skip to Main Content
Image of Nowell A. Lantz, a partner at Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP.

Nowell A. Lantz

Partner

Nowell’s diplomacy and negotiating skills are valuable assets. Should negotiation prove insufficient, however, the scope of Nowell’s representation includes all aspects of litigation from complaint filing through jury trial and judgment collection.

(858) 737-3100, Ext. 3039

(858) 737-3101

A disciplined litigator and negotiator, Nowell Lantz works with general contractors, subcontractors, business owners and executives, property owners and developers, and high-value residential homeowners.  Construction litigation, collection remedies, contract formulation and negotiation, and course-of-performance strategy and counsel are hallmarks of Nowell’s practice.  His clients include public works and private works contractors, subcontractors, and insurance and surety companies.

Substantial construction law experience empowers Nowell to be aggressive and act decisively on behalf of clients whenever circumstances warrant.  More often, however, Nowell’s calming demeanor emerges to manage and contain potentially contentious disputes from unnecessary legal escalation.  His ability to effect cooperation and meaningful dialog has produced win-win outcomes many times over.

PRIVATE WORKS CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION

For general contractors plagued with subcontractor claims or lack of payment, Nowell’s vast knowledge of project documentation combine with his command of specialized laws and collection remedies to provide efficient relief.  These qualities consistently result in Nowell’s clients getting paid — or avoiding unwarranted payments — and projects getting closed out in a timely fashion.  As is most often the case, it is best to get a legal opinion before a situation spins out of control.

PUBLIC WORKS CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION

General contractors of public works face rampant regulation and administrative red tape.  Ever striving to deliver prompt conflict resolution and net monetary benefits to his clients, Nowell’s diplomacy and negotiating skills are valuable assets.  Should negotiation prove insufficient, however, the scope of Nowell’s representation includes all aspects of litigation from complaint filing through jury trial and judgment collection.

COURSE-OF-PERFORMANCE COUNSEL

Large or experienced general contractors or subcontractors understand the value that comes with working alongside an experienced legal partner throughout the life of a project.  It is an area in which Nowell — and Finch, Thornton & Baird collectively — excels.  There simply is no substitute for building the strongest possible case during construction instead of when the project is completed.  The economic benefits of this approach are indisputable.

REAL ESTATE LAW

Business owners, developers, and residential homeowners sometimes encounter construction issues or problems for which legal counsel is required.  These include deficient construction work, failed real estate transactions, and business disputes.  Nowell’s aggressive approach, balanced by his focus on achieving win-win outcomes when possible, may be just the solution your situation demands.

  • Course-of-performance counsel
  • Public and private works disputes
  • Delay, inefficiency, and extra work claims
  • Foreclosure on mechanic’s liens and enforcement of stop notices
  • State and local bid protests
  • Subcontractor listing and substitution issues
  • California Air Resources Board and local Air Pollution Control matters
  • General business litigation
  • Local, state, federal, and private collection and bond actions
  • Homeowner Association Standard of Care
  • Defense of shareholder derivative claims
  • Contractor/subcontractor disgorgement claims and defense
Prime Contractor Recovers Six-figure Settlement v. Subcontractor

The firm represented a prime contractor in claims against a subcontractor on a combination privately/publicly funded project.  The claims arose from the subcontractor defaulting on the performance of its subcontract obligations, including failing to properly install electrical work, failing to pay suppliers, and failing to meet schedule milestones.

Legal Ingenuity Prevails.

Despite the subcontractor having no assets and being unbonded — and significant problems with insurance coverage — the firm was able to secure a six-figure settlement from a combination of defendants, including the subcontractor and insurance carriers.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

General Engineering Contractor v. Local Public Agency (Riverside and Orange Counties)

The Firm began representing the prime contractor as project counsel concerning this unique cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) project.

The Firm helped position its client to declare owner default, stop work based on owner breaches of Public Contract Code section 1104 (lack of buildable plans), and avoid performance bond surety takeover, as well as mitigate risk with the client’s CIPP subcontractor, its surety, and liability insurers.  These tasks required a thorough understanding of the CIPP specifications, the CIPP industry players, and strong relationships with the sureties.

