Keith Parker, Esq.

Profile

Keith Parker, Esq., has been a full-time mediator and arbitrator for ADR Services, Inc. since 2010, successfully resolving hundreds of disputes in that time. Mr. Parker’s 40+ years of legal and professional experience representing parties in an unusually wide-range of complex legal matters is one of his greatest assets, allowing Mr. Parker to quickly identify the key issues underlying a dispute and effectively assist the parties to resolve that dispute.

Following graduation from UCLA with a degree in physical chemistry, Mr. Parker worked for an electric utility in Wisconsin as an environmental scientist, dealing with state and federal regulators to ensure the utility’s compliance with the full gamut of environmental regulations. After graduating from Northwestern University School of Law and clerking for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Mr. Parker joined the Orange County office of Latham & Watkins. There, Mr. Parker represented Fortune 500 companies in complex employment, government contract, real estate and securities litigation. In 1994, Mr. Parker and several colleagues formed Smith, Silbar & Parker. Mr. Parker continued to represent clients in employment, government contract and real estate litigation, but also added insurance defense, intellectual property/trade secret, partnership, probate and tax litigation to his portfolio.

Mr. Parker is a strong proponent of mediation as an effective means of reaching a negotiated settlement of disputes. During his career as a litigator Mr. Parker negotiated the settlement of hundreds of cases on behalf of his clients, including the resolution of a “bet the company” criminal False Claims Act action which, at the time, was the largest such settlement in the history of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Mr. Parker believes that assisting a client to reach a carefully crafted, acceptable settlement often is the most effective representation an attorney can provide. See link: Why Mediation?

While the substantial majority of Mr. Parker’s cases are resolved in a single mediation session, some are not. In those instances, Mr. Parker remains engaged with the parties, periodically checking on the status of the case and looking for opportunities to further assist the parties. It is common for Mr. Parker to resolve a case weeks or even months after an unsuccessful initial session.

ADR Experience & Training

  • 2010 – Date           Full-time Arbitrator/Mediator, ADR Services, Inc.
  • 2008 – Date          Volunteer Mediator, US District Court, Central District of California
  • 2009 & 2010         Straus Institute at Pepperdine University, “Advanced Mediation Skills”
  • 2008                      Straus Institute at Pepperdine University, “Mediating the Litigated Case”
  • 1996 – 2004           Volunteer Arbitrator, OCBA Mandatory Fee Arbitration Committee

Areas of Expertise

Disputes and litigation arising from:

Business:
Contract disputes, including landlord tenant, medical provider and real estate contracts; partnership disputes

Employment:
Discrimination (including age, disability, race, sex and sexual preference); retaliation and whistleblower; wrongful termination

Insurance:  
ERISA, bad faith, coverage and duty to defend disputes arising from accidental death, disability, health, life and property/casualty insurance; broker liability

IP:     
Copyright; trademark and Lanham Act; trade secret; unfair competition

Gov’t Contract:
Defective pricing; False Claims Act; False Statement Act

Probate:   
Conservatorships; estates; trusts

Public Entity:
Americans with Disability Act; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; excessive force; negligent actions by public employees

Tax:  
Income and property tax disputes arising from valuation issues

Legal & Professional Experience

  • 1994 – 2010          Partner, Smith Silbar & Parker
  • 1983 – 1994          Partner/Associate, Latham & Watkins
  • 1982 – 1983          Clerk, Hon. George E. MacKinnon, United States Court of Appeals (DC)
  • 1975 – 1979           Environmental Scientist, Wisconsin Power & Light Company (Madison)

Education

  • 1982          JD, Summa Cum Laude from Northwestern University School of Law
  • 1974          BS (Chemistry), Summa Cum Laude from University of California, Los Angeles

