Lafayette & Kumagai’s attorneys have substantial experience handling general business and complex commercial litigation. Lafayette & Kumagai LLP has represented clients in cases involving the Business and Professions Code Section 17200, unfair business practices actions, contract disputes, advertising disputes, food and product labeling matters, ADA access cases, anti-trust, privacy and unfair business practices class actions. The firm has represented companies such as Conduent, Inc., Xerox Corporation, Coca-Cola, Viacom, Inc., MTV Network, Johnson & Johnson, San Francisco Housing Authority, PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., Denny’s, Inc., and Sutter Health in these types of matters.
Commercial Litigation – Representative Cases
Saliani, et al. v. Bay Area Toll Authority, et al. – Lafayette & Kumagai LLP successfully tried three consolidated class actions where plaintiffs sued for restitution and injunctive relief in a trial that lasted over four weeks – two weeks live in the court room before the COVID-19 shut down and two weeks remote and virtual during the COVID-19 shut down. Plaintiffs sued claiming the firm’s client, a Fortune 500 computer processing company, deprived them of due process rights and violated statutory laws in the way it processed tolls, penalties and fees for vehicles crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. The trial followed more than 6 years of vigorous litigation and multiple attempts at settlement. In an exhaustive opinion, the court ruled against plaintiffs on all class claims. The decision is final and will not be appealed. The case was the first matter to be tried virtually in the Superior Court for the City and County of San Francisco. 2021.
Gary Aronson v. Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. – The firm represented the Defendant in a suit wherein Plaintiff sought over $14 million in connection with an anti-dilution provision in various stock warrants. Plaintiff dismissed the case two days before the commencement of trial, after reviewing the Court’s tentative decisions regarding Defendant’s Motions in Limine.
Hassan v. Comerica Bank – Plaintiff sued for race discrimination and breach of contract alleging that Defendant wrongfully foreclosed on his small business loans and delayed disbursements. Lafayette & Kumagai successfully demonstrated that the foreclosure was lawful and that disbursement delays were the result of plaintiff’s incomplete disbursement requests. Defense verdict – jury trial.
Honeywell v. San Francisco Housing Authority – Plaintiff first filed suit for $10.5 million, claiming that its contract to make energy-saving improvements to 13 senior housing complexes with the San Francisco Housing Authority was valid. The Housing Authority, represented by Lafayette & Kumagai, contended that Plaintiff invalidated the contract by failing to secure the necessary financing as required by a prior agreement and that work completed certificates had been obtained during a round of office layoffs amid the HUD takeover of the agency. When the Housing Authority denied the existence of a contract, Plaintiff filed a qui tam action against the Housing Authority under the federal False Claims Act, contending that the Housing Authority had applied for and received federal funding by representing that it did have a contract with Plaintiff. The breach of contract action was tried to a jury; after two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict. Following the trial, Defendant moved to dismiss the qui tam action, in part on grounds that damages under the False Claims Act are essentially punitive in nature, and there is a presumption against imposing punitive damages against governmental entities based on a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision. The District Court agreed and dismissed the qui tam action. U.S. ex rel. Honeywell, Inc. v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 83 Fed.Appx. 181 (9th Cir. 2003); Honeywell v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 164 F.Supp.2d 1130 (2001)
FDIC v. Berr – United States District Court, Eastern District. Lafayette & Kumagai represented the FDIC in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding seeking to avoid the borrower’s discharge of debt to the FDIC. This action involved a “straw borrower” who was alleged to have conspired with insiders in a scheme to defraud the Indian Springs State Bank in Kansas. The debtor sought to discharge his debt in bankruptcy and offered as his defense the fact that the bank vice president knew he was acting as a “straw borrower.” Lafayette & Kumagai relied upon D’Oench Duhme & Company v. FDIC, 315 U.S. 447 (1942) in a successful defense at trial. In re Berr (Berr v. FDIC), 172 BR 299 (9th Cir. BAP 1994)
In Re Villa Serena Partners – U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California. This matter involved a complex Chapter 11 case wherein Lafayette & Kumagai’s client, the Resolution Trust Corporation, sought to obtain relief from an automatic stay and foreclosed upon a one hundred and eleven (111) unit congregate care facility located in Santa Clara County. This foreclosure resulted in a trial lasting only two days after Lafayette & Kumagai showed that the plan of reorganization was not feasible.
Unicom Computers v. International Business Machines – Lafayette & Kumagai represented IBM in a preference action filed by debtor Unicom Computers, represented by the bankruptcy firm of Goldberg, Stinnett & MacDonald. The claim involved a $1 million dispute. IBM prevailed at trial after successfully arguing that IBM met the “ordinary course of business” exception. In re Unicom Corp., 21 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 1994)
Oliver v. Oakland Housing Authority – This two-month trial involved the complaints of 56 residents for alleged unlawful evictions, retaliation and habitability violations including violence and crime. The jury returned defense verdicts on all claims after five hours of deliberation. Defense verdict – jury trial.
Costello v. Occidental Insurance Company – Mr. Lafayette successfully represented Defendant in this two-week insurance bad faith trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Mr. Lafayette tried this matter with John Kelson. Defense verdict – jury trial.
Osinow v. Mutual of Omaha – Mr. Lafayette successfully represented Defendant in this one-week insurance bad faith trial in San Francisco County Superior Court. Defense verdict – jury trial.
