Payne & Fears LLP offers a full range of business and litigation services to its clients in three primary practice groups: Labor and Employment, Business Litigation, and Insurance Coverage. Across these practice areas, we represent all types of clients, from multi-national corporations to emerging tech startups to individual insurance policyholders.

Practice Areas



  • I have had nothing but great experiences with Payne & Fears. The attorneys are knowledgeable and efficient.

    - Counsel, Large Regional Financial Institution
  • With over 35 years of in-house counsel and executive operations experience, I have worked with many law firms throughout the U.S. Payne & Fears is at the top of my list of law firms for handling commercial litigation and employment law matters on the West Coast based upon the highest level of competence, responsiveness and cost-effectiveness that has been delivered. They also stand apart with the highest ethical standards and, might I add, a not often seen virtue of humility among their partners.

    - Executive Vice President & General Counsel, National Highway Equipment Dealer and Distributor
  • The attorneys at Payne & Fears have the unique ability to size up complex matters and provide well-reasoned solutions. Their knowledge of the law and depth of experience, coupled with the responsive and personal service they provide, all contribute to a strong and valued relationship with our organization.

    - Vice-President of Labor, Publically Traded Silicon Valley Technology Company
  • I hire Payne & Fears LLP because of certainty--certainty in my receipt of value, in its strategic approach to problem solving, in its integrity of billing, in its candor when evaluating my cases, in its creativity while searching for an economical and fair resolution and in its attorneys’ tenacity throughout the ensuing battle. In a world of unknowns, I value constancy in characteristics that matter most. Payne & Fears LLP delivers that constancy.

    - Chief Litigation Officer, Fortune 500 Company
  • Your support at Payne and Fears is top rate and it is such a pleasure to work with someone who understands business and offers a conservative, yet aggressive approach – not very easy but something that you seem to demonstrate well!  You are always my first choice of outside counsel.

    - Senior Vice President, Human Resources, International Consumer Goods Company
  • Payne & Fears LLP has represented me and my company for many years. It is an excellent law firm with the highest standards. I have worked with hundreds of attorneys in my career. I get results with Payne & Fears LLP.

    - Small Business Owner


Mar 11

Payne & Fears Represents Builder in Largest Recovery in Firm History

Payne & Fears represented a publicly-traded home builder in a complex, high-stakes insurance coverage dispute that was resolved in the builder’s favor. Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, the homebuilder was “thrilled” with the settlement. And the Payne & Fears partner that handled the matter calls the settlement a “once in a lifetime” victory.

The odyssey that led to this recovery began in 2011, when the builder sued two of its liability insurers for denying several claims that, together, totaled more than $50,000,000. Had the case gone to trial, the builder would have black boarded policy benefits and extra-contractual damages, including interest and attorneys’ fees, in excess of $100,000,000. The settlement occurred after the builder prevailed in two bifurcated trial phases. In the first, the trial court issued several rulings that essentially gutted most of the insurers’ coverage defenses. Following these rulings, the builder settled with one of its two insurers. In the second trial phase, the trial court issued a ruling on choice-of-law, again in the builder’s favor, which effectively eliminated the second insurer’s only remaining coverage defense. The case settled less than three weeks after the court issued this ruling.

The settlement was sweetened by several trial-court rulings that should discourage liability insurers from taking overly-aggressive coverage positions; for example, the court held that: 

  • if a component that is defectively designed or improperly constructed undergoes physical changes, but there is no damage to any other component, the component has sustained covered “property damage;”
  • excess insurers may not rely on “other insurance” clauses to avoid paying claims when, by their terms, they are excess only to scheduled underlying insurance;
  • “shall-not-assume-charge” language in excess liability policies does not negate the insurer’s statutory duty to pay the insured’s defense costs;
  • an excess insurer cannot – unless its policy explicitly gives it this right – second-guess the underlying insurer’s exhaustion of its policy by questioning whether the claims paid by the underlying insurer were covered; and
  • an insurer cannot avoid fully covering a progressive property damage claim simply because the insured has no insurance for a portion of the time during which the damage is occurring.

Practice areas: Insurance Coverage

Attorneys: Blake A. Dillion, J. Kelby Van Patten, Jared De Jong, Kevin C. Brantley, Nathan A. Cazier, Scott S. Thomas


Won Five-Year Battle on Behalf of Client Medway Plastics Corporation

Payne & Fears LLP won a five-year battle on behalf of client Medway Plastics Corporation, ending with the California Court of Appeal upholding dismissals by the arbitrator and trial court.

Two former employees of Medway filed their complaint in 2013.  We moved swiftly to compel arbitration, which the trial court denied. We appealed, and the Court of Appeal agreed with us and ordered arbitration.

When Plaintiffs waited more than a year to file their complaint in arbitration, we moved to dismiss their claims as untimely.  This argument was accepted by the arbitrator, who dismissed the case.  Plaintiffs then appealed, first to the trial court (who agreed with us and the arbitrator) and then to the Court of Appeal.

In its 22-page decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the decisions of the arbitrator and the trial court to dismiss the case.

Medway Plastics Corporation was defended by Phil Lem, who prepared the briefings and argued successfully before the arbitrator, the trial court and twice at the Court of Appeal.

Practice areas: Labor and Employment Litigation, Appellate Law (Labor)

Attorneys: Blake A. Dillion, Daniel F. Fears, Laura Fleming