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Appellate Law

Victory at trial is not enough. One must preserve the result on appeal. Sometimes, it may be necessary to reverse an unfavorable trial court decision in the appellate courts.

Preparing for an appeal begins early. Appeals are often won or lost in the trial court. It is essential to make an effective appellate record at trial.

Properly evaluating the chances of achieving a better result on appeal preserves client resources.

The writing of effective briefs and petitions lies at the heart of the appellate process. Appellate courts generally decide cases based on the briefs and the trial court record.

Appellate Law

Berliner Cohen’s experienced appellate litigators represent clients throughout the entire appellate process, from post-trial motions and stays to perfecting the appeal, from briefing to oral arguments.

The appellate practice at Berliner Cohen handles appeals and extraordinary writs in state and federal courts in disputes involving a wide variety of constitutional, governmental, commercial and business matters, such as:

  • Contract disputes
  • Real property and environmental law
  • First Amendment and Takings law
  • Municipal law
  • Employment law
  • Banking law
  • Probate law
  • Securities law
  • Criminal defense
  • Procedural matters

Representative cases

  • California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose, 61 Cal.4th 435 (2015), cert. denied 136 S.Ct. 928 (2016)
    Successfully defended the City of San Jose in the California Supreme Court in a challenge to the City's affordable housing ordinance, after having also obtained in the court of appeal a reversal of the trial court's judgment invalidating the ordinance.
  • Construction Industry Force Account Council v. Ross Valley Sanitary District, 244 Cal.App.4th 1303 (2016)
    Successfully obtained reversal of judgment against sanitary district in proceedings challenging the district's right to use its own employees to perform work on sewer system under its jurisdiction.
  • Sharabianlou v. Karp, 181 Cal.App.4th 1133 (2010)
    Successfully obtained reversal of net judgment of more than $1 million in action to rescind contract for purchase of commercial building; clients later obtained award of attorneys' fees and costs on remand
  • Fonseca v. City of Gilroy, 148 Cal.App.4th 1174 (2007)
    Successfully defended the City of Gilroy in a challenge to the adequacy of the housing element of its General Plan under California's Housing Element Law and Least Cost Zoning Law
  • Gilroy Citizens for Responsible Planning v. City of Gilroy, 140 Cal.App.4th 911 (2006)
    Successfully defended a challenge brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the City of Gilroy's certification of an Environmental Impact Report.
  • Mel Doney v. TRW Inc., an Ohio corporation, 33 Cal.App.4th 245, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 292
    Action brought against TRW and its subsidiary ESL by relatives of several ESL employees who were the victims of an unforeseeable violent rampage by a former ESL employee, Richard Wade Farley; obtained judgments in favor of both ESL and TRW on the grounds of workers’ compensation preemption and successfully defended an appeal of the judgment for TRW
  • Groner v. Bank of America (published sub nom., Bloom v. Martin), 77 F.3d 318 (9th Cir.)
    Successfully defended mortgage company in class action brought against several lenders under Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA), in which the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that RESPA did not apply to demand or reconveyance fees
  • Regional Enterprises v. Allivato, Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H014075
    Won a jury verdict in favor of an employer on its claims against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets and on the employee’s claims against the employer for wrongful termination; on appeal, successfully defended against the employee’s allegations that a non-competition and non-solicitation agreement that she signed was invalid under California law and that she was terminated from her employment in violation of public policy for refusing to sign the invalid agreement
  • Castellucci v. Siligo, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H01492
    Successfully defended a former property owner against claims by secured creditor for nuisance and trespass based on environmental contamination to real property; on appeal, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the beneficiary under a deed of trust covering the allegedly contaminated property could not bring causes of action for nuisance and trespass based on the contamination
  • Wilson v. Food Machinery Sales and Service, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H011760
    Successfully defended appeal of order granting a new trial in breach of contract action based on erroneous jury instruction
  • Fonseca v. City of Gilroy, 148 Cal.App.4th 1174
    Challenge to housing element of municipal general plan
  • Gilroy Citizens for Responsible Planning v. City of Gilroy, 140 Cal.App.4th 911
    Challenge under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • Singh v. Singh, 114 Cal.App.4th 1264
    Dispute over control of religious corporation
  • Patel v. City of Gilroy, 97 Cal.App.4th 483
    Challenge to municipal transient occupancy tax assessments

Berliner Cohen’s appellate practice utilizes specialized expertise in appellate law and general commercial litigation as well as the overall skills of the firm in the corporate, tax, employment, land use, intellectual property and real estate areas to provide a broad base of support for the firm’s clients.

For more information, please contact Thomas Murphy at Mr. Murphy is certified as a Specialist in Appellate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization and a member of the select California Academy of Appellate Lawyers.