Spring 2010 Newsletter
Volume 6, Issue 4
Celebrating Five Years of Service!
Wagenseller Law Firm is celebrating its five year anniversary. It was on November 1, 2004 that we opened our doors and established our goal of becoming the preeminent boutique real estate litigation firm in Los Angeles.
After practicing with several large national law firms, Laine Wagenseller opened the firm to provide individualized attention to clients and to develop a practice based on the highest standards.
Since then we have been fortunate enough to work with great clients on complicated real estate and business lawsuits. Some of our accomplishments include:
· Chasing Sub-Prime Lenders. We sued two California mortgage lenders and forced a six-figure settlement after winning a writ of attachment and a motion for sanctions.
· Specific Performance On A Purchase Option. Our warehouse tenant fought its landlord to exercise its option. We won a summary judgment for specific performance, forcing the landlord to sell the warehouse to our client.
· Corporate Shareholder Lawsuit Dismissed During Trial. After the first day of trial by a partner/shareholder against the other partner and the corporation, the plaintiff dismissed the case for a waiver of costs.
· Appeals Court Upholds Expunging of Lis Pendens. In what amounted to extortion by lis pendens, a purchaser of a 57-unit townhome complex filed a lawsuit and recorded a lis pendens against the property. We moved on behalf of the developer to remove the lis pendens and to impose sanctions against the plaintiffs. The court granted our motion. After we won in the trial court, plaintiffs appealed. The California Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.
· Industrial Tenant Agrees to Stipulated Judgment. We brought suit on behalf of an industrial warehouse landlord against a shipping company based in St. Louis. We were able to negotiate a monthly payment plan and back that up with a stipulated judgment for the full amount of the rent owing plus attorneys fees. If the tenant failed to pay, our client would get immediate judgment without the need for trial. Our client ended up getting paid everything and we avoided the costs and delays of trial.
· Litigation Across The State. We recently represented an Italian retail chain in five lawsuits throughout the state of California. The litigation involved many of the major U.S. mall owners.
· Real Estate Investor Lawsuit Dismissed. Our real estate developer client was sued by a 50% investor for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and other claims. We fought the claim aggressively and plaintiff eventually dismissed the claim for nothing in return.
· Family fights! We have handled a number of sister v. sister partition disputes over apartment buildings in which they were co-owners.
· Partnership Fights! Similar to family disputes, we have helped a number of partners in litigation with their partners. These partnership lawsuits have included real estate partnerships, co-owners, manufacturing companies and corporate shareholders.
Visit our website at www.wagensellerlaw.com for more information on the cases we handle and the clients we serve.
Trial Victory in Ventura
Laine Wagenseller won a corporate shareholder trial in Ventura County Superior Court.
Mr. Wagenseller spent two weeks in trial in a case where the plaintiffs—minority shareholders in the corporation—alleged fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, involuntary dissolution of the corporation and accounting.
Plaintiffs alleged that our client diverted $160,000 of corporate money into the client’s account in the corporate pension plan, that our client paid over $150,000 to his family members as compensation that was really ‘disguised dividends’, and that our client misrepresented that he would be shutting the corporation down in 2003 but that he continued doing business and kept the money.
We put on evidence that the $160,000 pension contribution was determined by an actuary hired by the pension administrator and that our client had no involvement in setting the contribution amount.
We also established that the family members had all worked for the corporation over the course of the last thirty years and that they had each earned the money paid to them.
The court held that there was no evidence that the pension contribution was improper, that the family members were all paid for work performed, that plaintiff should have established any accounting irregularities at trial but did not and that there was no basis for a dissolution.
We are pleased with this victory for our client. A large portion of our practice deals with partnership, shareholder and co-owner disputes relating to properties and businesses.
Partner and Family Fights: What Do You Want?
When you get involved in a partnership, co-owner or family fight over property or business, stop, take a breath and think about the outcome you seek.
Is it really better to fight to the death or let loose a scourge of pestilence on your sister? Would you rather burn down the property than pay your partner even one dollar?
Would you prefer a year of litigation and thousands of dollars in attorneys fees over relinquishing even one bit of control to your co-owner?
Part of our job is not only analyzing the legal issues and fighting in court, but also exploring possible resolutions.
Sometimes an impartial voice can help you to see the forest through the trees. We can also point out the problems that you do not foresee in your case.
And, if necessary, we’ll go to trial for you to fight for your interests.
52nd Annual YMCA’s Good Friday Breakfast
On April 2, 2010, we hosted a table at the YMCA’s 52nd Annual Good Friday Breakfast at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca spoke about the importance of religion in his life.
We had the pleasure of having nine successful business leaders in our community at our table.
Not pictured here were Darrin Kennedy (Colliers International) and Tom Lagos (Colliers International).
3rd Annual Cocktail Party
On May 19, 2010, we held our 3rd annual cocktail party at Cafe Pinot along with 8 other co-hosts as shown above. Special guest Councilwoman Jan Perry shared a few words on the importance of sponsoring inner-city kids to summer camp. The event kicks off our 6-week campaign to send underprivileged children to the YMCA’s summer camp.
Send a Kid to Camp
Dear Clients and Friends,
Wagenseller Law Firm has made it a goal to raise money to send inner-city children to YMCA’s summer camp in Big Bear. Children who have hardly experienced the outdoors will spend a week of their summer at Camp Whittle learning leadership skills, building positive relationships, and gaining confidence in their abilities. Last year, we raised close to $10,000 for the Send a Kid to Camp Campaign. We hope to top it this year.
