Todd R. Haas is a Partner in Selman Breitman’s San Diego office and is a member of the firm’s Insurance, Commercial Litigation, and General Liability practice groups. He represents insurers in coverage disputes, including cases arising out of first- and third-party property casualty issues, construction, employment matters, intellectual property, healthcare, and extracontractual issues. He also has experience representing hospitals and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) in disputes that involve sophisticated claims and lawsuits involving nursing care, medical standard of care, and employment matters.
 
With tremendous experience in Insurance Coverage and Litigation, Todd has a unique ability to consistently and efficiently analyze complex insurance coverage issues with ease and clarity, allowing him to effectively and efficiently advocate on behalf of insurers. His collaboration and team approach is a great asset to obtain great results and to prioritize his clients’ interests.
 
Todd has been responsible for several published opinions before the California Fourth District and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, as well as a response to a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. His landmark case California Traditions, Inc. v. Claremont Liability Insurance Company (2011)197 Cal.App.4th 410, reaffirmed that a policy term is not ambiguous simply because it is not defined in the policy and that the reasonable expectations of the insured can only be used to interpret an ambiguous policy and cannot be used to create an ambiguity if none exists.
 
Todd has an extensive background in general liability defense, specifically in the area of health care. In particular, Todd obtained a defense verdict for an RCFE in a complex and difficult three-week trial in which the plaintiff sought over $4 million in damages. He has also defended a local hospital against a difficult Family and Medical Leave Act, which resulted in a minimal verdict after trial. He also handled a six-day binding arbitration in an employment case which resulted in a very minimal award. 
 
For the past several years, Todd has coached the Coronado High School mock trial team in a county-wide competition. Last year, Todd's team was given two awards for best witness and best clerk, and received high accolades for its performance in the competition.
 
Todd is originally from Whittier, California and presently resides in Coronado, California with his wife Heather, a local fashion designer. He has three children: Ethan, Jonah and Abigail. When not helping clients with their legal needs he spends his time playing poker, coaching mock trial, and cheering on his children in their many fantastic endeavors.

Representative Matters
Litigation

  • In a claim involving a tender under client insurer's policies issued to the insured, a plastering contractor, the settlement demand was over $5.5 million. Selman Breitman reduced the demand to $4.01 million, a savings of over $1.44 million, then informally pursued other carriers for contribution. Contributions were received from other carriers, which significantly reduced the exposure to Client Insurer, resulting in a net savings of over $500,000. Dismissal of the coverage action was obtained, including a claim of additional insured coverage with a significant demand.
  • Defended insurance company against a claim that client wrongfully denied coverage for plaintiff pursuant to various additional insured certificates and endorsements. Initially, the case involved approximately 20 claims, was expanded to include approximately 60 claims, and ultimately included over 180 claims. Plaintiff demanded $1.5 million for the original 20 claims. Settlement was negotiated for a very low amount, resolving any and all claims denied by client relating to any tender by plaintiff.
  • Defended client against a complaint for declaratory relief filed by named insured, which sought a declaration that the "deductible" provision in the policy applied, such that named insured was responsible to satisfy only one deductible payment of $5,000 when there was only one party suing the insured. A cross-complaint for collection of multiple deductibles was filed on behalf of defendant client, since numerous parties sued named Insured in each construction defect action. On the eve of the trial date, named insured was persuaded to make payment to client.
  • In a case involving an attempt to obtain satisfaction of the judgment against client insurance company's insured, client insurer interpled the judgment amount, and sought offset of certain amounts. While plaintiff had a judgment against the insureds in the amount of approximately $400,000, client insurer's other insured had a judgment against plaintiff in the amount of approximately $250,000. Client insurer asked the Court to offset the judgments. Due to various claims, three separate parties asserted that client insurer was not entitled to an offset. The case was litigated very heavily, with the various parties asserting priority. The parties stipulated to a court trial. After briefing and argument, the Court issued its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law relating to this matter, in which the Court ruled that client insurer had a right to equitable offset, and that that right to offset had priority over plaintiff's claims. Within hours of the ruling, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal.
  • In a claim involving waterproofing performed by defendant pursuant to a contract with plaintiff construction company during construction of a large resort, plaintiff alleged that the waterproofing failed, causing over $16 million in damages, including costs to repair and lost profits. Selman Breitman intervened to defend the case, which involved potential exposure of over $10 million. This matter was scheduled for binding arbitration, but the case was resolved prior to the beginning of the binding arbitration for 2.5% of the total exposure.
  • In a case involving an alleged incident involving a claim for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, plaintiff alleged that she sustained injuries after undergoing "a massage by one or more massage therapists and masseuses including defendant." Plaintiff claims that the masseuse used "excessive force and massage techniques on plaintiff," which caused plaintiff to "incur X-Rays, medical and sundry expenses in the examination, care and treatment of plaintiff's injuries" and that plaintiff is now "unable to pursue the plaintiff's vocation." Going into the mediation, we believed the settlement value of this case was $70,000. Plaintiff's demand was $250,000; we believed plaintiff was looking to recover at least $100,000, and would likely try to settle for $150,000. The case was settled for less than our evaluation of liability.
  • In a matter involving three underlying suits related to the same residential development, plaintiff had agreed to defend defendant construction company in these actions. However, extrinsic evidence showed there was no coverage for the alleged damages since no alleged property damage could have occurred during the period our client's policies were in force. A declaratory relief action was filed asserting no coverage, and the complaint was amended to make a claim for contribution against a co-carrier. The matter was then resolved in its entirety, including the co-carrier, for 10% of the claim, and recovery was obtained from the co-carrier.
  • After a 16-day jury trial, a defense jury verdict was obtained in a wrongful death elder abuse case, in which plaintiffs asked the jury to award $5 million in damages and sought punitive damages and attorneys' fees. The case was tried following extensive discovery, including more than 25 depositions. A non-suit was obtained as to the personal liability of the Board members, and a dismissal of the Board members. It was successfully argued that plaintiffs' two treating physicians should be added to the special verdict form, and that the jury should be allowed to apportion liability to the two treating physicians. Following a one-day deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict on both the negligence cause of action and the wrongful death cause of action, which negated any claim for punitive damages and attorneys' fees.
  • In a six-day binding arbitration in an employment case, plaintiff sought $5,600 for uncontradicted wage and hour violations, plus over $611,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages. Following arbitration, plaintiff demanded $600,000. Client authorized settlement in the amount of $100,000; a $40,000 offer was deemed too low to merit any response by plaintiff's counsel, who also argued for attorneys' fees in excess of $150,000. The Arbitrator awarded $3,000 for the wage and hour violations, nothing for the other claims, and limited attorneys' fees to only those fees related to attorneys' fees spent with reference to the Labor Code violations.
  • Dismissal was obtained of a lawsuit filed against an assisted living facility that alleged wage and hour violations and sought in excess of $240,000 in damages.
  • Prevailed on a Writ of Mandate on behalf of client insurer. The Second District found that the trial court erred in denying insurer's motion to stay a default prove-up hearing pending insurer's appeal of the trial court's denial of its motion to intervene in the underlying construction defect suit against the insured.

