Oso Trabuco LLC v. Bixby Development Company, LLC

Stephen Gregory Hammers

Case Conclusion Date:February 21, 2010

Practice Area:Real Estate

Outcome:Arbitrator awarded Mr. Hammers' client $1.7 Million in damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs exceeding $500,000. All sums sought by Developer on its Cross-claims ($7.5 Million) were denied.

Description:Action on damages for $1.7 Million on a claim for breach of contract, and defense of a cross-claim seeking $12 Million in unjust enrichment damages and breach of fiduciary duty. Mr. Hammers represented the landowner, which had entered a "Master Agreement" and various related agreements with the Developer. Pursuant to the terms of the Master Agreement, developer was required to entitle and sell various portions of the owner's property, consisting of hundreds of acres of undeveloped land near the San Francisco Bay. The Master Agreement provided for a division of sales proceeds in stages, with proceeds to be distributed to either the owner or the developer over a lengthy period of time. Developer had the right of assignment under these agreements, and did assign, various rights and obligations to third parties. The Master Agreement was amended three times in writing. Developer alleged it was also amended orally, and that these amendments changed the relationship between the parties. Over time, argued the developer, the parties became fiduciaries of one another, owing one another heightened obligations and duties. Owner argued that no such relationship arose between the parties, and that Developer should pay all sales proceeds owing under the Master Agreement.

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