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Image of attorney Jon F. Gauthier of Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP, a law firm servicing the legal needs of the construction industry.

Jon F. Gauthier

Of Counsel

The majority of Jon’s legal experience over thirty-five years has been focused on construction industry matters. Importantly, Jon always considers the cost and impact to business operations, opportunities, and reputation before advising clients how best to proceed.

(858) 737-3100, Ext. 3026

(858) 737-3101

Tenacious and methodical, Jon Gauthier is an experienced attorney and litigator who represents business owners and executives, in-house counsel, and project managers regarding construction claims, collections, course-of-performance issues, contract requirements, and construction-related disputes.  His clients include general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, sureties, and engineering firms.

The majority of Jon’s legal experience over thirty-five years has been focused on construction industry matters; he is highly knowledgeable about construction operations, industry practices, and clients’ business concerns.  Jon has excellent relationships with many attorneys and other professionals involved in the construction industry.  This experience enables him to resolve most claims — usually without lengthy litigation — either before court or shortly after court proceedings are started.  Importantly, Jon always considers the cost and impact to business operations, opportunities, and reputation before advising clients how best to proceed.

LIENS, STOP PAYMENT NOTICES, AND PAYMENT BOND NOTICES

Prompt and aggressive action is vital in pursuing all available remedies to recover money owed on a construction project.  Jon has worked on such matters for over thirty years, so he can provide the experienced representation necessary to effectively achieve client goals.

ENFORCEMENT AND COLLECTION OF CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT

Non-payment of services rendered always raises the danger that sufficient resources will be inadequate to fully satisfy a claim once a judgment or arbitration award are obtained.  Jon’s experience of legal techniques combine with his knowledge of business, corporate, and financial frameworks to provide welcome relief to any business faced with unpaid obligations.  If engaged early enough in the process, Jon will endeavor to ensure that collection of a claim is secured by assets other than the debtor’s credit.  If the collection remedies are unavailable or inadequate, he will locate and seize other assets or place liens against them.  That often puts Jon’s client in a great position — at the front of the line — when multiple creditors are pursuing the same assets.

DEFENSE OF CLAIMS BY SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS

General contractors, sureties, and owners faced with overstated or invalid claims regularly rely on Jon’s know-how to resolve these disputes.  Reassuring and protecting the client’s surety or customer is paramount, as is the need to swiftly resolve the matter.  Jon’s expert negotiation skills frequently succeed in achieving early resolutions.  When adverse parties are unreasonable, however, he immediately turns to aggressive litigation tactics.  This methodical process ensures the matter is contained and that most claims against the client are resolved at steep discounts.  Importantly, Jon strives to make certain that the valuable business relationships between client and customer are fully protected.  Case closed.

CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, DISPUTES, AND CLAIMS WHERE ONE OF THE PARTIES IS IN BANKRUPTCY

When one of the parties involved in a construction job files for bankruptcy, prompt action must be taken to protect one’s legal rights and avoid adverse impact upon existing contracts or subcontracts.  Good judgment must be exercised to avoid being drawn unnecessarily too deeply into a bankruptcy — as this can be just as costly as failing to take prompt and timely action.  Jon has practiced in all California bankruptcy courts, as well as in courts which hear bankruptcy appeals and writs.  This is exactly the kind of legal expertise you want leading your claim strategy in a construction bankruptcy situation.

  • Construction arbitration, mediation, and litigation
  • Claims on public works of improvement and government contracts, including projects with local public agencies, cities, counties, state agencies, and federal government
  • Contract defaults
  • Surety obligations
  • Mechanic’s liens
  • Stop payment notices
  • Payment bond claims
  • Attaching assets for collections
  • Collection of judgments
  • Bankruptcy court proceedings and appeals
  • Miller Act claims
  • Transactional matters specializing in the drafting and review of documents relating to construction projects
  • General business litigation
  • Compelling production of important documents
Recovered Full Amount of Mechanic’s Lien

Legal research revealed that our client had no right to pursue a mechanics’ lien. Client’s customer had lien rights, but no resources or desire to file suit to foreclose its mechanics lien. We arranged for the client’s customer to assign its claim and lien to our client. Soon after we filed suit to foreclose on that (assigned) lien, the owner paid client’s full claim in exchange for a complete release of the lien. Our client’s customer is also pleased, because it avoided any liability to client for the underlying claim.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Jon F. Gauthier

Brewer Corporation, et. al. v. Point Center Financial, Inc.

