Contract & Commercial

Keker & Van Nest represents plaintiffs and defendants in a broad range of commercial disputes. This representation includes federal and state court litigation, arbitrations, mediations, and appeals.

Representative Clients:

Google Inc.  •  Genentech, Inc.  •  McKesson Corporation  •  San Diego County Water Authority  •  Impax Laboratories, Inc.  •  Univision Communications  •  Intel Corp.  •  Comcast Cable Communications LLC  •  Electronic Arts Inc.  


Chambers' Commercial Litigation rankings list Keker & Van Nest as a Band 1 firm in California, and John Keker and Robert Van Nest as two of the state's top commercial litigators.

Best Lawyers in America's Commercial Litigation category includes Christa Anderson, Jeffrey Chanin, Susan Harriman, Christopher Kearney, Jan Nielsen Little, and Jon Streeter.

Cases of Note

San Diego County Water Authority v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: We represent the San Diego County Water Authority in its long-running challenge to water rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD is the regional water wholesaler for most of southern California. San Diego sued MWD in 2010 and then again in 2012, alleging that MWD illegally and intentionally miscategorized certain water supply costs as transportation costs, in order to artificially inflate transportation rates paid by San Diego. After a one-week bench trial, the Court ruled in our favor, finding that MWD’s rates violate numerous California statutory and constitutional provisions, including Proposition 26 and California’s Wheeling Statute. We continue to represent San Diego in the case’s second phase, addressing San Diego’s claims for breach of contract and declaratory relief.

United States v. McKesson Corporation: We defeated the government’s six-year False Claims Act case against McKesson Corporation and one of its subsidiaries. The government had sought nearly a billion dollars in penalties and damages based on allegations that a McKesson subsidiary submitted “legally false” Medicare insurance reimbursement claims by violating Medicare supplier standards and charging less than fair-market value for billing services in exchange for product sales. We first secured a dismissal of the Qui Tam Relator who initiated this case, a decision that the Fifth Circuit affirmed on appeal. We then won summary adjudication on all claims relating to alleged violations of Medicare supplier standards. Finally, after a three-week bench trial, we prevailed on all remaining claims at trial.

American Medical Response Inc. et al. v. Paramedics Plus, et al.: We defended Paramedics Plus from American Medical Response’s (AMR) claims of anticompetitive unfair business practices. After losing the competitive bidding process for Alameda County’s emergency medical services transportation contract to its much smaller rival Paramedics Plus, AMR accused our client of violating California's predatory pricing law, Business & Professions Code Section 17043, in its bid to win the 911 ambulance contract. Despite a minimal amount of precedent, we were able to preserve the statute’s intent, which is to safeguard healthy competition by protecting smaller companies from larger rivals. We received a unanimous 12-0 jury verdict in favor of our client.

Revance Therapeutics, Inc. v. Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation: We represented Revance, a biotechnology company which develops next-generation dermatology products and therapeutic medicines, in a Delaware Chancery Court bench trial. The trial determined Revance’s worldwide rights to its injectable botulinum toxin product, as well as its ground-breaking topical botox product. Days after the trial, we finalized a settlement which returned all global rights to develop and commercialize both products across all indications to Revance, and resolved all outstanding litigation between the companies.

City of Hope National Medical Center v. Genentech, Inc.: We represented Genentech in a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty action. In the first trial, the jury hung 7-5 in favor of Genentech. In the retrial, the jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The California Supreme Court reversed the breach of fiduciary duty verdict, thereby throwing out the $200 million punitive-damages award.

Company Founders v. Majority Shareholder: We represented the founders of a biofuel start-up in an action brought by its majority shareholder and certain board members as a derivative action for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. We won a dismissal of the derivative action on demurrer, and achieved a substantial settlement for our clients of their affirmative claims.

Golden State Warriors v. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum: We represented the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority in a series of disputes with the coliseum's professional basketball team. These disputes, involving tens of millions of dollars, arose over more than ten years and involved miscellaneous claims and cross-claims. Over the course of four arbitrations, we collected $32.25 million for our client.

Plaintiff v. Jenner Biotherapies, Inc.: We defended Jenner Biotherapies and one of its significant investors from breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and negligence claims. During a two-week jury trial, the federal court threw out five of the seven claims. The jury split on the remaining two claims, and awarded a fraction of the plaintiff's original demand.

Televisa v. Univision Communications: We represented Univision, the country's leading Spanish language television network, in a breach of contract jury trial. Televisa, a Mexican multimedia conglomerate which supplied Univision with its most popular Spanish language programs, attempted to terminate a long-term exclusive licensing agreement and sought more than $100 million in damages. The case was settled during trial on favorable terms. We also represented Univision in a bench trial which sought declaratory judgment to prevent Televisa from broadcasting over the Internet the same highly popular programs that it exclusively licensed to Univision. We won a complete victory at trial.

San Mateo School Districts v. San Mateo County: We represented San Mateo County and its former treasurer against a $20 million suit brought by a group of San Mateo County school districts. Following the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy - in the midst of the nationwide financial crisis - plaintiffs filed suit against the County, alleging officials violated their fiduciary duties by investing too heavily in Lehman holdings. However we convinced a San Francisco Superior Court judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that the complaint failed to comply with state and county laws governing lawsuits against public entities.

Key Contacts

Susan J. Harriman

Susan J. Harriman

(415) 676-2213
email link

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