Chen, Horwitz & Franklin (“CHF”) represents litigants in all aspects of trial and appellate practice in state and federal courts throughout California. CHF’s practice areas include construction (both litigation and transactional work), premises liability, professional liability, products liability, business litigation, employment, intellectual property, personal injury, and insurance litigation.
CHF was formed in 2016 by three partners from the firm Schaffer, Lax, McNaughton & Chen, which was established in 1987. Alex Chen, John Horwitz, and Rusty Franklin have between them nearly 100 years of litigation experience. Senior associates Cynthia Kitchen and Megan Hitchcock also possess significant trial and litigation experience. Former partners Cliff Schaffer and David Highman have joined CHF in an active of counsel capacity, lending their expertise and vast litigation experience to the firm. CHF is very experienced in working with corporate legal departments and national counsel for numerous national and international clients. CHF focuses on providing its clients with real time information that allows them to actively partner with the firm in the formulation of case strategies, evaluation and assessment of cases, and monitoring costs of litigation.
CHF has obtained tangible and cost effective results, including numerous verdicts at trial, arbitration, and administrative proceedings, through the use of innovative approaches tailored to suit the needs of the individual clients. Whether it is taking a novel approach to dispute resolution, negotiating a creative settlement, or aggressively litigating a case in court, the firm’s wide range of practice areas and the extensive litigation experience of its attorneys makes it the compelling choice for successfully handling any challenge presented.
Having litigated product cases for more than 30 years, product liability is one of CHF’s core practice areas. Manufacturers, who work hard to develop and market safe products, face high stakes when product liability claims are asserted, and the Firm stands ready to guide manufacturers through the complexities of product liability litigation. CHF aggressively defends product defect claims, protecting both the client’s product and its business reputation. The Firm works closely with the client’s in-house counsel, product designers, engineers and other scientific personnel to develop sound defenses that take maximum advantage of the client’s research, development, industry and product knowledge. The Firm also has a vast network of highly qualified consultants and experts available to provide independent technical and scientific support and analysis.
CHF’s expertise in the product liability field extends well beyond defending product defect matters. The Firm works with clients to help reduce and prevent product liability claims. The Firm’s services in that regard, include, consulting on quality control, document retention, information gathering, preservation of evidence, and accident investigation objectives and techniques. CHF also assists in drafting and evaluating product instructions, manuals, warnings, warranty documents and other product related literature.
CHF regularly counsels and represents manufacturers, distributors and retailers, of all sizes, dealing with a wide spectrum of products. Representative industries include:
CHF specializes in the representation of developers, general contractors, design professionals, suppliers and subcontractors in all areas of construction law. The Firm’s attorneys have extensive experience in handling construction defect litigation involving single-family detached homes, condominium developments and apartments, as well as matters involving commercial structures. The Firm works closely with its clients in defending these matters and coordinates defense strategies with the insurer in order to develop the most effective and efficient resolution.
Lawsuits against professionals are being filed with greater frequency. Virtually all professionals are being tested against “standards of care” that are constantly changing as a result of expanding theories of liability and the creation of new duties that extend to persons and entities that are only remotely associated with the professional. CHF represents professionals in a wide range of fields, including architecture and design, banking, engineering, environmental testing, insurance agents and brokers, legal, medical and healthcare providers, officers and directors, as well as real estate agents, appraisers, brokers and escrow agents.
CHF has significant experience in this specialized area of the law, and works closely with professional clients and their insurance carriers to fully evaluate claims and develop the best possible defense strategy. This approach allows the Firm to aggressively defend professional liability matters in a manner that best protects the interests of the client.
As a general rule, avoiding litigation, which can be risky, time consuming, and deplete working capital, makes smart business sense. When companies are sued however, or when enforcement of valuable rights requires litigation, CHF is prepared to lead businesses and where applicable, their insurance carriers, through the complexities of litigation. Whether it is counseling, alternative dispute resolution, arbitration, aggressive litigation or trial, the Firm’s experience, skills and resources help businesses meet the challenges they face.
CHF represents business clients from large to small, including publicly traded companies, closely held corporations, individual and family owned businesses, non-profit organizations and partnerships. The Firm’s business clients operate in a diverse range of industries, including, chemical, construction, entertainment, food services, finance, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, real estate, recreation, retail and wholesale sales and transportation. CHF handles a wide array of business related matters, such as contract, copyright, class action defense, fraud, indemnity, insurance, preliminary injunctions, regulatory matters, unfair business practices, unfair competition, trade secret, trade mark and other business torts.
CHF is proud of its proven track record in defending clients in both routine and high profile complex toxic tort and environmental cases, including asbestos, chemical exposure, mold, silica, property contamination, Prop 65, CERCLA and RCRA claims. In these practice areas, CHF represents clients in a broad range of business sectors including manufacturing, oil and gas, energy, technology, transportation, real estate, mining, chemicals, biotech, pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Such cases arise in a variety of manufacturing, construction, industrial and agricultural settings and involve the gamut of claimed injuries and diseases. In addition, the Firm handles numerous building and property contamination cases secondary to alleged improper construction, abatement, remediation, demolition, rehabilitation and operations and maintenance practices, and its attorneys are proficient in federal, state and local statutes, regulations and standards, which are often at issue in such litigation. CHF provides cost-effective and innovative legal services that yield tangible results in these often highly contested massive tort actions.
Employment related claims and lawsuits continue to be asserted and filed at an increasing rate, and for years employers and their insurers have turned to CHF for the Firm’s experience in consulting and litigation in connection with employment matters. CHF represents clients through all phases of employment litigation. The Firm has significant experience, in both State and Federal venues, in defending claims of employment discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, retaliation, misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information, unfair business practices, unfair competition and other employment related torts. The Firm also counsels and represents clients in a myriad of administrative and regulatory investigations and hearings, including OSHA, EPA, SCAQMD and ADA related matters.