On January 31, the Fourth District Court of Appeal followed Familian Corp v. Imperial Bank, holding stop notice claimants have priority over the entire construction loan amount and lenders must make all fees, interest, and points they took from the loan available to stop notice claimants. This case should expedite recoveries and avoid the tired lender defenses that seek to distinguish Familian or assert it was wrongly decided. In the underlying action, four contractor claimants (two of which were represented by the firm) pursued bonded stop notice claims against the construction lender, Point Center Financial, Inc. After a bench trial, Point Center was found liable for the stop notice claims. Liability against Point Center was imposed not only for the construction funds undisbursed at the time of each stop notice, but also for all amounts that had already been spent on interest, loan fees, and real estate and escrow fees. The total judgment, including attorneys’ fees, was approximately $3 million.

Read More
Point Center appealed the judgment on a number of grounds, including whether the Familian decision should be applied. While the Court of Appeal remanded the judgment of one claimant based on a procedural defense raised by Point Center, the Court affirmed the judgment for the other claimants, including the firm’s two clients, and upheld the Familian decision. Point Center also appealed on the ground that one of the firm’s clients failed to serve Point Center with a notice of commencement after filing a lawsuit to enforce its stop notice, which Point Center argued was a jurisdictional requirement that should have entitled Point Center to a nonsuit. The firm’s client timely served its stop notice and timely filed its lawsuit, but did not serve a notice of commencement, pursuant to Civil Code section 3172, within five days of commencing its lawsuit. The firm represented the client at trial. At trial, it was undisputed Point Center suffered no prejudice as a result of the lack of notice of commencement. The trial court denied Point Center’s motion for nonsuit, finding no prejudice to Point Center and substantial compliance by the firm’s client. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling and rationale. The Court of Appeal concluded that the requirement to serve a notice of commencement was not mandatory, unless the lender could show prejudice. Since there was no prejudice to the lender, the contractor claimant was not required to serve a notice of commencement. The firm’s clients will now return to the trial court to seek an award of their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred on the appeal, and will continue to enforce their substantial money judgment.

A copy of the published decision can be viewed here.

(2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 831

Brewer Corporation dba Brewer Crane & Rigging v. TM Structural, Inc.; and Division 8, Inc. v. Mi Arbolito

The firm represented two clients, Brewer Crane & Rigging Company and Division 8, Inc. with claims for payment on a private 14 unit luxury condominium project in San Diego, California. Despite an insolvent developer, the firm recovered judgment against a private-money lender on bonded stop notices claims for the principal amount of nearly $275,000.00, as well as pre-judgment interest, bond premiums, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Read More
The case concerned a $13.5 million construction loan which the defendant lender ceased funding as the project property value fell to less than that amount, and claimed it was not a construction lender for purposes of stop notice claims. Ultimately the owner went through bankruptcy and a senior lender foreclosed, thereby preventing either our clients or the defendant lender from recovering anything through their liens against the real property. The firm successfully argued that all of the construction loan funds not used to pay construction costs, including points, interest, fees, etc., whether paid to the defendant lender, paid to its participating investor/lenders, or as reimbursement for transaction costs, had to be disgorged for the benefit of the bonded stop notice claimants.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2007-00074230

Tenacious and methodical, Jon Gauthier is an experienced attorney and litigator who represents business owners and executives, in-house counsel, and project managers regarding construction claims, collections, course-of-performance issues, contract requirements, and construction-related disputes.  His clients include general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, sureties, and engineering firms.

