James Neudecker is a partner and trial attorney in the Litigation Department of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM).
His practice focuses on commercial litigation and arbitrations for companies in a variety of business sectors, including financial services, transportation, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, private equity, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality and the on-demand gig economy.
James understands that every legal strategy decision is ultimately a business decision, and therefore, James views himself as a “partner” in his clients’ business operations, rather than merely a vendor of legal services. Whether that means developing an innovative alternative fee arrangement that suits his clients’ needs for a particular case, to coming up with creative settlement constructs, to trying a case on the merits when necessary, James always litigates with an eye toward putting his clients’ “big picture” business objectives first.
James is also committed to pro bono work and civic work. James has represented, pro bono, San Francisco tenants facing eviction, and a Santa Cruz-based environmental group seeking to transfer land to the United States Bureau of Land Management for conservation purposes in litigation challenging the transfer. James also volunteers with First Graduate, a San Francisco non-profit organization dedicated to helping students finish high school and become the first in their families to graduate from college.Representative Experience
- Represented a community business bank in a lawsuit filed by an unsecured creditor of a common debtor seeking to upend the bank’s position as senior secured creditor on the ground that the bank benefited from the debtor’s purchase of goods from the unsecured creditor. James was able to obtain a favorable settlement for the bank (just a small fraction of the unsecured creditor’s claim, and likely less than it would have cost to try the case) after filing a summary judgment motion that put at risk the unsecured creditor’s entire claim.
- Represented event planning business in dispute arising from cancellation of large-scale tech event due to COVID-19 restrictions. Obtained settlement for client for almost full value of contract.
- Represented solar project financing company in multi-million dollar construction dispute against general contractor. James steered the case to a venue favorable for client, after which he was able to negotiate a settlement that allowed the client to substitute in a new general contractor, allowing the client to complete the solar project on time, and without additional cost.
- Represented a California municipality and First Transit, a transportation company awarded the municipality’s public bus contract, in a writ of mandate proceeding. The union that represented the drivers of a losing bidder filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel the municipality to rescind and re-bid the contract awarded to First Transit. James obtained a dismissal with prejudice at the pleading stage, convincing the court that the municipality had discretion to award First Transit a 10% “preference” under the California Labor Code.
- Represented three governmental entities (a county and two Joint Powers Authorities) in a series of Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) class actions challenging various aspects of the government entities’ Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”) programs. PACE programs allow homeowners to finance energy-efficient home improvements through the homeowners’ local government. James obtained dismissals with prejudice of all three class actions after filing motions to dismiss. James convinced the federal court at the pleading stage that the government entities’ PACE programs were not subject to TILA because the financing is repaid through tax assessments collected in the same manner as property taxes, and therefore, did not constitute “consumer credit” transactions subject to TILA.
- Represented the plaintiff in an arbitration between former partners of a medical partnership alleging breach of fiduciary duties and fraud. Obtained six-figure award following two-week arbitration.
- Represented one of the largest banks in the United States in a lawsuit advancing the novel legal theory that because the bank financed the purchase of a fleet of buses, including the bus that was involved in a tragic accident that left seven passengers dead, the bank had the authority and duty to have mandated safety improvements to the bus that plaintiffs alleged would have prevented the passengers’ deaths. James obtained summary judgment for the bank after extensive briefing on the novel legal issue. Consistent with his client-first mentality, James teed-up the summary judgment very early in the case, before spending any time and money on what would have been an extremely costly discovery process.
- Represented California’s largest school transportation company in a multi-year, highly contentious case under California’s False Claims Act (“CFCA”), involving sensational allegations regarding school bus safety, novel legal issues yet to be tried to verdict in a California State Court, and a number of third-party actors including the California Highway Patrol, the City Attorney’s office, multiple labor unions, and the local school board. James negotiated a highly favorable settlement on the eve of trial, after shaping the conditions for trial by discrediting Plaintiffs’ credibility, and creating the opportunity to engage the local school board in a broader settlement dialogue.
- Represented one of the largest banks in the Bay Area in a complex regulatory lawsuit filed against it by the California Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, a division of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The State’s lawsuit alleged that the bank breached its duties as trustee over a state-regulated “Master Trust” that held the deposits for pre-need funeral services for thousands of members of the public. During years of acrimonious litigation, James scored numerous wins in discovery battles and other key pre-trial motions. Having shaped the case for trial significantly in the bank’s favor, James was able to engineer a highly favorable settlement, convincing the Attorney General’s Office to settle for less than 4% of alleged damages.
- Member of arbitration team that obtained victory for an internationally-based robotics company in 2014, in which the defendant refused to deliver $7.7 million of equipment the client had paid for. James helped obtain a temporary protective order in Sacramento County Superior Court, preventing the defendant from selling or otherwise disposing of the equipment in dispute, and then initiated arbitration proceedings with AAA. The defendant responded with a counterclaim seeking damages of over $10 million. After a two-week arbitration, the three-member AAA tribunal issued a lengthy decision awarding the client approximately $9.9 million in cash and equipment. The tribunal also declared the client the prevailing party, and awarded nearly $700,000 in attorneys’ fees.
- Represented manufacturers and distributors of welding rods in a lawsuit alleging that inhalation of fumes from welding caused neurological injuries to welders. Obtained complete defense verdict following six-week jury trial in Alameda County, California. James was also part of the appellate team that upheld the verdict on appeal. Following the defense verdict, James and the litigation team convinced numerous plaintiff attorneys to dismiss hundreds of similar lawsuits pending in California and across the country.
- Represented principal of healthcare organization in complicated arbitration between owners and managers of company. Obtained dismissal of all claims against client after successfully moving for terminating sanctions against claimant. James convinced the arbitrator that the opposing party stole confidential company documents to use in the litigation, and that nothing short of terminating sanctions would remedy the resulting prejudice.
- Represented insurance brokerage and newly hired broker in Unfair Practices Act case alleging that competing brokerage offered unlawful, secretive incentives to retain clients of departing brokers. James helped secure a temporary restraining order prohibiting the competing brokerage from offering such unlawful incentives.
J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
B.S., Saint Mary's College of California
- Continuing Education of the Bar: California Summary Judgment
- Multiple Publications: The California Supreme Court Adopts the 'Sophisticated User' Doctrine
- Practising Law Institute: Alternatives to Cross-Examination: A 'How to' Guide for Excluding the Opposition's Expert Testimony under the Federal Rules: Practical Applications of Daubert v. Merrell Dow