Richard J. Collier, Esq.

Profile

Mr. Collier has been in practice for more than 40 years as a trial lawyer and over 25 years as a mediator and arbitrator. Since first training as a mediator in 1993, he has mediated or arbitrated to completion over 400 disputes across a wide range of civil law, ranging in complexity from smaller value disputes to large, multi-million dollar settlements. Mr. Collier prides himself upon thorough preparation – of the participants as well as of himself. He has proven to be particularly effective in disputes encumbered by high emotions. His respect for the emotional dynamics between the parties, as well as his thorough understanding of the facts and law, allow him to build credibility with the parties and their counsel while crafting settlement scenarios to ensure resolution.

As a trial lawyer, Mr. Collier’s practice has focused on trust and probate litigation for the past 15 years. He has represented beneficiaries and trustees, both individual and institutional, in removal and surcharge proceedings, cases involving interpretation and modification of trusts, and will and trust contests. Mr. Collier was recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer in Probate and Trust Litigation for nine consecutive years.

In addition to his probate expertise, Mr. Collier has handled numerous business and commercial disputes on behalf of individual and corporate clients, as plaintiffs and defendants, including actions related to partnership dissolutions, unfair competition, distributor termination, shareholder disputes, trade secrets and trademarks, insurance coverage, and bad faith disputes.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Probate, Estates and Trusts

  • Removal and Surcharge Proceedings, Interpretation and Modification of Trusts, Will and Trust Contests, Undue Influence, Breach of Trust Claims

 Business and Commercial Disputes

  • Partnership Dissolutions, Unfair Competition, Breach of Contract, Trade Secrets, Trademarks, Shareholder Disputes, Fiduciary Duty Issues

 Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith

  • Insurance Coverage Disputes Involving First- And Third-Party Claims, Bad Faith Claims, Insurer Rescission Claims

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Cooper, White & Cooper, LLP (2008-2019)

  • Partner, Litigation and Mediation/Arbitration Practice

Titchell, Maltzman, Mark & Ohleyer, P.C. (1993-2008)

  • Managing Partner, Litigation and Mediation/Arbitration Practice

Farella, Braun & Martel (1979-1993)

  • Litigation Partner, San Francisco

University of California, Berkeley (1969-1976)

  • Assistant Professor, Department of English
  • Distinguished Teaching Award (1975)

EDUCATION

J.D., University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1979

Ph.D. in English, Washington University, St. Louis, 1969

M.A. First Class Honours, Edinburgh University, Scotland, 1965

ADR TRAINING & QUALIFICATIONS

American Arbitration Association

  • Mediator and Arbitrator Panels
  • “Dealing with Delay Tactics in Arbitration” (2005, 2010)
  • “Advocacy in Mediation: Advanced Training for Corporate and Outside Counsel” (1997)
  • Advanced Mediation Advocacy Training (1997)
  • Basic Real Estate Arbitrator Training (1994)

United States District Court, Northern District of California

  • ADR Program
  • Mediator and Early Neutral Evaluator Panels
  • Appointed Member of the ADR Rules Committee
  • Early Neutral Evaluator Training (1993, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2015)
  • Workshop: “Effective Lawyering in Mediation (1998)
  • Training for ADR Neutrals (1997)

Past President of the Mediation Society

Guest Lecturer and Trainer in mediation and negotiation courses at Stanford Law School; Santa Clara Law School; University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law; California Court of Appeal, First and Second Appellate Districts

Early Neutral Evaluation Trainer for Fresno, Los Angeles, and Stanislaus County Superior Courts

HONORS

Northern California Super Lawyer in Probate/Trust Litigation

  • 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Representative Cases

BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL

  • Mediated, arbitrated and litigated cases involving dissolutions of partnerships in real estate, event-planning, real estate development, retailing and hospitality, cellular phone licenses, medical and legal practices
  • Mediated, arbitrated and litigated numerous disputes involving claims of unfair competition and theft of trade secrets related to, for example, beauty products, employee placement, video and high speed cables, trucking shows, business solutions products software, insurance brokerage accounts
  • Mediated several trademark disputes involving, for example, sunglasses, Levi jeans, jewelry, wine labeling, Hells Angels insignia
  • Settled numerous breach of contract cases involving, for example, licensing of mobile pulverizing equipment, sale of pharmaceutical products, sale of medical and technological products, agreement to raise investment capital, broker-sales associate agreement

INSURANCE

  • Mediated numerous first-party claims disputes, with coverage and excess coverage issues, related to, for example, extensive fire damage, TCP wine spoliation, legal and accounting malpractice, restaurant damage by mice, theft of computers with lost property and business interruption claims
  • Mediated a dispute where concrete supplier tendered 41 construction defect cases under retrospective premium and self-insured retention policies, with resulting coverage and bad-faith claims; indemnity and defense payments over $7 million
  • Insurer's claim for rescission of GAP policies for concealment and misrepresentation settled as did insured's substantial cross-claim for insurer's bad faith
  • Life insurance company's claim to recover allegedly excessive payments under an annuity over an eight year period settled in face of statute of limitations defenses

TRUST, ESTATE AND PROBATE PROCEEDINGS

  • Mediated, arbitrated and litigated numerous intra-family disputes (step­ parent against children, siblings against siblings, children against parent) involving breach of fiduciary duty claims with removal petitions and demands for accounting, some involving multi­ million dollar timberland, commercial property, ranch and farmland assets
  • Tense, bitter dispute between children of decedent who died unexpectedly and decedent's secret paramour involving trust interpretation issues, Marvin claims, undue influence issues, with multi-million dollar settlement
  • Action by adult children against father's estate for mismanagement of family farm business and breach of fiduciary duty to LLC members for decedent's secret adoption of the business manager to thwart right of first refusal provision in LLC bylaws; multi­ party case with substantial settlement
  • Following protracted arbitration brought by adult children against corporate and individual Co-Trustees, obtained award rejecting claims of breach of fiduciary duty, waste, and self-dealing, and awarding attorneys' fees
  • In a multi-million dollar claim by surviving spouse beneficiary, obtained on behalf of trustee a ruling that the action constituted a contest in violation of the terms of the Trust, upheld on appeal
  • Sibling dispute over multi-million dollar testamentary trust established in 1947 involving whether adopted daughter was to be included as a beneficiary where the trust defined beneficiaries as "issue of the body" of testator's nephews
  • Towards the end of a 47 year romantic relationship, male partner's daughters accused female partner of physical and mental abuse which led to dementia. Male partner attempted to amend his Trust to favor daughters but was persuaded to benefit solely the partner. Pending Petition for Substituted Judgment to modify Trust propelled million dollar mediated settlement.

view all