Overview

William P. Volk has had a distinguished career as a civil trial attorney for three decades. Representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of interesting and diverse cases throughout California and Nevada, Mr. Volk has successfully handled litigation involving serious personal injuries/wrongful death, construction defects, product liability, business losses, defective drugs/supplements, class actions, multi-district litigation, mass torts, environmental claims, casino/hotel/nightclub security, assault and battery, breach of contract, professional malpractice, insurance coverage, defective medical devices and employment/wrongful termination.

With over 56 jury trials, Mr. Volk has been lead counsel in major litigation and important appellate court decisions, including published decisions involving contractual indemnity (Time for Living, Inc. v. Guy Hatfield Homes (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 30) and “Dram Shop” or liquor law liability (Cardinal v. Santee Pita, Inc. (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 1676), as well as many unpublished appellate and Supreme Court decisions. Many of the cases also involved significant insurance coverage issues such as “coverage triggers,” horizontal and vertical exhaustion, excess and umbrella coverage, reformation, rescission, prior acts, consent to settle, “Montrose” endorsements, broad-form property damage, subsidence and soil movement exclusions, pollution exclusions, S.I.R.’s and deductibles.

As a result of his trial experience and reputation, Mr. Volk was elected by his peers in 2003 to become a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a nationally recognized professional trial lawyer organization in which he holds the rank of “Advocate.” Known as a dogged and aggressive cross-examiner, Mr. Volk has demonstrated trial techniques to other lawyers in ABOTA’s annual “Masters in Trial” program.

ADR has been an important part of Mr. Volk’s legal practice for years. Beginning in the late-1980′s, he became a panelist for the American Arbitration Association specializing in the resolution of complex construction defect, breach of contract, personal injury, wrongful death and product liability claims. He has received formal ADR training through the American Arbitration Association, the San Diego Superior Court, the San Diego Municipal Court, the Clark County, Nevada, District Court and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University. He served as a voluntary member of the Judge Pro Tempore panel of the San Diego Municipal Court, where he heard and decided hundreds of small-claims cases. He also volunteered his time as a settlement judge for the Superior Court and helped resolve many cases, which helped relieve the case burden of the Court. Because of his dedication to the ADR process, in 1995 he was awarded a citation for his voluntary service by the Clerk of the San Diego Superior Court, North County Branch.

Mr. Volk is frequently appointed by the Clark County District Court, as well as privately retained by the parties, to mediate or arbitrate complex construction defect, business, personal injury, insurance, product liability and other interesting and diverse matters. He is an active member of the Arbitration Panel for the Court-Annexed Mandatory Arbitration Program of the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Professional or Trade Affiliations:

  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, State Bar of Nevada
  • Member, Clark County Bar Association
  • Member, Advocate, American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Member, Lawyers of Distinction
  • Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Member, National Institute of Trial Advocates
  • Member, American Arbitration Association
  • Member, American Institute of Mediation
  • Member, Utah State University Alumni Association
  • Member, Southwestern University Law School Alumni Association
  • Member, Pi Sigma Alpha, National Political Science Honor Society

Honors & Awards:

  • Peer-review rated “AV®Preeminent™” by Martindale-Hubbell, 1989
  • America’s Top 100 Attorneys Lifetime Achievement
  • Included in the Registry of Preeminent Lawyers, 1989
  • Member, Oxford’s “Who’s Who of Extraordinary Professionals,” 1992-1993
  • Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 2015
  • Named Lawyer of Distinction, 2015
  • Named to “2013 Top Lawyers” by the weekly business publication Vegas, Inc.
  • Presented ADR Citation by the San Diego Superior Court, North County Branch, 1995

Speaking Engagements:

  • Mr. Volk has been an invited speaker in professional seminars sponsored by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the National Business Institute and has demonstrated trial techniques in the “Masters in Trial” mock trial programs sponsored by the American Board of Trial Advocates (Notably, Mr. Volk represented “Doc” Holliday in a mock trial of the criminal trial following the gunfight at the OK Corral, in which the presiding judge was Sr. U.S. District Judge, Lloyd D. George).

Community Involvement:

  • Fellow, American Board of Trial Advocates Foundation
  • Advisor, Los Angeles County Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled
  • Volunteer Legal Advisor, Clark County Courts Pro Bono Program

Personal:

  • Mr. Volk is a 45-year motorcyclist and rides his 2014 Indian Chieftain throughout Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. Mr. Volk is also an ardent amateur historian, focusing on American History. He is the proud owner of a handwritten autobiography of Abraham Lincoln and a vintage 6-volume biography of President Lincoln by Carl Sandburg, as well as other memorabilia of the period. He is an avid read of non-fiction and spends a lot of time playing with his seven grandchildren.

