favor of Silicon Valley Law Group's employer client.


Environmental

*Silicon Valley Law Group's (SVLG) Environmental Law Group represented a major developer who built an apartment complex on top of a former chemical plant. The developer had been assured the property had been cleaned, but later found it had not. SVLG sued the previous developer, the environmental consulting company that hired the company to clean the property, the chemical manufacturing company, the chemical supplier and several high profile technology companies that were prior lessees on the property. SVLG earned a complete victory. The defendants took responsibility for clean up of the property into the future, paid $13 million in cash, and have incurred future clean up obligations upwards of $26 million.

*Silicon Valley Law Group represented a small manufacturing company in a criminal enforcement action, when its President was sued for violations of health and safety code violations. After much sophisticated criminal motion practice, SVLG settled the case for a reasonable civil fine and no criminal conviction.

*Silicon Valley Law Group represented the former owners of a shopping center that had been sold. PCE contamination was discovered from a dry cleaner on the property. SVLG's Environmental Law Group successfully defended the former owners and successfully brought in insurance coverage to pay for the defense.

*Silicon Valley Law Group represented a high tech manufacturing company whose property was bought by developers and developed into condominiums. In the course of development, solvent contamination was discovered. The developer sued our client for millions. SVLG obtained a complete insurance defense for our client and settled the case for a fraction of the plaintiff's claim. In addition, our client did not take any share of the responsibility for the clean up.


Financial Services

*Silicon Valley Law Group's (SVLG) Financial Services Group won a judgment against a shareholder who had diverted large sums from his corporation while it was in Chapter 11. SVLG represented one of the largest banks in the United States as well as the bankruptcy trustee. The court awarded our clients $1,000,000, including all of their legal fees.

*Silicon Valley Law Group structured, negotiated and documented secured loans by our commercial bank clients to a variety of enterprises, from software companies to a national golf course operator. SVLG's Financial Services Group crafted security interests in non-standard collateral, including intellectual property and a concession contract with a government-owned corporation.

*Silicon Valley Law Group's client, a parent corporation of a chapter 7 debtor, had invested more than $1,000,000 in capital and made more than $12,000,000 in loans and advance to the subsidiary before the bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee sued our client to invalidate its security interest in the assets; to deny the client's right to recover and to force the client to pay back large sums of money it had received from the bankrupt subsidiary. The Financial Services Group settled the case. Our client was not responsible for paying back any of the debts or any of the money it had received, and the bankruptcy trustee was ordered to pay our client a substantial sum.

*Silicon Valley Law Group represented a long-haul trucking company that was not licensed to provide pickup or delivery services in California. It learned of an opportunity to acquire the operating assets of a firm that provided such services. The target company was in Chapter 11 reorganization. The deal had to be done quickly to preserve the customer base and to minimize the loss of key personnel. Our Financial Services team helped to complete the acquisition in near-record time. They worked with the client and the seller's counsel to negotiate and document the transaction, to address the concerns of the employees, customers and creditors; to overcome the objections of a competitor and a lender who opposed the sale; to prepare for the contingency of competing bids for the assets; to obtain bankruptcy court approval of the sale procedures and the sale itself; and to close the deal - all in less than six weeks' time. Our client achieved its most important objectives: (1) it can now deal directly with its long-haul customers instead of having to rely on others to pick up and deliver their cargo in California; (2) it had the option, during an evaluation period after the closing, to transfer back to the seller any leases or contracts that proved to be undesirable; (3) by acquiring the assets through the bankruptcy court, our client did not assume any of the seller's unwanted liabilities, and it is protected against successor liability; and (4) by getting the deal done so quickly, the key relationships with employees and customers, and the going-concern value of the business, were preserved.

* SVLG Rescues Family Trapped in Litigation. The family members were desperate when they came to Silicon Valley Law Group. They had invested their life savings in a partnership to develop property in Cupertino. Unfortunately, their partner, an engineer who held himself out as an experienced construction manager, was incompetent. He promised to complete the project in 10 months, but it stumbled along for two years. He exceeded the budget by a wide margin. Instead of contributing to the project, the partner drained it by paying himself thousands of dollars per month in fees. When they finally completed the project and were ready to sell it, the real estate market had collapsed. The family had mortgaged their other properties to finance the development project, and all of them were in foreclosure. Worst of all, the partner sued them, slapping a lis pendens on the property, so they could not sell it. The costly litigation dragged on for years with no end in sight, and their previous attorney was helpless to end it. When the partner filed for bankruptcy, the family turned to David Duperrault of SVLG. Duperrault devised a strategy to turn the bankruptcy filing to their advantage. He negotiated a settlement with the bankruptcy trustee which ended the litigation, freed the property from the lis pendens, released the family from all claims, and awarded them clear title to the property. The SVLG team, including Kathryn Barrett and Dawn Sweatt, helped to persuade the court to approve the settlement. The family was liberated from their nightmare less than four months after hiring SVLG.