Given the ever changing intricacies in the area of employment law, and with the strategy of avoiding potential litigation, CHF regularly counsels clients with respect to hiring, training, promotion, discipline, termination, employer and employee manuals, record keeping and independent contractor arrangements.
While lawsuits are most often concluded following settlement, dispositive motions or trial, the dissatisfaction of a litigant with a trial court’s decision often extends CHF’s work. The Firm’s appellate practice necessarily covers various areas of the law. Appellate work requires skill and legal research and persuasive writing beyond that required at the trial court level. The skills of CHF’s appellate lawyers are evidenced by the many successful appeals they have prepared over the years. Some of those include:
Davcon, Inc. v. Roberts & Morgan
(2003) 110 Cal.App. 4th 1355
United Services Auto Ass’n. v. Alaska Ins. Co.
(2001) 94 Cal.App. 4th 638
General Accident Ins. Co. v. West American Ins. Co.
(1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 95
Highlands Ins. Co. v. Continental Cas. Co.
(9th Cir. Cal. 1995) 64 F.3d 514
CHF handles a wide variety of transportation matters related to automobiles, private and public motor carriers, railroads, warehouse facilities, cargo, roads, and highways. The Firm represents a broad spectrum of transportation industry interests, including interstate and intrastate trucking companies, owner-operators, sub-haulers, freight forwarders, brokers, shippers, and consignees, private and public bus companies, livery and taxi companies, vehicle component manufacturers, maintenance providers, automobile dealerships, road-highway design and construction companies, as well as domestic and foreign insurers involved in the transportation sector.
CHF has handled and tried numerous cases involving significant personal injury and property damage claims which present factual and legal issues unique to the transportation industry. The Firm has extensive experience in cases involving driver performance, visibility and road conditions, regulatory compliance and violations, vehicle equipment and safety technology, mechanical and maintenance defects, hiring, training, supervision and safety practices, hauler and sub-hauler relations, lemon law matters, warehouse logistics and accidents, road design and related construction defects, indemnity agreements, coverage, and subrogation matters.
The Firm provides unique expertise in handling litigation in the transportation industry. At the request of clients, CHF attorneys and representatives frequently respond, even in the middle of the night, to incidents immediately after they occur. Often, CHF attorneys are at the scene of catastrophes within hours, participating in the investigation of the incident and documenting and preserving evidence necessary to the defense of the matter. In evaluating and defending transportation related maters, CHF works with a wide range of qualified consultants in accident reconstruction, cause and origin analysis, engineering, driver standard of care, fleet practices and operations, human factors, and biomechanics.
CHF is nationally recognized among its peers for its work in defending companies embroiled in asbestos litigation. For years the Firm served as regional supervising counsel for a major product manufacturer in thousands of bodily injury and property damage cases filed in the Western United States, and its experienced attorneys have successfully tried cases for asbestos defendants throughout the West. CHF represents a wide cross-section of industries. The Firm’s clients include product manufacturers, distributors, premises owners and other defendants in asbestos litigation. CHF attorneys not only understand the complex science and medicine involved in these cases, but they also know how to effectively communicate these issues to a jury. The Firm is experienced in developing and coordinating a client’s defense strategy, commencing at the pleading stage, and carrying it out through the discovery phase and trial.
In recent years, the courts have broadened the duties owed by property owners and business establishments to provide a safe environment for individuals on their premises, and in so doing have extended the basis upon which individuals can recover damages from property owners, lessors, lessees, managers and their contractors.
CHF has comprehensive knowledge and extensive expertise in this expanding area. Representative cases include bodily injury, property damage, slip and fall, trip and fall, assault and battery, security, mold, sick building syndrome, building contamination, building code violations, ADA and Proposition 65 claims. The Firm partners closely with clients, drawing on its years of experience to defend present claims, and to limit and control potential, future premises liability claims.
CHF’s representation in premises liability matters extends to a wide range of clients, including owners, lessors and lessees of retail, industrial, commercial, and construction properties such as hotels, apartment complexes, restaurants, bars, office buildings, shopping centers, supermarkets, oil fields, parking lots and garages, manufacturing facilities, governmental and municipal entities, private schools, and security companies, as well as numerous contractors that provide services to these entities.
Insurance is a potential issue in almost every dispute, whether litigated or not. CHF recognizes the pivotal role of insurance in addressing claims and litigation. The Firm regularly counsels insurance companies, businesses and individuals regarding insurance coverage, indemnity issues and claims handling, including negotiated claim settlement. CHF also has extensive litigation experience involving virtually all types of insurance.
The Firm provides advice to its insurance company clients on coverage questions and provides formal coverage opinions regarding obligations under policies, including interpretation of terms, conditions and exclusions. CHF also represents its clients in the prosecution and defense of coverage declaratory relief matters, bad faith actions, as well as in other insurance related actions involving stacking of policies, allocation, reimbursement and contribution amongst carriers and insured.
Since its inception, CHF has represented in litigation and related matters, the interests of numerous public and governmental entities, including cities, school districts, transportation authorities, law enforcement agencies and various other municipal agencies, authorities, districts and boards. Drawing on years of experience and a comprehensive knowledge base, the Firm has the necessary expertise to guide public and governmental entities through a broad spectrum of legal matters.
CHF’s representation of public and governmental entities transcends virtually all practice areas of the firm, including Product Liability, Toxic Torts/Environmental Law, Asbestos, Construction, Employment, Premises Liability, Insurance, Business Litigation, Transportation and Appellate Practice. The Firm also represents public and governmental entities in a wide array of other tort and constitutional related matters, including civil rights, discrimination, harassment and unlawful use of force actions.
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