Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP


Paul M. Porter


Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP
One California Plaza
300 So. Grand Avenue, 37th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90071-3147

  • (213) 620-0460 - General
  • (213) 624-4840 - Fax

PAUL M. PORTER is an AV rated attorney, and has practiced law at Hill Farrer & Burrill since 1991. He specializes in real estate and business disputes, including real property transactions, shopping center issues, lease disputes of all kinds, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, land use and environmental (CEQA) issues, construction disputes, contract and business disputes of all kinds, boundary issues, lender issues, and property damage disputes. He also handles appeals in the California Courts of Appeal. He regularly represents plaintiffs as well as defendants, and his clients include business entities of all kinds, fortune 500 companies, individuals, private property owners and public agencies. He has extensive experience handling jury, non-jury, arbitration and administrative cases throughout the state courts in California, as well as all of the districts of the United States District Courts in California, and the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.  He has been a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED Accredited Professional (LEED Green Assoc.). He is appointed to the California State Bar Committee on Administrative of Justice (2012 to present).

PAUL M. PORTER specializes in real property litigation and general business litigation. Mr. Porter received his Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1986, with a degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Marketing. He obtained his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California in 1991. He joined Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP immediately upon graduating from law school, and was admitted to the California Bar in 1991. He is admitted to practice in California and the state of Wisconsin, all of the districts of the United States District Courts in California, the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., and he is a member of the Litigation and Real Property Sections of the California State Bar. He has been a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED Accredited Professional (LEED Green Assoc.). He is appointed to the California State Bar Committee on Administrative of Justice (2012 to present).

He has extensive litigation, trial and arbitration experience in various real estate and business litigation areas, including eminent domain, shopping center issues (including lease disputes), real property transaction disputes, inverse condemnation, land use, property damage disputes, contract and business disputes, and environmental (CEQA) law.  He regularly represents plaintiffs as well as defendants in these disputes, and his clients include business entities of all kinds, individuals, private property owners and public agencies.

Mr. Porter also has extensive experience in appellate practice, pursuing and responding to appeals involving a variety of topics, including a wide variety of real estate issues, eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases, professional legal malpractice claims, and Anti-SLAPP statute claims.  He tried the case and prosecuted the appeal that resulted in one of the California Real Property Journal’ s Top Ten Real Property Cases of 2003: Cuna Mutual Life Insurance Co.v. L.A. County MTA (2003) 108 Ca.App.4th 382, obtaining a $1.6 million dollar settlement for his client after the liability trial that followed the successful appeal.  He is also experienced in the prosecution and defense of appellate writs and defense of administrative claims against public agencies.

Mr. Porter also represents tenants and landlords in issues involving major commercial lease disputes, including shopping centers, and is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.  He regularly participates in ICSC’s annual Shopping Center Law Conference, and has lectured in panel discussions and hosted round table discussions at the conference (including eminent domain issues, and a panel on judicial interpretation problems in lease disputes).  He has been a panel member at the Georgetown Advanced Commercial Leasing Institute, in Washington D.C. (he was a panelist in discussion of obligations between landlord and tenant in commercial shopping centers, the possibility of an implied duty in landlord to maintain synergy in the center, and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as it relates to this relationship).

Mr. Porter also represents clients, including property owners as well as contractors, in construction and land use related issues and litigation. He has represented contractors and subcontractors on major construction project issues and disputes, including zoning and land use issues, mechanics lien claims, foreclosure of mechanics lien litigation, lien priority claims, breach of construction contract disputes, and construction defect.

Mr. Porter currently represents clients in a variety of matters, and regularly participates in mediations to find creative ways to resolve disputes on behalf of his clients. He has been a volunteer settlement officer in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Central District Voluntary Settlement Conference program.

Land Use

Represented Property Owners in successful effort to obtain government approvals necessary to develop a high profile property in the City of Malibu.  Handled all legal issues arising during dealings with the City of Malibu Planning Commission and City Council ZORACES Subcomittee, including extensive interaction with City staff, as well as dealings with the California Coastal Commission and in fending off challenges from a neighboring property owner.  Presented aspects of the legal and project issues to the planning commission in open meetings.  Managed and coordinated a variety of task specific geological, environmental, and architectural consultants.  Client successfully obtained all necessary permits and governmental approvals for remodeling and construction of three separate dwellings on the property, two on the beach and one on the bluff above, with shared septic and a number of complicated and challenging issues.

Eminent Domain

Represented governmental entity in two projects and the acquisition of more than twenty property interests surrounding the projects.  Handled all aspects of the condemnation, from the City Council adoption of the Resolutions of Necessity and attendance at City Council meetings, through the preparation and filing of the many eminent domain actions, successfully opposing demurrers to the eminent domain complaints, obtaining orders for immediate possession that were heavily contested by property owners, and through judgment and final orders of condemnation.

