Winning: Evgenikos v. Commercial Dynamic, Inc.

Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada 

DEFENSE COMMENT MAGAZINE 
Trials & Tribulations Submission Form 
Date of Submission: 11/02/18 
Contact Person for Submission: Cynthia G. Lawrence 
Trial Counsel Name(s) & Law Firm:  
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Eugene Haydu, Law Offices of Eugene Haydu 
Defense Counsel: Cynthia Lawrence – Sims, Lawrence & Arruti
County/District and Trial Judge Name: Sonoma County –Judge Arthur Wick 
Case Name: Evgenikos v. Commercial Dynamic, Inc. 

Description of Trial:  This matter involved a single-family home located in Bodega Bay.  Plaintiff claimed a litany of construction defects including drainage deficiencies resulting in a flood, waterproofing problems, siding and window issues and various other complaints.  

The causes of action included breach of contract, negligence, breach of warranty and violations of the building standards under CC § 895 et seq.  Since the home was not for sale to the public, the Judge ruled that CC § 895 did not apply.  

Ms. Lawrence countered by pointing out that most of the defects were caused by the plaintiffs or the plaintiff’s design professionals.  

Plaintiff’s counsel requested the jury issue an award of $604,000.  The lowest demand prior to trial was $500,000.  Ms. Lawrence had offered as much as $300,000 with an indication of more.  A CCP § 998 was issued jointly with the only subcontractor in the case for a total of $200,000.Prior to Trial, a total of $159,999 was collected from other parties.  

After 6 weeks of trial, the Jury returned an award of $139,666.  

As the client in this matter mentioned, “Who makes money defending a case!”  

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David White

Associate

AREAS of focus

  • General Liability
  • Construction Defect
  • Personal Injury

EDUCATION

Golden Gate University of Law
Juris Doctorate
(1983)

Eastern Washington University
BA Political Science
(1972)

David William White is an experienced civil litigation attorney involved in general liability, personal injury and construction defect cases. Mr. White has tried many cases to verdict and argued before the California Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit.

He started his legal career in San Francisco, California in 1984, working in the areas of general liability,construction defect and business litigation. Mr. White has been involved in all aspects of construction defect litigation, including premises and product liability.

He has attended trials and argued motions throughout California. He has also participated in asbestos litigation since 1988. From 1992 to 2010, he represented the Fairmont Hotel in over 70 premises liability asbestos cases. He has also been involved in asbestos friction cases and participated in over forty trials, some which settled and others which went to verdict.

Mr. White received his J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law, with honors, in 1983 in San Francisco, California. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington, with honors, in 1972. He became a member of the State Bar of California in 1984. He is also a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He served in the United States Army from 1968-1970 in West Germany as a radio transmitter operator with the 3rd Infantry Division, also known as “The Marne Division.”

PROFESSIONAL INVOLVEMENT AND MEMBERSHIPS
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association

Laurie Marquis

AREAS of focus

  • Personal Injury - Auto and Premises Liability
  • Defense of Human Services Entities

EDUCATION

Empire College School of Law
Santa Rosa
Juris Doctorate

Sonoma State University,
Rohnert Park,
BA in English with Communications Minor
(1988)

Laurie was admitted to the California State Bar in 1998. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Communications Minor from Sonoma State University in 1988.

Ms. Marquis was in-house counsel for Financial Pacific Insurance Company and also worked for USAA. For most of her career, she has worked for insurance defense firms. Her specialty areas include personal injury auto and slip and fall cases. She also defends human services entities in pre-litigation and litigation matters.

When not working, Laurie is an enthusiastic world traveler and explorer. As a former long-time resident of Sonoma County, she enjoys wine tasting and long walks on a beach. She also enjoys snorkeling, swimming and relaxing with family and friends at her condo in Belize.

Bobby Dale Sims Jr.

Managing Partner

AREAS OF FOCUS

  • Insurance Defense
  • Personal Injury
  • Construction Defect
  • General Litigation Matters

EDUCATION

JFK University School of Law
Juris Doctorate
(1998)

San Jose State University, Bachelor of  Arts Degree in Mathematics.
(1989)

Bob is the founding member of Sims, Lawrence & Arruti following seven years as Travelers Staff Counsel and nine years of private practice. Bob’s varied practice includes Insurance Defense, Personal Injury, Construction Defect, and General Litigation matters.