Insurance

  • Summary judgment was granted in favor of client insurer in a case in which a general contractor of a large apartment complex filed a judgment creditor action, based on a default judgment obtained as a result of an arbitration award against the named insured. General contractor sought over $300,000 in satisfaction of the judgment, interest, and costs of suit, but was denied recovery on the basis that coverage was precluded pursuant to a "Development/New Construction Residential Exclusion."
  • In defense of client insurer, rescission and/or reimbursement was pursued for insurer's $2 million indemnity payment against defendant, and contribution/subrogation against other additional insured carriers for $875,000 paid in defense fees and costs. Judgment was obtained on client insurer's behalf, and over $1.5 million (of the $2 million) was collected as to the claims against the insured. In addition, approximately $950,000 was collected, including pre-judgment interest, in defense fees and costs from the additional insured carriers.

Published Cases
Litigation

  • California Traditions, Inc. v. Claremont Liability Ins. Co.

Represented an insurer client before the California Court of Appeal. The appellate court upheld a manuscript exclusion included in a policy issued to a rough framing subcontractor regarding liability arising out of work performed on condominium and townhome projects. The insured argued he reasonably expected coverage as the units had many of the outward appearances of non-condominium detached single family homes (e.g. freestanding units with non-shared walls and utility lines); and (2) the exclusion was ambiguous because the term "condominium project" was not defined in the policy, and a reasonable insured would not have viewed the exclusion as precluding coverage for the insured's framing work performed on freestanding units "that did not bear the indicia commonly associated with a condominium project." The trial court rejected these arguments and granted our client's motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeal has affirmed, helping to solidify the intent of these condo project exclusions, so important to many of our clients. Although the Court first determined not to publish the opinion, since it was helpful to insurers generally, Selman Breitman successfully sought publication.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Super Lawyers: 2013-2017
  • San Diego County Bar Association

  • American Bar Association

Mr. Haas is active in a wide variety of community, church and charitable organizations, including the Kiwanis Club, YMCA and Adventure Guides. He has acted as the youth pastor at his church, coached basketball and served on several committees for the City of Coronado, and has been active in defense of nursing home and elder law claims.

Bar Admission

California, 1997

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit

U.S. Tax Court

U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Education

California Western School of Law, San Diego, California, J.D., 1997

  • Honors: American Jurisprudence Award in Partnership Taxation; Dean's Honors List, 1996 and 1997

 

Santa Clara University, B.S., 1993 (Political Science)