Representative Jury Trials:

HANCOCK v. CITY OF CHULA VISTA, ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Five homeowners and Glen Abby Memorial Park sought a permanent injunction preventing the building of a residential community by Mr. Volk’s client, Watt Industries San Diego, Inc. The plaintiffs also sought damages as a result of water runoff and silt coming from the freshly-graded property, which was located on a hill above the plaintiffs’ property. The defense demonstrated that the plaintiffs had altered the grade of their property, causing repeated flooding/silting during rainstorms and that the development of the residential community caused no more damage than what was documented before Watt Industries started grading operations. Following a two week trial, in which Mr. Volk was second chair counsel, the jury returned a verdict denying the injunction as well as monetary damages.

FROST v. RADKE
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Mr. Volk represented a fraternity and a student fraternity officer at the University of Southern California. The fraternity officer was accused of assault and battery in striking the plaintiff, another university student, in an altercation during an on-campus fraternity party.  Alcohol was involved and the fraternity was accused of negligence in supervising the event.  The plaintiff sustained permanent injuries in one eye, as well as other minor injuries.  Following a six-day jury trial, the jury returned a defense verdict for the fraternity and a nominal plaintiff verdict against the officer for medical expenses, but no punitive damages were awarded. The case was confidentially settled in lieu of an appeal by plaintiff.

DEL CORONADO SANTEE HOA v. HOTEL DEL CORONADO CORPORATION
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

The plaintiff was the homeowner association of a 530 unit condominium project located in Santee, California. It alleged common area defects, including defective structural design common to all units that was allegedly in violation of California’s seismic codes. Mr. Volk represented the developer, general contractor and their owner, prominent San Diegan M. Larry Lawrence, the onetime ambassador to Switzerland and owner of the historic Hotel Del Coronado. Motion practice included issues of statute of limitation and a prior partial settlement agreement and included the testimony of former defense counsel who was then a sitting Superior Court judge, Hon. William Pate. After a five-week trial in which the HOA claimed more than $15 million in damages, the jury returned a verdict of less than $5 million, which was less than the defendant’s $6 million pre-trial settlement offer (CCP 998 offer). Mr. Volk’s client recovered a judgment for fees and costs incurred for more than two years of litigation after the offer was made and the case was settled in a confidential agreement.

PRICE v. STREET
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Mr. Volk represented Mr. Street, a prominent San Diego attorney in an assault and battery case. Mr. Street was accused of engaging in a physical altercation with the plaintiff, who was another attorney, when the plaintiff showed-up unannounced and demanded the case file which was transferred to Mr. Street for handling. There were documents in the file which the plaintiff felt might show that the plaintiff mishandled the case, exposing him to a possible legal malpractice claim. Mr. Volk’s client blocked the plaintiff from entering his private office and the plaintiff fell to the ground, allegedly causing some injury. Suit was filed for assault, battery and negligence. Following a four-day jury trial, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Mr. Volk’s client.

GILLIAM v. RICHARDSON
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

A 31 year-old woman fell 10 feet from the balcony of her boyfriend’s apartment in Pacific Beach, California. She suffered severe injuries, including brain injuries resulting in permanent cognitive disorders requiring lifetime care. She sued the apartment owner for negligence on the grounds that the 60 year-old building had a second-floor guardrail much lower than that required by recent building code requirements and that it should have been retrofitted to comply during several remodels over the years. The plaintiff claimed more than $15 million in past and future damages. The apartment owner retained Mr. Volk, who was successful in having the Court bifurcate the trial, with the issue of liability tried first. Following a 7-day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict.  The verdict was appealed, but the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the verdict and the California Supreme Court declined certiorari.

