JFK University School of Law
San Jose State University, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics.
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!
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.
Mike joins the firm as Senior Trial Counsel. Mike is also a registered Civil Engineer in the state of California. He served three years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps (Seabees) between college and law school. A third-generation Californian, he was raised on a family peach and almond ranch near Turlock, California.
Mike has used his professional civil engineering degree and legal expertise to defend design professionals in the construction industry. He has extensive experience in the defense of product liability claims. He has defended Porsche, Volkswagen, BF Goodrich and Uniroyal. As lead trial counsel, he successfully defended Porsche in a wrongful death product liability case. This was the first time Porsche had ever gone to trial in the United States in defense of one of its automobiles.
Of late, Mike has been primarily engaged in the defense of engineers and design professionals. He has a broad background of trial work involving Commercial Liability and Personal Injury. He has tried cases in both state and federal courts. A member of the State Bar Association of California, he is also a member of ABOTA, American Board of Trial Attorneys, and has volunteered as a Judge Pro Tempore for the Superior Court of Sacramento and Placer Counties.
He has been active in the community for over forty years, volunteering as a lecturer in professional ethics and legal liability to engineering students at California State University, Sacramento, and other student groups. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Mike is also an attorney accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing veterans before the department.
Mike is married, with one daughter and two grandchildren. He enjoys cycling, tennis, and handball.
Shannon’s civil litigation focuses on insurance defense, specializing in defense of various health and human service industries, construction defect, employment law, catastrophic personal injury, and general liability cases. Shannon also represents in pre-litigation matters, including Department of Fair Employment and Housing investigations, wage and hour claims, and pre-litigation settlement discussions. She dedicates her practice to providing innovative strategies and advice aimed at achieving the best possible results for her clients.
Prior to joining Sims, Lawrence and Arruti, Shannon gained extensive litigation experience representing insurers and insureds from pre-litigation through settlement or trial in a variety of cases including professional malpractice defense, business litigation, insurance bad faith claims, defense of attorneys, defense of health care practitioners, and defense of medical facilities throughout Northern California.
Shannon graduated from Santa Clara University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science. In 2014, Shannon earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, graduating With Distinction and as a member of the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society.
Shannon is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. Shannon is a member of the Northern California and Nevada Association of Defense Counsel, the Sacramento County Bar Association, and the Placer County Bar Association.
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.
Mitchell Leverett has over 23 years of litigation experience. Background encompasses the handling of a variety of liability claims through Trial, including wrongful death, automobile and truck accidents, medical malpractice, sexual assault, first amendment, construction law, construction defect, and personal injury. The past 10 years have focused primarily on defending subcontractors and general contractors in construction defect matters.
McGeorge School of Law
University of California,
Minor Business Administration
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.
Originally from a small town in southern Norway (where all the towns are small), Fred proudly became a United States citizen in 1995 and has lived up and down the West Coast including Seattle (where he attended University of Washington), San Francisco, Las Vegas, Hawaii (where he received his undergraduate degree), and San Diego, where he attended California Western School of Law and graduated in 2000. After taking and passing the California, Nevada, and Washington Bars, Fred started his legal career with a prominent Nevada firm, focusing on developer and general contractor defense.
After several years, he was lucky enough to meet his wife Jennifer and moved to California to propose marriage. She accepted and his legal profession shifted slightly to the defense of subcontractor and developer entities with a particular focus on the areas of Construction Defect actions, but also includes Insurance Defense Litigation, Personal Injury, and General Litigation Matters from inception to post trial.
Fred travels back to Norway every couple of years to restock on great chocolate and visit his family. He enjoys anything outdoors ranging from water and snow sports to finding the latest hiking spots.
He loves salty black licorice.
Michelle has successfully represented subcontractors against Construction Defect claims for over eight years. Her representation comprises a myriad of trades including, but not limited to, stucco, windows, HVAC, plumbing, and drywall. Michelle also practices in areas of Subrogation, Personal Injury, and Real Estate. Michelle previously did work in Natural Resources, Environmental, and Land Law for the Attorney General’s Office, Department of Justice, Public Rights Division. Michelle is admitted to practice in the State of California and U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of California.
She has a strong record of academic achievements, including graduating from McGeorge School of Law with certificates in Governmental Affairs and International Legal Studies. Prior to attending law school, Michelle obtained a Master of Science from Iowa State University in Animal Science with an emphasis in statistical analysis, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Davis.
In her spare time, Michelle owns, manages, and plays for the local women's tackle football team, the Sacramento Sirens. She also is on the board of directors for her son's daycare, and chaperones her daughter's school field trips. She and her partner, Erica, love to scuba dive, vacation, and are learning the adventures of parenting their two kids.
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.
John Hill is a senior litigation attorney at Sims, Lawrence & Arruti. His practice focuses
primarily on construction defect, personal injury and general liability. His construction defect
clients include general contractors, subcontractors and design professionals. His personal injury
and general liability practice include defending business owners in all matters from slip and fall
accidents to wrongful death claims, and A.D.A. discrimination claims. John is also proficient in
handling litigation involving homeowners’ associations, property owners’ associations,
cooperatives and planned unit developments which involve not only personal injury claims but
also breach of fiduciary duties, negligence and breach of contract actions.
