R. Gaylord Smith

Partner

  • location icon San Diego, CA
    701 B Street
    San Diego, CA 92101

R. Gaylord “Bob” Smith is a partner in the San Diego office of Lewis Brisbois and chair of the Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation Practice. He specializes in complex business, environmental and energy litigation. The firm’s Environmental Litigation department has over 80 attorneys in offices throughout the nation.

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Legal Experience

  • 2015: Defense verdict in federal court in Los Angeles for defendant fertilizer company that was formerly the principal source of the nation’s sodium nitrate supply. The plaintiff municipality sued the fertilizer company for alleged perchlorate contamination of its groundwater aquifer. Claimed remediation costs were $33 million.
  • 2014: Defense judgment for former landowner of a San Diego shooting range that was sued for $25 million in costs for environmental investigation and remediation of lead and perchlorate contamination. Case tried for 36 days in San Diego Superior Court.
  • 2012: Defense judgment after 65 days of trial against major defense contractor sued for contaminating Orange County’s aquifer with VOCs used in manufacturing operations over 40 year period. Alleged remediation costs claimed were $200 million.
  • 2006: Obtained injunction based upon NEPA violations against the Department of Interior to halt the construction of a new All American Canal in Imperial Valley, California.
  • 2002 - 2006: National coordinating counsel for Metabolife, largest U.S. seller of ephedra dietary supplements, in mass tort litigation consolidated in a MDL proceeding before Judge Jed Rakoff in the Southern District Court of New York.
  • 2002: Defended shareholder derivative action in three week trial seeking $24,000,000 damages against managing partner of limited liability corporation; the trial court ruled that general partner caused no damage.
  • 2000: Won plaintiff’s verdict of $911,000 on behalf of Lancer Insurance Company which claimed that its own reinsurer wrongfully interfered with its exclusive managing general agency agreement with a producer of non-standard auto policies. Other settlements increased total recovery to $2.4 million.
  • 1999: Defense verdict in legal malpractice case brought against the former attorney for Ballard Smith, past president of the San Diego Padres baseball team. Ballard Smith claimed his attorney negligently failed to designate an expert witness on damages in a prior trial, which resulted in a $4.2 million verdict. Jury verdict for the defendant attorney reached after a three-week trial.
  • 1998: Defense verdict in insurance bad faith case against Homestead Insurance Company arising out of damage to two Beverly Hills' mansions during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The plaintiff was a Liechtenstein Corporation owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
  • 1995: Defense verdict for Price/Costco, Inc., in a wrongful termination case. The four-week jury trial grew out of claims that the vendor was fraudulently induced to invest $250,000 in start-up costs to establish a photographic "road show" in various Price Club stores, only to be terminated without cause.
  • 1993-1994: Defense judgment in three-judge panel trial in a $145 million reinsurance claim brought by the Department of Insurance on behalf of Mission Insurance Company against 19 reinsurers. The three-judge panel sustained reinsurers' allegations of fraud and violation of the securities laws, and rendered judgment for the defendants. In a related claim against the directors and officers of Mission, obtained a $26 million recovery from their errors & omissions' insurer.
  • 1990: Defended abuse-of-process suit brought by Stewart Title Company against attorneys who allegedly held a defective Sheriff's sale of a 26-unit condominium project in Pacific Beach. At the close of a multi-week trial, a directed verdict against Stewart Title was obtained.
  • 1987: Defense verdict in a federal class action securities action brought against a group of developers, promoters, and attorneys arising out of the financing and construction of an industrial complex near San Diego. A defense jury verdict in favor of our clients was obtained. Published decisions in the series of securities fraud cases in this matter included Koehler v. Pulvers, 606 F.Supp.164 (S.D. Cal. 1985) and Koehler v. Pulvers, 614 F.Supp. 829 (S.D. Cal. 1985).
  • 1984: Represented the business manager of the comedy group "Cheech & Chong" in a jury trial involving the 1978 motion picture "Up in Smoke." The case settled favorably after several weeks of trial. A published opinion generated in this case is Playboy Enterprises v. Superior Court, 154 Cal.App.3d 14; 201 Cal.Rptr. (1984).
  • 1981: Lead trial counsel for Chester Davis, a director and general counsel of Summa Corporation, Howard Hughes' holding company, for alleged mismanagement of Mr. Hughes' business interests. This case was tried in federal district court in Los Angeles and resulted in a judgment in favor of Hughes' former attorney. Published decisions in this case are Davis v. The Eighth Judicial Dist. of Nevada, 87 Nev. 332, 629 P.2d 1209 (1981); Davis & Cox v. Summa Corp., 751 F.2d 1507 (9th Cir. 1985).

Admissions

California

Awards & Honors

Selected as one of “Top Ten San Diego County Attorneys” by the San Diego Daily Transcript, July 2005.

Education

Harvard University

Juris Doctor, cum laude, 1976

Claremont Men’s College

Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, 1973

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