CAMBRIDGE HOA v. CAMBRIDGE LA JOLLA DEVELOPMENT, INC., ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Mr. Volk represented Cambridge La Jolla Development, Inc. and Odmark/Welch, Inc., the developer and general contractor of a 700 unit luxury condominium project in La Jolla, California.  The plaintiff HOA claimed common-area construction defects, including roofs, seismic construction, crawlspace ventilation and fire-wall design and construction. Tenants of the project included famed actress Mercedes McCambridge and two former mayors, who testified as witnesses at trial. A rare jury site view gave jurors a first-hand view of the alleged defects. The plaintiff HOA requested almost $20 million to conduct extensive repairs, diminution in value and relocation of the residents. A pre-trial settlement offer (CCP 998) of $2 million was made by the defense. After a five-week trial, the jury returned a verdict for the exact amount offered by the defense. The case was settled after trial for a confidential amount in lieu of an appeal by plaintiff. (A related project, La Jolla Terrace HOA v. Odmark/Thelan, Inc., involved essentially the same defect issues in a similar-size project was settled for $6.5 million before trial one year after the Cambridge HOA trial, but that case involved different plaintiff and defense law firms and insurance companies.)

LEON v. WINTER, ET.AL.
(Bench Trial – U.S. District Court, San Diego)

Mr. Volk represented a homeowner in Fallbrook, California, who asked a gardener to go on his roof and remove some tree limbs which had fallen during a rainstorm. The gardener removed the tree limbs, but fell off the roof when he stepped on a defective section of roof which collapsed.  The defense claimed that the case was governed by worker’s compensation, but the Court ruled on summary judgment that triable issues of fact required a trial on the employer/employee issue.

After a four-day bench trial, Senior Federal District Court Judge John S. Rhodes sided with the defense and ruled that the U.S. District Court did not have jurisdiction and that the case was governed by worker’s compensation.  The matter was settled in a confidential settlement in lieu of appeal by plaintiff.

THIC-TROLLEY COURT v. KVAAS CONSTRUCTION CO., INC.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)        

Mr. Volk represented Kvaas Construction Co., Inc., the general contractor which constructed the 186-unit Trolley Court SRO Hotel which sits on San Diego’s historic light rail transit system. The owner and developer of the hotel, a real estate investment company, brought suit against Kvaas for multiple construction defect and an environmental pollution claim. Plaintiff sought $2,200,000 in damages for defective shower tile installation, structural design/construction and elevator defects, which caused leaking hydraulic fluid to migrate into the soil, requiring extensive environmental remediation. The Defendant’s pretrial offer (CCP 998) was $325,000, based upon the fact that the developer designed the tile installation and structural design and that the hydraulic fluid was not an environmental hazard as it was non-toxic. After a two week trial, the jury returned a net plaintiff award of $279,000 finding 20% comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff. The tile subcontractor received a defense verdict.

GANN v. HARD ROCK HOTEL, ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – Clark County District Court)

Mr. Volk represented the Hard Rock Hotel. The Plaintiff, a patron of the casino, had an altercation with another patron who was offended at some racist language plaintiff used at the Center Bar of the hotel.  Both patrons were inebriated at the time. The casino’s bartender was aware that the offended patron was angry and heard him mention that he was going to “whup” the plaintiff, who headed toward the main casino exit. The bartender called security to make sure nothing happened, but directed them to the wrong exit, where they determined that nothing was happening and returned to the security office. The angry patron did find the plaintiff and assaulted him at the main exit and plaintiff sustained injuries. While the jury found liability and returned a verdict for the plaintiff, the hotel appealed and Nevada Supreme Court reversed the verdict by finding that the assault was not reasonably foreseeable and directing security to the wrong exit was not a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries. The criminal assault was the proximate cause of injury. The Court also agreed with the Hotel that it was erroneous for the jury not to find any comparative fault on the part of plaintiff as he admitted during trial using racial epithets which inflamed the angry patron.

LEE v. OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

The plaintiff, a San Diego County firefighter, allegedly contracted the disease Psittacosis (also known as “Parrot Flu”). He became so ill as to lose two-thirds of his right foot to gangrene – and he lost the ability to walk more than 50 feet. His career as a firefighter was over. Plaintiff claimed to have contracted Psittacosis from two lovebirds he purchased from Mr. Volk’s client, a pet shop specializing in exotic birds. Plaintiff claimed that the pet shop was negligent in that it did not properly quarantine and medicate incoming birds for at least 60 days and fell below the standard of care. The Plaintiff’s attorney was J. Jude Basile, Esq., a prominent attorney who is presently the president of the Trial Lawyers College and an associate of famed Wyoming trial lawyer, Gerry Spence. Plaintiff sought $2.5 million, plus an equal amount in pain and suffering, for a total of $5 million. Following a fifteen day trial, the jury awarded plaintiff a net verdict of only $256,000, which was $100,000 less than the defense’s pre-trial offer.

