KENNETH S. KATZOFF, PARTNER
Kenneth S. Katzoff [SBN 103490, 1982]
Mr. Katzoff is both a transactional and litigation attorney with an emphasis on representing real estate owners and developers, contractors, architects and other design professionals. Mr. Katzoff represents significant owners and developers throughout Northern California and specializes in handling complex real estate transactions. Mr. Katzoff has 19 years experience in litigation of real estate, business, construction defect and designer liability claims. He has served as lead attorney in numerous complex construction litigation matters both as plaintiffs' and defendants' counsel.
Broad range of experience in negotiating agreements for real estate leases and other transactions.
Mr. Katzoff is heavily involved in municipal affairs. He has served as a public official in a variety of positions, including as President of the Port of Oakland Commission, a position to which he was appointed to by former Mayor (now California Governor) Jerry Brown. Previously, he was appointed by Mayor Brown to the Oakland Planning Commission, where he assumed the duties of Chair shortly after joining the Commission in 2001. He has also served as chair of the Oakland Base Reuse Authority (OBRA), as Mayor Brown’s alternate.
Mr. Katzoff is a graduate of Tulane University and the University of San Francisco Law School, where he received his J.D. degree in 1981. He has served as a law clerk for the United States Department of Justice, in the United States Attorney's office in San Francisco, with an emphasis on litigation of tax cases. From 1981 until 1983 he practiced with the firm of Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft, in San Francisco, specializing in the field of business and tort defense.
In 1983, Mr. Katzoff left the Hancock firm to establish his independent law practice in Berkeley, California. In this practice he has successfully handled commercial, real estate, and civil litigation. Currently his trial practice focuses on litigation of issues arising from real estate transactions, construction defects, engineering and architectural errors and omissions, and other issues generally relating to the construction and real estate industry.
Representative work by Mr. Katzoff includes:
Lead trial counsel, Trinityfirst Almond Partners, LLC v. Hardister, Stanislaus Co. Case No. 665254 (2013). Resulted in settlement following 10 week jury trial.
Lead counsel, Micheltorena v. City of Sausalito, Marin Co. Case No. 1203117 (2014). Successfully represented homeowner in opposing petition for writ of mandate.
Lead trial counsel, Tiao v. McGee, Alameda Co. Case No. 2002068026 (2005). Successfully represented homeowners in obtaining jury verdict for compensatory and punitive damages in real estate transaction.
Lead trial counsel, In re Marriage of Alden, San Mateo Co. Case No. 062144 (2003). Successfully represented spouse in opposing motion to vacate marital settlement agreement and judgment.
Lead trial counsel, Jackino v. Sussman, Los Angeles Co. Case No. BC184787 (1999). Resulted in jury verdict for plaintiff (represented by the Firm) including punitive damages.
ROBERT R. RIGGS, PARTNER
Robert R. Riggs [SBN 107684, 1983]
Mr. Riggs is a co-founder of Katzoff & Riggs LLP. His professional practice currently emphasizes real estate and construction law. His professional practice focuses on venture formation, contract drafting and litigation involving real estate ownership, entitlement, construction, design and engineering issues. Currently, Mr. Riggs directs the Lake County office of the Firm. Mr. Riggs has supervised the Katzoff & Riggs LLP office in Lake County since 1994. Mr. Riggs is an experienced California trial attorney; he also directs the Firm’s motion work and appellate practice.
Broad range of experience in negotiating agreements for real estate transactions, design professional and construction contracts, license agreements, venture agreements, and other transactions. Mr. Riggs has been invited to act as a panelist for a annual publicly acclaimed seminar originally developed by the Firm and sponsored by Lorman Education Services, Real Estate Development in California from Beginning to End, for a variety of sessions spanning the period from 2004 until 2014 in San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento, California.
Mr. Riggs earned his undergraduate degree with Honors in the field of International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He studied law at Stanford Law School in Palo Alto, California where he won awards for First Year Honor (highest grades in class), Order of the COIF, and Best Team and Best Brief, Marion Rice Kirkwood Moot Court competition. After graduating from Stanford in 1982, he was employed as a judicial law clerk by two federal court judges, the Hon. Betty B. Fletcher of the U. S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, and the Hon. Stanley A. Weigel of the U. S. District Court in San Francisco, California. Mr. Riggs was formerly with the construction litigation practice of the San Francisco law firm of Pettit & Martin. In 1989, Mr. Riggs left Pettit & Martin to found his independent law practice, and in 1991, merged that practice with that of Kenneth S. Katzoff to form the Firm.
Mr. Riggs served in 2000-01 as President of the Lake County Bar Association and remains active with LCBA. He has also served as a committee member and Chair of the Redevelopment Advisory Committee of the City of Clearlake. Previously, he acted as a committee member for the County of Lake Advisory Committee on the County Grading Ordinance. Mr. Riggs is a member of the State Bar of California, the District of Columbia Bar (inactive), the Alameda County Bar Association and the Lake County Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and numerous federal district courts.
