James F. Pokorny, Esq.

Profile

James F. Pokorny, Esq. is a talented mediator who brings with him a wealth of experience as a civil litigator and San Diego Superior Court mediation panelist. As a mediator, he has successfully resolved disputes involving litigants in a variety of matters, including personal injury, insurance coverage, and business litigation. His mediation experience is enhanced by his depth of experience as an attorney whose forty year practice focused on both plaintiff and defense work in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, insurance litigation, construction litigation, business litigation, and aircrash litigation.

Having participated in scores of mediations, Mr. Pokorny knows that there is no “one size fits all” approach with respect to conflict resolution. People are different; their legal claims are different; and the mediator must take this into account. Mr. Pokorny draws upon his decades of experience and in-depth training to adapt his approach and meet the unique needs of each matter before him.

Mr. Pokorny’s aviation-related matters are enhanced by his comprehensive understanding of aeronautics. He has been an instrument rated, FAA licensed commercial pilot for over thirty years. He has owned several airplanes and has flown over 3,000 hours as pilot in command in various types of single and multi-engine aircraft. He is a Co-Founder of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Aviation Law Section. In addition, he served on the legal services panel of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association for decades and as a member of the Board of Directors and Past President of the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association.

AREAS OF MEDIATION

  • Aviation and Aircrash Litigation
  • Business and Commercial Contract
  • Family Law
  • Fee Disputes
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Partnership Dissolution
  • Personal Injury
  • Products Liability

EDUCATION

J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1975

B.A., University of California, San Diego, 1970

LEGAL EXPERIENCE

Law Offices of James F. Pokorny, San Diego, 1977-2017

Significant legal experience in both civil and criminal matters in state and federal courts in California, Nevada, and Iowa.  Principal attorney in over one hundred jury trials.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE

  • Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law
    “Mediating the Litigated Case” (42 hours of mediation training), 2014
  • ADR Services, Inc., Mediator, 2018-Present
  • Pokorny Mediations, Principal Mediator, 2017-2018
  • San Diego Superior Court, Civil Mediation Panelist, 2017-Present
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Fee Arbitration Panelist, 2017-Present

HONORS AND AWARDS

  • Super Lawyer, consistently named every year since 2010
  • Finalist, San Diego County “Top Attorneys”, The Daily Transcript, 2009
  • Member, United States Registry of Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans, 1994

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND ACTIVITIES

  • Board Member, San Diego Inn of Court, 2000-Present
  • President, San Diego Inn of Court, 2010
  • President, Lawyer Pilots Bar Association, 1999-2000
  • Television Commentator, KUSI Television, 1995-2000
  • Presenter, King County Bar Association, Aviation Law Section Seminar, 1998
  • Co-Chair, Southwest Regional Aviation and Space Law Symposium
  • Radio Commentator, KSDO Radio, 1994
  • Author, The Real Truth About Aircrash Litigation, San Diego Lawyer
  • Chair, San Diego County Bar Association Aviation Law Section, 1994
  • Co-Founder, San Diego County Bar Association Aviation Law Section, 1988
  • Chair, State Bar Law Practice Management Section, 1986
  • Judge Pro Tempore, San Diego Municipal Court, 1984-1985
  • Member, California State Bar, Board of Governors, 1984-1985
  • Chair, San Diego County Bar Association, Annual Bar Dinner Committee, 1980-1984
  • Board Member, California Young Lawyers Association, 1979-1984