John's experience includes jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, mediations and appeals. John has successfully resolved multi-million-dollar construction defect cases for design professionals, contractors and building product suppliers. John has successfully argued several cases in the 1st and 3rd California District Courts of Appeal and resolved numerous matters to his clients’ satisfaction before litigation ensued.
John graduated from The College of Idaho in 1986 and thereafter attended the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, graduating in 1991. While at McGeorge, John worked as a law clerk for several Sacramento firms focusing on general liability, real property and homeowners’ association matters. John is licensed to practice in both state and federal courts.
John began his career with a Sacramento insurance defense firm defending personal injury and construction defect cases. He has also served as staff counsel for Zurich American Insurance Company and Continental Casualty Company, “CNA”. John’s practice has always included construction defect and personal injury defense, but he has also done coverage work, handled insurance bad faith claims, and even obtained a defense verdict for a veterinarian in a veterinary malpractice action.
John is married and lives in Elk Grove, California. He has two daughters. One is a graduate of Cal Poly who is now living and working in Kentucky. The other is in middle school, and she is a member of the Elk Grove Aquatics Club. When John is not at work, you’ll probably find him on the pool deck supporting the team or enjoying the outdoors with his family.
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.”
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.
Marc graduated from Sacramento State University with a B.A. in Philosophy. He then went on to attend McGeorge School of Law, graduating Order of the Coif and a member of the Traynor Society. He is licensed in California and has been a civil trial litigator with a focus on insurance defense since 1989.
Marc specializes in complex litigation including Personal Injury, Contract, Product Liability, Premises Liability, Commercial Litigation, Trucking Litigation and construction-related matters. Personal Injury damages that Marc deals with frequently include traumatic brain injury, psychological / psychiatric injuries, spinal injuries, burns and wrongful death. Marc was a partner at Borton, Petrini & Conron, Senior Trial Attorney at Travelers Staff Counsel, and Senior Trial Attorney at Farmers Staff Counsel before joining Sims, Lawrence & Arruti.
Marc is a Sacramento native, and when he is not spending time with his wife, Victoria, Marc is heavily involved in the music scene, attending numerous concerts throughout the year, in and out of state, and working on the crew of a number of music festivals in other states
Tahmina was admitted to practice law in California in 2012. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. In 2012, Tahmina graduated from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, earning a Juris Doctorate.
Tahmina’s areas of practice include General Civil Litigation, Construction Defect Litigation, Personal Injury, and Family Law.
During her time away from work, Tahmina and her husband enjoy cooking, hiking, and traveling.
Chad Ankele is a new member of the Sims, Lawrence & Arutti offices, and brings with him, close to thirty years of experience in the practice of law. Chad’s prior legal tenure, has included litigation work in the general areas of insurance defense, as well as personal injury defense – with some plaintiff work mixed in, and multiple levels of property conflict disputes, and principally, the bulk of his work is in litigation involving construction defect claims.
Mr. Ankele’s work in the construction defect arena has been in litigation that broadly ranges in the levels of structures involved, large, small, commercial, residential and in the representation of property owners, builders, general contractors, trade contractors, suppliers, and involves varied sides of the spectrum, representing both plaintiff and defendant parties.
As an undergraduate student, Chad attended the University of California at Davis, earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology, graduating in 1972. After graduation, he went on to work in residential planning, development and construction, and also worked for a construction trade lobbying organization, hanging around the legislative scene in the California state capital of Sacramento. The latter then, led into the inevitable, and he attended the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, graduating and earning his Juris Doctorate in June of 1987. Chad passed the California Bar exam that fall.
Chad’s prior affiliations as a lawyer, included working with the now closed law firms of Robinson & Wood, Inc., with offices in San Jose, California, and with the Monterey offices of Low, Ball & Lynch, where Chad served the firm as a partner. He is licensed to practice law in both State and Federal Courts.
Greg Estabrook is a civil litigation attorney with over 20-years of experience. He has worked for AV-rated law firms, national insurance carriers, and public entities. He specializes in construction defect litigation and personal injury litigation. Mr. Estabrook is a 1995 graduate of McGeorge School of Law and a U.S. Army veteran.
He enjoys his family, motorcycle riding, fishing, reading, and a variety of interests. He finds lawn gnomes annoying.
Teressa joined Sims, Lawrence & Arruti in 2020. Her practice includes Insurance Defense, Personal Injury, and General Litigation matters.
Prior to working at Sims, Lawrence & Arruti, Teressa worked as an insurance defense attorney at Clinton and Clinton, and Carroll, Kelly, Trotter and Franzen in Southern California. She also spent three years at Girardi Keese in Downtown Los Angeles, handling a wide variety of personal injury cases.
Prior to moving up North, Teressa was on the Board of the Long Beach Bar Association and sat on the youth mentoring, and legal aid committees. She was also a member of the MOSTE program, motivating our students through experience.
In 2011 Teressa graduated from Long Beach State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She then graduated from Western State University School of Law in 2014 with her Juris Doctorate.
In her free time, Teressa enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, spinning, and traveling.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.