|Craig W. Brunet
Craig Brunet's practice emphasizes first and third-party insurance issues, bad faith litigation, and disputes involving both commercial and residential development and construction. His ability to gather and synthesize vast quantities of relevant data made him invaluable in the handling of over 2000 cases arising from the Northridge Earthquake. He was an integral part of the successful trial teams in lengthy bad faith cases arising from commercial earthquake claims. His expertise serves the firm's clients well in cases stemming from fires, floods, landslides and other disasters. As a member of the Nevada bar, he regularly represents clients in difficult insurance matters in the Nevada state and federal courts.
His skill in working with expert witnesses was recognized by his selection as a panelist for the California Conference of Arson Investigators' annual course on Expert Witness Testimony, and the National Business Institute's seminar on Advanced Expert Witness Deposition Techniques.
Craig took the laboring oar in pretrial discovery and co-tried with Jim Robie an action in which 96 plaintiffs in a mobile home park brought an action against management of the park for the failure to maintain a 186-space complex. The litigation was driven by statutory attorneys fees and penalties under the Mobile Home Residency Act. Since the statute was being used as leverage in an attempt by the tenants to reduce the park rents, the owners opted to defend themselves at trial rather than settle at the plaintiffs' price. Seventy-eight witnesses testified. As witness after witness took the stand, each confirmed they had an ongoing dispute with management over rent, although not one was able to document a single complaint they had made about the conditions of the park prior to hiring their counsel. After 13 weeks of testimony, the jury rejected the claim that these otherwise vocal plaintiffs had been "suffering in silence" over the conditions in the park. The jury found in favor of the ownership on every claim of a statutory violation. Although the owners of two homes received nominal damages, on non-statutory grounds, the owners were awarded their attorneys fees and costs.
Craig spearheaded the preparation of the defense in an action against State Farm Fire & Casualty Company involving earthquake damage to a 236-unit condominium complex in Westlake, California. The evidence at trial showed that the Association "discovered" the extent of its damages only after an attorney moved into the complex and became the Association's counsel of record in the litigation. After a 3-1/2 month jury trial, the case ended in a defense verdict, and, as a result of a section 998 offer served before trial, the insurer obtained an award of $3.8 Million in costs. Jason Nittel's assistance at trial allowed the seamless presentation of thousands of documents, and over 10,000 photographs. The complex court judge presiding over the case invited several large firms, which had other cases pending in his courtroom, to observe the trial presentation in order that they might achieve the same ability to display evidence at the moment it was needed.
Craig's work enabled similar defense verdicts in another bad-faith suit involving damage to a 199-unit condominium complex and a construction dispute concerning earthquake damage and subsequent repairs to an 89-unit condominium complex in Encino. In each of these cases, Craig went far beyond a response to the deponent's allegations to an affirmative showing that the claims were simply false.
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