Representative Cases

AVIATION & AIRCRASH LITIGATION

  • Crop duster crash – wrongful death. Case involved allegations of substandard maintenance which led to catastrophic engine failure at low altitude in remote location in California Central Valley.
  • Military jet crash – wrongful death. Pilot, employee of military contractor, was on final approach near Camarillo, California when engine failed. Improper maintenance alleged.
  • Private aircraft landing incident which occurred at Medford, Oregon involved a Beech aircraft and allegations of improper landing gear maintenance.
  • Private aircraft landing incident which occurred at Montgomery Field in San Diego involved a Cessna aircraft and allegations of improper piloting technique.
  • Aerial photography aircraft lost power near Brown Field in San Diego and crashed, killing all aboard. Allegations of improper maintenance.
  • Airplane crash - serious bodily injury. Handled injury claim in case involving a blocked fuel filter which led to catastrophic engine failure and crash landing in San Diego, CA.
  • Airplane crash - wrongful death. Handled matter arising out of the deliberate crash of a Cessna by a distraught flight instructor in Ramona, CA.
  • Airplane crash - wrongful death. Handled wrongful death litigation involving the crash after takeoff of a charter aircraft due to negligent calibration of aircraft gauges in Long Beach, CA.
  • Airplane taxi collision - catastrophic injuries. Handled injury litigation involving passenger in one airplane which collided with another aircraft, the propeller of which penetrated the passenger’s airplane and severed his leg in Santa Barbara, CA.
  • Airplane crash - wrongful death. Handled wrongful death litigation of a large turbine airplane which crashed on approach to airport at Concord, CA, killing all aboard.
  • Helicopter crash - wrongful death. Handled matter arising out of improper approach to private helipad in Fallbrook, CA, killing both occupants.
  • Airplane incident - wrongful death. Handled matter involving attempt at hand propping an airplane using improper procedures, resulting in serious head trauma and death, in El Cajon, CA.
  • Helicopter crash - wrongful death. Handled wrongful death litigation arising out of loss of power of a private helicopter being piloted by a brain surgeon, in San Diego, CA.
  • Crop duster crash - wrongful death. Handled matter involving loss of power to a crop duster in a remote field in Alabama.
  • Police helicopter crash - wrongful death. Handled litigation arising out of crash of law enforcement helicopter while on patrol, due to partial engine failure, in Santee, California.
  • Mid-air collision - wrongful death. Handled litigation against the United States involving air traffic control error which resulted in multiple fatalities, in La Mesa, CA.
  • Aircraft crash - wrongful death. Handled matter involving the loss of power of a Cessna on approach to airport in Hillsborough, Oregon.
  • Airplane crash - wrongful death. Co-counsel in litigation against the United States involving air traffic control error which resulted in multiple fatalities in Julian, CA.
  • Aerobatic airplane crash - wrongful death. Handled matter involving catastrophic structural failure of aerobatic airplance while practicing maneuvers in Borrego Springs, CA.

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BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL CONTRACT

  • Manufacturer of aviation components alleged to have not tested components per Federal Aviation Specifications.
  • Dispute with rental car company over property damage which occurred during rental period.
  • Litigation over insurance office assets seized by California Department of Insurance.
  • Litigation involving franchisee’s misappropriation and conversion of franchisor’s equipment.
  • Dispute between producer of high end ceramics commissioned by hotel chain and trucking company which allowed products to be substantially damaged while en route to hotel.
  • Fraud case involving unscrupulous entrepreneur and US citizen investors involved in Mexican real estate deal.
  • Dispute over substantial sum of money transferred from one entity to another involving whether or not funds represented a promised gift or consideration for performance.
  • Dispute between manufacturer and distributor of electricity generating wind turbines involving geographical limitations of distributorship.
  • Litigation over California Department of Insurance revoking license holder, insurance agent in Coronado
  • Litigation to set aside a transfer of property alleged to have been committed fraudulently to deprive the opposing party of claim to ownership.
  • Dispute over misappropriation of property belonging to non-profit organization and subsequent restraining order procedures.
  • Dispute over nature and extent of non-disclosure agreement related to manufacture of computerized golf course sprinkler systems.
  • Dispute between local business and redevelopment agency related to delays in construction which led to substantial financial damages to local business.
  • Dispute between parties led to cause of action for breach of contract claiming loss of licensing fees and royalties.
  • Securities fraud litigation in which individual investor asserted high pressure investment tactics which led to substantial sum invested followed by complete loss of investment.
  • Unfair competition dispute related to substitution of goods, in which it was alleged that defendant company used a generic product misbranded as being a part of supplier’s brand. Due to inferior nature of product sold by defendant, plaintiff supplier claimed substantial economic damages.
  • Intellectual property issue brought by patent holder of specific electronic file protocol against company whose website had incorporated a similar protocol and technology.
  • Dispute between homeowner and floor installation company alleging that expensive hardware floor installed by company was not installed within measurement parameters agreed upon by the parties in the contract.
  • Dispute alleging fraud by consumer against a used car dealer which alleged that dealer regularly “rolled back” odometers of vehicles on dealer’s lot.
  • Dispute alleging that defendant, a local graphic artist, created a facsimile DMV automobile license sticker and used it to attempt to avoid paying registration fees.
  • Fraud action brought by United States against supervisor of government construction projects, alleging that the supervisor converted unused copper wire to his own use, and that supervisor had employees perform services for supervisor at supervisor’s personal residence while ostensibly working full time for the government.
  • Dispute brought by plaintiff against auto dealer pursuant to Song-Beverly Act related to numerous failed attempts to repair her vehicle. Plaintiff demanded a replacement vehicle and dealer refused.