Current and past representation includes protecting the interests of owners, developers, builders, contractors, design professionals, homeowners’ associations, materials manufacturers, and suppliers in a broad range of claims. He has represented clients in disputes arising from simple single-family dwellings to large commercial buildings and industrial facilities, including hospitals, office buildings, warehouses, and planned unit developments. His trial and binding arbitration experience includes everything from single-family homes, to tracts of homes to multi-family type dwellings.

Bob graduated from San Jose State University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics. He then worked for CNA, Farmers, and Zurich in claims before graduating from the John F. Kennedy University School of Law in 1998 with his Juris Doctorate. He was admitted to practice law that same year. He is licensed to practice in both state and federal courts.

While at CNA, Farmers, and Zurich, Bob held positions of increasing responsibility in both liability and property claims including claims representative, claims examiner, and claims manager. Following his claims career, it was a natural transition to staff counsel for Travelers where he managed a varied defense practice and established the Construction Defect practice group for that Sacramento office.

Bob resides in Roseville, California (Sacramento area) and is the proud father of three daughters. Bob has served on several youth soccer boards and been active in Girl Scouts. He is Tournament Director for the local soccer club's tournament and is the camp cook for the local Girl Scouts Camporee weekend in the spring. Bob's oldest daughters graduated from the University of Arkansas and the youngest is set to do so in 2022. Bob, who was born and raised in Arkansas, is a faithful Razorback fan.
Woo Pig Sooie!

Ann marz

Associate

AREAS of focus

  • Human Service Industry Defense
  • Construction Defect Litigation
  • General Defense Litigation

EDUCATION

Santa Clara University
School of Law
Juris Doctorate
(2002)

San Francisco University
B.A in Psychology 
(1999)

Ann’s practice focuses on Human Service Industry Defense, Construction Defect Litigation, and General Defense Litigation.

She graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Psychology and a Certificate in Legal Studies. Ann earned her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2002. While at Santa Clara, she volunteered at the East San Jose Law Clinic providing legal services to the area’s underserved. Ann is admitted to practice law in the State of California and U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California.

When Ann is not working, she enjoys watching her kids play sports, listening to her daughter play the flute, and paddle boarding on Folsom Lake with her husband.

PROFESSIONAL INVOLVEMENT AND MEMBERSHIPS
  • Ann is admitted to practice law in the State of California and U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California.
  • Ann is admitted to practice law in the State of California and U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California.

John D. Broghammer

Equity Partner

AREAS of focus

  • Defense of Architects, Engineers and Suveyors
  • Design Professional Contract Preparation/Negotiation
  • Construction Defect Litigation
  • Insurance Coverage

EDUCATION

Creighton University,
B.A. Political Science
Cum Laude
(1987)

Juris Doctorate, Dean’s List (1990)

John is an attorney specializing in insurance coverage disputes and the representation of design professionals. He completed both his undergraduate and legal education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, graduating with honors at both levels.

Following admission to the California Bar in 1990, his practice area has focused on Civil Litigation with a particular emphasis on the representation and defense of architects and engineers in construction defect litigation, the defense of general contractors in construction litigation, and the defense of human service entities and schools. John advises and counsels design professionals in all aspects of contract preparation, risk allocation and insurance issues.

John has given countless seminars, presentations and webinars nationally, regionally and locally on design professional’s risk allocation, contract formation and negotiations, and construction defect litigation. He effectively (and with humor) teaches his clients the law on standard of care, insurance, scope of work issues, risk understanding and risk transfer, and contract negotiation techniques. John has served as an expert witness in the area of design professional litigation.

John currently represents many of the area’s preeminent architectural and engineering firms. He also actively represents prominent insurance carriers in insurance coverage disputes and bad faith actions. His emphasis is on the defense of carriers in environmental coverage disputes. He has litigated coverage for contamination sites involving the laws of many states including California, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Virginia and numerous others.

