David B. Casselman, Esq.

Profile

Mr. Casselman joins ADR Services, Inc. after more than 40 years of experience as one of California’s top trial lawyers, uniquely representing both plaintiffs and defendants for his entire career. He became a founding member of Wasserman, Comden & Casselman LLP in 1982 and remained the lead trial partner until 2013, when he formed Casselman Law Group.

As lead trial counsel, Mr. Casselman successfully secured some of the largest verdicts in the State of California, including two of the top ten verdicts in the same year. He has consistently handled major cases, securing multiple eight and nine figure verdicts and settlements, including   an $84 million settlement with Caltrans, which was reported to be the largest settlement in the history of Santa Barbara County at the time. He has also defended many cases with pre-trial claims of that magnitude and larger, resulting in defense verdicts or early, favorable settlements.

Mr. Casselman is a former President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation-only national organization of trial lawyers. He later served as President of Cal-ABOTA, representing all chapters in California. In 2006, he was honored with the Los Angeles Chapter’s Lee B. Wenzel Civility Award, which recognizes attorneys who “elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.”

In addition to his success as a trial lawyer, Mr. Casselman is a well-known speaker, expert witness, law professor, and published author. He is an original co‑author and editor of Insurance Litigation, The Rutter Group California Practice Guide. In that capacity, he traveled the state for several years teaching as part of the Rutter Group’s insurance panels. He has also been a frequent mediator for several decades.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Throughout his career, Mr. Casselman has handled trials and appeals on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants across a broad spectrum of civil law, including:

  • Government Liability
    • Inverse Condemnation
    • Dangerous Conditions of Public Property
    • Public Construction Contracting / False Claims Actions
    • Breach of Mandatory Duties
  • Product Liability
  • Personal Injury
  • General Business
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith
  • Construction
  • Animal Law

ANIMAL LAW

Mr. Casselman is a passionate defender of animals and has provided pro bono legal work for animals for over 30 years. He was involved in drafting and developing California state legislation leading to the enactment of animal law protections, including the “Hayden law”, intended to protect animals in the care of public animal shelters. He also successfully tried the high profile case to free the Los Angeles Zoo elephants, pro bono, including two successful appeals. The case was ultimately reversed by the California Supreme Court.

Mr. Casselman is the Founder and Director of the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary, a Board Member of the Whale Sanctuary Project and The Elephant Project, and a member of the Advisory Committee to the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy. He was also an Executive Producer of the feature film Love & Bananas: an Elephant Story.

EDUCATION

Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, California
Juris Doctorate, 1978

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
B.A. in Psychology “With Distinction,” 1975

AWARDS

  • Lee B. Wenzel Civility Award, Los Angeles Chapter, American Board of Trial Advocates, 2006
  • Southern California “Super Lawyer” every year since 2005, Los Angeles Magazine
  • Alumnus of the Year, Southwestern University School of Law, 1993
  • AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell

MEMBERSHIPS

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
    • 2005 President of the Los Angeles Chapter
    • 2009 President of Cal-ABOTA
    • Permanent Member of the Los Angeles Executive Board
    • Past Member of the National Board of Directors
    • Past National Co‑Chair of the Civility & Professionalism Committee
    • Past National Chair of the Membership Committee
  • American Bar Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • San Fernando Valley Bar Association
  • State Bar of California

Mr. Casselman was also a past Board Member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel and a past member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, American Trial Lawyers Association, and Defense Research Institute.

TEACHING AND SPEAKING PRESENTATIONS

Mr. Casselman has served as an Adjunct Professor of Insurance Law at Southwestern Law School and Trial Advocacy at West Los Angeles School of Law. In addition, he is a frequent speaker and has presented at various legal seminars for the Los Angeles Superior Court, ABOTA, the Rutter Group, the California State Bar, and law firm MCLE seminars.