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FAMILY LAW

  • Dispute between husband and wife related to husband’s attempts to mischaracterize his retirement benefits to detriment of wife.
  • Dispute over child custody and visitation in matter in which husband was prosecuted for child molestation.
  • Dispute arose during division of property regarding previously undisclosed line of credit opened by one spouse but allegedly binding on the other spouse.
  • Husband and wife litigated issue of custody of children versus which spouse would receive the tax deduction for dependents.
  • Husband alleged that wife was underreporting income and delaying a substantial bonus in order to cheat the husband out of support.
  • Wife claimed that husband, who was the owner of a small closely held business, had income “off the books” and was trying to cheat her out of support.
  • Wife wanted to move from California to Florida during divorce proceedings in order to live with her parents. Husband claimed that wife’s real motivation was to deprive him of joint child custody.
  • Neither husband nor wife could agree on custody issues relative to what would be in the best interests of their two children with respect to parenting time schedules.
  • Parents could not agree on basic support, medical support and child care support for their three children.
  • Litigation over value of military retirement benefits accrued during career of service member.
  • “Palimony” case involving dispute over support and division of property after male partner died and will provisions omitted female partner.
  • Dispute over whether or not the husband, previously ordered to pay support, could retire at age 65 and claim a reduction in support to be paid.
  • Issue of application of Family Code Section 4320 relating to age and health of the parties, as well as relative circumstances of the parties, in setting spousal support amount.
  • Dispute over CCP 2030 sanctions for abuse of discovery process in divorce proceedings as well as fee-based awards.
  • Dispute over Family Code Section 850 transmutation of property as it relates to joint living trusts.
  • Dispute over secretly obtained iPhone recording of one spouse and subsequent argument that the recording took the recorded statement out of context. Controversy over Penal Code 632 evidence and impeachment of person who made statement.

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FEE DISPUTES

  • Dispute between client and attorney in criminal defense matter related to non-refundable retainer.
  • Dispute between client in California and business attorney in Nevada related to franchisee rights and responsibilities.
  • Dispute between client and attorney in domestic matter pertaining to attorney’s failure to ascertain retirement benefits accrued by client.
  • Dispute between client and attorney after client transferred vehicle as part payment of fees. Litigation over attorney’s failure to obtain client’s written consent to transfer.
  • Dispute between client and attorney related to issue of conflict of interest due to attorney’s former relationship with opposing party.
  • Dispute involving attorney’s use of “block billing” and client’s right to specific, itemized invoice regarding attorney time spent on case.
  • Dispute over timeliness of attorney’s communication of settlement offer to client, and whether or not oral offer is subject to Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Dispute between attorney and client involving allegations that lawyer had previously represented client and thereafter used information she gained from such representation, to the disadvantage of the client.
  • Dispute between client and attorney in which client claimed that attorney had agreed to represent client and attorney denied that he had made any such representation. Result of miscommunication was running of statute of limitations.
  • Dispute brought by client against attorney alleging attorney had promised a specific result in a criminal matter.
  • Dispute between client and attorney, who refused to pursue an allegedly unmeritorious cause of action for client. Client claimed damages for such refusal by attorney.
  • Fee dispute between client and attorney after settlement of significant wrongful death case in which client, surviving spouse of decedent, refused to reimburse attorney for costs incurred in prosecuting legal case against defendant.
  • Dispute between plaintiff’s counsel in personal injury action and attorney who referred matter to counsel over nature and amount of referral fee due to complexity of underlying litigation.
  • Dispute between physician expert witness and plaintiff’s counsel regarding value of services rendered by physician in underlying litigation.