Representative Cases

Accounting and Taxation

  • Dispute between sellers of a manufacturer serving the Southern California home building industry and the California Franchise Tax Board. The sellers had converted the business from a C-Corp to an S-Corp within 10 years of the sale and, so, reported and paid built-in-gain tax on the sale. The Board asserted that the sellers improperly calculated and, hence, underpaid the built-in-gain tax and issued a notice of deficiency for millions of dollars.
  • Property tax dispute between owner of vacant commercial property and the County of Orange. The property was contaminated by manufacturing operations of a prior owner, and the present owner sought a reduction in the assessed value of the property to reflect the multi-million dollar estimate to remediate the contamination; the County asserted that the assessed value should be reduced by the estimated remediation costs less the substantial amount that the prior owner had agreed to contribute toward those costs.

Banking

  • Husband and wife borrowed money from a family friend to buy their home; the loan was evidenced by a promissory note secured by a deed of trust on the home. When the couple encountered financial difficulties, the friend agreed to defer payments on the loan for a period of time; documents memorializing the modification, prepared by the friend’s attorney, included a waiver of the California anti-deficiency statute. Some time later, after the family friend had died, the couple defaulted on the loan and surrendered the home to the friend’s estate, which sold the home for less than the principal balance. The estate then brought an action for a deficiency judgment.
  • Dispute between owner of a small business and a major credit card company. Unbeknownst to the owner, his office manager, who had access to his personal financial information, caused the credit card company to issue an additional card on the owner’s business account in her name and to change the address of the account so that statements were sent to her address. The office manager used the credit card for personal expenses and made monthly payments using checks drawn on the business; she gradually increased her use of the card over a five-year period, eventually embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the business. The owner discovered the fraud when a credit card statement showing a past due balance of more than $30,000 was sent to the business.
  • Breach of contract action filed by the assignee of a credit card account. The individual had defaulted on the account when her husband became ill and died many years earlier. The individual contended that the action was timed barred.

Business / Commercial Contract

  • Defendant hired plaintiff law firm to represent in litigation and arbitration against corporate entity. Lawyer at firm failed to disclose relationship with arbitrator leading to firm’s disqualification and requiring defendant to retain new firm to represent him at arbitration. Defendant refused to pay plaintiff law firm’s fees.
  • Partnership’s sole asset was a commercial building built to suit for and leased to a major employer in Orange County; construction of the building was financed by a million dollar loan from a Japanese bank. When the tenant closed its Orange County operations and vacated the building, the partnership surrendered the building to the bank and ceased payments on the loan. The bank then brought an action seeking a multi- million dollar deficiency judgment against the partnership and its partners.
  • Action for breach of lease by tenants against owner of a shopping center when an anchor tenant vacated the shopping center during a recession.
  • Manufacturer of jet engine/rocket test stands entered into a consulting agreement with an expert who agreed to provide technical drawings, specifications and otherwise assist the manufacturer to prepare a bid for a contract to provide two test stands to the Canadian government. During the bidding process, the manufacturer learned that the expert had agreed to provide the same assistance to a Canadian entity which was competing for the same contract, and the manufacturer terminated its agreement with the expert. When the contract was awarded to the manufacturer, the expert brought an action for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets; the manufacturer counterclaimed for rescission, breach of contract and fraud.
  • Dispute between owner of commercial real estate and another individual who claimed that he had entered into an oral partnership with the owner to share the profits from the real estate.
  • An owner of a manufacturing business entered into an agreement with a business broker to sell the business. The broker identified several potential buyers, but none agreed to purchase the business on terms acceptable to the owner, in large part because the sales and income of the business declined substantially as a result of a severe recession. The broker brought an action for breach of contract, seeking a million dollar commission under his agreement.
  • Action by landlord against major shipping company for unbilled and underpaid common area maintenance charges in connection with a sublease of a hanger. Shipping company asserted a cross action for the recovery of costs to replace power to the hanger when the landlord failed to repair a broken transformer.

