Great victory for Modesto in contamination case


It took six years from our notice of appeal, a 94-volume appendix, a 232-volume reporter's transcript, a 2-1/2 hour oral argument and a 91-page opinion, but the outcome made it all worthwhile. On January 8, 2018, Division Four of the First District Court of Appeal issued a unanimous and partially published decision agreeing with most of the contentions we made on behalf of the City of Modesto and associated agencies seeking relief for groundwater and soil contamination across the city from improper disposal of a dry cleaning solvent. (City of Modesto v. Dow Chemical Company et al. (1/8/18) -- Cal.App.5th -- [ 2018 WL 317043])  As a result, the decision reinstates some $100 million in monetary claims plus the right to pursue a public nuisance abatement injunction anywhere in the city.  A link to the opinion is provided below.


14782018-01-08 westlaw opinion.pdf

Supreme Court considering Bien's proposed rule on plagiarism


Following up on Elliot's 2014 article on plagiarism ("Officers of a court do not plagiarize," California Litigation, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2014), he submitted a detailed proposal on that subject to the California State Bar Commission For Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct. When the Commission and State Bar declined to submit his proposal to the Supreme Court, Elliot followed up with a direct submission to that Court on May 2, 2017.  Its text is attached below.


9768elb to supreme court 5-2-17.pdf

The Recorder Names Bien & Summers as One of California's Top Appellate Practices


Bien & Summers was named one of the top nine appellate practices in California by The Recorder in a July 29, 2012 feature entitled "California Supreme Court Year in Review."


According to the publication: "To create our list of leading appellate practices in California, we asked for nominations detailing recent notable wins and identifying five key players. Recorder editors also surveyed lawyers knowledgeable about appellate law for their confidential assessments and suggestions of practices that ought to be included in a go-to list."  The complete article is available to Recorder subscribers here.

Top 20 in San Francisco


"San Francisco's Best Lawyers 2012" just came out, and Elliot Bien was one of the 20 appellate lawyers selected by peer voting.

Other Recent Victories


On March 9, 2016, the Ninth Circuit unanimously reversed the pretrial dismissal of our clients' "class-of-one" Equal Protection claims in a land use case, Contasti et al. v. City of Solano Beach.  Remanding for a trial, the court held there was sufficient evidence that the city's denial of a permit to construct a residence treated the clients "differently and detrimentally" under Ninth Circuit precedent.


On April 22, 2015, the California Supreme Court denied review (and two depublication requests) in Richardson v. Franc (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 744, securing the firm's victory for its clients in the First District Court of Appeal. The opinion reaffirms and elucidates the doctrine of irrevocable parol licenses, whereby verbal or silent acquiescence in a use of one's property becomes binding if there is reasonable and substantial reliance.


On April 10, 2015, overcoming the enormous odds against writ petitions, the firm obtained a peremptory writ of mandate for our client in the First District Court of Appeal based solely on a Palma notice, opposition and reply. (Campbell v. Superior Court; case no. A144153) The case tested the extent to which a good faith settlement bars cross-actions between alleged joint tortfeasors where, as here, the cross-complaint includes tort claims for direct damages as well as indemnity for the common plaintiff's damages.