General Civil

Our attorneys are accomplished in all types of general civil litigation, including civil rights complaints against government entities. We have a long record of winning cases and routinely reach prompt resolution of disputes by aggressively and judiciously preparing cases for trial. While it is true that at least 90 percent of civil cases settle before trial, fastidious preparation and a willingness to go to trial consistently maximize our settlement results. Fueled by our dedication to deliver only highest level of excellence in courtroom advocacy, we routinely achieve the results our clients expect when they hire us.

McManis Faulkner also employs the latest technology in case management and presentation software to ensure our clients receive the most cost-effective and high-impact service possible. Whether in state or federal court, before an administrative agency or pursuing alternative dispute resolution via mediation or arbitration, our experienced and focused trial team repeatedly outmaneuvers larger, less flexible, and more expensive firms.


Case Studies

General Civil Case Studies

Court Rules That City Violated the Brown Act in Little Saigon Dispute

Result:
Court Rules That City Violated the Brown Act in Little Saigon Dispute

Client:
Vietnamese American Community of Northern California (VACNORCAL)

Overview:

McManis Faulkner represented the Vietnamese American Community of Northern California (VACNORCAL) in an action against the City of San Jose.  The suit arose when the City Council named a Vietnamese district “Saigon Business District” in spite of overwhelming community support for “Little Saigon.”  Suspicions of back-door politics were confirmed when an interview of then-Councilmember Forrest Williams revealed that private conversations about the project occurred before the public vote.  VACNORCAL alleged that the City Council violated the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act) and an injunction prohibiting communications between city councilmembers which result in such violations.  The City refused to concede any violation of the Brown Act in relation to the project.  After a month-long trial, the Court held that the City violated the Brown Act, and issued an injunction prohibiting practices which pose a significant risk of further violation of the Brown Act. 




McManis Faulkner Obtains $11.3 Million Settlement

Result:
An $11.3 million settlement.

Client:
Jerry Kielty, a shotcrete concrete pump operator and general construction worker

Overview:

McManis Faulkner obtained an $11.3 million settlement for Jerry Kielty, a 54-year-old shotcrete concrete pump operator, who fell through an unguarded open hole at a construction site in San Jose. Kielty also successfully settled with his worker’s compensation carrier, which guaranteed payments of his medical bills for life.

The case, Kielty v. Advent, et al., was litigated in Santa Clara County Superior Court and involved 10 defendants, including the general contractor, carpentry contractor, masonry contractor, developers, fire sprinkler company and other subcontractors. The defendants contended they took all reasonable steps to maintain workplace safety and that the plaintiff was at fault for the accident. 

After four years in court that saw the defeat of numerous summary judgment motions, McManis Faulkner successfully negotiated a global settlement with the defendants. The firm then worked with the client to obtain a trust to ensure care for him for the rest of his life.




McManis Faulkner Obtains Large Settlement for Computer Hardware Manufacturer

Result:
McManis Faulkner obtained substantial settlement to the satisfaction of the client.

Client:
Major Computer Hardware Manufacturer

Overview:

A private security firm failed to protect the extremely valuable property of a major computer hardware manufacturer from theft. As a result, the computer hardware manufacturer represented by McManis Faulkner filed suit. The ensuing litigation was tough-fought, with the security firm disclaiming responsibility for its employee’s theft of property and refusing to pay any damages. McManis Faulkner ultimately obtained a sizable settlement from the security firm in an amount representing the value of the stolen property.




McManis Faulkner Successful in the Ninth Circuit

Result:
Favorable opinion from Ninth Circuit panel in appeal from pre-trial rulings by District Court

Client:
A privately-held entertainment company

Overview:

McManis Faulkner represented an entertainment company in an action brought by two long-time activists.  The case proceeded to trial in 2013 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, with a unanimous jury verdict in favor of the company.  The activists appealed from the District Court’s pretrial rulings dismissing several of their claims before trial.  The issues presented to the Ninth Circuit included the following:

  1. Whether the collateral estoppel doctrine was properly applied to prevent the activists from litigating whether they had the constitutional right to videotape the company’s employees who were in a non-public forum (here, a backstage area guarded by security personnel and surrounded by a 10 foot high concrete wall);
     