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INSURANCE COVERAGE

  • Dispute between carriers for subcontractors as to liability for property damage due to settling of soil base.
  • Dispute related to insured’s failure to defend action taken against insured, and insured’s rights in subsequent declaratory relief action.
  • Dispute involving Calif Insurance Code section 11580(b)(2) related to judgment creditor in personal injury action bringing suit directly against defendant’s insurer as a third party beneficiary of defendant’s liability insurance contract.
  • Dispute involving injured plaintiff bringing a direct action against defendant’s insurance carrier as an assignee of the defendant’s rights under the defendant’s liability insurance contract, and whether or not a covenant to not execute on personal assets was enforceable.
  • Litigation involving equitable indemnity principles governing allocation of loss among multiple tortfeasors where liability was joint and several.
  • Dispute among tortfeasors as to “joint” versus “several” liability.
  • Dispute over distinction between equitable contribution versus equitable indemnity with respect to right to recover from co-obliged, as opposed to party primarily liable for loss.
  • Dispute involving subrogation issue in context of surety. Issue involved was whether or not surety was obligated to pay the principal debtor’s obligation to the creditor.
  • Litigation involving director’s and officer’s liability insurance and claimed applicability of “entity coverage” under Side C clause. Issue was allocation of policy between indemnification of officers and directors cf their uninsured corporate employer.
  • Dispute involving comprehensive general liability policy and its applicability to professional liability and workers compensation liability.
  • Dispute involving excess insurance policy claim and reinsurance treaty issues. Issue in declaratory relief action was when reinsurance proceeds were obligated to be paid to the ceding insurer.

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PARTNERSHIP DISSOLUTION

  • Dispute between partners in bakery business over assets and receivables which led to dissolution of partnership.
  • Dispute between principals and “silent partners” as to operation of start up restaurant business which led to dissolution of partnership.
  • Dispute between partners pertaining to contract which failed to set forth all agreed upon terms.
  • Dispute between partners related to agreed upon contributions to partnership.
  • Allegations by Partner A that Partner B had broken into Partner A’s house and stolen valuable personal information from personal computer of Partner A.
  • Partnership dissolution over value of respective partnership interests in real estate related to business of partnership.
  • Partnership dissolution over alleged relationship by one partner with the spouse of the other partner.
  • Partnership dispute led to dissolution and subsequent allegations of breach of contract related to agreed upon geographical anti-competition clause.
  • Dispute related to marketing of viatical contracts which led to seizure of defendant’s insurance business and partnership dissolution action. Damages pertained to numerous claims from insured parties.