The following is simply a suggested donation amount. We ask that you donate whatever amount you are willing and capable of to continue our annual goal to send as many inner-city children to camp.
Very truly yours,
Laine T. Wagenseller
Message from Laine T. Wagenseller
2010 has been busy for us. We have already completed two trials and signed on a number of new clients.
We have also kicked off our annual campaign to raise money to send inner-city kids to camp in Big Bear for a week with the downtown YMCA. For the next month we are asking you to make a donation so that we can send as many kids to camp as possible.
Our giving to others gives us meaning, fulfillment and abundance in our own lives.
My sincere thanks to the many of you who have already given.
We also want to know how we can serve you. Our goal is to become the preeminent real estate law firm in Los Angeles. Let us know your goal and how we can help you reach that goal. Let me know who you would like to meet so that you can get closer to that goal.
I look forward to catching up this summer.
In the Works: Cases We Are Working On
· We were successful in getting the service of a summons and complaint on our Florida-based telecom client quashed, meaning the case was dismissed so that it could be pursued in Florida. Our client bought some chemicals from a Chatsworth-based company and, when a dispute arose, the chemical company sued in L.A. Superior Court. We argued that our client was not subject to a California court’s jurisdiction and won.
· We are representing an Italian retailer in commercial unlawful detainers across the state as it tries to reach an agreement with the various mall owners in response to the economic difficulties in the retail sector.
· We have been retained to represent two brothers who are facing a partition action by their younger brother over two apartment buildings in which they each own a one third interest.
· Two investors have hired us to investigate their $600,000 investment in two properties where the partner secretly took out an additional $300,000 in loans on the properties and used the money personally.
· A downtown industrial developer client has asked us to represent them in a claim by the general contractor for unpaid bills and cross-claims for construction defect.
· We are representing a shopping center owner in a lawsuit over an exclusive use clause.
Finding Your Meaningful Purpose in Life…
We believe that all of us are here for a reason and that reason is something greater than ourselves. We all have certain desires and pursuits in life, such as ensuring our security and caring for loved ones. But when you move beyond the day-to-day pursuits of life, what moves you? What higher purpose calls you?
Meaningful purpose has been defined as “a contribution to the world that uses your whole self fully and gives your life passion, fulfillment, and meaning through dedication to something larger than yourself.” Your meaningful purposes does not necessarily change the world. It could be something very close to home such as raising kids who become productive members of society. On the other hand, your meaningful purpose may involve trying to change the world.
If you’re having trouble thinking about what your meaningful purpose is, try writing your eulogy. That’s right; start at the end and work backward. Imagine your funeral is taking place and you’re hovering above. Your best friend is eulogizing. What is he or she saying about you and your life? More important, what do you want your best friend to say about your life?
Kind of scary, huh? As you continue to observe, how many true friends can you spot in the audience? How many people did you connect with in your life that would go the distance for you and be there for you? If you have one or two true friends like that, then you have one or two more than most people.
Also ask yourself, what will people remember about me 100 years from now? What lasting legacy will I leave?
— from Tested In The Trenches by Ron Carson and Steve Sanduski
News and Happenings…
· Duke University’s President Brodhead was in Los Angeles for an event at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, which Mr. Wagenseller attended. President Brodhead and the Dean of the Engineering School spoke about what advances the University is pursuing in engineering.
· USC Law profiled Laine Wagenseller in an article entitled “State of Play” in the school’s Fall 2009 Law School Magazine. See our website for the article.
· Laine Wagenseller attended his 20th reunion at Duke University in April.
· Laine Wagenseller attended the annual Ronald Reagan dinner at the Reagan Library. Governor Mitt Romney was the featured speaker. Mrs. Reagan also attended.
· Eric Kramer of Structure PMG, an Orange County-based property management firm, and Laine Wagenseller spoke to the brokers at Marcus and Millichap’s downtown Los Angeles office about dealing with delinquent tenants. Visit structurepmg.com for more information about Eric and his company.
· Laine Wagenseller will be traveling to Uganda this summer on a short term mission trip with Embrace Uganda. The group will help a village in western Uganda with medical, dental, spiritual and day-to-day needs. www.embraceuganda.com.
· Nadine Watt and Andrew Jameson hosted Georgetown University Professor Tony Arend at their home for a talk on challenges facing the U.S. in foreign policy, which Laine Wagenseller attended.
· We hosted a table at the Boy Scouts Los Angeles Council Business Leaders Breakfast. Our guests included: Alan Weakland (Paul Hastings), Corey Spound (Jones Lang LaSalle), Dave Ridgeway (Marcus & Millchap), Jim Huang (BRC Advisors), Kris Raney (Morgan Stanley), Matthew May (May Realty Advisors), Roger Stevenson (Bedrock Consulting/Builders) and Steve Bram (George Smith Partners).
Many people have been asking us: Who is a good referral for Wagenseller Law Firm?
Our business is based on our personal relationships and we are very thankful for the referrals that our friends send us and the people they introduce us to.
Our clients are people and businesses with commercial real estate issues—lawsuits, leases and business concerns. We also represent many businesses in all of their legal needs.
Good introductions are property owners, real estate professionals, business owners and investors.
We would like to find out who your ideal clients are and who you would like to meet.