Representative work by Mr. Riggs includes:
Lead appellate counsel, In re Marriage of Safaie and Kashayar, First District Court of Appeal, San Francisco Case Nos. A139941, A140795 (2015). Resulted in unpublished disposition reversing award of attorneys’ fees against a party to a marital dissolution proceeding.
Lead appellate counsel, Beacon Residential Community Assn. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, California Supreme Court Case No. S208173 (2014). Resulted in published opinion, 59 Cal.4th 568, reversing dismissal of case on demurrer; holding that principal architect owes duty of care to future homeowners when designing residential project.
Lead appellate counsel, In re Marriage of Walrath, California Supreme Court Case No. S059170 (1998). Resulted in published opinion, 17 Cal.4th 907, establishing that in marital dissolution action, tracing is available to establish separate property contribution reimbursement based on real estate equity preserved in sale and refinance transactions.
Lead trial counsel, ALZ Lee, LLC v. Lee, San Francisco Co. Case No. CGC-14-539031 (2015). Resulted in withdrawal of claim by opposing party during trial.
Lead trial counsel, Trinityfirst Almond Partners, LLC v. Hardister, Stanislaus Co. Case No. 665254 (2013). Resulted in settlement following 10 week jury trial.
Lead trial counsel, In re Anna Faye Sterling Revocable Trust; Surrell-Jacobson v. Christian,Contra Costa Co. Case No. P 04-01503 (2005). Successfully represented trustee in defeating claim of undue influence and lack of capacity in execution of testamentary documents.
Lead trial counsel, Cooper v. Shokralla, San Mateo Co. Case No. 418523 (2004). Successfully represented clients in obtaining jury verdict for compensatory damages in favor of homeowners based on defective construction.
Lead trial counsel, Johnson v. Wentworth, Marin Co. Case No. CV173544 (2003). Successfully represented client in securing jury verdict that landslide which caused damage to residential housing development had been caused by earth work on neighboring developer’s property.
Lead trial counsel, In re the Madeline M. Betts Trust, Contra Costa Case No. P-04-01503. Successfully represented trustee in defeating claim of undue influence and lack of capacity in execution of testamentary documents.
SUNG E. SHIM, SENIOR ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY
Sung E. Shim [SBN 184247, 1996]
Mr. Shim is a senior attorney with the Firm. Mr. Shim has substantial expertise and experience in addressing design professional and construction matters. He has experience handling family disputes, trust and estate disputes, partnership disputes, real estate partition actions, fraud actions, and construction litigation matters including related insurance coverage issues.
Mr. Shim is a 1996 graduate of Hastings College of the Law, where he was elected to the Thurston Society based on receiving grades placing him in the top ten percent of his law school class. He also served as a judicial extern to the late Hon. Richard P. Figone of the San Francisco Superior Court during 1995. Before joining the Firm, Mr. Shim served as a law clerk and contract attorney with the Law Offices of Michael S. Sorgen in San Francisco. Mr. Shim earned his undergraduate degree in the fields of Sociology and Economics from the University of California at Berkeley with honors in Sociology.
Recent representative work by Mr. Shim includes:
Deputy Counsel, Jette v. McQueen, U.S. District Court for Northern District of California Case No. C 05-2226 PJH (2006), reported at 2006 WL 2839133, denying motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
Co-Lead Counsel, The Berkeleyan v. Kimes Morris Construction, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG 04165322, representing the owner-developer of an apartment building in Berkeley, California, in a multi-party construction defect case which settled for seven figures prior to any deposition in the case.
Co-Lead Counsel, Napa Valley Lodge. L.P. v. Rosa Construction, Inc., Napa County Superior Court Case No. 26-51613, representing the owner of a boutique hotel in Yountville, California, in a multi-party construction defect case which settled for seven figures prior to any depositon in the case.
Deputy appellate counsel, Beacon Residential Community Assn. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, California Supreme Court Case No. S208173 (2014). Resulted in published opinion, 59 Cal.4th 568, reversing dismissal of case on demurrer; holding that principal architect owes duty of care to future homeowners when designing residential project.
Lead appellate counsel, Rogers v. Peinado, California First Appellate District Case No. A088891 (2000). Resulted in published opinion, 85 Cal.App.4th 1, reversing order dismissing malicious prosecution claims against attorneys where attorneys were not parties to arbitration clause involved in underlying case.
STEPHEN G. PREONAS, SENIOR ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY
Stephen G. Preonas [SBN 245334, 2006]
Mr. Preonas is a senior attorney who joined the Firm in 2006. Mr. Preonas has extensive experience litigating issues involving homeowner associations, including homeowner association procedures, general commercial litigation, business partnership and limited liability company disputes and real estate claims including partition actions, slander of title, easement claims, landlord tenant claims and, Americans With Disabilities Act Claims. Mr. Preonas also has extensive experience litigating and counseling clients in matters involving employer-employee relations and transactional matters including commercial leasing and business sales. Mr. Preonas is skilled litigator who has successfully obtained provisional relief in contested litigation including temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions and writs of attachment
Mr. Preonas is a 2006 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law and obtained his B.A. from Stanford University.