Representative Cases

Inverse Condemnation

  • Represented Los Angeles County and related public entities against hundreds of homeowner landslide claims alleging that the delivery and control of public water to the Big Rock Mesa caused the ground water to build up, resulting in landsliding of the entire mesa toward the ocean. After prevailing at the highly publicized test trial, the larger case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a major developer against the City of San Diego for breach of a Development Agreement and inverse condemnation. After prevailing at trial, the case was reversed on appeal, relitigated, then favorably settled after many years of intensive litigation.
  • Represented a large group of homeowners against a City within Los Angeles County whose properties suffered severe landslide and mud damage caused by a public improvement resulting in the dangerous diversion of surface waters. Plaintiffs prevailed at trial.
  • Represented the City of Ventura in response to a lawsuit filed as a result of damage to homes built along a man-made waterway that was experiencing navigability problems. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a large group of homeowners against a City in Orange County regarding cuts made into a long, steep hillside behind the Plaintiffs homes, to install a horseback riding trail. The cuts were made along the toe of their engineered residential slope. The cuts destabilized the hill behind the homes of the Plaintiffs, which failed many years later during rainfall. Plaintiffs prevailed at trial.
  • Represented a Los Angeles County Transit agency against numerous claims of individual building damage allegedly caused by regional construction of a subway system. Most cases were settled. Several were tried to defense verdicts.
  • Represented homeowners against the City of Los Angeles in two different cases involving hillside cuts impacting an Encino hillside property and later, a Sherman Oaks property. Both cases were favorably settled.
  • Represented a small hotel owner against a major private contractor and a City in Los Angeles County which partnered together to reconstruct a blighted area, destroying the small hotel in the process. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a residential homeowner against the City of Los Angeles following a significant back up in the local sewer main, causing damage to the home. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented the owner of a residential oceanfront home in Northern California against Caltrans for highway drainage activities which caused significant damage to the Plaintiffs home. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a large group of homeowners against the City and County of San Bernardino and its Flood Control District for major diversions of surface water flow, causing mass neighborhood flooding. The case was favorably settled near trial.
  • Represented a large group of homeowners against Caltrans for cuts along a hillside abutting a local highway in Santa Barbara causing a major landslide years later. The case was favorably settled just before trial.
  • Represented a group of homeowners against a private developer for failing to properly engineer the slope behind their homes in San Bernardino County, which eventually resulted in landsliding. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented homeowners against the San Bernardino County Flood Control District for designing and permitting its drainage facilities to overflow and damage their private homes. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented two large groups of homeowners in San Clemente against Caltrans for vibration related damage caused by their highway widening activities. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented damaged homeowners against the City of Long Beach for damage caused by the collapse of a City tree after maintenance work. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority against numerous claims from property owners along Hollywood Blvd, claiming that tunneling activities caused a 300-foot section of the street to collapse. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a very large group of high-rise condominium owners against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a regional Transit agency in San Francisco, for settlement and tilting damage caused by the construction of an adjacent regional transit center. The case was favorably settled.

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Government Torts: Dangerous Condition of Public Property Claims

  • Represented Los Angeles County against more than a dozen different ocean diving quadriplegic cases over a period of years. All plaintiffs alleged they were lulled into believing it was safe to dive head-first into the ocean at beaches along the Southern California Coast.
  • Each case involved alleged failures to warn about dangerous conditions of the public beaches and jetties involved in the accidents. Each case triggered special immunity and liability defenses, such Natural Condition Immunity, Trail Immunity and Discretionary Immunity.
  • Several cases were tried to defense verdicts. The appellate decision which eventually affirmed the first trial verdict facilitated a series of additional Summary Judgment defense verdicts.
  • Represented the City of Newport Beach against a quadriplegic injury case involving ocean diving. The case was tried to a defense verdict.
  • Represented Los Angeles County against a brain damage dangerous condition case arising from an accident allegedly caused by poor County maintenance of a bicycling trail and tunnel. The case resulted in a defense verdict at trial.
  • Represented a woman against a City in Los Angeles for an allegedly dangerous street design which caused a car vs. pedestrian crosswalk accident and serious personal injuries. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a brain damaged child against L.A. Unified School District to a student caused by failure to properly supervise during recess. Plaintiff prevailed at trial.
  • Represented Los Angeles County against a variety of dangerous condition and failure to warn claims pertaining to properties along and near the coast in Malibu. All cases were favorably settled.

