Real Estate and Land Use

  • On behalf of a school district, a community college district and a group of concerned parents, we prosecuted a land use dispute involving the former Marine Corps Air Station at Tustin, California. The case involved four separate lawsuits, including a Title VI discrimination suit, a CEQA mandamus action, a declaratory relief action and a validation action challenging the special legislation, drafted by our office, that was signed into law restricting the City of Tustin from issuing any land use approvals unless and until our two public agency clients received land at the base to use for new educational facilities. Ultimately, our client, the Rancho Santiago Community College District, received 20 acres of land on the base to construct a new law enforcement training facility. The firm’s other client, the Santa Ana Unified School District, received a settlement of over $60 million to build new high school facilities off the base.
  • Prosecution of fraud and construction defect claims against one of the country’s largest general contractors, W.L. Butler. After W.L. Butler rejected an offer CFH’s client made to settle the case for $550,000, CFH started deposition discovery in the case. These efforts showed that W.L. Butler ignored warnings of the project superintendent about construction defects before construction was completed, which defects ultimately led to severe stucco cracking and staining on the entire stucco surface of two large commercial buildings. W.L. Butler refused to honor its warranty and fix the buildings because its insurance company failed to pay for the repairs. At deposition, W.L. Butler’s own expert admitted that the only reason W.L. Butler did not complete the repair work was there was no one to pay for it. Mr. Fletcher’s client alleged that W.L. Butler’s standard business practice of relying on insurance companies and subcontractors to perform its warranty work constituted fraud because W.L. Butler had promised to perform all warranty work at its sole cost and expense. After percipient and expert witness discovery was completed, W.L. Butler agreed to make a $6.175 million settlement payment to Mr. Fletcher’s client. This settlement was recently reported in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
  • On behalf of the Vedanta Society of Orange County, we challenged the environmental documentation for a residential subdivision project to be developed on the Saddleback Meadows property which, as proposed, would have had a decidedly negative impact on the environment and wildlife of Trabuco Canyon. After a revised version of the project was approved following a successful result in the first suit, a second lawsuit was filed on behalf of our client. The Firm was then able to negotiate a settlement agreement with the developer, which resulted in a revised project that reduced the development footprint and preserved a key wildlife corridor, while still allowing the developer to build a reasonable number of homes on its property.
  • On behalf of a developer client, we prosecuted claims for breach of a restrictive land use covenant that prohibited residential development at the site of a former retail store. The firm’s client alleged the covenant had been breached by, among other things, the filing of applications for residential entitlements for the site. The validity of the covenant was challenged by the owner of the commercial property, but after two separate appellate court rulings were handed down in favor of our client’s position, a settlement was reached which enforced our client’s covenant.
  • On a pro bono basis, we formed a coalition of 14 of Orange County’s most prestigious law firms in defending the right of a religious-based volunteer operation to continue serving the County’s homeless at the Catholic Worker House in Santa Ana. When the City of Santa Ana attempted to use a discriminatory zoning ordinance to force the Catholic Worker House to close its doors, CFH, along with a team of dedicated attorneys from these firms, brought a complaint in federal court against the City under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. As a result of the lawsuit, the City repealed its ordinance and entered into a settlement agreement, allowing an expansion and renovation of the House’s aging facilities.
  • We have represented a number of prominent homebuilders and financial institutions in the defense of construction defect actions. We have served both as primary defense counsel, as well as special counsel retained to defend against alter ego and successor liability claims. In each of the cases we have handled, our client has obtained a favorable settlement before trial.