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Employment

  • Manufacturer of specialty metals was named as a defendant in a constructive/wrongful discharge action. The plaintiff, a current employee of the manufacturer, alleged he was harassed until he could not work when he complained to superiors about deficiencies in processes used to manufacture fuel rods for nuclear power plants.
  • Action for race discrimination brought by former engineer against a major defense contractor. Plaintiff contended that he was unable to work as a result of harassment by colleagues, which harassment continued despite his complaints to management.
  • Former store manager of a small retail business alleged sexual harassment by co-owner of the business. Plaintiff asserted that she was subjected unwanted advances and improper touching, causing her to resign.
  • Former employee of a specialty manufacturer of food processing equipment terminated for performance issues brought action for sexual harassment. Employer alleged that the employee was a willing participant in the sexual banter which she contended created a hostile work environment.
  • Manufacturer of explosive products received an anonymous call to employee hotline regarding allegedly unsafe manufacturing and improper quality assurance practices. Whistleblower, who identified himself at some point, requested an investigation of alleged deficiencies in manufacturer’s practices.
  • Action by former employee of distribution warehouse, alleging discrimination and harassment on grounds of national origin and sexual preference. Employer denied the employee’s allegations and asserted that the employee brought his claims only after his unwanted advances to a co-worker were rebuffed.

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Government Entities

  • Civil (qui tam) and criminal actions against Fortune 100 corporation pursuant to the False Claims Act arising from allegedly deficient quality assurance practices at subsidiary manufacturing electronic components for the Defense Electronics Supply Center (now the Defense Supply Center Columbus); United States sought fines and civil penalties under the Act exceeding $1 billion and termination (debarment) of corporation’s right to contract with government.
  • Protest of Federal Aviation Administration award of multi-billion dollar contract to upgrade the United States’ air traffic control system. Protest was brought under the then applicable Brooks Act, which required that protest (including discovery and trial) be resolved within 60 days of filing.
  • Dispute between specialty manufacturer of connectors and prime contractor for major Navy weapon system arising from Defense Contract Audit Agency recommended contract price adjustments exceeding $1 million based on audit of disclosures pursuant to the Truth in Negotiations Act.
  • Disputes between major defense contractor and United States Air Force and Navy in connection with several development and production contracts for a major weapon system. The government contended that the weapon systems failed to perform in accordance with contract specifications, while the contractor contended that the performance issues were the result of defective specifications provided by the government and that it was entitled to increases in the contract price because of constructive changes to the contracts made by the government.
  • Parents of deceased college student brought Section 1984 and related claims against the County of Riverside alleging that law enforcement used excessive force in attempting to apprehend their son who was observed running from the scene of a confrontation with a neighbor.
  • Teenager brought Section 1984 and related claims against the City of Los Angeles for injuries suffered when he was shot through the front door of his home by police office who mistakenly thought he was the suspect in an assault; the teenager was observed wearing a hoodie similar to that worn by the suspect.