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Public Construction Contracting Claims

  • Represented Los Angeles County against a major public construction contractor alleged to have caused damage to private structures in violation of their contractual obligations. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented Los Angeles County against another major public construction contractor in defense of breach of contract claims and in support of cross complaints alleging False Claims by the contractor.
  • The first case resulted in a defense verdict on the contractor breach claims and a finding of multiple False Claims. On retrial after an appeal, the case again resulted in a finding of False Claims by the contractor.
  • Represented Caltrans against a public construction contractor in a dispute involving public construction contract bidding disputes. The case was ultimately resolved by the parties internally.
  • Represented a City in Northern California against a major public construction contractor involving alleged breaches of an airport public construction contract. With our recommendations, the case was ultimately litigated by a local firm, and then settled.

Personal Injury/Product Liability Claims

  • Represented major automobile manufacturers against a wide variety of product liability claims, including automotive design, tire defect, and failures to warn. Most cases were favorably settled before trial.
  • Represented the parents of a small child against a public riding stable and the supervising adults who were alleged to cause the death of the child during a horseback trail ride. The bulk of the case was favorably settled. The remaining claims were tried to a defense verdict.
  • Represented a major drug company against a claim of severe fetal abnormalities (child born with no arms or legs) allegedly caused by defective pharmaceuticals. The case was favorably settled before trial.
  • Represented a major Japanese motorcycle manufacturer against a variety of product liability claims. All claims were favorably settled.
  • Represented an individual against a major U.S. motorcycle manufacturer for product design defects. The defense prevailed at trial, but later changed its product to eliminate the design defect at issue.
  • Represented product manufacturer of Plastic Injection Molding machine against an industrial scalping case. It settled favorably long before trial.
  • Represented numerous individuals and entities pursuant to their insurance policies against almost every conceivable kind of premises liability personal injury case. All cases were either dismissed by motion practice or favorably settled.
  • Represented an elevator manufacturer against a series of product liability claims over a period of years. All claims were resolved without a trial.
  • Represented a commercial airline company in a series of wrongful death cases arising from a well-publicized California crash. The cases were variously settled before, during and after trial.
  • Represented numerous individuals and entities pursuant to their insurance policies against a wide variety of automobile accident claims. All cases were either dismissed by motion practice or favorably settled.
  • Represented an elderly woman against a Los Angeles hospital which caused her to suffer a broken hip due to a fall from a gurney, after which the individuals responsible tried to cover up what happened. The case was tried to a mistrial, and then favorably settled.
  • Represented an orthopedic surgeon against claims of post-surgery sexual battery. The case was terminated by Motion for Summary Judgment.
  • Represented a subrogating insurance carrier against a circuit breaker manufacturer for design defects which permitted a fire to break out and destroy a major manufacturing facility. The Plaintiff prevailed at trial.

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Police Misconduct/Retaliation Claim

  • Represented a large group of individual Los Angeles Police Officers against the City of Los Angeles involving claims of systemic retaliation against any officers who reported specific or endemic misconduct of other police officers. The case was favorably settled without a trial.

Business/Real Property litigation

  • Represented the primary company accused of internet piracy by the major music labels based upon its facilitation of software permitting free downloading of copyright protected music. The case proceeded to the United States Supreme Court. Based on the final judgment, the case was favorably settled.
  • Represented an international perfume manufacturer in a variety of breach of contract/business disputes (as both Plaintiff and as a Defendant) in both state and federal court. All cases were favorably settled.
  • Represented a major advertising agency against various individuals and entities which allegedly breached a series of commercial advertising contracts. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a major law firm against a variety of claims of legal malpractice over a twenty-year period. All claims were favorably settled.
  • Represented a dentist against Real Estate developers in order to preempt anticipated claims alleging breach of a multi-year rental contract. The case was favorably settled.
  • Represented a variety of individuals and business entities alleged to have breached business contracts of a wide variety of kinds. All cases were favorably settled.
  • Represented several corporate executives against claims of conversion and fraud in the inducement. All claims were favorably settled.
  • Represented multiple individuals and a foreign government against an international “con man” who fleeced their companies and stole from them, often pushing the private entities into bankruptcy, while claiming to help them get back on their feet. Most of the claims were favorably settled. Collection efforts are ongoing.
  • Represented the developer of a parcel of commercial real property to be used as a venue for weddings and other parties against fraud and breach of contract claims by his former partner. The case was favorably settled.