Ciampi v. Red Carpet – Mr. Lafayette was 3rd seat for this three-week complex commercial litigation trial regarding a franchise dispute and alleged violation of the Franchise Investment Law Act in San Mateo County Superior Court. Defense verdict – jury trial.
Koko v. Narain, American Airlines – Susan Kumagai successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of Defendant, a Fortune 100 airline, in a negligence respondeat superior case. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in full. 2018.
Breach of Contract Matter – Susan Kumagai and Rebecca Kimura successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of Defendant, a Fortune 100 insurance company, in an anticipatory breach of contract case concerning an annuity. Lafayette & Kumagai argued that Plaintiff was not an intended beneficiary of the annuity and Defendant was nevertheless released from all claims through a qualified assignment. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in full. 2017.
Gregory v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company – Plaintiff alleged breach of homeowner’s insurance contract. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in full and affirmed on appeal. Gregory v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 611 Fed.Appx. 410 (9th Cir. 2015)
Pacatte Construction Company, Inc. v. Amco Insurance Company – Lafayette & Kumagai represented Defendant in this insurance coverage matter in which Plaintiff alleged breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing against Defendant. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in full. 2013.
In Re Richmond Unified School District – In this Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding, Lafayette & Kumagai assisted IBM in negotiations with the bankrupt Richmond Unified School District over payment for computers. The matter was resolved when the District dismissed its bankruptcy petition.
In Re Danville Research Associates – Lafayette & Kumagai successfully defended Pacific Bell in an action involving the debtor’s right to assume multi-million dollar executory contracts it had entered into with Pacific Bell. Pacific Bell prevailed and the bankruptcy Court ordered the contracts rejected.
Halloum v. Denny’s, Inc. – Plaintiff alleged that an oral agreement to grant him a Denny’s franchise was breached. Plaintiff alleged causes of action for breach of oral contract, promissory estoppel, negligent misrepresentation, discrimination and unfair business practices. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Lafayette & Kumagai’s client, Denny’s, on the grounds that the alleged oral agreement was barred by the statute of frauds; Plaintiff failed to produce evidence of any reasonable reliance on the alleged misrepresentations; and that Plaintiff presented no evidence to refute the legitimate business reasons Denny’s presented for denying Plaintiff a franchise.
The City of Oakland v. Woods Gordon – Lafayette & Kumagai represented the City of Oakland in an action against Ernst & Ernst for breach of contract in connection with the sale of its management information software system. Plaintiff successfully recovered a significant sum of money on the theory that Ernst & Ernst failed to provide its software in a timely manner and, thereafter, failed to supply software consistent with its representations.
San Francisco Housing Authority v. ARS – Lafayette & Kumagai represented the San Francisco Housing Authority in an action against ARS for its failure to provide a management information system in a timely manner and, thereafter, failing to deliver a system that met the requirements specified by the San Francisco Housing Authority.
City and County of San Francisco v. Chen & Hensold – The firm joint-ventured with Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges in representing the City of San Francisco. The City sued its design team, Chen & Hensold, for negligence relating to the rehabilitation of the City’s cable car system.
ANG Newspapers, Inc. v. City of Oakland – The firm successfully represented the City of Oakland in opposing a petition for access to public records and a subsequent writ of mandate filed by ANG Newspapers, Inc. in an attempt by The Oakland Tribune (a subsidiary of ANG Newspapers) to obtain records regarding the investigation of highly publicized allegations of sexual harassment made against a senior official in the Mayor’s office. The case was initially filed in Alameda County Superior Court and was ultimately decided on appeal by the California Supreme Court with a positive result for the firm’s client.
Lifescan, Inc. v. Premier Diabetic Services, Inc. – Lafayette & Kumagai represented Lifescan, Inc. in an action relating to a one-million dollar claim for breach of contract, conversion and fraud due to a Medicare scam perpetrated by Premier Diabetic Services, Inc. The firm won an arbitration award of nearly $930,000 plus interest for its client, Lifescan, Inc.
In Re At Home Corporation, et al. (Morrow v. Leo Burnett, Inc.) – The firm represented the MTVi Group and MTV Networks in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding in which Excite@Home sought to recover over $24 million from the MTV family, alleging breach of a contract whereby the MTV family agreed to provide music content to the internet portal of the Excite family at a new, jointly created, co-branded site. After the firm aggressively pursued discovery against Excite’s former officers, the case was settled for a small fraction of the initial demand.
Echostar Satellite LLC v. Viacom Inc. – This case involved anti-trust litigation over Dish Network’s right to continue carrying the Viacom family of channels, including CBS, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon and Spike. The firm was co-counsel with Shearman & Sterling LLP and Simpson Thacher LLP, in representing Defendant Viacom. The matter was resolved after the District Court denied Echostar’s request for preliminary injunction to prevent Viacom from terminating its feed of channels.
Guyette, et al. v. Viacom, Inc., et al. – The firm was retained to try this case on behalf of Defendant Viacom after the Superior Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for class certification and after a failed mediation in which Plaintiff demanded in excess of $78 million. In this consumer class action Plaintiff sought entitlement to tax rebates accorded Viacom in connection with its cable television franchise. The case settled three months later for $13 million.
Drummer, et al. v. San Francisco Housing Authority – In three highly publicized and vigorously contested matters, the firm assisted the San Francisco Housing Authority in resolving disputes concerning the agency’s inability to pay over $19 million in judgments. The firm delayed and ultimately resolved the dispute by raising constitutional and statutory arguments regarding the state court’s ability to enforce monetary judgments against public entities primarily funded by the federal government.