  2. Whether there is a state-action requirement to file a claim for alleged violations of free speech rights under the California Constitution; and
     
  3. Whether a party may file a cause of action for vandalism under California law.

Oral arguments were held on May 15, 2015, and an unpublished opinion was released shortly thereafter, affirming the District Court’s rulings on all three issues.  The Ninth Circuit ruled that 1) the collateral estoppel doctrine applied; 2) there is a state action requirement; and 3) the activists did not follow the proper procedures for challenging the vandalism decision. The oral argument may be viewed here




McManis Faulkner Successfully Defends against a Marvin Action and Related Tort Claims

Result:
Verdict in favor of defendant on all causes of action

Client:
Production Manager for a Silicon Valley manufacturing and design company

Overview:

McManis Faulkner successfully defended our client in a civil lawsuit alleging over $1 million in damages for assault and battery, emotional distress, conversion, and Marvin claims relating to alleged breaches of agreements regarding property and support.  The parties, who met in 2004, had an 8.5-year relationship before getting married in 2012.  Following a short marriage, plaintiff filed for divorce in May, 2014.  At the same time, she also filed a civil action, alleging that our client had engaged in multiple acts of domestic violence over the course of the marriage – even though there had been no violence between them while they were dating – and that during the course of their relationship, he had promised to “buy her a house” and to “take care of her for the rest of her life.” 

McManis Faulkner represented the client in both the divorce case and the civil action.  The Family Court adjudicated the parties’ property interests, entering a judgment declaring a disputed townhouse to be our client’s sole and separate property and finding that he owed no future support to plaintiff.  Based on this result, McManis Faulkner argued in the civil case that the property issues had been fully and completely decided in Family Court and that plaintiff was not entitled to a “second bite of the apple” by trying them again in the civil case.  The Court agreed and dismissed them from the lawsuit.  The remaining domestic violence and emotional distress claims – which our client denied – proceeded to a jury trial.

At trial, our medical expert testified plaintiff showed no signs of current, permanent, or future injury as a result of anything defendant supposedly did, and that most, if not all, of plaintiff’s complaints dated back to earlier incidents and had nothing to do with our client.  Following a three-day trial and deliberations that lasted only two hours, the jury returned a verdict in defendant’s favor on all counts, finding unanimously that our client had not engaged in any violence or threats of violence against the plaintiff, nor was he the cause of any of her emotional distress. 




McManis Faulkner Wins Unanimous Jury Verdict

Result:
Unanimous jury verdict in favor of defendant and defendant’s employee.

Client:
A privately-held entertainment company.

Overview:

The firm represented an entertainment company in an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California brought by two long time activists.  The plaintiffs and their associates have an extensive litigation history, claiming civil rights violations in connection with their protest activities against the company’s business.  The firm was successful in obtaining a unanimous jury verdict two (2) years ago in a federal lawsuit brought by plaintiffs’ associates and again won a unanimous jury verdict in favor of the company.  The trial in the recent action lasted nearly three (3) weeks, with many of plaintiffs’ causes of action dismissed or adjudicated in the company’s favor before trial.  On the remaining causes of action that went to trial, the jury found no liability against the company or its individually-named defendant employee and declined to award plaintiffs anything.




Taxpayer Action

Result:
Favorable result for client.

Client:
Ted Smith, Resident and Taxpayer of City of San Jose

Overview:

Smith’s taxpayer action challenged the City’s prohibition on an individual’s right to make a contribution during the last 17 days before a municipal election or the last seven days before a special election (“the blackout periods”), as an unconstitutional ban on the right to engage in political expression and an individual’s freedom of association.  Although the City claimed it had a legitimate government interest in promoting transparency, no such blackout period exists during this critical time of an election under federal or California state law, or under the laws of any other major City in California.  Rather, these governing bodies require that such “late” contributions are reported by a candidate within 24 hours, and instantly electronically posted on the web for transparency.  After a bench trial, the Honorable James Kleinberg ruled in Smith’s favor, holding that the blackout periods do not comport with the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and political expression.




