Steven R. Parminter Partner

     

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Steven Parminter has extensive experience in insurance defense litigation in state and federal courts throughout California. His practice areas include professional errors and omissions, employment liability, personal injury, business litigation, contracts and trucking/transportation. Steve has represented clients in matters dealing with wrongful termination, employment discrimination, and the defense of accountants, lawyers, insurers, agents and brokers, and other miscellaneous professionals as well as multiple California ski resorts and sports organizations and venues.

Among his clients are numerous professional sports teams, sports venues and ski resorts. He has also been involved in negotiations and contracts for the first-ever Winter X Games with ESPN and has worked with clients for facilities usage contracts, indemnity and litigation in matters with MTV and other broadcast events.

Steve’s instincts and spot-on analysis help him and his clients arrive at winning strategies, prepared to counter even the strongest opposing arguments, with proven success in winning summary judgments that helped his clients avoid the expenses and risky exposures of trials. His nearly three decades of experience in the ski and recreation industries have garnered the firm a leading role in the defense of skiing venues and he has served on the board of directors and as an officer in a national organization focused on the defense of the ski industry. Regardless of the case or the personalities involved, Steve is the voice of reason in many otherwise volatile encounters.

Areas of Focus

Employment
Steve has more than 20 years of experience in counseling, auditing and defending employers against employment liability matters, including handling EEOC and DFEH investigations, administrative law hearings and litigated matters in state and federal courts. For most of that period, Steve has directly represented corporate clients as well as insured companies in these matters. Matters handled have included harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination as well as failure to hire and ADA discrimination claims. Advising employers in their internal management and investigations has successfully avoided a number of claims.

Sports & Recreation / Ski Matters
Steve is a driving force in the firm’s position as a major player in the skiing industry. In addition, he has been privy to numerous matters involving major league sports teams behind the scenes. He has defended complex personal injury and commercial litigation law suits in state and federal courts; advised on project structures, preparing project documents and negotiating contracts, including advising on management, sales and marketing issues; working with municipalities and government regulators; and mitigating labor and employment matters. Steve has published appellate opinions involving skiing, basketball and hockey cases in addition to other recreational matters.

Accountants / Financial Professionals
Steve has been involved in the defense of accountants, attorneys and financial professionals since 1982. In 1985, he began supervising all accountants’ liability litigation in the firm’s Los Angeles office. When the firm was chosen as primary defense counsel by a major casualty and indemnity company to defend claims against southern California accountants and other financial professionals during the period the company underwrote the insurance program for the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CSCPA), Steve defended or supervised the defense of as many as 165 concurrently active accountants’ liability actions.  In the appellate decision of Carden v. Getzoff (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 907, Steve helped establish the principle that an accountant testifying as a forensic expert at trial is entitled to the protection of privilege under California Civil Code section 47.

Steve has handled literally hundreds of accountants’ and financial professionals’ liability matters. Significant matters include actuarial and financial planning practice; tax shelters to tax audits; compiled, reviewed and audited financial statements; forensic accounting services; business combinations and dissolutions; estate planning and estate tax issues; investment analysis and advice; and general business management and financial consulting practices. The latter areas, along with the representation of some general business clients, have included litigated matters in the areas of alleged securities violations, trade secret violations, unfair competition and unfair business practices as well as the sale of an NBA franchise.

Steve was an invited member of the 1990 California Society of CSCPA Task Force on Accountability, assembled to determine the areas of accountants’ greatest professional liability exposure and to arrive at possible alternative responses by the accounting community, including legislative actions, modifications to practice and review standards, amicus curiae briefs and modifications to jury instructions.  Membership was extended only to persons recognized within the industry as being expert in the issues of accountants’ liability.

Lawyers' Liability / Malpractice
Steve’s practice includes professional liability defense, with an emphasis on the defense of accountants, attorneys, business advisors and actuaries in various malpractice suits. Steve has handled a variety of attorney E&O matters in this regard, including the defense of attorney malpractice claims arising out of business combinations and dissolutions, patent law malpractice claims and failure of counsel to refer clients to attorneys in other specialties or areas of practice.  Steve was chosen as one of a small group of knowledgeable attorneys to be part of the California State Bar’s ad hoc Committee on Insurance Availability in 2009.

Insurance Agents & Brokers
Steve has experience with the business practices of various types of insurance intermediaries, including brokers at every level from producers to managing general agents. In addition to representing insurance agents and brokers and their errors and omissions insurers, Steve provides loss-prevention recommendations and educational seminars. His experience includes claims against brokers arising from natural catastrophes and responding to issues concerning the broad spectrum of coverage, including property, casualty, life and all forms of third-party liability policies. Steve has represented insurance agents and brokers before various state licensing, regulatory and disciplinary boards

Trucking
Steve has litigated trucking cases for more than 25 years. Experienced in representing local and ICC carriers in defense of vehicular accidents, he has also litigated coverage issues on transportation policies. He assists clients in creating 24-hour rapid response teams of attorneys, investigators and experts, including accident reconstructionists who obtain critical early information that can result in quick analysis and resolution as well as prevent some claims from ever being filed. In addition, Steve’s early experience as a truck driver before becoming an attorney gives him a unique perspective on situations affecting the trucking business.

Representative Matters

Accounting
Successful defense of the accountants for the owners of a professional basketball franchise who were alleged to have misstated the franchise’s assets and liabilities in documents prepared relative to the sale of the franchise in the 1980s. Multiple mediations with three different active and retired judges were unsuccessful in resolving the matter. After six weeks of trial, a defense verdict was obtained. Other matters taken to trial include issues of business management, estate taxation preparation, fiduciary and trustee liability, Sub-Chapter S accounting and tax reporting, and tax preparation for a consolidated business group.

Significant settlements include an accountant’s errors and omissions claim in which more than $10 million in damages were alleged, and plaintiff’s expert accountants alone incurred in excess of $700,000 in fees for their investigation, analysis and testimony. The case was settled for $500,000. Combined fees, costs and expenses for our firm and our retained experts were less than $200,000.

Employment
Representative cases include various matters of alleged racial discrimination in hiring, promotions and terminations; multiple instances of alleged sexual harassment; multiple cases of alleged age, racial and gender discrimination, including claims by various individuals in company layoffs; and alleged failure to hire otherwise qualified individuals because of their asserted medical conditions.

Sports & Recreation / Ski Matters
Successful summary judgments have included both skiing and mountain biking injuries resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia and deaths, as well as less serious injuries from skiing, snowboarding, bike racing and recreational basketball. Some of these decisions, such as Allan v. Snow Summit, Inc. (1996) 51 Cal. App. 4th 1358, upholding a ski school release, have been upheld in published appellate decisions, but the majority have been upheld in unpublished appellate decisions.

Successful trials have included a non-suit upheld on appeal in the only published appellate decision involving hockey since the 1940s; a combined verdict for three defendants of less than $20,000 after plaintiff requested $700,000 to $1.1 million for permanent injuries from a skiing injury.

Success on appeal after trial award of $1.4 million include Kane v. National Ski Patrol System, Inc., 105 Cal.Rptr.2d 600 (2001), a combined death and serious injury case involving two injured ski patrol candidates, in which the appellate court held that “an instructor's assessment errors – either in making the necessarily subjective judgment of skill level or the equally subjective judgment about the difficulty of conditions – are in no way ‘outside the range of the ordinary activity involved in the sport.’”

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