John has aggressively litigated, arbitrated and mediated countless disputes for his clients in virtually every county in Central and Northern California. His goal is litigating actions in a manner that fully protects his clients’ interests in a business-conscious and cost-effective manner. He practices aggressive representation with attention to his clients’ current and long-term business and community interests. John has substantial trial experience and always remains prepared to protect his client’s interests at trial, if required.

John was born and raised in the Midwest and brings his Midwest work ethic to the representation of his clients. He is married and has two wonderful children.

Mark Arruti

AREAS of focus

  • Insurance Coverage
  • Personal Injury

EDUCATION

University of the Pacific,
McGeorge School of Law
Juris Doctorate
(1979)

Arizona State University, Bachelor of  Science
(1976)

Mark graduated from Arizona State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science and attended University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, obtaining his Juris Doctorate in 1979. He is licensed in Arizona and California and has been actively practicing Insurance Defense Litigation since 1982. His practice has included all areas of Insurance Defense (excluding Professional Malpractice defense) including Personal Injury actions ranging from simple to complex auto injury cases, Premises Liability, construction accidents, and Products Liability. He also has extensive experience defending developers, general contractors and subcontractors in Construction Defect Litigation. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Association of Defense Counsel. He was a partner in the defense firm of Lea and Arruti from 1986 to 2003, when he started Arruti and Associates.  In November of 2015, he merged his practice with the firm, and is now a named partner with this firm and heads up the firm's Personal Injury Practice Group. In addition to an active defense practice, he has conducted ADR activities over the last 20 years as a Pro Tem Judge in multiple local counties, and has conducted private mediations and binding arbitrations for selected members of the local bar for the last several years.

Cynthia G. Lawrence

Equity Partner

AREAS of focus

  • Human Service Defense
  • Employment Professional Lines
  • General Liability / Tort Defense
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Construction Defect

EDUCATION

McGeorge School of Law
Juris Doctorate
(1990)

University of California,
Los Angeles
BA. History,
Minor Business Administration
(1989)

Cynthia is a founding member of the firm. Her practice focuses primarily on defending the Human Service Industry, large loss and complex general liability matters, and employment claims. She has an extensive background in Insurance Coverage adding significant value to complex litigation matters with coverage issues and with risk transfer opportunities. Cynthia manages the sensitive human service institutions in pre-litigation matters and she aggressively defends the entities when litigation ensues. She manages potential claim investigations, licensing issues, publicity issues and criminal issues.

Cynthia practices in California State Courts and all Federal District Courts. Her litigation experience includes jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, and mediations. She manages the firm’s main office staff in Sacramento.

Cynthia received her Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law with Distinction. She is a published author in the Pacific Law Journal. She attended her undergraduate studies at the University of California Los Angeles.

During her time away from work, Cynthia enjoys riding her horse, wine tasting, traveling and scuba diving with her family. She is the proud mother of a son and daughter.

PROFESSIONAL INVOLVEMENT AND MEMBERSHIPS
  • CLM Sacramento Chapter – Board Member 2018 - current
  • Feed My Starving Children Board of Directors, Sacramento - 2014-2018
  • Association of Defense Counsel

  • Design Professionals

Sims, Lawrence & Arruti represents design professionals in all aspects of risk management from contract review and negotiation to trial. We are the preeminent Northern California law firm representing design professionals from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and from Fresno to Redding/Eureka. 

We adhere to the foundation that a “stitch in time, saves nine.” We draft prime and subconsultant agreements which manage risks and protect our client’s interests, but which are fair to all parties.  We review owner and contractor supplied contracts for risk management, indemnity, standard of care, insurance requirements and a host of other tricky provisions.  This is done with an eye toward protecting the interests of your business and your personal assets all while meeting the needs of your clients.  We have successfully negotiated countless contracts ranging from a few thousand to many millions of dollars.  We balance the critical legal concerns with the practicalities of putting food on your table.

The firm has relationships with most errors and omissions insurance carriers so when you find yourself in a tight spot, in front of your professional board, or in litigation we have the litigation and trial experience to successfully navigate the trouble.  We are always mindful of protecting business relationships as too many law firms simply want to fight to the last man and go for a risky “win” rather than doing what is effective and smart.  Many lawyers foolishly misunderstand what it means to “win” and place their own interests ahead of their client’s interests.  That said, we will efficiently and aggressively protect your interests.

