Shelby B. Crawford Of Counsel



Shelby Crawford is a trial lawyer and litigation strategist who defends clients from the initiation of a case through trial and/or settlement. Shelby has litigated successfully before state and federal courts, focusing her practice on the defense of general liability, automobile and common carrier liability, vehicle repossession, premises liability, products liability and contracts.

Shelby has engaged successfully in the defense of vehicle repossession companies and lenders in California and several other states. She previously served as General Counsel for two national direct repossession companies and is well versed in handling cases involving breach of peace, trespass, emotional distress, bodily injury, property damage and related claims. Shelby also handled vehicle repossession cases for 10 years while serving as a staff attorney for a large insurance carrier. She has defended repossession companies in binding arbitrations that resulted in defense awards and indeed has resolved related claims through settlement and at trial.

Areas of Focus

Trucking / Transportation
Shelby handles all types of first- and third-party liability matters, personal injury and accident claims, defending bodily injury cases brought against trucking and transportation companies and drivers. She taps into the firm’s depth of experience, broad geographic scope and adherence to a collaborative “cross-practice” approach, frequently involving colleagues well versed in regulatory and administrative matters. Wilson Elser’s nationwide 24/7 response program helps ensure that team members are engaged during the first critical hours following a catastrophe. 

Complex Tort / General Liability
Shelby defends against product liability and mass tort actions in a variety of categories, with a concentration in transportation matters. By virtue of her broad trial experience, she is deeply familiar with the legal issues raised against manufacturers, and well equipped to develop highly effective prevention programs as the first line of defense in product liability cases. She advises clients on ways of settling disputes without trial and works with clients to identify potential risks involved in product use, reviewing and consulting on product warnings, introductions and manuals.

Vehicle Repossession
Shelby possesses extensive experience representing vehicle repossession companies and lenders in a wide array of litigation. She has a keen understanding of the fundamentals and nuances of key repossession laws and regulations, including the FDCPA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, CFPB, SCRA, Dodd-Frank, the UCC and UDAPP. This knowledge gives Shelby an advantage in handling related claims, including those involving breach of peace, which are among the most common and sometimes the most challenging, since there is no uniform definition of what constitutes a breach of peace.

Shelby has compiled an impressive record of success by anticipating typical claimant strategies and mounting vigorous and innovative defenses. For example, she routinely explores the transfer of risk among the vehicle lender, the forwarding company and/or the repossession company. Her ability to effectively transfer risk is supported by her experience reviewing and writing contracts – and her understanding of how to apportion liability. Shelby also maintains relationships with the most prominent plaintiffs’ counsel firms, which are familiar with her skills and aid in her ability to negotiate settlements that are favorable to her clients.

Moreover, as General Counsel for two national direct repossession companies, Shelby handled the licensing process in addition to the litigation, which enabled her to develop a comprehensive understanding of vehicle repossession operations and establish key relationships with the associated regulatory agencies.

Representative Matters

Successfully defended a transportation company in a property damage matter before a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court. 

Obtained a defense decision in a binding motor vehicle accident arbitration involving a trucking agency and a passenger vehicle, prevailing on liability against claims of severe injuries. 

Obtained a defense verdict before a Santa Barbara jury in a premises liability action involving a fall at the entrance to a salon; plaintiff sought $2 million in damages. 

Represented an auto repair shop in a lawsuit where the plaintiff alleged negligent repairs, attempting to argue that his vehicle, which caught on fire after leaving the repair facility, had historical value. Successfully argued that the vehicle did not have historical value and obtained a verdict in the amount offered prior to trial. 

Obtained a defense verdict in Los Angeles Superior Court in a case involving a repossession agency client where the plaintiff alleged breach of peace, trespass and emotional distress. 

Obtained a defense decision in a binding arbitration on behalf of a repossession agency client, where the plaintiff alleged the agency breached the peace while attempting to repossess a vehicle on behalf of the lienholder. 

Obtained a defense verdict before a Ventura Superior Court jury in a case involving a box truck that collided with a bicyclist; demonstrated to the jury through witnesses, accident reconstruction and experts that the plaintiff was preoccupied and ran into the back of the box truck causing his own injuries. 

Drafted a successful motion for summary judgment on behalf of a major wine manufacturer in a products case involving a plaintiff with a cut hand and $500,000 in medical expenses and lost wages, allegedly due to a wine bottle that shattered when he attempted to open it.