Walsworth - WFBM, LLP proudly utilizes our skill and experience by offering the following presentation opportunities for seminars, conferences and continuing education. Please contact us for more information on a particular subject matter:

Construction & Real Property


General Litigation
Construction & Real Property (back to top)

Construction Defect Litigation: The Nuts and Bolts

Designed for claims representatives with varying degrees of technical knowledge and experience in Construction Defect Litigation, the focus of this presentation is to provide the audience with a fundamental understanding of the critical issues involved in defending a Construction Defect case. An overview of the different parties involved in this litigation and their respective roles, as well as the primary theories of liability, applicable statutes of limitation, and the relevant measure of damages is provided. Other areas covered are: the various types of indemnity, how to interpret contractual indemnity provisions, important statutory limitations, the impact of recent case law on the duty to defend and providing the claims representatives with techniques and strategies for efficient and effective handling of these claims - from initial investigation and discovery, through settlement negotiations and trial. Actual case scenarios to foster open dialogue and encourage interactive discussion are also incorporated.

Evaluating and Defending Inverse Condemnation Claims

This presentation provides an overview of California inverse condemnation law, defenses and potential damages. What government actions constitute a "taking" of private property for the public good, thereby entitling the owner to just compensation? Topics covered include the constitutional basis for these claims, elements of an inverse condemnation action, regulatory takings, and governmental immunity.

Overview of California Contractual Defense & Indemnity Law

This presentation explores contractual indemnity provisions in California through an examination of the statutory and case law that controls the enforceability and effect of these provisions, which are often central issues in construction defect litigation. It also reviews recent changes to contractual indemnity law, and discusses the importance of these changes in the defense of contractors and subcontractors in construction litigation.

Premises Liability: The Blame Game

This overview of premises liability is designed for claim representatives with some knowledge and experience in litigation involving the defense of landowners and contractors. It will discuss premises liability and highlight the following concepts: liability of premises owners, contractors, subcontractors for injuries suffered by workers; non-delegable duties; government entity liability and immunities; job site issues; environmental issues; vicarious liability; strict liability for ultra hazardous activities, liability arising from special relationships, slip and fall accidents and selected causation issues.

SB-800: Cost of Repair?

This presentation explores the nuances of SB 800: the so-called "Right to Repair Act" that was enacted by the California Legislature in response to the growing number of construction defect lawsuits in California. The presentation includes a discussion of the new statutory definitions of construction defects, new pre-litigation procedures which include the builder's right to investigate and repair defects before a lawsuit can be filed, and a discussion of recent trends including how effective the statute has been in reducing the number of CD lawsuits.

Employment (back to top)

ADA and FEHA: A New Generation of Americans with Disabilities

In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended to include a broader range of disabilities, and will affect the kind of accommodations businesses need to make. Fortunately for Californians, many of the amendments are already covered by the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This presentation highlights the similarities and differences between the ADA and FEHA and demonstrates how the amended ADA affects business owners.

Effective Management and Progressive Discipline: Tools For Avoiding Litigation

Effective managers are critical to managing and reducing employment claims. This presentation covers the essential qualities of effective managers, communication skills, and the roles of leadership and responsibility. Many effective managers and risk management programs utilize progressive discipline policies. This overview of progressive discipline covers the graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct issues, the benefits, and implementation. We also emphasize the importance and use of documentation in the employment context.

Wage & Hour

The Wage and Hour Update provides employers with timely, practical advice for understanding and complying with federal and California laws governing working conditions and the payment of wages. Seminar topics include classification of exempt vs. non-exempt employees, wage calculations, timecard polices and meal and rest break requirements. The presentation also includes a discussion of recent class action litigation in California and emerging trends in defending wage and hour lawsuits.
Sexual Harassment Training
This presentation discusses the applicable Federal and State sexual harassment laws, including Title VII and FEHA. It also covers the various forms of sexual harassment, the meaning of a hostile work environment and employer liability issues. This presentation goes over potential employer defenses and various case studies.
We’re Watching You: Privacy in the Workplace

Although an employer has an interest in monitoring the workplace and their employees, the nuances in an employee’s or potential hire’s right to privacy can be difficult to navigate. This presentation explains how privacy plays into a wide range of employment policies and decisions, and provides business owners with the information needed to minimize costly litigation whenever possible.

Liability 2.0: How Social Media Is Changing Potential Liability In The Workplace

This course is designed to provide attendees with a background in social media and Web 2.0 applications and how these applications are being used in the workplace to better understand the potential liability employers face when dealing with employees and potential new hires. This course will also address issues regarding workplace privacy and the use of technology in disseminating and monitoring internal and external communications for a variety of companies. Finally, this course will discuss future trends in liability as they relate to the use of social media and anticipated guidance from the courts.

