Stephen Isbell is a partner in the Firm’s Orange County office. He focuses his practice on litigation and transactional matters in the areas of real estate, financial services and water law.
In his litigation practice, Mr. Isbell has obtained favorable results for his clients by pre-trial motion, jury and court trial, binding arbitration, mediation, informal settlement negotiation and appeal, while his transactional practice involves complex loan transactions, loan and asset purchases, bank participation agreements and various real estate transactions.
On behalf of community and regional banks, mortgage lenders, real estate developers, land owners and title insurance companies, Mr. Isbell has prosecuted and defended claims regarding real estate-secured, construction and commercial loans, title to real estate, collections, lien-priority disputes, foreclosure, easement disputes, bank fraud, lender liability, trade secrets, contracts, unfair competition and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
- Action: Mr. Isbell obtained a reversal on appeal of the trial court's judgment in a protracted litigation matter involving two banks that participated in a large construction loan in Los Angeles County. The judgment granted one of the bank's rescission of the parties' participation agreement and awarded over $2 million in restitution and attorneys' fees and costs. After reversal, the participation agreement was no longer rescinded, and the client was awarded attorneys' fees of approximately $1 million.
- Insurance Business Litigation: Mr. Isbell was an intricate part of a litigation team that successfully defended a large title insurance company and its employee in an action brought by a competitor for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, interference, and unfair business practices. Over more than two years of contentious litigation and a lengthy jury trial, the clients defeated all of the plaintiff's claims alleged against them, which requested injunctive relief and damages in excess of $250 million. The clients also prevailed on a cross-claim for breach of contract and were awarded damages, attorneys’ fees and costs in excess of $1 million.
- Estate Finance Litigation and Bankruptcy: A large regional bank financed a sizeable hotel and condominium project in Northern California. After the collapse of the California real estate market, the project stalled and the borrower failed to repay the substantial amounts borrowed. Despite the filing of bankruptcy by the borrower and guarantors, the defendant pursued lender liability claims against the bank. On behalf of the bank, Mr. Isbell successfully prosecuted its claims against the borrower and guarantors, foreclosed and liquidated the real property collateral, and settled all outstanding claims.
- Easement: In the early stages of a residential development in Los Angeles County, a landowner neighboring a development claimed that a dirt road was a prescriptive easement and sued the developer to enforce these claims. After substantial discovery and trial, the court awarded judgment in favor of the developer. The Appellate Court subsequently upheld the trial court’s judgment and awarded the developer client substantial attorneys' fees, which resulted in allowing the client to complete the development of the property.
- Foreclosure Action: After a borrower defaulted on a loan secured by a gas station and convenience store and refused to cooperate with its lender, Mr. Isbell represented the lender, a large regional bank headquartered in California, in the foreclosure and liquidation of the collateral and obtained a deficiency judgment against the borrower.
- Action: When a residential lender suffered substantial losses on liens it purchased from a mortgage brokerage that were improperly underwritten, Mr. Isbell, early in the litigation, prevailed on a motion for summary judgment that secured a substantial judgment and over $80,000 in attorneys' fees for his lender client. The judgment was subsequently upheld by the Appellate Court.
- Collection and Tort Action:After a borrower of a Southern California community bank client defaulted on its loans and a third party took over the borrower’s business, including the bank’s collateral, Mr. Isbell represented the bank in an action for collection of the loan, foreclosure of the collateral and for wrongful interference.With aggressive discovery and the filing of a strong motion for summary judgment, Mr. Isbell was able to negotiate a favorable settlement for the bank client with all defendants.
- Complex Groundwater Adjudication:Mr. Isbell represents a landowner in a complex lawsuit that adjudicated the groundwater rights of thousands of parties in Southern California and in which the client was awarded substantial groundwater production rights.
- Fraud and Conversion Action: When a large regional bank client foreclosed a development in Central California, the landowners sued the bank for fraud, conversion, breach of contract and wrongful foreclosure.Mr. Isbell won a judgment in favor of the bank client without having to incur the expense of trial by first successfully attacking the plaintiffs’ complaint and subsequently obtaining an order for summary judgment of the plaintiffs’ remaining claims.
- Agreement: Mr. Isbell represented a participant lender in a $105 million construction loan on a multifamily development in Newport Beach. The expedited loan was closed less than one week after the participants were identified and committed to the transaction.
- Litigation: After numerous California residents were allegedly defrauded by investing in a sham Colorado real estate development, they filed a lawsuit in federal court against all involved parties, including a mortgage brokerage that financed the investment. The plaintiffs alleged numerous tortious causes of action against the mortgage brokerage, including claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Mr. Isbell represented the mortgage brokerage, and after numerous successful attacks against the plaintiffs' complaint, negotiated a nominal settlement early in the litigation, saving the client substantial litigation expenses and exposure.
- Title Claim:Mr. Isbell represented a commercial landowner in Southern California who, after entering a contract to sell her land, learned that she was not a record owner.By filing a lawsuit for quiet title and other related claims, Mr. Isbell quickly and efficiently obtained judgment that quieted title to the land in favor of the client so that the property could be sold.
- & Commercial Loans: Obtained numerous multi-million dollar recoveries by summary judgment on behalf of financial services clients in collection actions regarding construction and commercial loans.
ARCHIVED BUSINESS LITIGATION NOTE
NCAA/Intercollegiate Baseball Team, former Member
ADMISSIONS & PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
- State Bar of California
- United States District Courts of Colorado
- United States District Courts for the Southern, Central and Eastern Districts of California
- Orange County Bar Association
- Los Angeles County Bar Association