Robert Bernstein - Senior Counsel

Robert Bernstein is Senior Counsel at Tyson & Mendes’ San Diego office.  Mr. Bernstein is in his 30th year of practicing law in California.  During his career, he has defended clients in construction defect, real estate, premises liability, and personal injury/auto accident cases. He has also litigated land use and entitlement matters on behalf of residential and commercial developers.  Mr. Bernstein’s construction litigation clients include national developers and general contractors, manufacturers and material suppliers, design professionals including architects and engineers, and trade contractors of many specialties.

Mr. Bernstein has extensive experience in representing clients in state and appellate courts throughout California. He has also appeared before governmental agencies including county supervisors, city councils, school districts and other county and local governmental organizations.   Mr. Bernstein has successfully prosecuted and opposed many summary judgment and adjudication motions, discovery motions, and pre-trial motions, leading to outright dismissals or advantageous settlements on behalf of his clients.  He has resolved hundreds of claims through motion, settlement, or decision.

Mr. Bernstein has spoken before insurance and industry groups on a variety of legal topics and has written extensively on developments in the law, including profiles of new laws and recent case decisions.  He served for several years as editor and frequent contributor to the Update publication for the San Diego Defense Lawyers organization.

Mr. Bernstein obtained his J.D. from the University of San Diego in 1988, where he was a member of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity.   He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in History in 1985.  He is admitted to practice before all courts of the State of California and several U.S. District Courts and is a member of the San Diego Defense Lawyers.

In his personal time, Mr. Bernstein enjoys golf, working out, playing guitar, and spending time with his wife, children, and dogs.

Recent Posts

Crosno v. Travelers – Payment Bond Claim Voids Surety’s “Pay-When-Paid” Defense

The purpose behind a public works payment bond is to provide subcontractors with “a quick, reliable and sufficient means of payment.”  (Cooley v. Freeman (1928) 204 Cal. 59, 62.)

New California Civil Code Section 5986 “Saws Off” Branches Decision Which Allowed Dismissal Of HOA Defect Lawsuits Not Approved By Homeowner Vote

A 2018 decision from California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the homeowner’s association (“HOA”) for the Branches residential development could not proceed with a construction defect lawsuit against the project’s developer.  They reasoned the HOA failed to comply with a Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) requirement compelling it to obtain approval of a majority of members before pursuing litigation or arbitration.

California’s AB5 – A Bump in the Road or a Brick Wall For the Gig-Economy?

On January 1, 2020, AB5 will be the law of the land in California. The law is codified as California Labor Code, Section 2750.3. The new law provides significant protections to workers by classifying many who were previously deemed independent contractors as employees, and by placing the burden to prove that a worker is not an employee on the employer.  The law has the potential to create major changes in the labor market…

License Requirements for California Contractors and a Novel Trial Strategy that Failed

Most California construction contractors know that they must be licensed in order to do business in the state.  This requirement is contained in a provisions of the California Business & Professions Code.  California Business & Professions Code, Section 7031 provides, in part…

American Safety Takes a Hard Fall After Ignoring Million-dollar Claim Against Insured Based on Soil Subsidence

Liability insurer American Safety Insurance Company (“ASIC”) learned a tough and expensive lesson arising out of a dispute with Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (“ICSOP”), in an appellate decision issued by the Second Appellate District, Division Eight, on March 1, 2019.

New California Law Requires Contractors-Insurers to Disclose Settlements

As part of the long-term response to the June 2015 collapse of an apartment building balcony in Berkeley, California which killed six young people, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law Senate Bill 1465, which requires contractors, subcontractors and insurers to report most settlements reached in construction defect cases. This new law took effect on January 1, 2019 and should be on the radar of California general…

Release of Past Fraud, Negligence, Breach of Contract & Violation of Law Allowed by California Court

A recent court decision involving claims of alleged defective construction provides guidance for parties entering into all manner of contracts under which they provide a release to the other party of its potential liability for negligence, breach of contract or statutory violations. In short, although releasing another party from liability for potential intentional or negligent conduct is prohibited under California law as against public policy, the prohibition applies only to current or future actions, and not to past conduct, absent appropriate contract language.

2019 California Law Requires Inspection of Apartment Complex Structures

On June 16, 2015, shortly after midnight, the balcony of an apartment complex collapsed killing 6 young people who were attending a 21st birthday party.  It was later determined the balcony had shown signs of water damage which was not addressed and that it collapsed as the result of wood rot in structural support beams. In addition to new laws which require contractors and their insures to report judgments and settlements in construction defect cases involving residential rental complexes (California Business & Professions Code Section 7071.20, etc.), as of January 1, 2019, California also requires the periodic inspection of balconies and other structural components in residential rental projects.

Martinez Decision Clarifies Rules For California C.C.P. § 998 Offers

California’s Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, recently issued an opinion that provides additional clarity regarding the interpretation and application of Statutory Offers to Compromise, also known as “998 offers.” Martinez v. Eatlite One, Inc. (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 1181 holds when a 998 offer is silent on costs and fees a court should simply compare the jury award with the 998 offer because, for comparison purposes, plaintiff’s pre-offer costs and fees are added to both the jury award and the (silent on costs) 998 offer.

Residential Solar Disclosure Requirements for California Contractors

California Business & Professions Code (“B&P) Section 7159 provides contract and disclosure requirements for contractors who perform residential home improvement projects.  Section 7159 was last amended by the California Legislature in 2010 and became effective on January 1, 2011.

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