Recent representative work by Mr. Preonas includes:
Lead appellate counsel, Series AGI West, etc. v. Eves, Case No. A135832 (2013). Resulted in published disposition on issue of first impression in California and nationwide in which the appellate Court confirmed that a carve out in provision in a personal guaranty pursuant to which Mr. Preonas had obtained a $6.3M pre-trial writ of attachment on behalf of his creditor client did not extend to certain assets as alleged by the debtor. Deputy appellate counsel, Beacon Residential Community Assn. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP,California Supreme Court Case No. S208173 (2014) Resulted in published opinion, 59 Cal.4th 568, reversing dismissal of case on demurrer; holding that principal architect owes duty of care to future homeowners when designing residential project.
Deputy counsel, Dhoot. v. Dhoot, San Joaquin County Case No. CV-028219 (2010). Successfully drafted two motions for summary judgment/adjudication to enforce an agreement against claims of undue influence and duress, resulting in favorable settlement for client.
Lead counsel, Grote v. Driver, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-08-483062 (2014). Successfully obtained summary judgment in defense of suit for slander of title between members of a condominium homeowners’ association.
Lead counsel, WillowB Court Development, LLC v. Raymond Lee, Alameda Superior Court Case No. RG-12-615564 (2013). Obtained six figure settlement for client real estate developer in complex trespass action.
Lead counsel, Burton v. Rick & Ann’s Restaurant, Inc., Alameda County Superior Court Case RG-07336314. Successfully defended wage and hour class-action lawsuit resulting in favorable settlement for client restaurant.
Lead counsel, Hillside Drilling, Inc. v. Goldman Sachs Group, Case No. C 09-1896 SI, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (2009).
Deputy trial counsel, Trinityfirst Almond Partners, LLC v. Hardister, Stanislaus Co. Case No. 665254 (2013). Resulted in settlement following 10 week jury trial.
GEORGE MACDONALD, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY
George MacDonald [SBN 311900, 2016]
Mr. MacDonald is an Associate Attorney with Katzoff & Riggs LLP in its Lake County office. Before joining Katzoff & Riggs, Mr. MacDonald served as an Equal Justice Works Justice AmeriCorps Fellow with Social Justice Collaborative in Oakland. As an immigration attorney in Oakland, he focused on defending unaccompanied children and their families from deportation. Mr. MacDonald provided direct representation to detained and non-detained children in removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the San Francisco and Los Angeles Asylum Offices.
Mr. MacDonald graduated cum laude from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, where he was inducted into the Cornelius Honor Society, received the Pro Bono Honors Award, and received a certificate in public interest for his work in immigration and international law. At Lewis & Clark, he also achieved success on its Jessup International Moot Court team. With Jessup, Mr. MacDonald received a best oralist award, placed second overall in the regional rounds, and advanced to the international rounds where his team was one of ten United States teams competing against law schools from 130 different countries.
Before law school, Mr. MacDonald worked as a substitute teacher with Konocti Unified School District and received a B.A. in History from CSU, Chico. At CSU Chico, he graduated with academic honors and was a member of the National History Honor Society. Mr. MacDonald is a Lake County native, raised in Lower Lake, and a graduate of Lower Lake High School. He speaks Spanish and continues to provide assistance to low income Spanish-speaking immigrants through his volunteer work.
VARVARA KOUROVA, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY
Varvara Kourova [SBN 320573, 2018]
Ms. Kourova is an Associate Attorney with Katzoff & Riggs LLP, where she focuses on corporate law, real estate and research. Prior to joining the firm, Varvara worked as an Attorney in Russia, where she advised clients on issues involving international business contracts, intellectual property, and corporate restructurings.
Varvara holds Master’s Degree from UC Hastings College of the Law with focus on corporate law and securities, and JD Degree from Ural State Law University. Varvara also studied Science of Psychopathology and Criminology.
NICOLE C. CAMPBELL, SENIOR PARALEGAL
Nicole Campbell is a Senior Paralegal who joined the Firm in 2012. She provides litigation support to the Firm’s attorneys across all practice areas of the Firm.
Ms. Campbell earned a certificate from the ABA approved Paralegal Studies Program at San Francisco State University. During her time in the program, Ms. Campbell volunteered in Oakland where she assisted victims of violent crime with their applications for permanent U.S. residency.
Ms. Campbell graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies, and a minor in Chicano Studies. While at Berkeley, Ms. Campbell completed a semester in the U.C. Education Abroad Program in Santiago, Chile. She is currently a member of the Cal Alumni Association.
Ms. Campbell is a non-attorney member of the Alameda and San Mateo County Bar Associations and holds a California Notary Public commission.