The project owner sought over $10 million from the Firm’s client and surety.

Post declaration of default, litigation commenced among the client, project owner, subcontractor, and sureties, with the project owner seeking more than $10 million from the Firm’s client and surety.  The Firm was able to shift defense costs to liability insurers and mitigate the out-of-pocket litigation costs to its client.  The project owner incurred over $1 million in attorneys’ fees.

The case settled for payment to the Firm’s client.

After two years of litigation, depositions of the key project participants and CIPP industry participants around the country, with a six-week jury trial looming, and following three mediation sessions over six months, the case settled for payment to the Firm’s client, hailed as an excellent result in this bet-the-company (and personal assets supporting the bonding line) case.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr., Nowell A. Lantz, and Andrea L. Petray

Breach of Trust and Surcharge Petition Against Corporate Fiduciary

Petitioned for breach of trust, removal, and surcharge against a corporate trustee, succeeding in compelling a multi-million dollar distribution and resolving the dispute in a settlement favorable to the firm’s client.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Defense of Claims Against Construction Manager By Trade Contractor

The firm successfully defended claims by a trade contractor against a construction manager and owner’s agent on a multiunit construction project. The firm’s client was the construction manager and owner’s representative for the work, responsible for the management of various trade contractors. A trade contractor sued the firm’s client claiming to be entitled to significant additional costs. Following investigation and discovery, the firm was able to obtain a full dismissal of its client for a nuisance value settlement.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Recovery From Unlicensed Contractor

The firm successfully pursued claims for disgorgement for unlicensed contracting and for defective construction on a private construction project, resulting in settlements in excess of $1,100,000.00.  The firm’s client contracted with an unlicensed contractor to perform work.  After the contractor claimed to be a project manager, the firm pursued claims for disgorgement, fraud, negligence and violation of contractors’ license laws against various parties.  After investigation and discovery, settlements in excess of the amounts paid to the unlicensed contractor were obtained.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

Johnson, Barnes & Finch, Inc. v. Meier Pacific, Inc. et al.

Numerous subcontractors initiated litigation against the firm’s general contractor client and the project owner to collect subcontract balances. The firm’s client asserted the pass through claims for unpaid contract balance and for additional overhead to build the project, which was completed over one year behind schedule. The project owner countered with a delay claim and other claims. Through a series of negotiations, settlement conferences, and mediation just prior to a jury trial, the firm’s client was paid on its claim for additional compensation, and received full indemnity from the owner for all subcontractor suits.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC881652

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Kims v. Rowley et al.

Two week jury trial regarding private work of improvement resulting in 9-3 defense verdict in favor of firm’s client on complaint seeking disgorgement of over $800,000.00 for alleged unlicensed contractor work. Last pre-trial offer by firm’s client was to pay $5,000.00 to settle.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC 845277

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

J.B. Riha Corporation v. Andrew and Mary Connors-Nicholls

Three week jury trial regarding private work of improvement resulting in 11-0 verdict in favor of firm’s contractor client on complaint, and zero recovery on $1,000,000.00 cross-complaint of property owner opponent (including claims for punitive damages) against both contractor and project manager.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC841028

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

General Contractor v. Owner/Lender – Quasi Public Works

The firm represented a general contractor client on a major rehabilitation project involving the redevelopment of historical land.  The project was funded by numerous entities and involved a variety of stakeholders.  During the course of the project, change orders and additional work were approved by the owner that were in excess of the scope of the project budget.  At the time of project closeout, the owners were unable to make payment and the lenders refused to release payments for work that was performed within budget.  At the firm’s direction, the client served a bonded stop notice on the lenders and pursued litigation.  Ultimately, despite the owners being unable to make further payments, the client recovered over $1.6 million.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

Bid Protest – Army Corps of Engineers

The firm represented a large prime contractor specializing in Federal work in a bid protest against the Army Corps. of Engineers. The protest, on a proposal for $500 million worth of work on various Federal Installations, was based on the Army Corps’ improper rejection of a submittal in violation of its own specifications and applicable law. The firm prepared a bid protest and provided supporting cases and analysis to support the bid protest and discussions, ultimately resulting in the acceptance of the contractor’s submittal.