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PERSONAL INJURY

  • Homeowner fell through second story ceiling during remodeling, which caused catastrophic injuries.
  • Bar fight in which Good Samaritan interceded and was himself seriously injured.
  • Head on automobile collision enroute to Mammoth for ski vacation, which caused near fatal injuries.
  • Bicycle skidding accident on oil slick at local market, causing closed head trauma.
  • Bicycle accident which occurred during bike race while in a high speed pace line. Result was long term cognitive disability.
  • Bicycle accident which occurred in darkness during newspaper deliveries, which resulted in multiple fractures.
  • Slip and fall in arts and crafts store due to building code violation regarding minimum hand rail requirements at stairways in showroom.
  • Slip and fall in water at large bank branch caused by improper posting of caution signs; fractured hip resulted from fall.
  • Wrongful death caused by robbery outside large bank branch alleged to have occurred because of lack of security measures on behalf of bank.
  • Head injuries sustained as a result of falling baggage from overhead bin in commercial airline flight.
  • Bicycle rider hit by garbage truck, causing massive and permanent head injuries.
  • Dog owner failed to warn babysitter of dangerous propensity of dog, and sitter sustained serious dog bite wounds in her arm.
  • Motor vehicle versus pedestrian in crosswalk, causing head injuries and permanent loss of taste and smell.
  • Motor vehicle accident which caused injured driver to suffer from permanent vision impairment.
  • Plaintiff family victims of drunk driver causing high speed collision on freeway, with permanent disfigurement of victims.
  • Eight year old female victim of continuous sexual abuse for several years by step father.
  • Slip and fall at assisted living facility which caused broken ankle allegedly due to insufficient maintenance of guest parking lot.
  • Food poisoning alleged by plaintiff due to rancid candy sold by defendant.
  • Wrongful death of minor child after fall from cliffs into ocean; alleged failure to place warning signs by City.
  • Slip and fall at rental car lot; plaintiff alleged no warning posted at lower elevation of lot.
  • Dental malpractice claimed by plaintiff resulting in substantial remedial dental procedures and care.
  • Defendant self administered overdose of Ambien and then drove, causing serious motor vehicle accident with substantial injuries.
  • Wrongful death matter involving suit against County for insufficient signage and notice of dangerous intersection.
  • Wrongful death against assisted living facility for allegedly deficient care and lack of medical oversight.
  • Boating accident involving rented military craft which resulted in serious bodily injuries for multiple parties aboard.
  • Plaintiff alleged defective battery installed in her car resulted in sulfuric acid fumes entering ventilation system in vehicle, causing serious injuries to thoracic and digestive systems.
  • Medical malpractice alleged which resulted in bilateral ulnar nerve damage and permanent sensory deprivation to plaintiff.
  • Student at special education facility alleged repeated sexual abuse by her adult instructor.
  • Slip and fall in grocery store produce section due to failure to clean up fallen fruit.
  • Store employee assisted plaintiff in loading heavy barbecue into plaintiff’s truck. Barbecue fell, fracturing multiple bones in plaintiff’s foot.
  • Elementary school student playing on soccer goal netting fell and suffered wounds in her leg due to protruding metal from goal frame.

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PRODUCTS LIABILITY

  • Litigation over manufacture of fuel hose in vintage general aviation aircraft which led to fuel starvation shortly after takeoff.
  • Dispute over issue of military specifications related to component of tail rotor assembly in US Navy helicopter.
  • Failure of shoulder harness restraint system in police helicopter which allowed passenger’s torso to extend beyond designated occupied space, leading to complete severing of upper extremity and ultimately death of passenger.
  • Failure of Lycoming engine in general aviation helicopter, which led to catastrophic power loss and crash of helicopter, causing death of pilot and serious bodily injuries to passenger.
  • Failure of restraint system in general aviation helicopter which allowed pilot’s head to strike control panel, causing fatal injuries.
  • Failure of helicopter tail rotor assembly in general aviation helicopter, which caused aircraft to lose control and spin to the ground, leading to wrongful death litigation.
  • Failure of power steering unit in Ford Windstar which left the vehicle, containing young mother and two children, nearly uncontrollable during steep mountain descent in Sierra Nevadas.
  • Dispute over defective parachute which failed to deploy over Lake Elsinore, which led to death of plaintiff.
  • Defective engine components alleged in dispute over catastrophic engine failure of high performance general aviation aircraft at Borrego Springs, which led to ejection by pilot at low altitude, and ultimately death of pilot.
  • Defective landing gear indicator lights on control panel of high performance general aviation twin engine aircraft which led pilot to believe landing gear was extended when in fact they were not. Substantial property damage claimed by airplane owner.

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