Sequoia Law Group has helped many people. A few of their stories are presented here to give you some specific examples of typical engagements we have handled.

Arion Press – Finding A New Home [Top]

Arion Press is a San Francisco-based fine arts letterpress that publishes deluxe, limited-edition books using type from its own typefoundry and historic letterpress equipment dating back to the 19th century. Arion Press specializes in pairing important literary works with illustrations by prominent artists often accompanied by separate editions of original prints. When faced with imminent loss of its commercial lease during the peak of a rental cycle, the Press turned to Sequoia Law Group for assistance.

Sequoia Law Group helped Arion Press develop and execute a strategy to mobilize political and public support to persuade its landlord to grant a reasonable extension to the lease. The reprieve gave the Press adequate time to locate suitable space and move with minimal disruption to its operation. In addition to advising Arion Press during negotiations for the extension, the firm counseled Arion during all phases of the relocation process, including negotiation of the new lease, investigation of potential environmental issues arising from the typefoundry and printing operations and claims that arose in connection with the move. Today, Arion Press occupies an attractive industrial building as a cultural tenant at the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, and Sequoia Law Group continues to provide it with legal advice in a number of areas, including copyright, employment and business succession planning.

“Peter Vestal came to the rescue of Arion Press when we were faced with eviction in the year 2000, and he has continued to be a valuable legal advisor to us over the years since.” (Andrew Hoyem, Publisher)

Michael Mullin Architect, Ltd. – Getting Paid [Top]

Michael Mullin is a licensed architect who provides design, development consulting and planning services primarily to residential owners and developers who seek out his services for renovations, additions as well as new construction. He counts The San Francisco Exploratorium, Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (L.Y.R.I.C.), and Artspace Development Corporation among his clients, and his work has appeared in Sunset Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens and The San Francisco Chronicle among other publications.

A real estate developer retained Michael to prepare architectural drawings for the rehabilitation of a multi-unit residential property in San Francisco. Michael turned to the attorneys at Sequoia Law Group when the developer ran into cash flow problems and stopped paying him during the construction phase.

The firm’s investigation revealed that the developer had a history of creditor claims. It quickly recorded a lien against the property and successfully negotiated a stipulated judgment in Michael’s favor. This solution gave the developer the opportunity to complete his project and secured Michael’s ability to ultimately get paid at a favorable rate of interest. Sequoia Law Group continues to provide advice to Michael with his architectural service agreements and on other projects from time to time.

“Peter kept me apprised of the procedures and implications of each step in the process so I felt informed, prepared, and secure. The whole episode became worthwhile because I learned so much about the meaning of my contracts and the legal process for enforcing them.” (Michael Mullin)

Kristen Pfeifer – Accident By Design [Top]

As a high-profile marketing consultant, Kristen Pfeifer’s appearance is important to her, and her livelihood depends on the good impression she makes with clients. Her talent for following through carries over to her personal life where in her spare time Kristen enjoys playing golf. One day, Kristen went to a local course to practice her swing on the driving range. After going through a bucket of balls, she sat down on a nearby bench to wait for a friend to finish. Moments later an errant shot traveling at a high rate of speed struck her in the face.

California law provides that participants in a sport are not liable for the injuries they cause co-participants unless they engage in conduct that is so reckless as to be totally outside the range of ordinary activity involved in the sport. Likewise, the owner and operator of the place where the injury occurs cannot be held responsible unless they do something to increase the inherent risks of the sport and there is a connection between the increased risk and the actual injury. This body of law is known as the assumption of risk doctrine because participants in sports activities are generally deemed to have assumed the risk of getting injured.

A patron of the driving range hit the ball that injured Kristen. Sequoia Law Group developed legal research in support of the theory that Kristen was no longer a “co-participant” in the sport of golf because she had finished hitting balls and was resting on a bench at the time of her injury. The firm’s investigation revealed the golf course’s management company had reconfigured the driving range to accommodate a corporate event. The original driving line was set up in a semi-circle as opposed to a straight line, increasing the odds that an errant ball might hit someone behind the line. The reconfiguration included pushing the benches much closer to the tee stations than normal. In addition, the management company removed the stationary guards normally in place to protect players and bystanders from personal injury. As the corporate event was scheduled to continue over a period of days, the golf course resumed public use of the driving range with these alterations still in place. The overall effect of the design of the range on the day of the accident increased the inherent risk that poorly hit balls might hit players and bystanders. Sequoia Law Group also discovered that the golf course had a history of hits and near misses involving patrons of the driving range. It obtained a satisfactory settlement for Kristen by successfully arguing that the semi-circular design of the range coupled with the alterations unnecessarily increased the risk of harm to bystanders like Kristen and that the golf course’s management company was aware of the dangerous condition of its driving range. Today, Kristen is fully recovered and back in the swing of things.

"Thanks again for all your work on my behalf. I truly appreciate it." (Kristen Pfeifer)

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – Tracing The Key Witness [Top]

Sequoia Law Group LLP helped a victim of the 2001 terrorist attacks obtain an award of over $250,000 from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for post-traumatic stress disorder, despite the VCF’s policy of providing compensation only to victims who lost loved ones or suffered physical injuries in the attacks.

George Deakins (not his real name) traveled to New York City on business from the San Francisco Bay Area in early September 2001. When the September 11th attacks occurred, he was in his room on the 54th floor of the Millenium Hotel, directly across from the World Trade Center. After the first plane crashed into the WTC, guests in the hotel were unable to evacuate because of falling debris, and George helplessly watched a horrendous scene unfold before him until the second plane hit. The explosive force of the second plane’s impact threw George to the floor, causing injuries to his head and arm. When he was finally able to get out of the hotel, George wandered the streets of Manhattan in a daze. At one point an out-of-town nurse whom George met on a street corner examined his injured arm and fashioned a makeshift sling. Although he recovered from his physical injuries soon after his return to California, George developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder that kept him from resuming his job.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Congress established the VCF to provide compensation to victims of the attacks. Victims were given two years to submit a claim and, if they sought compensation from the fund, had to agree not to pursue other claims or file lawsuits against anyone else. Under Congressional guidelines, the VCF could only make awards to victims who were physically injured or lost a loved one in the attacks.

Shortly before the VCF claims deadline, George contacted Sequoia Law Group for assistance. Agreeing to help George on a pro bono basis, the firm quickly recognized the critical need to prove George’s physical injuries, in light of the VCF policy precluding recovery for solely mental injuries. Fortunately, the firm was able to collect evidence of George’s physical injuries and the medical treatment he received in New York. It even traced the street corner nurse to her home in Texas to obtain confirmation that George had received physical injuries in the attacks. Under a tight deadline, Sequoia Law Group assembled a complete claims package including medical, business and travel records––along with witness testimony from medical professionals, business associates, and family members––to convince the VCF that George’s significant mental injury deserved substantial compensation despite his relatively minor physical injuries.