WILLIAMS v. NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

In a case invoking the movies “Sybil” and “The Three Faces of Eve,” Mr. Volk represented a university professor who was accused of libel and slander by a graduate student – who allegedly suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (commonly known as “multiple personality disorder”). Her expert, a psychologist who was writing a book on the subject and was using the plaintiff as a case study, claimed that plaintiff had 140 separate and distinct personalities, ranging from small children to authors and intellectuals; most likely as a result of severe abuse and trauma as a child. The plaintiff was accused of plagiarism by the professor and the university dean because sections of her Ph.D. thesis appeared to have been written by professional psychiatrists and psychologists, while other portions appeared to have been written by a lay person. Both the professor and dean were unaware of plaintiff’s claimed disorder. Plaintiff maintained that they were well aware of her condition and also sued them for discrimination based upon her medical condition.

During discovery, numerous psychology and psychiatric experts were deposed and hundreds of reference books were reviewed in libraries throughout the county by Mr. Volk’s legal team in trying to discover the source material used by plaintiff without attribution. On the eve of trial, the exact quotations from two psychology textbooks were located. Corresponding pages from the texts and plaintiff’s thesis were enlarged for exhibits. Plaintiff was provided multiple chances to dismiss her case on the grounds that she plagiarized textbooks and lied about it under oath, but plaintiff and her attorney refused to dismiss – and plaintiff refused to admit that she lied while on the witness stand. When the defense confronted plaintiff with the damning evidence, she argued that the passages were written by different “personalities.” After her perjury began to overwhelm the proceedings during Mr. Volk’s cross-examination – even evoking snickers from jurors – the judge, Hon. Vincent DiFiglia, called a recess. During the recess, the embarrassed plaintiff attorney wanted to withdraw from representation of plaintiff and requested a continuance of the trial. The judge called for a recess in the proceedings and ordered the plaintiff and her attorney to confer. The next morning the plaintiff dismissed her case in exchange for a waiver of defendants’ costs. The case remains one of San Diego’s most bizarre and entertaining legal war stories.

BOND v. ICA, INC., ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Mr. Volk represented a company which applied an asphalt emulsion to the parking lot of a San Diego bank. As a result of a light rain the night before the application, the emulsion failed to adhere properly and the plaintiff, a bank customer, slipped and fell, sustaining injuries to her back, foot, wrist and shoulder. She claimed in excess of $750,000 in damages. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent in applying the emulsion, failed to mix the emulsion properly and applied it shortly after a rainstorm, causing the emulsion to liquefy and creating a dangerous condition. Following a seven day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict.

FRIARS POINTE HOA v. ODMARK/WELCH, INC.
(Jury Trial – San Diego Superior Court)

Mr. Volk represented Odmark/Welch, Inc., the developer and general contractor of a 545 unit luxury condominium project in Tierrasanta, California. The plaintiff HOA claimed common-area construction defects, mostly related to defective soil and slope preparation and construction, as well as defective roofs, seismic design, windows/flashing defects, fire-wall design and stucco defects. The plaintiff HOA requested $7.5 million to conduct extensive repairs, diminution in value and relocation of the residents. A pre-trial settlement offer (CCP 998) of $1.5 million was made by the defense. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict for $1.75 million, most of which was passed-on to the grading subcontractor after the Court granted Mr. Volk’s motion for directed verdict on the express indemnity contract with the subcontractor, which refused to accept the general contractor’s tender of defense. The case was settled after trial for a confidential amount in lieu of an appeal by plaintiff and grading contractor.

PLOTNER v. AHERN RENTALS, INC.
(Jury Trial – Clark County District Court)

Mr. Volk represented Ahern Rentals, Inc. and its employee in a classic “eggshell plaintiff” motor vehicle accident case. Ahern’s employee rear-ended Plaintiff at low speed at an intersection when traffic ahead of the plaintiff suddenly stopped. Both vehicles were mid-size pick-up trucks. Plaintiff had a major back injury while snowboarding six months earlier and fractured several transverse process bones in his lumbar spine. However, he was considered fully recovered and asymptomatic for three months before the subject vehicle accident and he resumed going to his gym and other physical activities. As a result of the vehicle accident, there were annular fissures in two lumbar discs that were not present in radiographic studies before the vehicle accident. Complicating the situation was plaintiff’s pre-existing degenerative spondylolisthesis (slippage of the Lumbar vertebrae) at L-4 and L-5. The defense admitted liability and that there was no comparative fault on the part of plaintiff. The jury trial proceeded on the nature and amount of damages. Following two days of jury selection, Judge Kenneth C. Cory declared a mistrial and continued the trial for 30-days. The second jury trial proceeded. Plaintiff asked the jury to return a verdict of at least $2,600,000, arguing that plaintiff would have a permanent impairment and “adjacent segment syndrome” requiring two additional lumbar surgeries by the time he is sixty years-old. After nine days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict of $1,050,000, which was less than 41% of the amount sought. No appeal was taken.