Counsel: David S. Demian and Nowell A. Lantz

Sprotte + Watson Architecture & Planning, Inc. v. Santee School District et al.

The dispute involved a nine school site construction project at a local school district, valued at over $100 million. After terminating the architect for convenience, the school district was sued for payment owed, lost profits, and bad faith termination. The architect also sued the former assistant superintendent personally for intentional interference with its contract. The matter culminated in a three and a half week jury trial in which the firm represented the local school district and was successful in excluding the claims for lost profits and bad faith termination, and the allegations against the individual district employee, totaling approximately $1.3 million. The firm also secured a jury verdict for damages against the negligent architect, and partially defended the claims for outstanding payments.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2009-00083936-CU-CO-CTL

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz and Daniel P. Scholz

Private Golf Club v. Directors of an HOA

The firm’s three clients were sued by a private golf club for breach of fiduciary duty, interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional interference with contract, based on their roles as Directors of a Homeowners Association in a multi-million dollar Rancho Santa Fe neighborhood.  After completion of significant discovery and attack on the claims against its clients, and at the sole expense of the Board’s Directors and Officers insurer, the firm prevailed on a motion for summary judgment as to all claims against one of its three clients.  Dismissals of all claims against the other two firm clients followed immediately thereafter, as did the bankruptcy filing of the golf club.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

A disciplined litigator and negotiator, Nowell Lantz works with general contractors, subcontractors, business owners and executives, property owners and developers, and high-value residential homeowners.  Construction litigation, collection remedies, contract formulation and negotiation, and course-of-performance strategy and counsel are hallmarks of Nowell’s practice.  His clients include public works and private works contractors, subcontractors, and insurance and surety companies.

Substantial construction law experience empowers Nowell to be aggressive and act decisively on behalf of clients whenever circumstances warrant.  More often, however, Nowell’s calming demeanor emerges to manage and contain potentially contentious disputes from unnecessary legal escalation.  His ability to effect cooperation and meaningful dialog has produced win-win outcomes many times over.

PRIVATE WORKS CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION

For general contractors plagued with subcontractor claims or lack of payment, Nowell’s vast knowledge of project documentation combine with his command of specialized laws and collection remedies to provide efficient relief.  These qualities consistently result in Nowell’s clients getting paid — or avoiding unwarranted payments — and projects getting closed out in a timely fashion.  As is most often the case, it is best to get a legal opinion before a situation spins out of control.

PUBLIC WORKS CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION

General contractors of public works face rampant regulation and administrative red tape.  Ever striving to deliver prompt conflict resolution and net monetary benefits to his clients, Nowell’s diplomacy and negotiating skills are valuable assets.  Should negotiation prove insufficient, however, the scope of Nowell’s representation includes all aspects of litigation from complaint filing through jury trial and judgment collection.

COURSE-OF-PERFORMANCE COUNSEL

Large or experienced general contractors or subcontractors understand the value that comes with working alongside an experienced legal partner throughout the life of a project.  It is an area in which Nowell — and Finch, Thornton & Baird collectively — excels.  There simply is no substitute for building the strongest possible case during construction instead of when the project is completed.  The economic benefits of this approach are indisputable.

REAL ESTATE LAW

Business owners, developers, and residential homeowners sometimes encounter construction issues or problems for which legal counsel is required.  These include deficient construction work, failed real estate transactions, and business disputes.  Nowell’s aggressive approach, balanced by his focus on achieving win-win outcomes when possible, may be just the solution your situation demands.