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Copyright Infringement/Internet Piracy

  • Represented an Australian developer and provider of free downloading software, seeking to revolutionize the internet for distribution of music and video content. The case was vigorously litigated by the recording industry, resulting in a defense summary judgment order taken up by the United States Supreme Court. The decision created settled law regarding how to evaluate the copyright liability of software developers and providers given the many competing personal and commercial interests involved.

Insurance law

  • Represented major residential insurer for years against numerous policy holder claims of bad faith. All claims were dismissed without payment of bad faith damages or any finding of bad faith or other liability.
  • Represented various individuals against their insurers alleging breaches of contract and/or bad faith. Some cases were dismissed on Motions for Summary Judgment. Most cases were favorably settled.
  • Represented both insurers and policy holders (public entities and private consumers) regarding their rights and/or potential liability under various kinds of insurance policies. These consultations did not involve litigation.
  • Represented a variety of insurers and policyholders with respect to “Examinations under Oath” which were taken pursuant to the provisions of the involved Homeowners Insurance policies. These “EUO’s” were taken to assess the truthfulness of the policyholder claims of property losses allegedly covered by their insurance policies.
  • Represented policy holders asserting claims for covered property damage which were denied by their carriers. Most claims were favorably settled.
  • Represented a major life insurance company in a bad faith claim. The case was dismissed following a trial, based upon demonstrated material misrepresentations in the application.
  • Represented the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority in negotiations with Lloyds of London regarding ongoing construction practices and tunneling risks affecting the underwriter’s assessment of policy risks and premiums. All coverage issues were negotiated and favorably resolved.

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Appellate Law

  • Mr. Casselman generally handled the appellate work in his cases. Each of the following published opinions are representative of his appellate experience. But this list does not include the many other unpublished appellate decisions reached on his cases:

    California Court of Appeal

    Geffen v. County of Los Angeles (1987) 197 Cal.App.3d 188

    Morin v. County of Los Angeles (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 184

    Tessier v. City of Newport Beach (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 310

    Carlino v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1526

    Re-Open Rambla, Inc. v. Board of Supervisors (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1499

    Community Redevelopment Agency v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 329

    Lang v. Hochman (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 1225

    Health Industries of America, Inc. v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 1372

    Lee v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 848

    CUNA Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 382

    Border Business Park, Inc. v. City of San Diego (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 1538

    Leider v. Lewis (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) 197 Cal.Rptr.3d 266, as modified (Feb. 10, 2016), review granted and opinion superseded (Cal. 2016) 201 Cal.Rptr.3d 254, and rev'd (2017) 2 Cal.5th 1121

    Hauser v. Ventura County Bd. of Supervisors (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 572

    California Supreme Court

    Leider v. Lewis (2017) 2 Cal.5th 1121

    9th Circuit

    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. (9th Cir. 2004) 380 F.3d 1154, vacated and remanded (2005) 545 U.S. 913

    Amicus Curiae

    Koch-Ash v. Superior Court (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 689

    Belair v. Riverside County Flood Control Dist. (1988) 47 Cal.3d 550

    Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation, Inc. v. Low (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 1179

Animal Law

  • Represented animal advocates seeking to force the City of Los Angeles to close the elephant exhibit at the Zoo and place the elephants at an appropriate sanctuary or eliminate its abusive practices. Plaintiffs prevailed at trial and twice in the Court of Appeal. The verdict was ultimately reversed by the California Supreme Court.
  • Represented the Gorilla Foundation against Cincinnati Zoo efforts to imprudently enforce a contract providing for transfer of an elderly male gorilla after “Koko” passed away. The litigation slowed down the transfer, and the Federal Court ordered the parties to work together for the safety of the gorilla.
  • Represented the owners of two White Tigers against the County of Ventura, seeking reversal of the denial of their permit application. The decision of the County was reaffirmed and upheld on appeal.
  • Represented animal advocates seeking to close unsafe businesses held out to the public as humane animal shelters. All businesses pursued for that reason were shut down.
  • Helped to draft and/or secure passage of various pieces of animal welfare legislation now in effect.
  • Mediated a case filed against Los Angeles County alleging improper care and treatment of animals in violation of existing animal welfare legislation. The case was favorably resolved, leading to a change in Los Angeles County ordinances governing the treatment of animals.
  • Mediated a wrongful death claim involving a woman attacked by wild dogs, whose family claimed Los Angeles County was responsible. The case was favorably settled.

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