Equal Access or Undue Hardship: Demystifying Workplace Accommodation Claims

Workplace discrimination claims involving the alleged failure of employers to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees are on the rise. These claims are made in both Federal and State courts as employees utilize a patchwork of anti-discrimination laws to claim that their employers have discriminated against them by failing to accommodate their disability or the free exercise of their chosen religion in the workplace. What is an accommodation, when and how must it be offered to an employee and how does the employer determine if a given accommodation is reasonable? This course will help to answer these questions and will provide attendees with a thorough understanding of Federal and State anti-discrimination laws and how failure-to-accommodate claims are becoming more prevalent in employment litigation under these laws. The course will also discuss recent legislation and court decisions impacting disability discrimination and religious discrimination claims and will provide strategies for claims professionals to handle these claims when they are made.

Environmental (back to top)

Diesel Exhaust: The Next Asbestos?

This presentation discusses the 2012 IARC classification of diesel exhaust as a known carcinogen and the implications of that classification for toxic tort litigation. The presentation incorporates a discussion on existing litigation and how this designation might affect the landscape of that litigation. It includes an analysis of the science behind the classification and its strengths and weaknesses.

BPA: Baby Bottles, Water Bottles, and Beyond

Bisphenol A (BPA) has made headlines in recent years due to its presence in a variety of consumer plastics, including baby bottles and water bottles. Although its health effects are currently being debated, the leaching of the chemical into the foods and beverages we eat has caused a flurry of public concern and speculation of litigation. This presentation navigates the state of the science behind BPA and its effects, as well as the laws and regulations currently being formed to deal with public concerns.

California’s Sophisticated User Defense: The Duty to Warn

In 2008, the California Supreme Court established the sophisticated user defense with Johnson vs. American Standard. This presentation explores the nuances of the defense and discusses how the court’s ruling has affected litigation involving trained employees claiming exposure to toxic substances.

Environmental Trends: Popcorn to Petroleum

This presentation addresses various alleged toxins in environmental cases of benzene, diacetyl, silica/mixed dust and mold - including an explanation of the different alleged toxins and diseases at issue, the defense strategies explored and the state of the science. It also looks at recent trends and verdicts in California and nationwide.

Experts, Medicine and Pre-Trial Acrobatics

This presentation is a crash course in asbestos case preparation. Topics covered are: Experts You Need/Want (getting the right specialist(s) for the disease you are dealing with), Expert Logistics (challenges with and disclosure), Causation (keys and defense strategies) and Expediting the Process (knowing the rules, dealing with experts' schedules and creative stipulations).

Genetic Biomarkers: Plaintiff’s Shortcut to Verdict?

Plaintiffs have attempted to use genetic biomarkers, an emerging scientific field, to prove causation in toxic tort litigation. The theory of genetic biomarkers asserts that certain changes in the genes of a plaintiff can only be caused by exposure to certain chemicals, although the concept has not been generally accepted by the scientific community. The presentation includes a discussion about the underlying assumptions of genetic biomarkers, the weaknesses with the concept, and the proper challenges that may exclude the theory from the courtroom.

Mold: Fear vs. Fact

Mold is a highly common substance, and a hot topic in toxic tort litigation. Although it is often harmless, it has become a source of fear among the general public, leading to misinformation and confusion. This presentation lays out the state of the science of mold, including its health effects, and discusses the law and EPA guidelines involved in remediation.
Asbestos Defense and Discovery Issues
This presentation discusses how to better defend against asbestos cases and the discovery practices that will assist in defending against a plaintiff's claims. This presentation explores a variety of discovery issues, including the investigation of plaintiff's exposure, finding witnesses, locating and obtaining relevant records, and locating evidence of other potential sources of exposure.
Manufacturers' Duty to Warn, Premises Liability and CERCLA Arranger Liability
This course covers recent changes in the law of CERCLA and RCRA contribution and indemnity claims, as well as in regulatory actions under CERCLA and RCRA. This course also covers the duty to warn by manufacturers and suppliers as well as the defenses that may be asserted by manufacturers and suppliers, including the sophisticated user defense and the sophisticated intermediary defense.
Forum Non-Conveniens and the Exported Tort
Efforts by the plaintiffs' bar to find new sources of revenue have led them to cross international borders. While forum non-conveniens dismissals used to sound the death knell for a foreign claimant, they no longer benefit the defendant more than the plaintiff. This presentation discusses the considerations that must be made when a foreign claimant files suit in the U.S. and what to do to prepare for foreign litigation if the ultimate decision is to pursue a forum non-conveniens dismissal.

