March 5th, 2013
Peter C. Ward, Christopher H. Hagen and Ralph W. Peters were listed among the “2013 Top Lawyers in San Diego” by San Diego Magazine this month. Founding partner Chris Hagen stated in response: “The success of Ward & Hagen LLP is not solely a result of the work of Peter and I, but it is a reflection of the perseverance and intelligence of our attorneys and staff. We are proud of the results achieved for our clients in 2012 and look forward to new challenges this coming year.”
October 23rd, 2012
Ward & Hagen is pleased to announce that in 2012 its attorneys have recovered over $10 million for their clients. The firm successfully resolved a variety of construction defect cases involving custom homes, groups of single family homes and high rise condominiums. Partner Christopher Hagen stated: “We have great attorneys and a strong support staff that allow us to successfully litigate cases of all sizes. They have been fundamental in obtaining the success we’ve had this year for our clients.”
September 12th, 2012
On September 7, 2012 the Los Angeles Superior Court Dept. 323 certified a nationwide class action of over 350 losing investors in the AOB Commerce Inc. investment scheme.
After originally filing a class action complaint against East West Bancorp. for aiding and abetting a ponzi scheme in April 2009, a nationwide class certification motion was granted by the Hon. Elihu M. Berle on September 7, 2012 of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Plaintiffs are represented by Julio J. Ramos and Steven M. Nunez of the Law Offices of Julio J. Ramos and Ward Hagen LLP respectively. In total $45 million was invested in the scheme that was stopped by the Securities and Exchange Commission in June of 2007. East West is represented by the Quinn Emanuel law firm. A further status conference to set a trial date will take place in the middle of November. When asked to comment, Mr. Nunez stated ” I believe the Court did the right thing because of the severe financial burdens currently faced by California’s judicial system” “with a single trial, a significant amount of taxpayer resources will be saved”. A proposed notice to class members will be agreed upon by the respective parties and submitted for Court approval at or before the next case management conference.
May 12th, 2012
Groups of homeowners in Oceanside, Menifee and Victorville, California are currently fighting for funds to repair defects in their residences built by KB Homes. After retaining Ward & Hagen to manage the communication, the homeowners allowed KB Home to attempt repairs under the California Builder Fix-It Law (Civil Code § 895, et seq.). KB Home chose to make some minor repairs, rather than actually address all the issues pointed out by the homeowners. The homeowners are currently in litigation with KB Home in an attempt to recover damages for all the necessary repairs to their homes. Ward & Hagen fights for homeowners throughout California, both in situations where a builder chooses to actually repair defects, or if it is necessary to go through litigation to reach those repair goals.
May 12th, 2012
A group of homeowners in Indian Wells, California retained Ward & Hagen when it became evident that the foundations of several of their homes were cracking and shifting. Ward & Hagen hired geotechnical forensic experts to diagnose the cause of the problems, both in the soil compaction and the method of concrete installation. A cost to repair was established and after two years of litigation, a confidential settlement was reached. Ward & Hagen continues to represent homeowners who face construction defects of all kinds throughout California.
April 12th, 2012
The owners of Class A office buildings in Escondido retained Ward & Hagen to negotiate funds for the repair of exterior slate tile walls. Partner Peter Ward managed the case in an efficient manner, using experts to create a detailed cost of repair that led to a quick settlement. The client is now able to repair the buildings and continues to lease the space.
December 12th, 2011
A group of homeowners in Calexico, California recovered settlement funds to repair a variety of construction defects including leaking roofs, leaking windows and cracked stucco. The group of owners retained Ward & Hagen LLP to pursue litigation against the builder of their homes. The attorneys at Ward & Hagen hired a team of forensic construction experts to diagnose the defects and then were able to negotiate a settlement that allows the homeowners to fix these defects as they arise. Ward & Hagen is proud to represent homeowners throughout California and to help these owners fix defects that may appear.
November 8th, 2011
After a two year battle, attorney Jeffrey Paape and his support staff at Ward & Hagen obtained a confidential settlement for a large group of homeowners in El Centro, California. Numerous construction defects such as leaking windows and doors, plumbing problems, and cracked tiles in showers and baths plagued the homes.
October 3rd, 2011
Peter C. Ward of Ward & Hagen LLP is proud to be honored with an Outstanding Trial Lawyer award by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego.