  • Course-of-performance counsel
  • Public and private works disputes
  • Delay, inefficiency, and extra work claims
  • Foreclosure on mechanic’s liens and enforcement of stop notices
  • State and local bid protests
  • Subcontractor listing and substitution issues
  • California Air Resources Board and local Air Pollution Control matters
  • General business litigation
  • Local, state, federal, and private collection and bond actions
  • Homeowner Association Standard of Care
  • Defense of shareholder derivative claims
  • Contractor/subcontractor disgorgement claims and defense
Prime Contractor Recovers Six-figure Settlement v. Subcontractor

The firm represented a prime contractor in claims against a subcontractor on a combination privately/publicly funded project.  The claims arose from the subcontractor defaulting on the performance of its subcontract obligations, including failing to properly install electrical work, failing to pay suppliers, and failing to meet schedule milestones.

Legal Ingenuity Prevails.

Despite the subcontractor having no assets and being unbonded — and significant problems with insurance coverage — the firm was able to secure a six-figure settlement from a combination of defendants, including the subcontractor and insurance carriers.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

General Engineering Contractor v. Local Public Agency (Riverside and Orange Counties)

The Firm began representing the prime contractor as project counsel concerning this unique cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) project.

The Firm helped position its client to declare owner default, stop work based on owner breaches of Public Contract Code section 1104 (lack of buildable plans), and avoid performance bond surety takeover, as well as mitigate risk with the client’s CIPP subcontractor, its surety, and liability insurers.  These tasks required a thorough understanding of the CIPP specifications, the CIPP industry players, and strong relationships with the sureties.

The project owner sought over $10 million from the Firm’s client and surety.

Post declaration of default, litigation commenced among the client, project owner, subcontractor, and sureties, with the project owner seeking more than $10 million from the Firm’s client and surety.  The Firm was able to shift defense costs to liability insurers and mitigate the out-of-pocket litigation costs to its client.  The project owner incurred over $1 million in attorneys’ fees.

The case settled for payment to the Firm’s client.

After two years of litigation, depositions of the key project participants and CIPP industry participants around the country, with a six-week jury trial looming, and following three mediation sessions over six months, the case settled for payment to the Firm’s client, hailed as an excellent result in this bet-the-company (and personal assets supporting the bonding line) case.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr., Nowell A. Lantz, and Andrea L. Petray

Breach of Trust and Surcharge Petition Against Corporate Fiduciary

Petitioned for breach of trust, removal, and surcharge against a corporate trustee, succeeding in compelling a multi-million dollar distribution and resolving the dispute in a settlement favorable to the firm’s client.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Defense of Claims Against Construction Manager By Trade Contractor

The firm successfully defended claims by a trade contractor against a construction manager and owner’s agent on a multiunit construction project. The firm’s client was the construction manager and owner’s representative for the work, responsible for the management of various trade contractors. A trade contractor sued the firm’s client claiming to be entitled to significant additional costs. Following investigation and discovery, the firm was able to obtain a full dismissal of its client for a nuisance value settlement.

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Recovery From Unlicensed Contractor

The firm successfully pursued claims for disgorgement for unlicensed contracting and for defective construction on a private construction project, resulting in settlements in excess of $1,100,000.00.  The firm’s client contracted with an unlicensed contractor to perform work.  After the contractor claimed to be a project manager, the firm pursued claims for disgorgement, fraud, negligence and violation of contractors’ license laws against various parties.  After investigation and discovery, settlements in excess of the amounts paid to the unlicensed contractor were obtained.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

Johnson, Barnes & Finch, Inc. v. Meier Pacific, Inc. et al.

Numerous subcontractors initiated litigation against the firm’s general contractor client and the project owner to collect subcontract balances. The firm’s client asserted the pass through claims for unpaid contract balance and for additional overhead to build the project, which was completed over one year behind schedule. The project owner countered with a delay claim and other claims. Through a series of negotiations, settlement conferences, and mediation just prior to a jury trial, the firm’s client was paid on its claim for additional compensation, and received full indemnity from the owner for all subcontractor suits.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC881652

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

Kims v. Rowley et al.