The majority of Jon’s legal experience over thirty-five years has been focused on construction industry matters; he is highly knowledgeable about construction operations, industry practices, and clients’ business concerns.  Jon has excellent relationships with many attorneys and other professionals involved in the construction industry.  This experience enables him to resolve most claims — usually without lengthy litigation — either before court or shortly after court proceedings are started.  Importantly, Jon always considers the cost and impact to business operations, opportunities, and reputation before advising clients how best to proceed.

LIENS, STOP PAYMENT NOTICES, AND PAYMENT BOND NOTICES

Prompt and aggressive action is vital in pursuing all available remedies to recover money owed on a construction project.  Jon has worked on such matters for over thirty years, so he can provide the experienced representation necessary to effectively achieve client goals.

ENFORCEMENT AND COLLECTION OF CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT

Non-payment of services rendered always raises the danger that sufficient resources will be inadequate to fully satisfy a claim once a judgment or arbitration award are obtained.  Jon’s experience of legal techniques combine with his knowledge of business, corporate, and financial frameworks to provide welcome relief to any business faced with unpaid obligations.  If engaged early enough in the process, Jon will endeavor to ensure that collection of a claim is secured by assets other than the debtor’s credit.  If the collection remedies are unavailable or inadequate, he will locate and seize other assets or place liens against them.  That often puts Jon’s client in a great position — at the front of the line — when multiple creditors are pursuing the same assets.

DEFENSE OF CLAIMS BY SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS

General contractors, sureties, and owners faced with overstated or invalid claims regularly rely on Jon’s know-how to resolve these disputes.  Reassuring and protecting the client’s surety or customer is paramount, as is the need to swiftly resolve the matter.  Jon’s expert negotiation skills frequently succeed in achieving early resolutions.  When adverse parties are unreasonable, however, he immediately turns to aggressive litigation tactics.  This methodical process ensures the matter is contained and that most claims against the client are resolved at steep discounts.  Importantly, Jon strives to make certain that the valuable business relationships between client and customer are fully protected.  Case closed.

CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, DISPUTES, AND CLAIMS WHERE ONE OF THE PARTIES IS IN BANKRUPTCY

When one of the parties involved in a construction job files for bankruptcy, prompt action must be taken to protect one’s legal rights and avoid adverse impact upon existing contracts or subcontracts.  Good judgment must be exercised to avoid being drawn unnecessarily too deeply into a bankruptcy — as this can be just as costly as failing to take prompt and timely action.  Jon has practiced in all California bankruptcy courts, as well as in courts which hear bankruptcy appeals and writs.  This is exactly the kind of legal expertise you want leading your claim strategy in a construction bankruptcy situation.

  • Construction arbitration, mediation, and litigation
  • Claims on public works of improvement and government contracts, including projects with local public agencies, cities, counties, state agencies, and federal government
  • Contract defaults
  • Surety obligations
  • Mechanic’s liens
  • Stop payment notices
  • Payment bond claims
  • Attaching assets for collections
  • Collection of judgments
  • Bankruptcy court proceedings and appeals
  • Miller Act claims
  • Transactional matters specializing in the drafting and review of documents relating to construction projects
  • General business litigation
  • Compelling production of important documents
Recovered Full Amount of Mechanic’s Lien

Legal research revealed that our client had no right to pursue a mechanics’ lien. Client’s customer had lien rights, but no resources or desire to file suit to foreclose its mechanics lien. We arranged for the client’s customer to assign its claim and lien to our client. Soon after we filed suit to foreclose on that (assigned) lien, the owner paid client’s full claim in exchange for a complete release of the lien. Our client’s customer is also pleased, because it avoided any liability to client for the underlying claim.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Jon F. Gauthier

Brewer Corporation, et. al. v. Point Center Financial, Inc.