*Our client, an executive officer of a public company, received stock options as part of a compensation package. She exercised the options and purchased the shares. When she tried to sell the shares after leaving the company, the company refused to cooperate, asserting a right to repurchase them. The company also obstructed her effort to sell other shares. The share price then fell by more than 75%. The company grudgingly offered to let her sell some of the shares, but they had become nearly worthless. David Duperrault and Kathryn Barrett led the SVLG team that sued the company. "We planned and executed a litigation strategy the proved very successful. We helped our client obtain a substantial cash settlement from the company based on a much higher value of the shares before the market price crashed. This was achieved relatively early in the litigation, sparing our client the disruption and expense of a trial."

* When Circuit City filed its Chapter 11 petition it owed our client, a vendor of digital media products, more than $970,000. After it confirmed its plan of reorganization, Circuit City's liquidating trustee sued our client for more than $560,000 in alleged preferential transfers.

David Duperrault led the SVLG team that transformed this double whammy of liability into a huge victory. We persuaded the trustee that he was unlikely to prevail. The litigation, which was filed in the Richmond, Virginia Bankruptcy Court, was settled without our client having to pay a single dollar. The preference action was dismissed; our client was released of all liability; and our client retained more than 95% of its claim. Instead of paying to settle the litigation, our client will receive a substantial distribution. The first installment of the distribution, a substantial cash payment, already has been received. All of this was achieved at minimal cost in just a few months.

* Our client received wire transfers to her bank account in California from a family member overseas. Two years later she was dismayed when a bankruptcy trustee sued her seeking to recover those transfers. The trustee alleged that the transfers were avoidable because they were preferential or fraudulent. In less than three months SVLG attorneys Jagdeep Hansra and David Duperrault persuaded the trustee to dismiss the lawsuit because the court did not have jurisdiction over our client. Our client paid nothing and kept 100% of the funds that had been transferred to her.

* Our client, a venture lender, has built a portfolio of successful investments. The exception was a loan to a shipping company that had developed a unique software product to manage and track individual shipments from door to door, anywhere in the world, on any carrier. The shipping company failed when the global economy crashed.

After evaluating its options, our client elected to foreclose its security interest under the UCC by conducting a public sale of the company's assets. We helped design the publicity campaign, write the advertisements, identify websites and publications on which to publish the ads, and negotiate the rates and terms. With our assistance, our client formed a subsidiary and transferred the loan to it before the sale. We planned each step of the public sale, which went smoothly, precisely as planned. The subsidiary, which acquired the assets as the winning bidder is now restarting the business on a "software as a service" model, licensing the software to shippers.

David Duperrault led the SVLG team that helped transform this potential loss into a big win for our client.


Real Estate & Land Use

*Several years ago, Silicon Valley Law Group's Real Estate & Land Use Group was approached by a public company. The company needed help in negotiating a sizable lease to accommodate their rapid expansion. The landlord had multiple offers but had not yet talked to our client. We had only one hour to prepare for the negotiations and no time to meet privately with our new client (the company's Director of Facilities) in advance. On the way into the landlord's office our client quietly requested that we keep it simple and that we get this building under contract. We basically negotiated the lease as we read it for the first time, while ensuring that our client concurred with our comments as we went along. Two hours later we had a signed lease. The landlord made substantially all of the changes we requested. We negotiated an extra month of free rent as the last deal point. Our client was very pleased, and since then has used Silicon Valley Law Group for over 75 transactions.

*Normally the sale of a building that has been unoccupied for more than a decade would be applauded by the community. However, in the case of St. Brigid's Church, one of the oldest churches in San Francisco, the emotions ran high. On August 13, 2005, the Archdiocese of San Francisco announced that it had signed a letter of intent with the Academy of Art University for the purchase of St. Brigid. The press release indicated that the Academy intended to use the building for school and community events, and Archbishop William Levada said in a statement that he was impressed by the Art Academy's "proven track record in preserving a number of San Francisco historic buildings and using them for purposes that benefit the entire community." While the purchase price was agreed to, the details were a greater obstacle. Over the next two months, the SVLG Real Estate & Land Use team with the aid of the SVLG Environmental Group assisted the Academy in closing the transaction. The complexities of the transaction included a lengthy negotiation over easement rights of the Archdiocese and the Academy regarding the use of the schoolyard located immediately behind St. Brigid, and the division of the personal property located within the St. Brigid building. With threats of possible lawsuits to enjoin the transaction, historical landmarking and possible "red tag" issues looming, the SVLG team was successful in quickly closing the transaction.

Printable version of this case study. (PDF document)