Two week jury trial regarding private work of improvement resulting in 9-3 defense verdict in favor of firm’s client on complaint seeking disgorgement of over $800,000.00 for alleged unlicensed contractor work. Last pre-trial offer by firm’s client was to pay $5,000.00 to settle.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC 845277

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

J.B. Riha Corporation v. Andrew and Mary Connors-Nicholls

Three week jury trial regarding private work of improvement resulting in 11-0 verdict in favor of firm’s contractor client on complaint, and zero recovery on $1,000,000.00 cross-complaint of property owner opponent (including claims for punitive damages) against both contractor and project manager.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC841028

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz

General Contractor v. Owner/Lender – Quasi Public Works

The firm represented a general contractor client on a major rehabilitation project involving the redevelopment of historical land.  The project was funded by numerous entities and involved a variety of stakeholders.  During the course of the project, change orders and additional work were approved by the owner that were in excess of the scope of the project budget.  At the time of project closeout, the owners were unable to make payment and the lenders refused to release payments for work that was performed within budget.  At the firm’s direction, the client served a bonded stop notice on the lenders and pursued litigation.  Ultimately, despite the owners being unable to make further payments, the client recovered over $1.6 million.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

Bid Protest – Army Corps of Engineers

The firm represented a large prime contractor specializing in Federal work in a bid protest against the Army Corps. of Engineers. The protest, on a proposal for $500 million worth of work on various Federal Installations, was based on the Army Corps’ improper rejection of a submittal in violation of its own specifications and applicable law. The firm prepared a bid protest and provided supporting cases and analysis to support the bid protest and discussions, ultimately resulting in the acceptance of the contractor’s submittal.

Counsel: David S. Demian and Nowell A. Lantz

Sprotte + Watson Architecture & Planning, Inc. v. Santee School District et al.

The dispute involved a nine school site construction project at a local school district, valued at over $100 million. After terminating the architect for convenience, the school district was sued for payment owed, lost profits, and bad faith termination. The architect also sued the former assistant superintendent personally for intentional interference with its contract. The matter culminated in a three and a half week jury trial in which the firm represented the local school district and was successful in excluding the claims for lost profits and bad faith termination, and the allegations against the individual district employee, totaling approximately $1.3 million. The firm also secured a jury verdict for damages against the negligent architect, and partially defended the claims for outstanding payments.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2009-00083936-CU-CO-CTL

Counsel: Nowell A. Lantz and Daniel P. Scholz

Private Golf Club v. Directors of an HOA

The firm’s three clients were sued by a private golf club for breach of fiduciary duty, interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional interference with contract, based on their roles as Directors of a Homeowners Association in a multi-million dollar Rancho Santa Fe neighborhood.  After completion of significant discovery and attack on the claims against its clients, and at the sole expense of the Board’s Directors and Officers insurer, the firm prevailed on a motion for summary judgment as to all claims against one of its three clients.  Dismissals of all claims against the other two firm clients followed immediately thereafter, as did the bankruptcy filing of the golf club.

Counsel: P. Randolph Finch Jr. and Nowell A. Lantz

Nowell’s diplomacy and negotiating skills are valuable assets. Should negotiation prove insufficient, however, the scope of Nowell’s representation includes all aspects of litigation from complaint filing through jury trial and judgment collection.

(858) 737-3100, Ext. 3039

(858) 737-3101

  • Construction Law
    • Claims & Disputes
    • Local Agency, Municipal & State Contracts
    • Federal Procurement & Claims
    • Project Counsel
    • Prime Contracts & Subcontracts
    • Collections
  • Business & Commercial Litigation
  • Real Estate
  • California: State Courts
  • U.S. District Courts of California: Central, Southern
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., cum laude
    • Order of the Coif
    • CALI (AmJur) Awards recipient in five courses
    • San Diego Law Review
  • University of California at Berkeley, B.A., Legal Studies
    • Active in Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Wallace Inn of Court
  • Associated General Contractors of America, San Diego Division
    • Lectures on construction law issues
  • San Diego Super Lawyer for Construction Litigation 2016–2019 by Super Lawyers Magazine
  • San Diego Rising Star 2015 by Super Lawyers Magazine
  • San Diego Super Lawyer for Construction Litigation in 2017 and 2018 by the San Diego Business Journal
  • Earned the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America
Back To Top