Mr. Ward, along with firm partner Christopher H. Hagen and attorney Steven M. Nuñez achieved a jury verdict of $7,553,559 for their client in the case of Earley v. Smith-Kandal Insurance Agency.
This 2010 verdict was one of the highest professional negligence verdicts and the 29th highest verdict in California for the year according to Verdict Search.
October 3rd, 2011
A Brawley jury returned a verdict in excess of $7.5 million dollars against Smith-Kandal Insurance Agency for its professional negligence in failing to provide proper insurance coverage for the Planters Hotel. After an 8-week trial, a civil jury found in favor of the owner of the Planters Hotel, Mr. Allen Earley, Trustee of the Allen Earley 1998 Family Trust. Mr. Earley was represented by Peter C. Ward and Steven M. Nunez of Ward & Hagen, LLP.
The historic Planters Hotel was a landmark structure that had stood on the town square in the heart of Brawley since the 1920’s but was tragically destroyed by fire in March of 2007. At the time of the fire, the Planters Hotel was covered by a $3.1 million insurance policy with Chubb Custom Insurance Company. Mr. Earley had obtained the policy through Henry “Hank” Kuiper, an agent employed by Smith-Kandal. A claim was promptly submitted, but it was denied by Chubb based on exclusionary policy language regarding “protective safeguards” and Mr. Earley was left without any insurance coverage whatsoever for the total loss of the Hotel.
Mr. Earley and his lawyers at Ward & Hagen sued Chubb for breach of contract and bad faith denial of the claim. During the course of discovery, it was learned that Smith-Kandal had made a number of serious mistakes and badly mishandled the insurance coverage for the Planters Hotel. One of the more momentous discoveries was the fact that just a few months before the fire, representative of Chubb Insurance had done an inspection of the hotel and had sent an email with its findings and recommendations to Smith-Kandal but that this information was NOT forwarded on to Mr. Earley. Significantly, this email notified Smith-Kandal that the Hotel was “very much underinsured” and included a cost estimate showing the actual reconstruction costs would be in excess of $6.2 million. Based on this reconstruction cost estimate, Chubb offered to increase the limits of the policy to an amount in line with the true value of the property. In breach of its duties, Smith-Kandal failed to notify Mr. Earley of the fact that the hotel was “very much underinsured” and did not ever communicate Chubb’s offer to increase the limits to $6.2 million.
The email also attached two reports, which included certain “recommendations” specifically addressing issues relating to the “protective safeguards.” The text of the email referenced the attached recommendations and stated that they “need to be complied with.” Once again however, the evidence showed that Smith-Kandal failed to forward these recommendations and did not advise Mr. Earley regarding the contents of the email or the findings in the reports. Instead of forwarding this email and discussing the issues with Mr. Earley, Smith-Kandal on its own advised Chubb NOT to increase the limits and actually agreed to change the policy from the superior Replacement Cost (RC) coverage to the lesser coverage afforded under Actual Cash Value (ACV). As a result of this, instead of getting $6.2 million as an RC benefit, Mr. Earley was faced with an outright coverage denial by Chubb based on his failure to comply with the “recommendations” that were never forwarded to him; he was limited to a maximum recovery of $3.1 million based on the inadequate limits; and his recovery was reduced under the inferior ACV method of valuation which Chubb argued was actually less than $2 million.
In the later part of 2009, Mr. Earley reached an out-of-court settlement with Chubb Custom Insurance but proceeded to trial as against the Smith-Kandal Insurance Agency. At the end of a civil trial that lasted approximately 2 months, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Earley in the amount of $7,553,559. After applying credits for the prior settlement reached with Chubb, a net judgment against Smith-Kandall was entered.
While pleased with the jury’s verdict, Mr. Earley states that it still does not fully make up for the damage done to his life and the local business community: “If Smith-Kandal had simply done its job and forwarded that critical email, I would have had the funds needed to immediately begin rebuilding on the Planters site and that money would have gone back into the local economy and created jobs and opportunities at a time when the community could really have used a little help – instead, I had to endure a 3 year legal battle to protect my rights while the whole time on the brink of personal financial ruin.”
Partner Peter C. Ward is honored for his work on the case with the 2011 Consumer Attorneys of San Diego Trial Stars Award.