Recent Developments in California Asbestos Litigation

Several important decisions have recently changed the landscape of asbestos litigation in California. This presentation details some of these issues including: premises liability and take-home exposure, the sophisticated user, component parts doctrine defense, how peripheral defendants become primary targets in asbestos litigation, use of affirmative defenses and successor liability. Also, recent trends in heavily litigated venues in California, including San Francisco, Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego are covered – and actual case scenarios are provided and allow for interactive discussion by the audience.
Toxic Tort Litigation
This presentation provides a general overview of toxic tort litigation, including the chemicals and types of products that are commonly at issue, as well as the identity and types of plaintiffs and defendants who are typically parties in a toxic tort case. This presentation also looks at the diseases that are commonly linked with occupational exposure to chemicals and products and explores the viable defenses that can be asserted. It explains the current state of the art and its impact on toxic tort litigation.

Benzene and Asbestos Litigation Update, or as Bob Dylan once sang: The Times They Are A Changin'

The trace benzene section of this course explores the impact of recent court decisions such as Jones in California, which centered on Bockrath challenges and requirements, as well as an update on verdicts in California and Nevada - along with recent developments in the state of the science. The course also includes a discussion of the defense strategies and techniques, including Evidence Code Section 402 hearings, and recent changes in trace benzene litigation in California.

The asbestos section of this presentation provides an overview on how peripheral defendants are becoming the primary targets and includes an analysis of recent decisions impacting defendants of component parts and take home exposure. Attendees will learn about the recent changes and verdicts in heavily litigated venues in California including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

The session includes actual case scenarios to allow for interactive discussion by the attendees.

Benzene Litigation: From the Mountains to the Sea

This presentation explores the impact of the 2011 Jones decision in California on Bockrath challenges and requirements, recent developments in the state of the science and the recent general causation case of Sargon Enterprises v. USC (2012) along with recent verdicts in California and neighboring states.   Also discussed are the defense strategies and techniques based on these recent changes and developments. 

Also covered are issues in benzene litigation, including the concepts of employee intentional tort actions, the law governing a several jurisdictions, what constitutes an "employer", statutory elements of a tort action, admissibility of expert testimony and relevant case law and scenarios.

General Litigation (back to top)

Ethics 101 For Insurance Carrier Selected Defense Counsel

This presentation looks at how to avoid ethics violations as an insurance carrier selected defense counsel. It addresses the following topics: Conflicts of Interest, Identifying the Client, Defining the Role of Defense Counsel, Working with the Carrier, Reacting to Divergence of Interest Between Carrier and Insured, Excess Exposure Issues and four different hypothetical situations for discussion.
Listeria or Hysteria: Investigating and Defending Food-Borne Illness Claims
This presentation will provide insights and practical advice on methods to investigate and defend bodily injury claims relating to the ingestion of allegedly tainted food products.  State of the art methods for investigating and tracing the source of conatimination will be covered, as well as best practices for shifting risk to other parties.  Finally, the presentation will explore defense strategies for defending these types of claims.
Achieving Balance in the Tri-Partite Relationship: Ethical Issues Faced by Carriers, Insureds and Defense Counsel
In recent years, there have been significant changes in the way insurance carrier selected defense counsel represent their insureds who have been sued for alleged tortious conduct. This interactive session, through the use of hypotheticals based on formal ethics opinions and relevant case law, will explore nuances in the relationship between insurance carriers, defense counsel, and insureds, including how to identify and address various ethical issues that may arise during the course of defending a case.

What the Tweet?: Collecting and Using Social Media Evidence to Investigate Claims

Like it or not, social media use continues to grow exponentially and this method of communication with friends, colleagues and acquaintances is here to stay.  Savvy claims handlers and litigators are learning that these often candid and unfiltered postings can be a gold mine in defending against a wide variety of claims.  This seminar explores the types of evidence than can be gleaned from social media sites and the legal and ethical challenges associated with obtaining and using this evidence.  The course will also discuss a number of recent court decisions that have provided some guidance in this emerging area and provide practical advice and tips for claims handlers to effectively use social media evidence to resolve claims.

