James Souza (Manufacturer): [THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX]
This case involves an 18-story, 75-unit condominium development known as Regency Wilshire located at 1055 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. The HOA was represented by David Libo, Esq. and Kenneth Markson, Esq. with the law firm of Steiner & Libo. This is a well known law firm in Beverly Hills emphasizing in business and commercial litigation. Attorney James Souza of Kennedy & Souza represented the primary target in that case, BASF Building Systems which manufactured and warranted a multi-products system to waterproof the building. The HOA also sued several of the subcontractors involved in the remediation.
The HOA’s experts testified that due to excessive pin holing in products manufactured by BASF Building Systems, it would be necessary to completely re-waterproof the building at a cost of in excess of $3,000,000. Several foundational problems were developed during the expert depositions and further impeachment evidence was developed during the depositions of Board Member and Management Company depositions.
On the eve of trial a Mandatory Settlement Conference was held with the Honorable Joe W. Hilberman in Department K of the Western District Los Angeles Superior Court and Mediator Jeffrey Krivis of First Mediation Corporation (a high priced mediator employed by the parties after Mediator Ross Hart was unable to resolve the case). During the Settlement Conference BASF Building Systems Inc. maintained its $10,000 CCP Section 998 offer. The other parties in the case offered $850,000 to resolve the case. David Libo and the Board rejected the offer and stated the defendants needed to raise $1,500,000 or show up ready for trial.
Mr. Souza believed strongly that any jury verdict would be hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the $850,000 on the table and received authority from BASF representatives in Germany to accept the $850,000 offered and provide the other defendants with hold harmless agreements. Opposing counsel and the HOA learned that BASF intended to take the money and try the case. This forced the HOA to accept BASF’s $10,000 998 and the $850,000 which it had previously rejected from the remaining parties.