HAWKINS v. GOODYEAR TIRE, ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – Clark County District Court)

Mr. Volk represented the automobile dealership involved in the sale of a vehicle with an allegedly defective tire, which delaminated and exploded causing their SUV to overturn on the I-15 freeway causing serious injuries to the plaintiffs, a family of four. At the request of the client, there were no settlement negotiations and the case proceeded to a jury trial before Judge Lee Gates. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was also a defendant. Following opening statements, Mr. Volk moved for a judgment of nonsuit.  After argument, the Court granted the motion and Mr. Volk’s client was dismissed. The case proceeded against Goodyear, but the jury returned a defense verdict against them.

HARPER v. HARD ROCK HOTEL AND CASINO, ET.AL.
(Bench Trial – Clark County District Court)

Mr. Volk again represented the Hard Rock Hotel in this personal injury case. The plaintiff, a man who suffered from Hemophilia, allegedly slipped and fell on a wood floor inside the casino, which had recently been mopped and polished. Plaintiff injured his left knee and hip but, because of his medical condition, he had numerous complications, additional medical procedures and claimed lifetime care was needed. He alleged he was a classic “eggshell plaintiff” and that the hotel failed to mop the floor correctly, used inappropriate cleaning products and failed to place warning cones in appropriate areas. The presiding judge was the now current Nevada Supreme Court Justice, Ron Parraguirre. Following a three-day bench trial, the judge rendered a defense verdict for the hotel.  Plaintiff did not appeal.

VIDYA FRANCIS v. SIERRA AIR, ET.AL.
(Jury Trial – Clark County District Court)

Mr. Volk represented Servpro, a local water, fire and mold remediation franchise.  The plaintiff, a veterinarian, left for a month-long trip to India in August. He turned-off the A/C and, shortly after he left, a home-made “bidet” (i.e., a cheap vegetable sprayer) in a second-floor bathroom leaked, causing massive water damage and mold throughout the home.  Servpro was called-in by a local relative of the Plaintiff who stopped by to pick-up mail. Servpro proceeded with the dry-down and extensive mold remediation. Plaintiff filed suit claiming that Servpro damaged the vapor barrier of the home, damaged tile and marble and could not account for missing high-end fixtures. The Plaintiff claimed $800,000 in damages during a settlement conference and $400,000 in damages during trial. The defense claimed that, at most, Plaintiff may be entitled to $35,000 for fixtures and marble where there was inadequate documentation to account for breakage, loss and disposal. Following a two week trial, the jury returned a net verdict of $22,000, about 5% of what plaintiff sought. No appeal was taken by Plaintiff.

ESTATE OF GLOTZER v. PARBALL CORP.; HARRAH’S ENTERTAINMENT
(Jury Trial – Clark County District Court)

In this wrongful death case, the decedent’s estate sought damages against Mr. Volk’s clients, Harrah’s Entertainment, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Hotel & Casino. The decedent, a contractor retained to rig lights and speakers for a trade show, suffered fatal injuries when the scissor lift he was operating fell over while fully extended 25 feet high. It was alleged that the scissor lift was defective in that the steering wheels suddenly turned when it was moving, causing it to become unstable. The lift was taken out of service and, while red-tagged and in storage at a local equipment yard, the scissor lift went missing. The equipment yard manager decided one day on his own to scrap the lift because it sat for almost two years before Plaintiff decided to bring suit. The case involved two evidentiary hearing on the issue of “spoliation of evidence” and Mr. Volk’s client prevailed and the case proceeded to trial. The defense maintained that there was no notice to the Defendants that there was a problem with the scissor lift and that the decedent and his fellow workers repeatedly used it without any reported complaints. Further, evidence showed that the lift may have fallen because the decedent drove over a large ball of tape left on the floor by another worker. Following four days of testimony, the Plaintiff solicited a settlement from Defendants while the jury deliberated and the matter was settled in a confidential settlement agreement.