Getting the Most Out of Your Negotiations (Part I)

Designed for claims representatives with varying levels of experience with settlement negotiations as well as those who oversee outside counsel who engage in settlement negotiations, this presentation focuses on negotiation theory, tactics and strategies including recognizing your own settlement style and that of your opponent. The audience will be provided the tools to recognize and deal with difficult negotiation scenarios such as stalemates and deadlines, and will also learn about the use of neutral third parties to achieve settlement goals including settlement judges and mediators, how to select a third party mediator, how to effectively utilize mediators to seal the deal and the basics of settlement documentation including a discussion of why getting the deal in writing is necessary and what terms are essential to an enforceable settlement agreement. An additional component features a series of exercises and mock negotiations, which will provide the audience with the skills necessary to negotiate and close favorable settlements.

Getting the Most Out of Your Negotiations (Part II - Advanced)

This course is designed for experienced claims representatives directly involved in settlement negotiations as well as those who oversee outside counsel who engage in negotiations. The course will focus on negotiation theory, tactics and strategies including identifying the most effective settlement style in a given scenario and responding to the style of your opponent. Attendees will be provided the tools to deal with difficult negotiation scenarios such as stalemates and deadlines. Through a series of exercises and mock negotiations based on current case hypotheticals, this training for experienced claims handlers will provide them  with additional  skills necessary to negotiate and close favorable settlements. 
Medicare Secondary Payer Liability: What You Need to Know for Handling Third-Party Claims in Asbestos and Toxic Tort Litigation
When it comes to Medicare reporting and reimbursement, the past few years have seen insurance carriers and litigants in toxic tort litigation experience quite a roller coaster ride regarding their obligations and responsibilities. This presentation will explore the available litigation tools that can be used to address Medicare's reimbursement claims and discuss in detail the most common Medicare-related problems typically faced as parties approach settlement: (1) Including the resolution of Medicare's reimbursement claim as a material term of any settlement that is eventually reached; (2) Drafting appropriate settlement documents; (3) Obtaining "confidential" information from plaintiffs required for the Responsible Reporting Entities to properly report the subject claim to Medicare; (4) Collecting appropriate Medicare documentation from plaintiff's counsel (including the various interim and final letters issued by Medicare); and (5) Obtaining appropriate sworn affidavits about Medicare eligibility and the receipt of Medicare benefits.
Insurance Bad Faith Litigation
This presentation sets forth the basics of insurance bad faith litigation. It also explains how bad faith litigation impacts third party administrators for insurance companies. The presentation includes the various duties of insurance carriers and the burdens that may be associated with bad faith litigation including colonial life discovery, attorneys' fees, and damages. It also addresses practical defenses available to the insurer and pitfalls to avoid in daily practice.

Trial Surprises: Weathering the Storm

During the course of a trial, many situations and facts can change and potentially throw your defense for a loop. This presentation addresses the most common situations that may cause your strategy to change - such as the death of a plaintiff or co-defendants resolving out of court - and instructs on how to adapt.

To Try or Not to Try

One of the single most difficult decisions facing an adjuster is when to take a case to trial.  Walk down the path with us as we evaluate the facts and circumstances that cause us to recommend whether to try a case.  How do variables such as economic damages (including potential settlement setoffs, bankruptcy claims), non-economic damages (sympathy, pain and suffering, age of plaintiffs), alternative sources of fault, jurisdiction/venue, number and types of defendants and exposures change the landscape so that trial may or may not make sense.  Explore recent significant verdicts in California, including unique factors influencing select trials and results.

The Art of the Tender

Companies named as defendants in product liability cases are frequently not the manufacturers of the products at issue.  Plaintiffs' attorneys are increasingly reaching beyond manufacturers to pursue distributors, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers for their role in the chain of commerce relating to allegedly defective products.  This course will provide an overview of California law as it relates to contractual and equitable indemnity, distinguishing between these types of indemnity and identifying the requirements under the law for tendering an insured's defense under both theories.  The course will emphasize practical advice for both tendering claims and responding to tenders.  Finally, the course will address the effect of good faith settlement determinations on indemnity rights and the procedure for seeking and objecting to such determinations.

A Pain in the Assets: A Practical Guide to Successor Liability

In products liability litigation, the alleged injuries can involve extended latency periods. The length of time between exposure to an allegedly defective product and filing of a claim can therefore span decades. It is not uncommon for companies to undergo changes in ownership or corporate structure during this time frame. Are there defenses available to an insured who advises that they had nothing to do with the company at the time of the alleged sale or supply of the product at issue and in fact, since their ownership, no longer sells said product? This course will provide an overview of successor liability law in California, including factors that will be considered by the courts in determining whether the insured will be held liable as a successor. We will also address specific information to obtain from your insureds to assist in the evaluation, and through the use of actual case scenarios, will provide practical advice for defending cases under this theory.