On January 31, the Fourth District Court of Appeal followed Familian Corp v. Imperial Bank, holding stop notice claimants have priority over the entire construction loan amount and lenders must make all fees, interest, and points they took from the loan available to stop notice claimants. This case should expedite recoveries and avoid the tired lender defenses that seek to distinguish Familian or assert it was wrongly decided. In the underlying action, four contractor claimants (two of which were represented by the firm) pursued bonded stop notice claims against the construction lender, Point Center Financial, Inc. After a bench trial, Point Center was found liable for the stop notice claims. Liability against Point Center was imposed not only for the construction funds undisbursed at the time of each stop notice, but also for all amounts that had already been spent on interest, loan fees, and real estate and escrow fees. The total judgment, including attorneys’ fees, was approximately $3 million.

Read More
Point Center appealed the judgment on a number of grounds, including whether the Familian decision should be applied. While the Court of Appeal remanded the judgment of one claimant based on a procedural defense raised by Point Center, the Court affirmed the judgment for the other claimants, including the firm’s two clients, and upheld the Familian decision. Point Center also appealed on the ground that one of the firm’s clients failed to serve Point Center with a notice of commencement after filing a lawsuit to enforce its stop notice, which Point Center argued was a jurisdictional requirement that should have entitled Point Center to a nonsuit. The firm’s client timely served its stop notice and timely filed its lawsuit, but did not serve a notice of commencement, pursuant to Civil Code section 3172, within five days of commencing its lawsuit. The firm represented the client at trial. At trial, it was undisputed Point Center suffered no prejudice as a result of the lack of notice of commencement. The trial court denied Point Center’s motion for nonsuit, finding no prejudice to Point Center and substantial compliance by the firm’s client. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling and rationale. The Court of Appeal concluded that the requirement to serve a notice of commencement was not mandatory, unless the lender could show prejudice. Since there was no prejudice to the lender, the contractor claimant was not required to serve a notice of commencement. The firm’s clients will now return to the trial court to seek an award of their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred on the appeal, and will continue to enforce their substantial money judgment.

A copy of the published decision can be viewed here.

(2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 831

Brewer Corporation dba Brewer Crane & Rigging v. TM Structural, Inc.; and Division 8, Inc. v. Mi Arbolito

The firm represented two clients, Brewer Crane & Rigging Company and Division 8, Inc. with claims for payment on a private 14 unit luxury condominium project in San Diego, California. Despite an insolvent developer, the firm recovered judgment against a private-money lender on bonded stop notices claims for the principal amount of nearly $275,000.00, as well as pre-judgment interest, bond premiums, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Read More
The case concerned a $13.5 million construction loan which the defendant lender ceased funding as the project property value fell to less than that amount, and claimed it was not a construction lender for purposes of stop notice claims. Ultimately the owner went through bankruptcy and a senior lender foreclosed, thereby preventing either our clients or the defendant lender from recovering anything through their liens against the real property. The firm successfully argued that all of the construction loan funds not used to pay construction costs, including points, interest, fees, etc., whether paid to the defendant lender, paid to its participating investor/lenders, or as reimbursement for transaction costs, had to be disgorged for the benefit of the bonded stop notice claimants.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2007-00074230

The majority of Jon’s legal experience over thirty-five years has been focused on construction industry matters. Importantly, Jon always considers the cost and impact to business operations, opportunities, and reputation before advising clients how best to proceed.

(858) 737-3100, Ext. 3026

(858) 737-3101

  • Construction Law
    • Claims & Disputes
    • Local Agency, Municipal & State Contracts
    • Prime Contracts & Subcontracts
    • Collections (including bankruptcy claims by creditors and collections of claims and judgments)
  • Business & Commercial Litigation
  • Business & Commercial Transactions
  • California: State Courts
  • U.S. District Courts of California: Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • State Bar of California
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section
  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D.
  • University of California at Santa Cruz, B.A., Psychology, with honors

Mr. Gauthier is an accomplished public speaker and regularly addresses the construction community and fellow attorneys on training and educational topics, including:

California Construction Payment Remedies: Liens, Stop Notices and Bond Claims

Handling Construction Payment Claims In A Bankruptcy Situation

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