Joint Venture Partners Damage Liability

In trifurcated trials on behalf of a water district against its joint venture partner in a 99 year power generation project, obtained successful decision in first trial preventing application of the statute of limitations, allowing client to seek contract damages for past 65 years of contract performance.  In the second phase trial, successfully established liability under the contract for various types of damages. In the damages and accounting phase of trial, obtained judgment in favor of client.  After successfully defending the appeal, client received $26 million.

Inverse Condemnation and Breach of Contract

Brought an inverse condemnation, breach of contract and contractual warranty claim against a City that had failed to adequately plan for flood control resulting from development in a high desert watershed.  The flood caused significant property and business damages.  After we defeated the City’s effort to obtain summary judgment, defendants paid $3.4 million.

Construction Contract, Mechanics Lien and Loan Dispute

Represented a general contractor in a dispute with a project owner and its lender on a significant construction project in West Los Angeles. The project involved renovation and construction of an apartment tower and an adjacent mixed use building, and the lender sought to foreclose on the property. On behalf of his general contractor client, Mr. Porter mounted an attack against the construction lender on the issue of lien priority, asserting that the contractor’s mechanics lien was perfected before the construction lender recorded its lien. He ultimately filed a motion for judgment to establish the contractor’s mechanics’ lien priority. Throughout the case, Mr. Porter took on the lead role of coordinating a unified approach to the litigation, working with the numerous sub-contractor attorneys in an effort to control the litigation so as to maximize efficiencies for the contractors, and avoid unnecessary discovery and expense. While the motion for summary judgment was still spending, Mr. Porter negotiated a $1.3 million settlement for his general contractor client, with the settlement proceeds paid to the client and its subcontractors out of escrow in the sale of the building.

Property Zoning - Zoning and Escrow Issue

Represented property owner against plaintiff’s effort to force owner client to sell real property at a substantially reduced value due to irregularities in property zoning discovered during escrow.  Plaintiff refused to go through with purchase, but also refused to close escrow, and demanded that client resolve zoning irregularity.  Years later, when zoning irregularity was cleared up, plaintiff sought to force sale at the prior agreed upon price despite drastic increase in property value due to rise in real estate market.  Obtained defense verdict at trial.

Property Damage Negligence Action by Railroad Company

On behalf of fortune 500 national railroad company, brought a negligence action in United States District Court against a stevedoring company which had incorrectly loaded shipping containers onto rail cars in client’s train, resulting in a derailment causing significant property damage.  After successfully obtaining partial summary judgment establishing liability, negotiated a $2 million settlement.

National Retailer Dispute with Landlord on Commercial Lease

Represented fortune 500 national retailer in its efforts to resist efforts by landlord to break extremely valuable lease.  Prevented landlord from breaking the lease.

Negligence Action Railroad Company

On behalf of fortune 500 national railroad company, brought a negligence action against a rail car owner who negligently placed a defective rail car on client’s train, resulting in a derailment causing significant property damages.  Achieved a $3 million settlement from the car owner and the railcar repair company it had retained.

Eminent Domain Action Taken Property

Represented client in City’s eminent domain action to construct road that bifurcated client’s property in Elk Grove, California.  Obtained favorable settlement, forcing City to pay full value for property taken, and leaving client with significant properties made valuable by the city’s improvements.

Property Damages Dispute

Successfully defended a property owner in the trial of an action by adjoining property owner for damages arising from property line dispute.  Obtained favorable verdict for client at trial.

Commercial Breach of Lease

Represented shopping center owner against national grocery company who vacated anchor tenant space, leaving it vacant, in favor of  new shopping center down the street (the anchor tenant had gone “aggressively dark”).  Sued for breach of lease (based on percentage of rent) and for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as a result of the tenant’s decision to leave the anchor tenant space vacant so as to prevent competition at its new location, and tenant’s ongoing refusal to allow landlord client to cancel the lease and find a new anchor tenant.  After defeating tenant’s motion for summary judgment, obtained favorable settlement where anchor tenant paid client $1 million and terminated the lease, freeing client to re-tenant the anchor tenant space.

Custom Home Construction Defect Action

On behalf of the owners of a custom estate home, successfully arbitrated a construction defect action against the home builder and its subcontractors, obtaining all claimed damages and attorneys fees, totaling more than $1 million.

Homeowners Association Improper Charges

Represented property owner against property homeowners association seeking to force client to pay improper and substantial assessments.  Successfully obtained summary judgment for client, completely resolving litigation in client’s favor.

Inverse Condemnation Flood Damage

Represented property owner in inverse condemnation action against City and County for flooding damage caused by inadequate flood control facilities.  Obtained successful settlement for client.

Property Sale Representation

Represented the owner of property where contracting party wrongfully sought to exercise option to force client to sell property at a substantially below market price.  Obtained summary judgment for client, and then recovered full award of attorneys fees.