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  •  Univision Communications  •  Intel Corp.  •  Comcast Cable Communications LLC  •  Electronic Arts Inc.  •  Lyft, Inc.  •  Instacart  •  NRG Solar LLC  •  Public Storage


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.

Our 2015 breach of contract victory for the San Diego County Water Authority was the year's largest plaintiff's victory

Best Lawyers in America's Commercial Litigation category includes Christa Anderson, Jeffrey Chanin, Brian Ferrall, Stuart Gasner, Susan Harriman, Steve Hirsch, Christopher Kearney, Jan Nielsen Little, Laurie Mims and Elliot Peters.

Cases of Note

San Diego County Water Authority v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: We won the year's largest plaintiff's award in California for the San Diego County Water Authority in its long-running fight with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD is the regional water wholesaler for most of Southern California. San Diego sued MWD for charging San Diego inflated and illegal water transportation rates, and breaching a contract between the parties. After a three-week bench trial that played out over the course of fifteen months, the court found that MWD’s rates violate numerous California statutory and constitutional provisions, and awarded our client $188 million in contract damages, plus $43 million in prejudgment interest, and other declaratory relief. The victory was the year's largest plaintiff's award in California.

Plaintiff v. Real Estate Brokerage Firm: On behalf of a real estate brokerage firm and several of its subsidiaries, we successfully moved to dismiss RICO claims relating to the valuation and sale of real estate, and successfully defended that victory before the Ninth Circuit, which upheld the dismissal without leave to amend in a published opinion.

Company v. Former Chief Executive Officer: Our client's former CEO threatened litigation over his termination and the conversion of his equity interests in the company. On behalf of the company, we sought declaratory relief in arbitration. The former CEO brought counterclaims seeking more than $100 million in damages. Following a three-week hearing, the arbitrator granted our client's request for declaratory relief and dismissed all counterclaims, finding for our client on every disputed legal and factual issue.

United States ex rel. Robert C. Baker v. Community Health Systems, Inc., et al.: We served as lead counsel for Relator Robert Baker in a qui tam False Claims Act case against Community Health Systems. This case alleged the defendants manipulated the Medicaid funding program by a scheme which resulted in the illegal receipt of federally funded Medicaid payments. Our client sought the maximum amount allowed to a qui tam plaintiff and the United States sought to recover damages and civil penalties from the defendants, arising from false and/or fraudulent statements, records, and claims of FCA violations. Community Health Systems eventually agreed to end the litigation with a settlement of $75 million.

United States v. McKesson Corporation: We won a complete defense judgment in favor of McKesson after a month-long trial of a qui tam action alleging violations of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statue. The trial victory allowed McKesson to avoid paying nearly $1 billion in fines, and to avoid the collateral penalties that government agencies can impose on companies found to have paid illegal kickbacks. The Justice Department’s complaint charged McKesson with paying kickbacks to a nursing home operator in the form of underpriced services, and with submitting “legally false claims” to the government. After we had the whistleblower dismissed, a key victory, we then won dismissal of related claims that the nursing home’s supplier subsidiary failed to comply with Medicare supplier standards. With the case’s scope significantly narrowed, we lead our client through a bench trial which featured 24 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits and post-trial briefing. The judge ruled in our client’s favor, vindicating McKesson and its employees. This victory was listed by the National Law Journal as one of the year's five most significant trial wins.

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.

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.

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.

Key Contacts

Susan J. Harriman

Susan J. Harriman

(415) 676-2213
email link

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