Hanson Bridgett Secures $156M Jury Verdict After a Decade of Litigation

  • Print Page
  • Email Page
  • Share this page

June 15, 2021 (San Francisco, CA) – Hanson Bridgett LLP, a preeminent law firm for all of California, has secured a $156 million jury verdict for fraud for its long-time client McWhinney, a leading real estate investment and development company headquartered in Denver. Hanson Bridgett Partners Andrew Giacomini and Brian Schnarr led the firm’s trial team.

McWhinney lost one of its assets to foreclosure in 2009, the result of a complex fraud committed by its then-partner Poag & McEwen and the Tennessee-based company’s three individual owners. McWhinney filed its first lawsuit against Poag & McEwen in May 2011. On May 7, 2021, after 10 years of hard-fought litigation, a U.S. District Court jury in Denver unanimously confirmed that McWhinney’s loss was the result of the fraud, issuing a $156 million judgment in favor of the company. 

The underlying dispute involved the development of The Promenade Shops at Centerra retail center located in Loveland, Colorado. In 2004, McWhinney partnered with Poag & McEwen to develop and manage the retail center, which opened in 2005 and foreclosed in 2009.

After obtaining a $42 million state court judgment in 2017 against one of Poag & McEwen’s subsidiaries, McWhinney pursued the individuals behind the company in federal court for fraud and aiding and abetting liability. Days before the January 2021 trial began, two of the three individual defendants settled. McWhinney proceeded to trial against the third individual. The jury found in favor of McWhinney on four counts.

“We are proud to have helped our client McWhinney obtain the justice they deserved,” said Giacomini.

“While it is always rewarding to win an important trial, it is even more gratifying here because the jury confirmed that the defendants could not use their company to benefit their individual interests,” added Schnarr. “Andrew and I have been honored to work alongside our talented Hanson Bridgett colleagues comprising our interdisciplinary trial team, whose deft work, seamless collaboration and commitment made this exceptional outcome possible.”

The case is McWhinney Holding Co. v. Poag | Civil Action (1:17-cv-02853). Judge Brooke Jackson presided over the trial, which was conducted in person with full COVID-19 protocols.

The verdict is the second major victory this year for Giacomini, who in February obtained a $19 million arbitration award in a construction case in San Francisco. That matter was carried out in person using full COVID-19 protocols. Likewise, it also marks another big win for Schnarr, who obtained a $12 million arbitration award in March for the founder of an SaaS technology company against a private equity group that purchased the company. That matter was handled entirely by Zoom video conference.

Hanson Bridgett lawyers broadly have been on a roll for litigation wins in 2021. These favorable verdicts come on the heels of a number of others, including Partner Alexandra Atencio's significant trial victory in a complex class action for the firm's long-time clients the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and the Bay Area Toll Authority. That trial, which began in December 2019 and concluded in July 2020 following two suspensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was ultimately the first to be held virtually in San Francisco Superior Court and one of just a few virtual trials held nationwide at the time. The firm has seamlessly serviced clients virtually since March 2020 despite widespread business interruptions caused by the global pandemic.

About Hanson Bridgett LLP

Founded in 1958, Hanson Bridgett is a multidisciplinary law firm with 180 attorneys throughout California. Our clients range from multinational Fortune 500 corporations to individuals we serve in transactions around the world.

Hanson Bridgett is a dedicated supporter of diversity and inclusion. Our commitment to diversity begins with the recruitment of our workforce. Our firm's attorneys currently consist of 46 percent women, 29 percent people of color, and 5 percent self-identified LGBTQ+ individuals. Our firm's partners are 39 percent women, 20 percent people of color, and 6 percent self-identified LGBTQ+ individuals.

For More Information

Brandi Hewlett
Marketing Project Manager
Hanson Bridgett LLP
425 Market Street, 26th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105