John S. Peterson
In 2020, Mr. Peterson successfully argued before the California Supreme Court in Weiss v. People ex rel Department of Transportation (2020) 9 Cal. 5th 840, resulting in a unanimous decision in favor of his clients establishing a pretrial law and motion procedure intended for eminent domain cases is not appropriately used to determine liability in inverse condemnation cases.
With more than 38 years of practice experience, a solid record of success in trials and a reputation for being prepared to take cases to trial, Mr. Peterson has achieved hundreds of strong results, including many multi-million dollar results for his clients.
“I endorse this lawyer. I worked at the same firm with Mr. Peterson for many years and have worked with him on numerous matters after I started my own practice. Mr. Peterson is one of the best trial lawyers that I have had the experience of working with. He is very dedicated to his clients and gets impressive results.”
General practice Attorney
Mr. Peterson is a Member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), where eligibility to membership requires completion of a prescribed number of jury trials and nomination and election by the membership which includes some of the best trial lawyers in America. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers and he is Martindale-Hubbell ® AV Rated, the highest rating available to an attorney.
Mr. Peterson has been a featured speaker on eminent domain in several broadcast media segments, including Marketplace on National Public Radio, Patt Morrison’s KPCC radio show, and a KNBC news segment on inverse condemnation. He has been quoted in the Los Angeles Times and in the Los Angeles Business Journal in articles involving his cases.
Mr. Peterson is a member of the Real Property Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is a member of the American Bar Association.
In condemnation actions, he emphasizes representation of real property and business owners. Cases have included auto mall property, shopping centers, swap meets, industrial properties, commercial properties, hotels, motels, apartments, retail centers, development properties, farm land, homes, subdivisions, tracts, landfill property and others.
He has represented a wide variety of businesses in litigation and relocation, including: restaurants, fast food, recording studios, pharmacies, manufacturers, retailers, equipment vendors, food processors, tire retreading, furniture manufacturing, molded and injected plastics manufacturers, boat yards, marine equipment supply, liquor stores, convenience stores, gas stations, car rental agencies, mechanics, auto body shops, auto dismantlers, recyclers, metal dealers, roofers, contractors, chemical plants, mortuary, truck wash, car wash, container storage and repair, printers, metal stamping, textiles, clothing manufacturing, attorneys, doctors, dentists, optometrists, metal workers, wood workers, glass workers, oil companies, developers, and many other businesses.
Representative Matters-Partial List
Some examples of Mr. Peterson’s cases include:
- $28 million result – Representation of the owner of an operating inert landfill. The condemning agency initially offered less than $13.4 million. The case involved business goodwill, relocation, highest and best use issues related to geology and geotechnical engineering, civil engineering and site adaptability, land use issues and property valuation.
- $13.5 million result – Representation of the owner of a 90 unit apartment complex. The case involved resolution of a valuation dispute.
- $7.1 million result- Representation of the owner of a former street car maintenance facility that was being operated as a multi-use income property. The school district’s original deposit was $4.6 million. The case involved environmental issues, as well as disputes over highest and best use and valuation.
- $2.25 million result – Represented property owner of a mortuary property. At trial, the condemning agency contended the property was worth $1.8 million. The case included disputes over highest and best use and valuation issues.
- $6.0 million post-trial, post-appeal result – Represented developers against city and community facilities districts in the trial and appeal of an inverse condemnation, breach of contract case arising out of a Facilities Improvement Agreement that provided for reimbursement for developers’ unreimbursed costs of backbone infrastructure. The city denied liability through trial and appeal and did not offer to pay any money until after the court of appeal ruled in developers’ favor.
- $7.7 million result – Represented property owner and tire retreading business. Initial offer was approximately $4.1 million. Settlement included $4.8 million compensation for real estate and more than $2.9 million for lost business goodwill and relocation.
- $11.0 million result – Represented owner of commercial retail mall/swap meet in inverse condemnation/eminent domain/environmental remediation case. Prior to filing the original inverse condemnation action for precondemnation damages due to unreasonable delay, the city’s offer was approximately $7.7 million.
- $1.425 million result – Represented owner of multi-family property. City’s original offer was $960,000. Jury determined value to be $1.425 million.
- $4.7 million result – In this inverse condemnation trial involving a landslide affecting a bluff top home, the City denied liability. After a multi-week trial involving geology, geotechnical engineering and property valuation issues, the Court found liability and awarded $4.7 million in compensation and litigation expenses. Other parties, including Southern California Edison and General Telephone and Electric (Verizon), had settled prior to trial.
- $4.39 million result –nRepresented property and business owner/manufacturer of fiberglass and resin products, props and facades. The condemning agency initially offered $1.76 million. At trial, the jury determined real estate value to be $3.4 million. Highest and best use of the real estate was a critical disputed issue. Business goodwill, fixtures and equipment and relocation were resolved before trial for $992,740.
- $4.7 million result – Represented property owner and furniture manufacturing business. Business was successfully relocated. City’s initial offer was $1.9 million.
- $2.875 million result – Represented owner of a property improved with a recording studio. The condemning agency initially offered $1.675 million.
- $3.95 million result – Represented property owner in a partial takings case involving a large acreage property on Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington. The condemning agency initially offered $2.36 million.
- $1.54 million result – Represented property owner and auto dismantling/parts salvage business. The condemning agency’s initial offer was $347,500. The case settled for more than $1.54 million.
- $3.7 million result – Initial offer was $1.3 million. Represented property owner and business owner in successful jury trial of business goodwill loss and settlement of real property value and relocation benefits. Jury awarded $795,600 despite successful relocation of business and despite Long Beach contending there was no loss of goodwill. Subsequently, the Court awarded litigation expenses. Before trial, relocation and real estate compensation were settled for $2.9 million. Original offer was $1.3 million.
- $4.0 million result – (augmented by post-appeal fee award) – Represented owners of 20,000 sq. ft. (approx.) parcel, improved as a parking lot, located diagonally across from Staples Center, then under construction. The condemning agency initially offered $840,000 for the property. At the trial, which involved project influence and highest and best use issues, the jury awarded $4,011,280. The agency appealed the decision. The judgment was affirmed and the court of appeal awarded litigation expenses.
- $10.5 million result – Represented owner of the property leased to a Chevrolet dealer in Carson. The condemning agency initially offered $5.4 million to acquire the underlying fee interest in the property. At trial, the jury determined fair market value to be $10.5 million.
Areas of Practice
- Eminent Domain
- Inverse Condemnation
- Real Estate Law
- Business Litigation and Trials
- Land Use
Honors And Awards
- Elected a Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), 2010 – Present
- Martindale-Hubbell® AV Rating
- Selected to be included in Southern California Super Lawyers, 2011 – Present
- Selected to be included in Best Lawyers, 2014 – Present
- California, 1981
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 1994
- U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1981
- U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1994
- U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1994
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1982
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 1994
- University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, Los Angeles, California
- J.D. - 1981
- Honors: Member, Moot Court Honors Program
- University of California, Los Angeles, California
- B.A. magna cum laude - 1978
- Major: Economics
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- Featured Speaker, National Public Radio - Market Place
- Featured Speaker, Patt Morrison’s KPCC radio show
- Featured Speaker, KNBC news
Professional Associations And Memberships
- American Bar Association, Member
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member
- International Right of Way Association, Member
- Real Property Section of the State Bar of California, Member
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Member
- English (Primary)
- Phi Beta Kappa