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Health Care

  • Arbitration between a major medical laboratory (“Laboratory”) and a California independent practice association (“IPA”) serving Medi-Cal beneficiaries regarding payment for “leakage” – that is, test samples erroneously sent to and processed by Laboratory by the IPA. The dispute arose in the context of California’s complex managed health care system, and resolution of the dispute required consideration of various state and Federal statutes and regulations governing the provision of health care services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in a managed care setting.
  • Dispute between major hospital in Northern California and a national health insurer seeking millions of dollars in additional reimbursement for services provided to members of healthplans administered and/or insured by the insurer. The hospital contended that the insurer systematically reimbursed it for lower levels of care than provided by the hospital for eating disorder and neonatal admissions under its provider contract with the insurer.
  • Dispute between non-contracted emergency room physician group against major health insurers in California alleging that the insurers routinely underpaid for professional services provided to members by the group under the guise of limiting payments to “reasonable and customary” charges for such services.
  • Action for breach of contract and equitable estoppel against a national health insurer by non-contracted hospital seeking high six figures for services provided to individual seriously injured in a traffic accident. The hospital contended that the insurer verified that individual was covered by insurance, then denied claim on basis that individual’s coverage had lapsed before accident.
  • Dispute between national health insurers regarding coordination of benefits and, in particular, which insurer was primary, for costly long-term care provided to an individual with muscular dystrophy.
  • Multiple actions under state law by major contracted hospitals throughout California against national health insurer alleging that the insurer failed to properly reimburse the hospitals for services provided to members under the terms of their provider agreements, including disputes regarding appropriate characterization (inpatient versus outpatient), length and level of care for admissions and proper interpretation of provisions governing delay in treatment; per diem drug and implant carve outs; and stoploss payments.
  • Multiple actions under state law seeking additional reimbursement for services provided by a contracted physician to members of healthplans administered and/or insured by a national health insurer. Dispute turned on whether the insurer had, in fact, fully reimbursed for such services under the terms of his provider agreement.
  • Actions under state law and ERISA for group medical benefits by members of a self-insured health plan established by their employer; the members sought reimbursement for facility charges of a surgical center where multiple diagnostic tests had been performed. The self-insured health plan alleged that the members had been recruited by representatives of the surgical center to have unnecessary diagnostic tests performed and that the surgical center submitted grossly inflated facility charges for such tests.

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Insurance/ERISA

  • Wawanesa’s insured was involved in suspicious car accident. After investigation Wawanesa contended insured has misrepresented circumstances of accident and denied claim. Plaintiff asserted investigation was sham and denial was made in bad faith.
  • Insured brought negligence action against insurance broker who procured her automobile liability insurance, alleging that broker had a duty to advise her to increase her liability limits in light of her earnings and considerable assets. Action was brought after insured was in an accident and became personally liable for injuries of others.
  • Insured brought action for bad faith breach of contract when insured’s automobile insurer refused to pay for injuries and property damage suffered by insured when his car was hit by underinsured driver. Insurer denied claim on the grounds that the accident was staged and the claim was fraudulent.
  • Action under ERISA for group disability benefits by 30-year old warehouse worker who asserted she could not return to work after she strained her back.
  • Action under state law for group medical benefits and bad faith breach of contract by employee of a municipality who alleged that insurer failed to reimburse her for fertility treatments.
  • Action under ERISA for group life insurance benefits by spouse of deceased employee who believed he had enrolled in benefit plan provided his employer. Although the employer deducted premiums for plan from the employee’s paycheck, employee never completed the enrollment process.
  • Action under state law for group disability benefits and bad faith breach of contract by independent insurance broker who suffered from disabling headaches. Discovery suggested that headaches were caused in part by over medication. Case was resolved by reinstatement of benefits and offering the broker the opportunity to participate (at the insurer’s expense) in a detoxification program.
  • Action under ERISA for group disability benefits by employee who asserted that he was disabled because of a “phobic aversion” to his workplace. Insurer limited benefits to 24 months pursuant to the mental illness limitation of the insurance contract.
  • Action under state law for group life insurance benefits and bad faith breach of contract by parents of an employee of a municipality who was killed when he attacked a police officer while intoxicated on PCP. Insurer denied claim under the felony exclusion provision of the insurance contract.

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Probate

  • Dispute over control of multi-million dollar family-owned beverage distribution business. The daughter of the patriarch of the family, who served as the conservator of the person and co-conservator of the estate of her father, contended that an action filed by her brother in Los Angeles Superior Court attempting to modify terms of the conservatorships and the trust which controlled the family implicated a no-contest clause of the trust and thereby disinherited the brother’s branch of the family.
  • Action by beneficiaries of a family trust asserting that the trustee (the surviving spouse and step-mother of the beneficiaries) misappropriated trust assets and engaged in self-dealing.
  • Dispute between executor of the modest estate of her father and her step-sister, who alleged that the executor had unduly influenced her father and step-mother when they modified their estate plan to disinherit the step-sister and her family.