McManis Faulkner Obtains Unanimous Jury Verdict

Result:
Unanimous jury verdict in favor of defendant

Client:
Feld Entertainment, Inc., a privately-held company that owns and operates the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Overview:

The firm represented the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in an action brought  by two long time, self-proclaimed animal rights activists in  the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  The activists had a long history of litigating against public entities and private arenas where the circus performs.  They claim civil rights violations and typically their litigation efforts end in private settlements.  However, in this instance when the activists directly sued the circus, the firm was successful in severely cutting out plaintiffs’ claims through dispositive motions, so that only two claims went to trial.  Plaintiffs alleged their efforts to videotape circus activities were interfered with. The circus argued that there was no interference and that much of plaintiffs’ videotaping efforts were directed to an area that had previously been adjudicated to be a “non-public forum” where plaintiffs did not have permission to videotape.  After nearly two weeks of trial, the matter was submitted to the jury, which returned (in just over an hour) a unanimous verdict in favor of the circus.




McManis Faulkner Obtains Ninth Circuit Ruling

Result:
U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned District Court decision.

Client:
Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford graduate student from Malaysia

Overview:

McManis Faulkner successfully represented Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford graduate student, who found herself inexplicably on the No-Fly List. Ibrahim was arrested at San Francisco International Airport in 2005 before being allowed to fly to her native Malaysia for an academic conference. She was not allowed to return to the U.S. due to her ‘No-Fly’ List status.

Filing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, government lawyers argued that with the passage of 49 USC Section 46110 by Congress, federal judges had no jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA). As such, only appellate courts have jurisdiction over such cases, making them impossible to litigate because appellate courts cannot take evidence and had no lower court decision – complete with evidence – to review and reconsider.

In a decided victory, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to allow federal trial judges to investigate the make-up of the ‘No-Fly’ List. The court held that the Terrorist Screening Center, the agency that compiles the list, is part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is not listed in 49 USC Section 46110.

McManis Faulkner then filed a suit in U.S. District Court to have Ibrahim's name removed; however, Judge William Alsup dismissed the suit. He ruled that Ibrahim had no constitutional rights at stake because she was a foreigner who had left the U.S. voluntarily.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court decision, ruling that Ibrahim had significant U.S. connections - she had spent four years as a graduate student at Stanford, traveled abroad only to present her research at a Stanford-sponsored conference, and would have returned for academic and personal visits if the government hadn't barred her.




Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition

Result:
Obtained settlement agreement from former employees and a competitor to refrain from soliciting customers or employees of client.

Client:
Large Pharmaceutical Supplier

Overview:

A high-level local employee of an out-of-state pharmaceutical supplier left the company to start a competing business in California. In conjunction with an arbitration proceeding in another state, McManis Faulkner successfully obtained the pre-litigation agreement of the former employee and competing business to cease and refrain from soliciting customers and employees of the company.




Wrongful Arrest

Result:
Negotiated a $300,000 settlement.

Client:
High-level Executive

Overview:

McManis Faulkner represented a high-level executive in a civil suit for wrongful arrest based on a shoddy investigation and outrageous conduct by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office. The executive retained McManis Faulkner after being arrested for dental insurance fraud, handcuffed and taken from her workplace, and later cleared of a crime she did not commit. The client suffered the shock and humiliation of her arrest in front of her co-workers and the severe emotional distress of being imprisoned for more than eight hours, as well as a bill for legal services to clear her name that exceeded $10,000. The client received $300,000 in the settlement.




Elder Abuse and Fraud

Result:
A $1 million settlement after writ of attachment.

Client:
Elderly Couple

Overview:

An elderly couple was swindled by a financial planner and his controlled companies. McManis Faulkner moved swiftly to obtain a writ attaching all the defendants’ real property and other assets, leading to a prompt settlement secured by real property for return of all of the clients’ money, plus interest and attorney’s fees, and for entry of judgment against the defendants if they failed to perform. Obtaining an immediate temporary protective order and writ of attachment freezing all of the defendants’ assets saved a large amount of attorney’s fees and the emotional toll a trial would have had on the 90 year-old clients.