May 7, 2010
Thomas Downey and Robert Bodzin were hired on the eve of trial to defend against claims that their client violated California Business & Professions Code Section 17200 in the operation of a commercial horse boarding facility in Sonoma County. Burnham Brown senior associate David Wilgus was an integral part of the team that prepared this case for trial. Plaintiff alleged that its own horse boarding operations at an adjacent ranch lost millions of dollars in revenue because of the purported competing facility. At the close of the bench trial which lasted almost 2 months, the Court immediately ruled that Burnham Brown's client obtained a defense verdict because Plaintiff's claims that it lost business were contrary to the evidence presented. This ruling followed dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for Intentional Interference with Economic Relations which was thrown out by the Court at the close of Plaintiff's case. Mr. Downey and Mr. Bodzin also successfully defended allegations that their client had defamed Plaintiff's business. Not only did the Court rule that no harm to Plaintiff's reputation was proven, but Mr. Downey and Mr. Bodzin proved that the most significant allegations of defamation were actually true and therefore Plaintiff was not entitled to damages on this part of the claim. Although the Court rejected the multi-million dollar damages claim and refused repeated requests to award punitive damages, the Court allowed Plaintiff to recover approximately $85,000 in general damages, most of which related to a claim for reimbursement for repair and maintenance of a common road. The Court also issued directives regarding injunctive relief, which addressed issues of permitting and alleged nuisances on the client's property. As to the latter claim, the Court allowed Plaintiff to recover a limited portion of its attorney fees, but only relating to the nuisance claim. This limited attorneys fees and costs claim was settled post-trial for $70,000 with an exchange of reciprocal utility and power easements on the parties' adjacent property.
Mr. Downey can be reached at 510-835-6708 and email@example.com. Mr. Bodzin can be reached at 510-835-6833 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Wilgus can be reached at 510-835-6829 and email@example.com
Click below to read the court's March 2010 decision: