Firm / Organisation

Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP

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This content is provided by Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP .

Managing Partner: Timothy T Coates
Senior Partners: Kent L Richland, Robin Meadow, Robert A Olson
Number of partners: 14
Number of lawyers: 21
Languages: English

Firm Overview:
Ever since its founding in 1983, the firm has been one of California’s premier civil appellate boutiques. From its base of practice in the California state and federal appellate courts, in recent years the firm has forged a potent United States Supreme Court practice: since 2006, it has won six of the seven cases it has briefed and argued in the high court. The firm is counsel of record in over 450 published decisions and in many more hundreds of unpublished decisions and it has acted as amicus counsel in many additional appellate matters. The firm also frequently consults with trial lawyers so as to ensure that their cases are well positioned for a potential appeal. Through its appellate practice, the firm has developed substantive expertise in many areas, including constitutional law, civil rights, governmental torts and immunities, personal injury, insurance coverage and bad faith, complex business disputes, business torts, copyright, unfair competition, antitrust, real estate, entertainment law, environmental law, employment law, maritime law, family law, bankruptcy, professional malpractice, arbitration and probate. The firm’s clientele includes national banks and other major national companies; major liability, casualty and title insurance companies; state and local governments; hospitals; public and private universities; entertainment industry companies and individuals; and lawyers.

Recent Appellate Work:
California State & Federal Courts:
In re Estate of Duke (2015): From time immemorial, courts throughout the United States have been powerless to correct drafting mistakes in wills no matter how clearly the evidence established the testator’s actual intent. Courts could use the doctrine of reformation to correct such mistakes in all other documents, including other probate alternatives such as trusts. But wills were historically treated differently. GMSR represented two charities before the Supreme Court, convincing the high Court to review the case and to chart a new course in will reformation. In a detailed decision, the Supreme Court held that will reformation is now available when a mistake is established by clear and convincing evidence
Howell v. Hamilton Meats (2011): In a case with multi-billion dollar implications, the California Supreme Court accepted the firm’s arguments on behalf of amici curiae and held that a plaintiff’s recovery for economic medical damages cannot exceed the lesser of the amount actually accepted by the healthcare provider as payment in full or the reasonable value of services, rather than the face amount of the medical bill
Jules Jordan Video, Inc. v. 144942 Canada Inc. (2010): The Ninth Circuit reinstated a multi-million dollar copyright infringement judgment in favor of the firm’s client, clarifying the application of the work-for-hire doctrine where a sole proprietorship wholly controls the company that produced and distributed his creative works
Wind Dancer Production Group v. Walt Disney Pictures (2017): GMSR’s clients, the creators and producers of the hit television show Home Improvement, sued Disney for underpaying their profit participation. Disney obtained summary judgment on the basis of an ‘incontestability clause’ in its contract with plaintiffs that, Disney claimed and the trial court found, absolutely barred claims filed more than two years after Disney sent a profit participation statement. This, despite the plaintiffs’ factual showing that it was impossible for them to determine whether they had a claim under a particular participation statement without conducting an audit — and that Disney routinely delayed audits for many months or even years, so that it was impossible for plaintiffs to discover a claim within the two-year incontestability period. The Court of Appeal reversed. It found triable fact issues as to whether Disney had agreed to toll the two-year incontestability period and as to whether, because of its consistent delays of plaintiffs’ audits, Disney waived or was estopped to assert the two-year period
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP v. J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. (2018): A large law firm, Sheppard Mullin, had for many years provided advice to a client on an as-needed basis. Sheppard then undertook the defense of a new client, J-M, in a suit brought by the longtime client. Sheppard never disclosed the conflict to either client. Instead, Sheppard told J-M that the firm ‘may currently or in the future’ represent parties adverse to J-M. J-M then signed a blanket waiver of all such conflicts. An arbitration panel held that Sheppard Mullin was entitled to collect its fees for representation of J-M. The California Supreme Court concluded that Sheppard’s failure to disclose the conflict made the waiver invalid and violative of public policy, requiring vacation of the arbitration award

United States Supreme Court:
L.A. County Flood Control Dist. v. NRDC, Inc. (2013): In a closely watched Clean Water Act case, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, holding that the firm’s client had not violated the Act simply by moving water through improved portions of a river into other portions of the same river
Messerschmidt v. Millender (2012): In an important decision for law enforcement, the Supreme Court held that sheriffs’ deputies were entitled to qualified immunity from civil liability where their search was carried out pursuant to a search warrant, even though the search itself was unlawful
Los Angeles County v. Humphries (2010): In a critical decision for cities and counties, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a municipality cannot be subjected to declaratory or injunctive relief in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 unless the plaintiff establishes that an injury was inflicted as a result of a policy, custom or practice fairly attributable to the local public entity
City of Ontario v. Quon (2010): The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Ontario Police Department’s review of text messages sent and received by a SWAT team officer on his department-issued pager did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. This is the first case in more than two decades in which the Court has considered how the Fourth Amendment applies in a government workplace. GMSR lawyers represented the Department, the City of Ontario, and the Chief of Police