Cynthia G. Lawrence

Equity Partner

AREAS of focus

  • Construction Defect
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Tort Practice

EDUCATION

McGeorge School of Law
Juris Doctorate with Distinction

UCLA
Bachelor of Arts History
Minor in Business Administration

  • About Cynthia
  • Professional Involvement and Memberships

Cynthia’s practice focuses primarily on Coverage, Human Service Industry Defense, Construction Defect, and General Defense Litigation matters. The insurance coverage practice is designed to minimize the client’s potential exposure through risk allocation. Cynthia manages the pre-litigation matters for those entities dealing in the human service industry. She manages the licensing issues, criminal issues and aggressively defends the entities when litigation ensues. Cynthia also represents insurance companies directly involved in equitable subrogation actions. She has experience in claims of bad faith, financial institution losses, fire losses, and commercial losses. Her experience includes jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, and mediations.

 

Cynthia was admitted to the bar in 1990 after receiving her Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law with Distinction. She is a published author in the Pacific Law Journal. She attended her undergraduate studies at the University of California Los Angeles receiving a B.A. in History and a minor in Business Administration.  

 

Cynthia practices in the California State Courts and Federal District Courts, Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California. She is based out of the Sacramento office and manages the firm’s office staff.

 

During her time away from work, Cynthia enjoys riding her horse and scuba diving with her family. She enjoys traveling to watch her son play college ice hockey and her daughter compete in the sport of 3-day eventing. Cynthia and her husband enjoy scuba diving, hiking and wine tasting.

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  • General Liability / Tort Practice

Sims, Lawrence & Arruti has successfully represented clients in thousands of general liability cases involving allegations from minor personal injuries to catastrophic property damage cases.  

Our lawyers’ many years of experience allow for the identification and evaluation of case values, exposures and potential outcomes early in the process.  

This, in turn, allows the client to make considered and informed decisions as to whether cases should be negotiated directly or through mediation, arbitration, or trial.    

  • Insurance Coverage

Sims, Lawrence & Arruti has successfully represented carrier and private clients in hundreds of matters involving Coverage and Coverage-related matters (i.e. indemnity, contract, and additional insured interaction).  Our lawyers’ years of experience allow for identification and evaluation of Coverage issues that most Coverage attorneys may not fully understand.

Our Coverage Litigation experience includes first and third-party exposures. Our specialty is construction/contract-related indemnity and additional insured exposures.  In these types of cases, we have successfully reduced the exposure through litigation and negotiations.

We have excellent working relationships with most carriers.  Our methods of rebuttal to carrier positions are borne more of education and cooperation than of an adversarial relationship.  We pride ourselves in our ability to quickly identify whether the client needs negotiation or litigation.  This ability to quickly identify the potential outcomes early in the process allows the client to make considered and informed decisions as to whether a cases should be mediated, arbitrated, or tried.

  • Construction Defect

We successfully protect the interests of owners, developers, builders, contractors, design materials manufacturers and suppliers in a broad range of construction-related claims.  

The firm’s construction attorneys represent clients in disputes arising from single-family dwellings to large commercial buildings and industrial facilities, including hospitals, office buildings, warehouses and planned unit developments.  Specific experience includes resolving claims in excess of $10M and class actions involving in excess of 550 single-family residences.

Trial and binding arbitration experience includes claims involving complex drainage systems, excavation and geotechnical issues, as well as prosecuting claims involving a defectively-engineered roofing system.

Construction cases often involve many different areas of law.  The firm has considerable experience in related fields such as environmental, contract, and product liability law.

Additionally, Sims, Lawrence & Arruti is unique because it has extensive experience in construction-related insurance matters, including the management and interpretation of Self-Insured Retentions, additional insured endorsements, “wrap-ups”/Owner Controlled Insurance Programs (OCIPs), and commercial general liability policies, because of this experience, we frequently represent contractors assigned by carriers where special care is needed due to significant reservations of rights issues.